If you’ve already read our report entitled, “Home inspections and why you should certainly get one,” you know that I recommend the use of a professional home inspector. This list of exterior concerns, together with the report entitled “Interior Concerns” is offered as a resource to help buyers roughly determine how much attention a home may need. Knowing this information will be valuable in helping you determine an appropriate amount to offer. Again, we encourage all buyers to write all offers, “subject to a professional building inspection that is satisfactory to the buyer”. Please, do not attempt to use these reports as your only guide in determining whether or not a property is sound. While they may provide a good guide for inspection, only a professional home inspector that is fully trained in home inspection is qualified to spot the more inconspicuous problems that can occur in homes.
It should also be noted that most home inspections in Calgary would reveal some problems in virtually every home. Therefore, the primary purpose of home inspections is to protect the buyer against major hidden defects, as well as create awareness of outstanding maintenance issues to guide you in decisions related to property value.
Are there are signs of obvious damage to the chimney that are visible from outside of the home? If it’s a masonry chimney, does it appear to be solid? Is it a Type A or a Type B chimney? Type A’s (insulated) have been known to collapse and cause dangerous carbon monoxide problems in homes. Type B’s are preferred for safety and are used in todays construction.
Note the overall condition of the deck. Is it resting on concrete pilings or cement blocks away from the ground’s moisture? Is it in need of refinishing? Walk across all areas of the deck to look for rotten, spongy areas that require attention.
What types of exterior doors are currently installed on the home? Are they steel insulated or wood? What is their overall condition? Do they seem to fit the opening well or do they bind when opened and closed? Is there ample weather stripping? Note the condition of exterior trim for signs of rot and swelling.
Driveways & walks
Check the driveway and sidewalks for cracking and heaving. It should be mentioned that a certain amount of cracking is considered common in concrete in Alberta. However, if there seems to be an unusually large amount of cracking and the concrete is now uneven, it may be a sign of more serious problems.
Eaves troughs & downspouts
Check the general condition around the house. Are there any apparent leaks? Are the downspouts effectively directing water away from the house approximatley 6 to 8 feet away from the foundation? What type of material are they made from? Are they maintenance free or will they require painting?
If the property is fenced, try to determine it’s overall condition and quality of construction. Shake the fence posts in an attempt to determine whether or not they are solid. It’s not uncommon for fence posts to rot within the ground and break off if they were not properly installed. Does the fence require paint or stain? Are the fence boards in good condition?
Make note of the condition of the foundation, as visible from the exterior. Is it parged? Is the parging material in good condition? Does the foundation seem to be true and straight or are there obvious deflections?
Examine the overall condition of the garage and the integrity of the structure. Is the overhead door straight or does it sag and require replacement? Is the garage wired? Does it have an electric door opener? Are there remote controls that come with it?
Note the overall condition of the landscaping. Is the yard well cared for or will it require lots of work to whip it into shape? Can you handle the ongoing maintenance that this yard will require? Are the trees and shrubs under control or in need of pruning? Are there underground sprinklers (ask the owners if they have been blown out before winter? Does the grade seem to run away from the house or is it sloping towards the house?
Shingles & Roof
If the weather allows, it’s always a good idea to get on the roof and take a walk around (many home inspectors in Alberta will not walk on roofs anymore if the pitch is steep due to fall hazards). Does the roof feel firm and reliable or are there areas that seem soft and spongy? Are the shingles all the same color? Are there any obvious signs of weather damage? Are the shingles sitting flat, or are they starting to curl? Are there adequate attic vents on the roof?
Be aware of the exterior finish and the maintenance it will need over the years. Is there siding, stucco, or brick? If there is siding, is it wood (Cedar requires a lot of maintenance), X90, aluminum, or vinyl? Is it all firmly attached to the house? Are there any signs of deterioration like rot or sun fading? Does it need attention?
Soffits and Fascia
Are they wood or are they finished with aluminum? Are there any signs of rot? Is there adequate attic venting on the soffits?
Test the underground sprinklers to ensure proper operation. Are all sprinkler heads functioning properly? Are they covering all areas of the lawn? Can they be adjusted fairly easily? In the winter months, ask if they were blown out in the fall. Request a written statement from the homeowner about their condition and verify as soon as possible in the spring.
Walk around the outside of the home and examine the windows. Are they all securely fastened to the house? Are there any signs of moisture damage or rot on the casings or window frames? Is there any refinishing required? What type of material are they constructed from? Are they a reasonably good quality window? Your home inspector or realtor can advise if they are good quality.