What Home Exterior Components Can Tell Us During An Inspection

October 31, 2019

A home exterior inspection is often part of a pre-purchase inspection by a prospective home buyer or may be requested by a homeowner prior to putting their home on the market. Most homeowners or potential home buyers have a hard time being completely objective or unemotional when inspecting the house and don't have the training to spot potential problems. Certified home inspectors not only have the appropriate training, they also provide an impartial, third-party opinion.

Home inspectors carefully examine and evaluate exterior components, including the roof, foundation, surfaces, and grounds. A thorough home exterior inspection provides deeper insight into the home and often tells you more about what to look for on the interior of the home.

Grading And Drainage

A home exterior inspection includes evaluating the soil to ensure it slopes away from the structure to carry water away from the home. Improper grading and poor drainage can cause water to pool near the home and cause foundation movement and damage from cracking and settling. Out-of-square windows seen during an exterior inspection could be a sign that foundation movement has already occurred due to water pooling. During the interior inspection, further signs could include uneven floors and large gaps at the tops of interior doors when they're fully closed.

Roof Inspection

One of the most revealing aspects of a home exterior inspection is the condition of the roof. Although an inspector can't guarantee a roof will or won't leak, they can point out various roofing issues that may impact the overall integrity of the roof. For example, tar smears on the surface of the roof and/or base of the chimney indicate stopgap repairs worth noting.

Roofing materials also provide telltale signs of aging and damage that could indicate water intrusion. Asphalt shingles and wood shakes and shingles show similar signs of age and wear, including curling, cupping, splitting, rotting, and missing sections. Asphalt shingles also show blistering and granular loss, and wood may also have signs of insect damage. An inspector looks for weakened areas that may signal rot or potential leaks externally and inspects the corresponding areas inside the home for moisture stains as further signs of previous or active leaks.

Exterior Surfaces

Home exterior inspections include all exterior surfaces, especially the walls and siding. Some common exterior wall surfaces and potential problems found during an inspection include:

  • Stucco-surfaced walls with the weep screed covered by concrete patios, sidewalks, or other cement components poured too high could indicate the system doesn't work correctly, allowing water to enter the walls and living spaces.
  • Vinyl siding should have been installed over a water-resistive barrier and shouldn't have any sagging, buckling, bulging, rippling and/or caulk where it shouldn't belong, signaling improper installation that leaves the walls susceptible to water intrusion.
  • Hardboard siding, often called Masonite, expands slightly over time and the area around the nail head becomes damaged, allowing water intrusion that leads to rotting and eventually complete deterioration of the exterior surface.

All these surface issues are easy to spot during an exterior inspection and can all indicate that the wall beneath the surface has suffered damage from water and rot. Other surfaces and components included in an exterior inspection are the fascia, trim, soffits, doors, windows and screens, balconies, handrails, guardrails, carports, attached garages, and retaining walls.

Foundation And Structure

Once the inspector identifies the type of foundation a home has, they look for evidence of structural deficiencies. It's common to find minor cracks in a foundation due to the natural settling process that likely aren't an issue. However, major cracks and shifting identified during a thorough foundation inspection could be more structurally significant. As previously noted, cracks and shifting can be signs of improper drainage and sloping and should be addressed before costly foundation repairs become necessary. Other structural issues an inspector looks for include gaps between the concrete driveway and garage that could indicate water was able to collect beneath the slab and cause it to raise up when the ground freezes.

Call The Home Inspection Experts

Whether you're buying or selling a home, our knowledgeable home inspectors at All Jersey Home Inspection in South Plainfield, New Jersey, deliver comprehensive home exterior and interior inspections you can count on. We also offer underground oil tank sweeps, mold inspections, and asbestos inspections. We're fully licensed and insured, and we've built a reputation for reliable services throughout New Jersey. Contact us at 908-917-0194 to schedule your inspection today.