All About Inspections

All About Inspections

Once an offer is accepted and the transaction is in the “contingency” phase – one of the buyer’s objectives is to ensure their understanding of the condition of the property they are about to acquire.  Inspections are a critical activity in this “due diligence” period.

While many different inspections can be performed for a residential home, the most common inspections are:

  • Structural Inspection

  • Water Test (if private well)

  • Radon test

  • Chimney

The following is some general information regarding common issues that may arise during these inspections. Note that you are free to hire any inspection company with whom you feel comfortable.  e can refer inspection companies who have served us and our clients for years, if you desire. In any case, we highly recommended that you attend the inspections in person.  This is a great opportunity to you to learn about the house through the eyes of the inspector, and to ask questions about any of the findings and recommendations.


Structural/Building Inspections are a general inspection covering the various systems of the home.  They will typically inspect the structural components of the home (foundation, crawl space, attic, exterior, doors and windows, and interior walls and surfaces), roof, electrical, plumbing, appliances, heating & air conditioning, smoke detectors, garage door, drainage, and water heater.  They will look for conditions that are not up to code, or are not in compliance with current health and safety standards and codes.  They will typically comment on maintenance and other repairs that you may expect over time.

Home inspections include an overview of the roof and chimney, and may raise concerns that would warrant a roofing or chimney expert to advise and provide estimates, if necessary. They also do not check for building permits.

Drainage is one area that is often a concern in this area, especially with older homes.  It is not uncommon to get some dampness in the basement or around the home, especially in the spring.  Large accumulation of water in a basement is not a desirable situation.  If you buy an older home, pay particular attention to the drainage, and what improvements you might want to consider over time.  Your building inspector can advise.

Cracking and settlement may be another area of concern.  This is normally a matter of degree, as some cracking in the sheetrock and concrete surfaces is to be expected as the property settles, lumber shrinks, earthquakes occur, and so on.  Extensive cracking, sticking doors and windows, and floors that are out of level can be a symptom of more serious settlement and/or foundation issues, so again care should be taken to understand and address these issues.

You should also determine the age of the major components of the home, such as water heaters, the furnace, and air conditioning units.  Pay close attention to the age, and ask the home inspector what is a reasonable expectation for the remaining life of these components.


Unless the roof is brand new – a roof inspection by a licensed roofer is higher recommended for most transactions.  They will usually issue a report detailing the condition of the roof, and any repairs that are recommended to keep the roof in good condition.  It is important to ask the inspector how much life is left on the roof.

In general, wood shake roofs can normally be expected to last 20 to 25 years with periodic maintenance.  Composition shingle roofs can be expected to last 20 to 30 years depending on the materials used.  Coated metal roofs, tile roofs, and slate roofs can be expected to last well over 40 or 50 years.  Once the recommended repairs are completed, the roofer will guarantee the roof against leaks for a period of one year.


If the property has a fireplace,  a chimney inspection by a licensed chimney sweep is recommended, especially on masonry or brick fireplace.  The biggest threat is broken flue tiles, which present a fire hazard and will require a $2000 to $3000 repair.  On newer non-masonry fireplaces, the most common issues are related to separation of the panels or pre-mature aging of the refractory panels.


Depending on the situation, other inspections may be appropriate.   Usually we start with the property, roof, and chimney inspections.   Depending on the results of these inspections additional investigation or a more detailed inspection by a specialist may be warranted.  Some other inspections might include:

  • Mold Inspection

  • Furnace inspections by your electric utility provider

  • Foundation inspections

  • Drainage inspections

  • Lead Paint


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Contact Information

Photo of Matt Hurlburt Group Real Estate
Matt Hurlburt Group
RE/MAX North Professionals
40 Main St, Suite 550
Burlington VT 05401
Phone: 802-862-5337
Fax: 866-660-0032