Home Buying Inspection Maryland

What is a Home Inspection?House photo home inspection

A home inspection is a limited visual evaluation of the properties primary structure and components.

The systems and components typically evaluated include;

An inspector should be following the standards of practice and be a member in good standing of a non-profit home inspection trade association such as the American Society of Home Inspectors or InterNACHI®. Showalter Property Consultatrns has the highest memebrship in both asscoaitions. The Client should interview any potential home inspector to verify they are qualified to perform a proper home inspection. The Inspector's qualifications should include hands on experience in construction or architecture and a true understanding of the structure and component

You should also understand a home inspection is not a warranty or guaranty. No one can predict when components or systems will fail. The inspector should however perform an inspection in a way which will inform you as well as to educate you. This can assist you in budgeting for certain systems that may be nearing the end of their statistical life. Separate warranties may be available, however read the exclusions to insure the systems you are concerned about are covered, A good inspector should be trained to evaluate that a system at the time of the inspection is in actual working condition. The inspector should also attend continuing education to ensure they are up to date with current industry standards and knowledge.

Some inspectors may also utilize some specialty equipment such as moisture meters, gas detectors and electronic testing devices which we do use. While these are useful and I recommend them, they are tools they may be used in suspect conditions and at the discretion of the inspector.A Home Inspection Maryland

Also discuss with the inspector whether they get on roofs when safely accessible and in crawlspaces that again are safely accessible. Factors due to weather conditions may impede the inspection process and areas may need to be re-inspected. You should discuss these fees with the inspector as well. You may also want the inspector to re-inspect repairs carried out by the seller (during a pre-purchase inspection). Insist all repairs are to be performed by a qualified or licensed contractor. If a components fails after closing (settlement of the property) you may have no recourse against a non-professional repair or the home seller. Just because an individual is a builder or engineer does not qualify them to be a home inspector. Only after extensive training and hands on experience can one gain the instinct they need to provide you with a comprehensive inspection. Some engineers have nothing to do with residential construction or just one small part. Inspection fees are typically based on square footage or the price of the home. Compare what you are getting for your money, don’t go with the low bidder, there may be a reason. You should feel free to engage in conversation with the inspector and ask questions. A good inspector will also cover preventive maintenance of the building and systems with you. Please review the Maryland Code of Ethics and Minimum Standards for Home Inspectors (link)

Included in the Home Inspection:

Inspection of the groundsThe Grounds: 

The grounds around the house are important as they control the water runoff which could affect the house and the foundation. We will inspect and evaluate the grounds immediate to the house regarding the overall drainage and surface conditions of the soil. 

We will aso report on area where the siding is in contact with or goes below the ground or mulch. This condtion puts the walls and floor framing at risk for water and/or wood boring insect damage.

We will report on the walkways, decks and the overall condition of the driveway.

Also See the Maryland Home Inspection Standards

 

Deck inspectionDeck

Decks are a great feature to the home, however with many decks, age, wear, substandard workmanship and antiquated building practices can pose potential concerns. We will evaluate the visible condition of the framing, supports posts, ledger attachment and flashing. We will also report on the condition of any railing and potential safety concerns. There are may styles, designs and materials which have various maintenance requirements and concerns. Wood decks can show premature wear from power washing and some composite decks have been implicated in recalls. Higher decks can pose safety concerns due to inadequate posts, ledger attachments and rotted components. We have extensive experience building decks and will educate you about maintenance and areas that may need to be improved for additional safety and to improve the remaining life of the deck.

Patio

Patios such as ones with pavers may require routine maintenance which we will help educate you about to help keep the patio in safe condition and help to extend the remaining life of the pavers.

Also See the Maryland Home Inspection Standards

Exterior home inspectionExterior Surfaces: 

The exterior or the envelope of your home is the barrier to the elements such as rain and wind. We will from ground level evaluate the trim and siding details both visually and with random probing as not to damage any surfaces.

We will report on the overall materials, methods and workmanship of the siding and trim. This report will include the conditions of the materials and finishes, including any maintenance that may need to be performed. This is an area we like to educate you about the importance of maintenance to ensure the materials service their intended life and to prevent air and moisture instruction into the homes primary structure.

Some common materials used in the Mid-Atlantic area include wood, composites, vinyl aluminum, stucco and cement board.

We will also evaluate accessible windows and doors for overall condition and function.

EIFS is also another common material wish is synthetic stucco that has a history of water infiltration and damage. Call us if you need to schedule an EIFS evaluation by a specialist. We will report on the presence and some visual concerns, our EIFS specialist will perform invasive probing into the substrate to determine the condition.

Also See the Maryland Home Inspection Standards

Foundation InspectionThe Foundation: 

The foundation is one of the most important components of the home. The materials used will greatly vary depending on the location and age. In the Mid-Atlantic area we have a wide range of foundation materials the most common being masonry block and poured concrete. However we also have homes built on concrete piers, wood piers, wood foundations, terracotta, stone and brick.

Water is the main cause of foundation failure followed by soil conditions and workmanship. What we report on is the exposed foundation and any signs of cracking, settlement or moisture such as efflorescence. Many times the foundation is not accessible due to wall and floor coverings.

There are various conditions which may be typical of common such as thermal expansion cracks and other cracks such as hydrostatic, rotation or differential cracks which are more of a structural concern that may require action. We will report on all visible aspects of the foundation which in some cases is to create a baseline for monitoring the condition.

Also See the Maryland Home Inspection Standards

Structural InspectionThe Structure: 

The structure is the backbone of the home. The materials used will greatly vary depending on the location and age. Older or historic homes may be built using balloon framing or masonry structures with wood floor and roof structures. Newer homes are typically built using platform framing which can be built on site, built off site and erected using panelized walls or modular systems.

The materials can also vary such as the materials used to frame your home. These can include traditional dimensional lumber such as 2x6’s and 2x10’s to engineered materials such a laminated beams, solid web framing materials (I-Joists) and open web or floor and roof trusses. These all require specific installation methods and each has common concerns with improper use or installation.

Water is the main cause of structural failure, common compression and settlement followed by substandard workmanship or renovations. What we report on is the exposed sections of the framing which many times is limited to the framing in the lower levels and attic. Many times the framing is not accessible due to wall, ceiling and floor coverings.

We recommend that you also obtain a separate inspection for termite and other wood boring insects. We may report on evidence however the licensed termite company will also report on any activity around the exterior and soil immediate to the house.

We recommend that you maintain an annual termite policy from a reputable termite company.

Also See the Maryland Home Inspection Standards

Roofing inspectionThe Roof: 

The roof shingles or roof covering is the umbrella for the house or building. Its purpose is to keep the rain and weather out when in good condition and properly installed. We will access any roof within our skill level and that is safely accessible for the inspector and won;t result in damage to the roof covering. There are multiple types of roof covering materials from asphalt, composite, metal, slate, wood and many newer green synthetic materials. We will inspect the roof when accessible, evaluate the conduction and evaluate the overall installation and workmanship. As with our report we will document the roof condition with photographs for your records. With an extensive background in roofing and a certification from CertainTeed for a Master Shingle Applicator, we bring experience to the inspection.

Also See the Maryland Home Inspection Standards

Attic cavity inspectionThe Attic:

With the attic we evaluate the accessible framing, and the presence and condition of the ventilation and insulation. Residential attic framing methods are typical made from wood including manufactured trusses and site built rafter systems.

The materials can also vary such as the materials used to frame your attic. These can include traditional dimensional lumber such as 2x6’s and 2x10’s to engineered materials such a laminated beams, solid web framing materials (I-Joists) and open web or floor and roof trusses. These all require specific installation methods and each has common concerns with improper use or installation.

Ask us about our free advice on home energy savings, as the attic is one of the leading sources of heat loss in your home.

Also See the Maryland Home Inspection Standards

Interior building inspectionInterior Survey:

We will perform a room by room evaluation and report on the over condition of the rooms and components. We will also identify the generals materials used in the rooms such as the floor, wall and ceiling coverings. We will report on any visible water stains, settlement or cracking that were visible on the day of the inspection. Lighting and the condition of the daylight can affect the visibility.

The interior survey of the rooms will also cover the bathrooms and the kitchen. We will operate all plumbing fixtures and report on any visible water leaks or water related damage. Using state of the art moisture meters we can report on the presence of any active leaks performing a limited representative sampling of high risk or suspect locations.

We will test all accessible receptacles for proper polarity including verification of the presence and condition of any GFCI receptacle where required. We may report on the presence of or lack thereof any HVAC in the perimeter rooms.

Also See the Maryland Home Inspection Standards

Electrcial InspectionThe Electrical System: 

The electrical system is one of the most important parts of the home if nothing more than for the safety. We will report on the overall visible condition of the system and report on the wiring materials and methods including any observed substandard workmanship. Starting with the receptacles we will test for proper polarity and grounding of all accessible receptacles. Next we will report on the presence or need for and ground fault circuit interrupter protection. We will also report on any adverse condition of the accessible receptacles. We will operate the light fixtures and report on the overall condition.

We will also remove any accessible electrical panels and report on the condition and wiring methods, presence of grounding and bonding in the panels. We will also report on any visible and accessible wiring methods in other parts of the house such as the basement and attic.

We will report on any visible aluminum branch wiring and educate you about the potential safety concern.

Also See the Maryland Home Inspection Standards

Plumbing inspectionThe Plumbing System: 

When evaluating your plumbing system we inspect  the water supply and distribution system for functional flow. This means you have an unrestricted flow of water to the fixtures and the overall condition of the water pressure. We will also identify the materials and the overall quality of the workmanship used.

We will report on the presence of systems with known failures such as polybutylene and educate you about the consequences and solutions. With your water heater we will identify the style and heating source and report on the age and overall condition.

With regards to your waste system we will report on the overall drainage at the time of the inspection and report on the condition and materials of any visible leaks or concerns.

You may want to inquire about a separate water quality test especially if you are on well water. We also offer radon in water testing using an Eperm system. 

Also See the Maryland Home Inspection Standards

 
Heating and Cooling System(s):
With your HVAC system we will operate the system when possible as some weather condtions may imede or affect oepration of some systems. We will report on the overall age and condtion of the system and report on any visible or apparant concerns, safety related issues and perfomacne issues within the standard of practice.  We will educate you about typical maintenace with each system as each system will have system specific maintenace needs and requirement.
 

chimney inspectionThe Chimney and Fireplace: 

Many houses in the Maryland area have a wood burning fireplace which includes a chimney. When accessible we will evaluate the overall condition of the chimney, crown and firebox. There are 2 basic types of systems, manufactured and masonry.  We will report on the overall condition of the firebox including any water related damage.

We will evaluate the flue damper and when possible the smoke chamber and presence of a flue liner. However many flue liners are not fully accessible and may require cleaning and a bore scope dropped down inside of the flue for a complete elevation. You relator can help make arrangements with a chimney specialist in your area. Flue liners are typically excluded from most home inspections due to the lack of access and specialty equipment required.

You should have you fireplace weather wood or gas serviced annually. We do not inspect on the condition of pellet stoves or wood stoves. If you have an insert we recommend it is thoroughly cleaned and evaluated prior to closing.

Also See the Maryland Home Inspection Standards

Home Inspection Report Software on a TabletBuilding Inspection Report

We are proud to offer our comprehensive narritive computer generated building inspection reporting system.

Showalter Property Consultant's utilizes a comprehensive narritive computer generated report customized for your home. This narrative inspection report is complete with photos of your home, wheather it is for a pre-purchase inspection, prelisting or home maintenance, our report will provide a comprehensive overview of your home and all of the major systems as required by the Maryland Home Inspection Standards. By providing photos you can instantly see and understand what is stated in the narrative report.

Our report also comes with a summary section of the priorities so you will have a better understanding of which items reported on are maintenance and which are of immediate concern as we summarize the positive aspects and updates of the property as well. These are listed under priority 1,2,3 and 4.

We provide a copy of the Maryland Standard of practice along with the inspector's credentials with every report. We also recommend certain items to be aware of for preventive maintenance. The report is then emailed to you and uploaded to our secure and exclusive server for you to retrieve at any time .We also provide all of the photos for you in full size and resolution which are also uploaded to our secure server. This was you can review all of the photos in full size and detail.

Experience
Stephen L. Showalter, President of Showalter Property Consultants has been in the home inspection industry since 1988.

Knowledge
An innovator in the home inspection industry, Mr. Showalter developed an educational curriculum used to train home inspectors since 1993.

Excellence
We take pride in the fact Mr. Showalter is Past President of the National Association of Home Inspectors.

window inspectionSafety Related Concerns: 

When performing the home inspection we will report on visible Safety Related Concerns that in the judgment and experience of the home inspector warrant reporting. Some of these items are grandfathered in through the codes over the years however we may mention items that have become of concern over the more recent years and should be considered to be updated as needed.

These may include:

•Railings

Windows

Stairs

Visible electrical components

Carbon monoxide concerns

Fall concerns

Unpermitted work

Substandard workmanship

Garage Doors

Any concerns reported on are as an overall consideration and beyond the scope of many home inspection standards.

Also See the Maryland Home Inspection Standards

Maintenance Tips: 

One of the most important benefits of a Home Inspection from Showalter Property Consultants is the education that you will receive about taking care of your home and preventive maintenance.

After seeing neglected homes since 1988 I can say most could say thousands of dollars by learning how to take care of their home as they do their care. Many home owners do reactive maintenance on a home and preventive maintenance on a car. It is our mission to teach the home owner to better understand how to properly maintain their home and most expensive investment.

 Also See the Maryland Home Inspection Standards

What you the Client can do, to prepare for and get the most from your home inspection?

• Be present for the entire inspection and accompany the inspector.

• Keep distractions at a minimal.

• Don’t have too much going on during the inspection, focus on the inspection.

• We prefer the seller is not present as it can be stressful and a distraction.

• If we are performing a radon test make sure the seller keeps all windows and doors closed 12 hours prior to us performing the inspection.

• Bring clothes that would be comfortable during the inspection.

• Bring your own flashlight and tape measure, I see many buyers wishing they had brought them.

• Bring a notepad to take notes. You may have questions about things you want to do to the house outside the scope of the inspection.

• Prepare yourself and don't get overwhelmed as most homes have concerns or some repairs that are needed, even new homes.

• Make sure if it is a foreclosure all utilities and systems are turned on to ensure we are able to properly evaluate all systems. These include, the water, electric and any gas appliances. Also make sure the water heater, furnace and other gas appliances such as fireplaces are turned on when possible.

• Have all systems turned on at the time of the inspection.

Make sure the seller has clear access to all areas such as the:

• Attic access

• Electrical panel

• Main water shut off

• Water heater

• Furnace

• Perimeter walls in the basement and garage (when applicable)

• Basement Walls

• Below split foyer entry landing stoops

Final Walk Through:

• When you perform your final walk through, don't be afraid to look in areas that were not accessible during the inspection for any water stains or other suspect areas

• Bring a flashlight and camera; this is the last time before you take possession of the house to identify any areas which were not accessible during the inspection. Your Realtor can advise you on this process.

 

We Provide Home Inspections and Environmental Testing in the following locations throughout: Annapolis, Arnold, Baltimore, Churchton, Crofton, Crownsville, Curtis Bay, Davidsonville, Deale, Edgewater, Fort George G Meade, Friendship, Galesville, Gambrills, Gibson Island, Glen Burnie, Hanover, Harmans, Harwood, Laurel, Linthicum Heights, Lothian, Mayo, Millersville, Odenton, Pasadena, Riva, Severn, Severna Park, Shady Side, Tracys Landing, West River

Queen Annes County Maryland Home Inspection:
We Provide Home Inspections and Environmental Testing in the following locations throughout Queen Annes County Maryland inlcuding the following locations: Barclay, Centreville, Chester, Church Hill, Crumpton, Grasonville, Ingleside, Queen Anne, Queenstown, Stevensville, Sudlersville

Harford County Maryland Home Inspections:
We Provide Home Inspections and Environmental Testing in the following locations throughout Harford County Maryland including the following locations: Aberdeen, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Abingdon, Bel Air, Belcamp, Benson, Churchville, Darlington, Fallston, Forest Hill, Gunpowder, Havre De Grace, Jarrettsville, Joppa, Perryman, Pylesville, Street, White Hall, Whiteford

Carroll County Maryland Home Inspection:
We Provide Home Inspections and Environmental Testing in the following locations throughout Carroll County Maryland including the following locations: Eldersburg, Hampstead, Manchester, Middleburg, Mount Airy, New Windsor, Sykesville, Taneytown, Union Bridge, Westminster

Cecil County Maryland Home Inspection:
We Provide Home Inspections and Environmental Testing in the following locations throughout Cecil County Maryland inlcuding the following locations: Cecilton, Charlestown, Chesapeake City, Childs, Colora, Conowingo, Earleville, Elk Mills, Elkton, Georgetown, North East, Perry Point, Perryville, Port Deposit, Rising Sun, Warwick

Baltimore County Maryland Home Inspection:
We Provide Home Inspections and Environmental Testing in the following locations throughout Baltimore County Maryland including the following locations: Baldwin, Boring, Brooklandville, Butler, Catonsville, Cockeysville, Dundalk, Essex, Fort Howard, Freeland, Glen Arm, Glyndon, Gwynn Oak, Halethorpe, Hunt Valley, Hydes, Kingsville, Long Green, Lutherville Timonium, Maryland Line, Middle River, Monkton, Nottingham, Owings Mills, Parkton, Parkville, Perry Hall, Phoenix, Pikesville, Randallstown, Reisterstown, Rosedale, Sparks Glencoe, Sparrows Point, Stevenson, Towson, Upper Falls, Upperco, White Marsh, Windsor Mill

Howard County Maryland Home Inspection:
We Provide Home Inspections and Environmental Testing in the following locations throughout Howard County Maryland including the following locations: Annapolis Junction, Clarksville, Columbia, Cooksville, Dayton, Elkridge, Ellicott, West Friendship, Woodbine, Woodstock

Frederick County Maryland Home Inspection:
We Provide Home Inspections and Environmental Testing in the following locations throughout Frederick County Maryland including the following locations: Brunswick. Burkittsville, Emmitsburg, Frederick, Middletown, Mount Airy, Myersville, New Market.

Talbot County Maryland Home Inspection:
We Provide Home Inspections and Environmental Testing in the following locations throughout Talbot County Maryland including the following locations: Easton, Oxford, Maryland, Queen Anne, Saint Michaels, Trappe, Maryland