aerial view of Chesapeake Bay in autumn

Guide to Home Inspection

The following is a brief overview of systems or components of a “general” home inspection. The home inspection report should include a summary and any potential defects. Licensed professions may conduct additional inspections, such as pest, radon, or mold.

Exterior Inspection

Vents, Flashing, Skylights, Chimney, and other Roof Penetrations.

The general structure of the roof.

The type of roof-covering materials are either: asphalt shingle, wood shingle, wood shake, concrete or clay tile, metal, slate, synthetic slate, tar and chip.

The exterior wall-covering materials and flashing, trim, soffits and fascia.

The type of exterior wall-covering materials is:  vinyl, stucco, aluminum siding, cement-fiber panels or siding, exterior insulation finish systems (EIFS), wood panels or siding,  masonry, brick and stone, or other.

Exterior Inspection will also include exterior features such as:

  • Exterior doors
  • Windows
  • Walkways and driveways
  • Stairs, steps, stoops, stairways and ramps
  • Porches, patios, decks, balconies and carports, fencing and gates
  • Railings, guards and handrails. Spacing between balusters, spindles and rails
  • Vegetation, surface drainage, retaining walls and grading of the property, where they may adversely affect the structure due to moisture intrusion
  • Evidence of wood in contact with or near soil

Basement, Foundation, Crawlspace & Structure

  • Foundation. Basement, crawlspace, slab-on-grade, concrete block, or poured concrete
    • Basement inspected for possible water penetration
    • Crawlspace inspected for insulation, water penetration, dampness, or mold
  • Structural Components. Evidence of foundation movement, such as sheetrock cracks, brick cracks, out-of-square doorframes, and unlevel floors.



Heating system inspected for proper operation, location, and functionality of thermostats.

The energy source of the heating system is: natural gas, electricity, fuel oil, propane, geothermal, solar, solid wood, pellets, coal, kerosene. Ensure the main fuel supply shut-off valve is operational.

The heating method of the heating system is: warm-air, hydronic, steam, electric, other.


Is the cooling system operational under normal conditions? Thermostat?

The cooling method can be described as: a central air conditioning system, a split or ductless air conditioning, a packaged air conditioner, a evaporative cooling unit, a window air conditioner, a through-wall unit, a portable unit, or other.


  • Main water supply shut-off valve. Check the location and operation.
  • Water Supply. Is it public or private?
  • Water heating equipment, including the energy source, venting connections, temperature/pressure-relief (TPR) valves, Watts 210 valves, and seismic bracing.
  • Interior water supply. including all fixtures and faucets
  • Toilets. Verify proper operation by flushing and look for evidence of leaking, either tank or floor.
  • Sinks, tubs and showers. Check to confirm drainage.
  • Drain, waste and vent system
  • Drainage sump pumps with accessible floats. Operational. Discharge area.
  • Sewerage Disposal Private Public
  • Private water wells
  • Private sewerage system – Septic Systems


  • Main Service. Service drop, overhead service conductors and attachment point the service head, gooseneck and drip loops, the service mast, service conduit and raceway.
    • Amperage rating
  • Electric meter and base, service-entrance conductors, main service disconnections
  • Panelboards and over-current protection devices (circuit breakers and fuses), service grounding and bonding.
  • The type of wiring can be described as: type NM (nonmetallic sheathed), type UF (underground feeder), type AC (armored cable), aluminum branch circuit, knob and tube
  • Switches, lighting fixtures and receptacles, including receptacles observed and deemed to be arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI).
  • Ground-fault circuit interrupter receptacles and circuit breakers.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Hardwire? Battery Backup? Battery Only?


  • Lintels, damper doors, cleanout doors and frames, hearth, hearth extension or chambers and cleanouts.
  • The type of fireplace can be described as: masonry solid fuel burning, factory-built solid fuel burning, decorative gas burning, solid fuel-burning stove, solid fuel-burning fireplace insert.

Are there smoke and carbon monoxide in the same room?

Attic, Insulation & Ventilation

  • Insulation to be inspected in unfinished spaces, including attics, crawlspaces and foundation areas.
  • The type of insulation observed can be described as: fiberglass blanket, blown-in fiberglass, loose-fill fiberglass, mineral rock or slag wool, blown-in cellulose, loose-fill cellulose, spray-foamed or foamed-in-place, structural insulated panel, concrete block insulation, foam board or rigid foam, insulated concrete forms, natural fibers, other.
  • Depth of insulation in the unfinished attic floor area or roof structure
  • Mechanical exhaust systems in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry area for drafts or non-operational units.


  • Inspection of all floors, walls and ceilings, stairs, steps, landings, stairways and ramps, railings, guards and handrails
  • Inspection of garage doors and the operation of garage vehicle door openers, using normal operating controls. Manual or electrical garage door openers.
  • Windows to be inspected for proper opening, sealing and fogging and material defects.
  • Doors to be inspected for proper operation and alignment.

Optional Systems & Components

  • Dishwasher inspection using normal operating controls
  • Food waste disposal (garbage disposal). Check for functionality.
  • Ranges, Cook Tops and Ovens inspected for normal operations.
  • Microwave Oven inspected for normal operation and venting.
  • Trash Compactor inspection for normal operations.
  • Door Bell checked.
  • Alarm system – security system.
  • Lawn and garden sprinkler system.
  • Swimming Pool, Hot Tub, and Spa check.
  • Outbuildings
  • Outdoor Cooking Equipment