What's In A WIN Home Inspection?

A WIN home inspection provides a comprehensive analysis of the current condition of a home. An inspection first assesses the structural components of a property, and then reviews the property's major and ancillary systems. Home inspectors tend to start by looking at a home's foundation, then move on to other large-scale structural elements – such as its roof, basement and/or crawl space, attic, walls, ceilings, windows and doors, and floors. Then the inspection narrows in on specific systems, such as heating and cooling, plumbing, and electrical systems. The inspection also includes an assessment of how well attached garages, decks, porches and related construction have been built.

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Site: Overview

Before your WIN inspector assesses the condition of the home to be inspected, the property on which it sits will first be examined for proper land grading, water drainage and utility service connections.

Site: Site Drainage

Most issues with moisture in basements and crawl spaces are caused by poor site drainage.

Your WIN Inspector will observe the drainage pattern of land adjacent to the structure. For effective drainage, the ground should slope away from all sides of the building. The ground should also slope away from window wells, outside basement stairs and other areas. Downspouts, surface gutters, and drains should direct water four to six feet away from the foundation.

Site: Utility Services

Your WIN inspector will visually examine all of the utility services leading into the home's structure, including the electrical, water and gas services, any service shutoffs, the sewer line cleanout and the location of the fuel storage tank (if applicable).

The types of service, and the entrance location and current condition of each service, will also be reviewed.

Foundation: Overview

A foundation holds a house above ground, prevents it from moving along with the earth it sits in, and protects against cold and moisture.

A foundation's structure varies depending on when a home was built, the climate in which the home was built, and whether or not the home was built with a basement, atop a crawlspace or on a concrete slab. Your WIN inspector will determine what type of foundation the home has (raised or slab) and what material has been used to construct it (brick, concrete, stone, etc.), and observe the current condition of visible, exposed areas of foundation walls, grade slab, bearing walls, posts, piers, beams, joists, trusses, subfloors, chimney foundations, stairs, and other similar structural components.

Foundation: Foundation Type/Material

Older homes may be built with stone, mortar or brick foundations; however, most homes built in the latter half of the twentieth century are constructed on foundations made from a combination of concrete and steel reinforcements, which are built in several different ways.

Poured concrete foundations are typically reinforced with steel and considered favorable. Concrete slab foundations consist of a flat piece of poured concrete; slab foundations are difficult to inspect because much of the foundation is hidden. Cement block foundations (built from "concrete masonry units") often occur in homes with basements.

Foundation types vary by age and geographic location.

Foundation: Level/Gradation/Clearance

During a home inspection, your WIN inspector will examine the structure's performance by first looking at the area around it.

The surrounding perimeter of the structure/yard will be evaluated for adequate land grading and water drainage adjacent to the foundation. Should this be lacking, it may create an environment for water to pool along the foundation. The foundation should also have an appropriate clearance from any trees and/or vegetation so as not to adversely affect the structure.

Foundation: Ventilation

A WIN Inspector will review the basement/crawlspace for adequate ventilation of the area to provide the needed air flow to help dissipate moisture from under the structure.

Foundation: Insulation

The basement/crawl space area will be reviewed by your WIN inspector to determine if insulation is present and properly installed. and determine the approximate insulation thickness in the area. Insulating the underside of the first floor flooring via the crawl space or basement will provide increased energy efficiency and comfort.

Foundation: Pipe/Ducts

Your WIN inspector will check any visible piping and ductwork within the basement/crawl space area for improperly secured, leaking or poorly insulated piping and ducts. Missing or poorly installed insulation can reduce energy efficiency of both your HVAC system and plumbing.


Foundation: Moisture/Dampness

The foundation will be inspected for any indications of flooding, moisture or water penetration. The inspector will check for the presence of vapor barriers within the area that minimize moisture intrusion from the ground and allow for the evaporation of moisture through the structure.

Most basements and crawlspaces are susceptible to moisture issues and water penetration. The type and degree of moisture-related issues varies, but even if the water doesn't damage your home's structure it may create an environment favored by wood-destroying organisms and insects that will.

Foundation: Cracks/Separations

Foundation inspections involve both a review of the home's interior, usually focusing on the basement or crawl space, as well as its exterior, where foundation cracks and shifts are often apparent.

The appearance and nature of cracks in a foundation can foreshadow water leaks, structural issues and vulnerability in the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster. Often cracks and unevenness are due to "settling" – the slight sinking or tilting that happens over time to almost all structures.

Foundation: Settlement

Some foundation settling or damage may be inevitable, particularly in an older home, but an inspector can help you determine the degree of danger or needed repairs to the home. Depending on the type of foundation your home has, sealants and reinforcements may be able to combat any early signs of trouble for many years to come.

Roofing: Overview

The roof is one of the most important structural elements of a home. A WIN inspector will describe the pitch (or slope) of a roof, the overall condition of the roof, and the risks associated with the type of roof that sits atop the home. The home inspection will also assess other factors (such as nearby trees and vegetation) that could impact the roof, and whether a roof appears leak-prone. Your inspector will visually inspect your home's roof to assess the condition, its drainage, and whether it is properly flashed to prevent leaks. Inspectors will climb on or at least up to the roof when safe. They'll look for damage, wear, moss or discoloration on the roofing materials.

Roofing: Roofing Type/Material

A WIN inspector will identify the type of roofing materials on the home and climb up to – or atop – the roof to assess its condition, drainage, and whether it's flashed properly to prevent leaks. If the roof is worn, losing shingles, or near trees or if gutters look troublesome the inspector will point this out.

There are many different types of roofing, using a variety of different materials. Asphalt or composition shingles are the predominant type of roofing material in the U.S., but there are many other types including wood shingles (shakes), tile, slate, flat or built-up, and metal roofing. Depending on the type of material used, a home's roof can last from 10 to 50 years (sometimes even more). However, environmental conditions like prolonged sun, heat, rain or snow, and the lack of regular maintenance on a roof may decrease its lifespan.

Roofing: Flashings/Caulking

Flashing is the material used where roof parts and materials connect (chimney, windows, adjoining garage structure, etc.). The amount of flashing on a roof varies and is often different forms of metal. An inspector will check to see if the flashing is functioning properly, and will gauge whether it is prone to any leakage.

Roofing: Ventilation

Your WIN Inspector will check for the presence of soffit vents, ridge vents, roof vents and/or gable vents which help to maintain a continuous airflow along the underside of the roof. Appropriate ventilation helps to reduce moisture in the attic space, prolong roof life, and creates an environment conducive to a healthy home.

Roofing: Chimneys

Your WIN inspector will determine the type and materials of a home's chimney(s), and check the general visible condition of the chimney and the chimney flashing. This flashing provides a tight joint between the chimney and the roof.

Roofing: Gutters/Down Spouts

Gutters and downspouts attached to roofs are also important elements of the roof structure. Improperly installed or clogged gutters won't direct water away from the house properly and could distribute water near the home's foundation, increasing the likelihood of basement flooding or foundation-related moisture problems.

Roofing: Leakage

Most roof leaks result from improperly installed flashing. An inspector will check, where visible, the condition of the flashing to gauge whether it is prone to leaks, as well as the condition of skylights and other roof penetrations. Leakage can also result from improper caulking, or from degradation of a roof's shingles, most often caused by weather and the effects of time.

Exterior: Overview

Your WIN inspector will spend a considerable amount of time reviewing a home's exterior in order to get a sense of the home's overall structural health.

A home's foundation will be reviewed from the outside, as well as sidewalks, steps, decks, entryways, and windows. In addition, inspectors will review a home's exterior surfaces, which can be made from many materials including brick, vinyl siding, stone, asbestos or wood shingles. Inspectors will examine your home's exterior surfaces for cracks, blistering, chipping or evidence of moisture intrusion.

Exterior: Vegetation Clearance from Structure

The yard's condition and landscaping will be examined by your WIN inspector in terms of its ability to foster proper drainage and whether trees and shrubs are far enough from the house. Keeping plant material an adequate distance away from the structure is important for both pest and moisture control.

Exterior: Earth to Wood/Siding Clearance

Your WIN inspector will examine the soil around the perimeter of the structure, to examine whether adequate clearance is between the ground (soil) and the wood elements of a structure – approximately 6" – 12". At times, excess soil from garden beds, retaining walls, etc. is piled against the foundation of a house and makes contact with the structure's exterior wood elements, potentially leading to moisture intrusion and structural damage.

Exterior: Exterior Material

Inspectors will consider a home's siding materials, examining them for cracks, blistering, chipping, whether they have come loose in places and whether they may have created an environment where moisture intrusion is possible.

If the home is made of brick, inspectors will look for worn coloring, loose bricks or missing mortar, or for partially-cracked bricks. Wood siding may be prone to insect damage, moisture intrusion, or dryness from sun exposure. Aluminum and vinyl siding may become loose or fall off in small pieces, or reveal a worn surface. Stucco may show stains, cracks and swelling. Asbestos cement siding found on older homes may show cracking and, because most homes featuring this siding were built long ago, this siding may also loosen from the layers of material beneath it.

Exterior: Painted Surfaces/Caulking

Depending on a home's age and building materials, inspectors will look for different symptoms of age and will be able to identify what may need repairs or repainting, caulking or spot work versus larger issues that may affect the home's entire exterior.

Exterior: Fascia Boards/Trim

Your WIN inspector will examine the condition of a home's fascia boards and trim for different types of wear. Gutters and downspouts will also be checked for any holes, gaps, rust, clogging or other symptoms of leaks.

Exterior: Windows/Doors

Your WIN inspector will check a home's doors and windows for proper installation and for any broken or damaged components. Doors and window will also be checked for proper grade as exterior components, and if properly weather sealed.

Exterior: Lighting

Adequate exterior lighting around a home's entryways provides extra visibility. Your WIN inspector will verify the condition of these components and whether they are functioning properly.

Exterior: Patios/Decking/Porches

Not only will inspectors study the foundation from the outside, examining unevenness, cracks, and holes, but they will also check a home's sidewalks, steps and entryways. The condition of any associated patios, decking and porches are also examined, including surface coverings, functional and safety issues. Driveways and sidewalks will also be examined for holes or cracks that indicate wear and tear or tripping hazards.

Exterior: Garage/Carport

Your WIN inspector will check for proper installation and operation of garage door openers and safety switches, if applicable. A garage and/or carport's foundation or concrete slab will also be examined for any visible signs of unevenness or cracks. The roof and exterior siding will be checked for type of material used and current condition. The roof, walls and foundation will also be checked for any evidence of moisture penetration or structural damage issues in the area.

Interior: Overview

Your inspector will spend a considerable amount of time reviewing your home's interior, including an examination of the heating system, air ducts, whether windows open or not for air flow, insulation, electrical components, and floor structure. Your WIN inspector will also review the condition of all walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors of all rooms, as well as any steps, stairways, balconies and fireplaces within the home. Interior electrical outlets and fixtures, plumbing fixtures, and heating and cooling registers will also be checked.

Interior: Interior Material/Condition

After an inspector has reviewed a home's outside, it's time for an interior examination of how the home's structure appears from the inside. Are ceilings bowed? Are floors springy, or solid? In the basement, are support posts loose or showing signs of substructural damage?

Your WIN inspector will review the home's ventilation and insulation where visible. The type of insulation, its current condition, and appropriate thickness will be examined. Your inspector will examine whether the windows are functioning properly. Inspectors will also note if the stairs have loose handrails or steps, and whether there are signs of cracked or repaired plaster in ceilings and walls. If a basement or portion of the home is unfinished, he or she will review its structure and habitability.

Interior: Basement/Crawlspace

Your WIN inspector will determine if your basement and/or crawl space were built according to industry standards. If they are not, your inspector will make recommendations for needed repairs and improvements. Most basements and crawl spaces are susceptible to moisture issues and water penetration periodically. The type and degree of moisture-related issues varies, but even if water doesn't damage your home's structure, it could create conducive conditions favored by wood-destroying organisms and/or insects.

Interior: Kitchen

Your WIN inspector will examine interior condition of the kitchen, windows and entry doors, as well as any built-in appliances. Your inspector will also check the current condition of kitchen cabinets and countertops, signs of leakage under the sink or refrigerator, if applicable.

Interior: Laundry

Your WIN inspector will examine the interior condition of the laundry area/room, closet doors, windows and entry doors. Your inspector will also determine whether there are appropriate hookups for a washer and dryer and if the area has appropriate ventilation.

Interior: Bathroom(s)

Your WIN inspector will examine the interior of the bathroom(s), and will also check signs of moisture issues and the condition of components. For example, in bathrooms, are tiles loose – or is the toilet loose from its base, a sign that it needs to be resealed and may have leaked to the floor beneath?

Interior: Attic

Your WIN inspector will examine the interior condition of the attic area, any windows and entry doors. The active or passive ventilation system will be examined.

The presence or absence of insulation will be noted, and if present, approximate thickness will be noted. The accessible areas of the underside of the roof will be visually inspected for any signs of moisture penetration or the existence of past/present leaks. The condition of the framing of the roof will also be reviewed for proper function and any visible deficiencies in the accessible and areas.

Interior: Fireplace

The condition of any fireplaces, dampers, fire boxes and hearths that are readily visible will be examined by your WIN inspector. Your inspector will also determine if visible, any need for service, cleaning and/or repair of the fireplace and its components.

Interior: Evidence of Remodeling

Your WIN inspector will examine the interior of the home to see if there is any evidence of updating or repair. Updating includes upgrades to components such as plumbing, electrical, kitchen appliances and cabinetry in kitchens and bathrooms, etc.

Plumbing: Overview

Inspectors will examine the flow of water within the home by running faucets, tubs, showers, and sinks. They will also determine what type of water pipes enter your home from the exterior and distribute water throughout your home, if visible. Depending on the type of piping they find, your WIN inspector can then assess the potential or existing issues that might be responsible for the way water is flowing in the home. In addition to examining piping, inspectors will look for leaks and drips and whether plumbing fixtures have been damaged and how water drains.

Plumbing: Size Service to Structure

Your WIN inspector will check the incoming size of the water line, to make sure it is functional. Replacing distribution pipes can be a pricey endeavor, as is replacing exterior pipes that have corroded. Some exterior pipes are made of lead, and for health reasons it's generally recommended that lead pipes be replaced so that drinking water not pass through them.

Plumbing: Pipe Material

Your WIN inspector will identify the type of plumbing materials where visible within the home and assess its condition and drainage. There are several major types of piping: copper, PEX (Cross-linked polyethylene), galvanized steel, or CPVC (plastic) plumbing.  Copper is considered the most reliable and long-lasting plumbing material.   PEX is a newer type of supply material commonly found.  Galvanized steel, while competent, can accumulate buildup from corrosion within pipes that constricts water flow over time and may require inhabitants of the house to take turns using water-related appliances rather than using them simultaneously. 

Some problem products include polybutylene plumbing, which was installed between the 1970s and 1990s, has been found defective and buyers would be advised to research whether the plumbing needs repair or replacement.

Plumbing: Waste Pipe Material

Your WIN inspector will identify the type of waste pipe material within the home and assess its condition and drainage. Common drain pipes include ABS and PVC plastic in newer homes, and black iron, galvanized steel or cast iron in older ones.

Plumbing: Evidence of Leaks

Plumbing issues are often responsible for moisture-related complications in a home such as rot or mildew, so it's important to make sure pipes, sinks, and other water-related appliances function correctly or if they need repair. Your WIN inspector will examine plumbing for evidence of leaks.

Plumbing: Pressure Readings

Interior and exterior plumbing system is examined for functional flow.

Plumbing: Drainage and Sump Pumps

Any accessible sump or ejector pump(s) installed within the home will be evaluated for proper installation and function, where accessible. Note: waste ejector pumps are not invasively inspected

Plumbing: Water Heater

Your WIN inspector will identify the type of water heater within the home and its corresponding energy source, and also assess its installation, approximate age, current condition and any safety issues with the unit. A safety valve needs to be installed and attached to the unit with a proper drain line, and in some seismic-prone areas of the country, safety tie-downs are required. The system will also be checked for any evidence of leaks.

Electrical: Overview

A home's electrical system is complex, and your WIN Inspector will review the visible components of the system for safety and any issues needing evaluation by a licensed electrician.

Electrical systems over thirty years old should be completely evaluated by a qualified and licensed electrician for issues beyond the scope of the inspection completed by your WIN Inspector.

Electrical: Service Size/Panel to Structure

Your WIN inspector will identify the size of electrical service (amps/volts) within the home and assess its installation, current condition, and any associated safety issues.

The visible wiring type(s) for powering the home will be inspected and reported. While copper and multi-conductor aluminum are the most common wire types found in the modern homes, some older homes are powered with solid conductor aluminum which may present a fire hazard over time due to inadequate connections.

Electrical: Panel/Sub Panel

A home's electrical panel(s) or fuse box contains the circuit breakers or fuses that protect the wiring and end-user devices in the home. Your WIN inspector will review the breaker panel/fuse box for appropriate configuration and advise of adverse conditions such as damaged or known problematic components.

Electrical: Breaker Configuration

Your WIN inspector will evaluate the current configuration of breakers or fuses and wire size in order to verify that the wire size is appropriate for the current load acceptable to the breaker or fuse size. Inappropriate breaker or fuse to wire size may result in overheating of wiring and possible fire.

Electrical: Plugs, Switches and Junction Boxes

Your WIN inspector will examine the permanent lighting throughout the house – both indoor and outdoor. In addition, your WIN Inspector will examine whether outlets appear to be properly grounded.

Electrical: Wiring

Your WIN inspector will review the visibly accessible electrical wiring to make sure the wires aren't showing signs of cracking, overheating or aging that present a shock hazard or an environment conducive to a fire risk.

Electrical: Receptacle and Service Ground

Your WIN inspector will verify the current condition of the accessible electrical outlets within the home to determine if they appear to be grounded.  Older homes had two wire systems without grounds. In these homes, it is not uncommon to find a combination of grounded and un-grounded outlets. Your WIN inspector will also verify the current main grounding method and bonding, if visible, as well as the current condition of electrical service leading into the home.

Electrical: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)

A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is a device designed to protect against electrical shock. GFCIs are commonly installed in areas within a home where electricity has the possibility of coming in contact with water, specifically in kitchen, bathroom, laundry and garage areas, as well as outdoors. Your WIN inspector will check these areas to make sure the home is equipped with GFCIs in appropriate areas. Requirements for GFCIs depend on the year and location when the home was built.

Electrical: Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI)

Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are electrical devices designed to protect against fires caused by arcing faults in the home electrical wiring. As of 2002, in most areas of the country, AFCIs have been required to protect branch circuits that serve residential bedroom wall receptacles, ceiling lights/fans, and hardwired smoke detectors. The requirements for AFCI’s in new construction and remodeling continue to change and may vary by local jurisdiction. These areas of the house have been identified as the source of many electrical arc related fires by both fire and code officials. Your WIN Inspector will identify the presence or lack of AFCI’s and their operation based on the manufacturer’s testing procedures if possible.

The AFCI circuit breaker serves a dual purpose – not only will it shut off electricity in the event of an “arcing fault”, but it will also trip when a short circuit or an overload occurs. The AFCI circuit breaker provides protection for the branch circuit wiring and limited protection for power cords and extension cords.

Heating: Overview

Your WIN Inspector will review your home's heating system, noting its condition, and when possible, age. Your WIN Inspector will identify if the system is operational and responsive to normal user controls. Regular maintenance, evaluation, and cleaning is important to the efficient operation of the system

Heating: System Type/Info

The home's heating system, including type, will be determined by your WIN Inspector making sure that it’s operable, that the system is located in a safe area of the house, and noting its current condition. The system's energy source (gas, oil, electricity, etc.) and method used to conduct heat throughout the home will be identified. The system will be checked for proper operation and a functional test will be performed via normal user controls. For homes that formerly used oil heat, your WIN inspector may be able to assist in determining if the tank has been decommissioned, as you may be liable for an expensive removal or clean-up procedure if leaks occur.

Heating: Vents/Flues

In all visibly accessible areas, vents and/or flues will be examined for proper pitch and any visible damage to the system.

Heating: Ducts/Returns

Heat is checked in all living areas of the home where a heat source is present.

Heating: Filters

The condition of any air filters within the heating system will be checked by your WIN inspector where accessible. A dirty or old air filter may affect overall performance and cause premature wear on a heating system. The system will also be checked for any service records/notes and professional services and evaluation may be recommended if over 12 months have passed. Lack of regular maintenance and evaluation on a heating system may cause undue wear and unreliable function of the system.

Air Conditioning: Overview

If present, your WIN Inspector will review your home's air conditioning system, noting its condition and age. Frequently, a homes air conditioning system is a cooling package added to the heating system. This configuration allows for the use of ducting, fans and other components of the heating system. Exterior conditions permitting, the systems operation will be evaluated by your WIN Inspector to determine proper cooling.

Air Conditioning: System Type/Info

Your WIN inspector will review your home's cooling system, identifying the type of system and approximate size where manufacturers information is visible The system's energy source and method used to conduct air throughout the home will also be identified. With cooling systems, the inspector will also review whether they are operational if exterior conditions permit operation.(low- exterior temperatures may prevent the testing of the system) The system will also be checked for any service records/notes and professional services and evaluation may be recommended if over 12 months have passed. Lack of regular maintenance and evaluation on a HVAC system may cause undue wear and unreliable function of the system.

Air Conditioning: Ducts/Returns

The flow of cooled air is checked in all living areas of the home where ducts and/or returns are accessible. Air temperature at a representive sample of registers and return is evaluated to determine if within industry standards.

Air Conditioning: Condensate Drain System

Your WIN inspector will check the primary and secondary drains (where applicable) where installed and visible from the unit to make sure they are properly draining from the system.