Todd Kirkpatrick compares a home inspector to a general practitioner house doctor. “We could find problems that may need further evaluation by a specialist,” he says. As owner of A-1 Home Inspections (417-880-4663, a-1inspections.com), Kirkpatrick gives each home he inspects a full evaluation. It takes him almost four hours, and it’s supposed to—he’s looking for anything that might affect the prospective buyer’s decision to close on the home. When house hunters are walking through a home, they’re looking at room layouts and imagining where they will place their furniture. Kirkpatrick looks for things the average person can’t see, and after spending time with him, I’m convinced he has a special lens over his eyes.
Driveway, Walkway, Brick and Deck
We started in the driveway and moved all around the house. He pointed out the uneven sidewalk as a tripping hazard, noted the cracks in the outer brick and then shook his head at the sagging deck with inadequate support posts underneath.
Fence, Yard and Roof
We walked the perimeter of the fence, and Kirkpatrick tested his weight against some leaning posts evident of rotting wood. He turned on all the sprinkler zones to check yard coverage and look for any buried heads. Then he climbed a ladder to walk along the roof and check for unsealed nails to mark for repair.
In the kitchen, Kirkpatrick turned on the sink and dishwasher to check water flow and ensure no pipes were leaking. We turned on the stove, oven and microwave to make sure the power was there and test the heating elements.
When we made it to the bathroom, Kirkpatrick checked the plumbing system for any leaks. He let the tub fill with water to check the drainage, and left the water running for when we headed to the crawl space.
Living Room and Bedrooms
In the living room and bedrooms, Kirkpatrick checked the ceiling for drywall cracks and checked windows for faulty seals and closure.
Garage and Furnace
When we headed into the garage, Kirkpatrick checked the power on the door and made sure the stop sensor worked. Kirkpatrick spent extra time looking at the furnace. It is an integral part of the inspection, because it could potentially kill someone. He looked at the filters, temperature sensors and dates to see how old the equipment was. He let the furnace run to test ability, the thermostat’s accuracy and the ability of the air conditioner to later cool down a warm house.
Walls and Outlets
As we moved all around the house, we walked along the walls to examine board seams and look for any damage. Kirkpatrick has a tool that he plugged into every single outlet to check power and GFCI protection.
When we went under the house, we checked for any water leaks and inspected the pipes. We looked for disturbed insulation and any damaged boards that could be signs of pests.
After I crawled back from under the house, Kirkpatrick explained that everything he sees he shares with the client to show findings and share suggestions for repair.
An inspection is not a pass-or-fail test, but rather a detailed report on the condition of the home with pictures and a summary of the defects that are not visible. And now the next time you have one done, you’ll know just what to expect.