RESIDENTIAL STRUCTURAL INSPECTION
We inspect foundation, basement, crawlspace; and structural components.
We describe the type of foundation and the location of the access to the under-floor space.
We report indications of possible foundation movement such as sheetrock cracks, brick cracks, out-of-square door frames, unlevel floors, cutting, notching and boring of framing members that according with the inspector’s opinion may present a structural or safety concern.
Grading & Drainage
We inspect the vegetation, surface drainage, retaining walls and grading of the property and we make recommendations where they may adversely affect the structure due to moisture intrusion.
Residential grading is the best way to prevent moisture and foundation problems. Residential grading means adjusting the slope around your home. As a general rule of thumb, your residential grading should decrease 6 inches every 10 feet away that you are from the home’s foundation. This means that the area 10 feet away from your home should be 6 inches lower than the area next to your foundation.
Roof Covering materials
We inspect from ground level or the eaves, roof-covering materials, gutters, downspouts, vents, flashing, skylights, chimney, and other roof penetrations.
When inspecting the roof from the exterior, we pay close attention to the roof material. The life of a roof depends on local weather conditions, building and design, material quality, and adequate maintenance. Hot climates drastically reduce asphalt shingle life. Roofs in areas that experience severe weather, such as hail, tornadoes and/or hurricanes may also experience a shorter-than-normal lifespan overall or may incur isolated damage that requires repair in order to ensure the service life of the surrounding roofing materials.
We inspect the structure of the roof from the readily accessible.
When inspecting the roof structure from the exterior, We should also pay close attention to the wall structures. We observe signs of the walls bowing out, or the soffits pulling away from the tops of the walls. This is a condition called rafter spread, where the weight of the roof has pushed the roof rafters outward, resulting in a separation of the roof structure from the walls, and pushing the top of the walls outward.
We inspect attic insulation in unfinished spaces, crawlspaces and foundation areas, the ventilation of unfinished spaces, including attics, crawlspaces and foundation areas.
As with any other system, roof venting may have been installed incorrectly, may not have enough area, may have been rendered inoperable by changes to the home, or may have been badly modified by the homeowner in an attempt to save energy.
Such problems include:
•A lack of vents. It is also common to find high levels of moisture in these attics, which promotes moisture-related issues, such as rotting sheathing and mold growth.
•Inadequate venting. In some cases, inadequate venting will eventually manifest as rusting shingle nails, and even frost on the underside of the roof sheathing in cold weather.
•Too much ventilation. In some cases, this can be a problem, particularly with large but poorly screened vents that allow rain water to enter the attic space
•False vents. It is all too common to see what appear to be vents installed that are, in fact, not connected through the structure.
•Damaged vents. We often see vents that have been mechanically damaged, or galvanized vents that are rusting away.
We inspect exterior wall-covering materials, the eaves, soffits, fascia, flashing and trim.
When inspecting exterior walls should be adequate clearance from the ground to the bottom of the siding. Generally speaking, there should be 6 to 8 inches of clearance. Some of the foundation wall should be visible above the ground surface and below the siding. Homeowners may not like the appearance of the exposed foundation, but that area should not be covered up with siding. Siding should extend over the top of the foundation wall to protect that area of the structure.
Ceilings & Floors
We inspect floors, walls and ceilings.
Floors transfer both live and dead loads to the foundations and provide lateral support for foundation walls. During the inspection, I will give you a description and information about safety concerns and conditions.
We inspect a representative number of doors and windows by opening and closing them.
Doors have been with us for at least 5,000 years. One usually cannot progress from one room to another without passing through them. The average house in Texas, where I live, has about 20 interior doors. Other than windows, no other operable, structurally related component outnumbers them.
A door provides access, security, light and ventilation. Doors can be made of many different types of materials, including wood, steel, vinyl and aluminum. We inspect the doors from both sides.
A sill at a door should be sloped to divert water away from the door, weather-stripping is generally of three types: metal, foam plastic, or plastic stripping. Each type should have a good fit and securely held in place.
We inspect stairs, steps, landings, stairways, ramps, railings, guards and handrails.
Guards should be constructed to prevent adults from falling over them and to prevent children from crawling through them. The height of a guard is measured vertically from the sloped plane adjoining the tread nosing or leading edge.
The design strength of a guard should resist a 200-pound concentrated load applied at any point in any direction along the handrail or the top of the guard. Intermediate rails and balusters should be able to withstand a horizontal load of 50 pounds on an area equal to 1 square foot.
All decks and porches (including those with insect screening), landings, balconies, mezzanines, galleries, ramps, and raised-floor surfaces located more than 30 inches above the floor or ground should have guards. A guard is necessary at those elevated floor areas because a fall from that height can result in injury.
Fireplaces & Chimneys
We inspect readily accessible and visible portions of the fireplaces and chimneys, lintels above the fireplace openings, damper doors by opening and closing them, if readily accessible and manually operable and cleanout doors and frames.
Chimneys have greater exposure to the weather than most building components, and they have no lateral support from the point where they emerge from the roof. Problems can develop at any point in time as the house ages for example an inadequate foundation.
An inadequate foundation can cause differential settlement of the chimney, but the foundation is underground and not readily visible. If the chimney is part of an exterior wall, it will tend to lean away from the wall and crack where it is joined to other masonry. In some cases, the chimney can be tied to the building.
The chimney could lean where it projects above the roof due to deteriorated mortar joints caused either by wind-induced swaying of the chimney, or by sulfate attack from flue gases and particulates within the chimney when the chimney is not protected by a tight flue liner.