At Certified Home Inspections, whether you’re preparing for your house to hit the market, or a potential buyer with your heart set on a new amazing property, we are here to make sure you know every detail about your home or home-to-be, inside and out. 

To that end, we inspect your home the right way, and carefully examine every square inch of the outdoor grounds before we even step through the front door. To give you some insight into what that process looks like, here are the first ten areas we focus on when we visit your home for a professional inspection.

  1. Service Walk
  • Is the pathway up to your house level? Does water drain away from the house? Is the foundation smooth, or do uneven settling cracks create a potential tripping hazard? These are the first things we look for, and are some of the most obvious issues to identify right off the bat.
  1. Driveway

blacktop driveway with grass growing in cracks

  • Usually the issues we look for on the driveway are the same as those along the service walk, and unless your driveway or service walk has some major drainage or leveling issues, the repairs are often straightforward and stress-free.
  1. Stoops & Steps
  • The biggest issue is keeping up with code, particularly in regard to your staircase handrails. For example, as of 2015, many local codes state that handrails must be present on one side of all interior step with more than two risers, and that guardrails will be present around platforms over 30 inches above floor level. Of course, this can change from one county to the next, and our inspection team will help you understand what steps need to be taken to ensure your front porch meets all of the building code requirements.
  1. Patio
  • If you’re thinking that patio issues are bound to be similar to – if not the same as – your driveway and service walk issues, you’re right. The main problems that come up here aren’t much different, and more often than not have to do with proper drainage and the presence of uneven settling cracks.
  1. Deck or Balcony
  • If there haven’t been any issues arise thus far in the inspection, here’s an area where the first alarm bells often sound. Aside from checking to make sure lag-bolts were used when the deck was built to ensure it’s structurally sound, we also look for proper spacing between handrails and spindles were incorporated in the build to allow the structure to be both safe and functional.
  • Meeting code is the main issue here. In many areas, all decks need to be at least 10 feet from either the septic or well, and 25 feet off the downslope of the septic system. Those are just a couple of examples, as balcony and deck details can be somewhat of a nit-picking nuisance. However, we’ll be able to identify exactly what codes your structure needs to meet.
  1. Fences
  • Many folks overlook the structural integrity of their fences, but we check these as well. We aren’t looking for gaps that your lap dog could crawl underneath, as much as we are that the fence itself is in good shape. Is it leaning? Are there planks missing? Does the gate function properly, and close securely? These are all things that should be identified and fixed before the house goes up on the market, or that a potential buyer should be aware of when making an offer.
  1. Landscape

sloped stairs. no guardrail

  • No, we don’t care how lively and colorful your flower garden looks. This phase of the initial inspection is all about proper grading. We’re looking of negative soil grade, or any areas on the property where water might pool toward or around the house’s foundation. If that’s the case, it could mean water damage issues, including mold, flooding, cracked walls and floors, and even severe structural damage.
  1. Retaining Walls
  • Thankfully, issues with retaining walls are rarely a major cause for concern. Walls that are cracked, leaning, bowed, or bulging can all be signs of damage. As long as the wall isn’t crumbling or already toppled, it probably isn’t too late to rehabilitate the wall and remedy the situation.
  1. Spigots
  • Up in Northwest Indiana, where frigid winters can give our Canadian neighbors to the north a run for their money, properly winterized outdoor spigots are a must-have. Otherwise, the pipes may freeze, expand, and potentially bust, which is never good. Though cases like this aren’t very common, there are other lesser-known issues that we look for, including “spill-back” from weedkiller attachments. Updating your old spigots to anti-syphon spigots is always a good idea to prevent any chemicals from seeping backward through the hose and into the water lines.
  1. Trees
  • Are the trees on your property healthy and thriving, or do falling limbs and rotted trunks pose a safety risk? Are the roots growing toward the foundation, or creating large uneven cracks on your driveway and sidewalk? Are there leftover tree stumps from previous removals (these need to be ground up and removed, as they attract termites and carpenter ants)? We check for all of these issues and more, including any signs of the ash borer beetle making your shade-giver its home.

These are only the initial steps of our inspection process.

Even so, as you can imagine, one issue after another can hit folks in the wallet very quickly. Though some companies overlook many of theses issues, our inspection team thoroughly examines every square inch of the outdoor property before we ever step inside, all in an effort to ensure future homeowners aren’t hit with any money-spilling surprises once they purchase their new home.