How do you inspect the exterior of the house?

I’m sure that each home inspector has their methods or practices when inspecting the exterior of the home. During my certification with Carson Dunlop I learned a tried, tested and true method that I have adapted to suit my needs and the needs of my client. There are two passes on the exterior of the home, the macro and micro.

I always start with the exterior of home, and it actually starts before I leave my car. When I turn on to the street where your possible future home is I start to look at the neighborhood, the houses, the sidewalks, taking mental notes of the trees, grass, and terrain. This begins what’s called a macro approach. From up close, you might not be able to see the forest from the trees – so to speak. You won’t be able to see that the gutters aren’t sloped properly, or that they are damaged in some fashion. Perhaps there is a sagging lintel on the garage door. Major structural problems are often only eye catching when you’re viewing from a far. Examples of that could be a leaning or bowing wall, or racking of the building. The macroscopic look will build the big picture.

From the outside, I’ll be able to locate the furnace, the electrical panel and the plumbing entrance into the house.

The second pass is called the micro approach. This is the close up look at the exterior of the house; checking for the details, probing windowsills (where applicable), getting behind plants, etc. When thinking about the exterior of the home, it’s fair to say that water is the greatest enemy of buildings.

Sometimes I’ll find poor details; but where there should be a problem but there is no evidence of a problem. When I come across this, I make a note of the detail and also note that it should be monitored.

Evidence is key. There may be a problem, but, if the problem is intermittent/not active when I (or another home inspector) there may be no clues for us to follow. A carpet that dries without staining or a skylight that leaks only when the rain blows from a certain direction or force.