What are we looking for during a House Inspection in Seattle?

Series: Finding what we are looking for – Yards and Grounds

During a home inspection the first thing we look at is the land and site where the house sits.  We look at the drainage, the landscaping, driveways, sidewalks and patios, the site entry, fences and the retaining walls.  The inspection on these focus points put together with the other parts of a house will make a complete home inspection.

During the yards and grounds inspection we observe the entire site and its topography. Here in the Pacific Northwest excess water is our challenge so we are very interested in ensure that it moves away from the house itself and off the site.  We are looking at what kind of slope the site has or is it level.  A lot of hills here as well so does the site have as gradual or steep slope?  We also want to take note of where the house actually sits on the site.  Is the house at the top of the hill with water running away or at the bottom with water running towards.  Two very different results.

After we get a feel for the site during the house inspection we look at how the site has been treated and what kind of landscaping is present.  A quick look at the health of the plants can indicate good or bad soil.  Bad soil will be prone to issues such as erosion and holding water, which will be noted on your inspection report.  A good Home Inspector will also note the lack of or over growth of plants.  Noting the removal or trimming of any overgrown or dead and crowded shrubbery.

The driveway generally traverse the site which has the potential to affect the quality of the drive itself.  Shrubs and trees can grow roots into it and water drainage can wash it away.  A house inspection report will note major cracks, settlement and root damage.  It is also important to note how the driveway affect the water runoff of the site.

Sidewalks, step and patios are all connected with the driveway and are in the same section in your house inspection.  Importance is taken on noting any tripping hazards on the public access areas.  It only takes a variance of 3/8 inch to be a hazard so it is important to have a detailed and attentive home inspector.

Fences that are attached the house are officially inspected, but if you have a back forty that is surrounded by barb wire, it is not included in the house inspection report.  As with all building structures it is important to keep the bare ground away from the wood as this is the most common way to bring in everything from insects to rot.  The fence is noted for stability and to ensure it is not falling over.

All the retaining walls, whether attached to the house or not will be included by the home inspector in your report.   In our hilly area we use the walls to create  a relatively flat site to build a house.  The walls can be made of a variety of materials from wood to stone and concrete.