For each component of feature of a home I inspect, I identify it as:
Serviceable Functional with no obvious signs of defect. The item is capable of being used with normal wear/aging. Maintenance Repair This condition warrants maintenance repairs. Fair Condition Item is functional but in the upper range of typical service life for this component. May require repair or replacement at any time.
Poor Condition The general maintenance and upkeep on this component is poor. Recommend further evaluation and repairs by a qualified contractor familiar with this system. Recommend budget considerations for repair/replacement. Not Present Item not present or not found. Not Inspected Item was unable to be inspected for safety reasons or due to lack of power, inaccessible, or disconnected at time of inspection.
Defective Item needs immediate repair or replacement. It is unable to perform its intended function. Safety Hazard Correction of this condition is highly recommended. Safety Upgrade Upgrades are recommended for safety enhancement. This building may have been built before the era of current standards.
At Check It Out home Inspection, my job is to give an objective, accurate description of the state of a home or other structure. No more, no less.
Our Sample Home Inspection Report contains the status of inspected areas and systems. Each area or system has a dedicated chapter in the report. These areas/systems include; Grounds, Exterior, Roof, Attic, Kitchen, Bathroom, Laundry Room, Bedroom, Interior, Fireplace/Wood Stove, Heating System, Crawl Space, Plumbing, Basement, Garage, Structure, and Electrical. We use ten primary definitions for the status of an inspected area or inspected system.
10 Condition Definitions in a Home Inspection Report
Serviceable: Functional with no obvious signs of defect. The item is capable of being used.
Maintenance Repair: This condition warrants additional attention and Maintenance repairs.
Fair Condition: Item is functional but in the upper range of typical service life for this component. May require repair or replacement at any time.
Poor Condition: The general maintenance and upkeep on this component is poor. Recommend further evaluation and repairs by a qualified contractor, familiar with this system. Recommend budget considerations for repair/ replacement.
Not Present: Item not present or not found.
Not Inspected: Item was unable to be inspected for safety reasons or due to lack of power, inaccessible, or disconnected at time of inspection.
Defective Item: needs immediate repair or replacement. It is unable to perform its intended function.
Safety Hazard: Correction of this condition is needed.
Safety Upgrade: Upgrades are recommended for safety enhancement. This building may have been built before the era of current standards.
Structural Geotech: Condition needs further review by a qualified structural engineer/geotechnical engineer.
Some Inspected Items Fall Into Multiple Definitions
In our sample home inspection report, some items or areas use multiple definitions to describe the condition. Take page 7 in the Grounds report we mention wooden stairs that fall into three definition categories; Maintenance Repair, fair Condition and Safety Hazard with an image included (see below).
This would mean that the condition of these stairs warrants additional attention and maintenance repairs, while it is still functional, it is in the upper range of typical service life for this component and is a current safety hazard, and correction of this condition is needed.
Our Home inspection reports do not only provide the condition of each area and system but often come with recommendations as well. Using the example above you can find this additional information and recommendation:
Rise and run on steps create a trip hazard. Worn finish. Earth to wood contact. Recommend monitoring for moisture damage.
At Check It Out Home Inspection Services, we offer all the home inspection services you would expect, for example electrical, plumbing, roof, structure, interior, exterior, garage, and grounds, etc. (Go to the Check it Out Home Inspection homepage for a full list of home inspection services). We also offer One-Stop Shopping Home Inspection Services so you can schedule sewer scoping, radon testing, and oil tank searches 24/7 with a single click or call.
Check It Out Home Inspection provides service to the Greater Portland and Vancouver areas.
As a realtor you usually need to say on the MLS if a home has an A/C unit or a heat pump. The following is some information I hope you find useful to correctly identify the unit.
A heat pump is a single unit that works as an air conditioner in the summer and a heater in winter. In hot weather, a heat pump extracts heat energy out of the cold air inside the home and pumps it outside. In cold weather, it acts as an A/C in reverse — it extracts heat energy from the cold air outside and pumps it inside. When it is very cold outside, a heat pump needs help from a backup furnace. Nevertheless, homes with heat pumps generally have lower power bills.
The main part of a heat pump, the compressor, sits outside the house, and looks very similar to a typical A/C unit. Here are some ways to tell them apart. None of them are foolproof, so you may want to use more than one.
Set the thermostat for just a few degrees above the current temperature (in heating mode) and go outside to see if the compressor is running. If you go too many degrees up, the backup furnace will come on, so make just a small adjustment in temperature. The only time this would not work is if it was very cold outside and the heat pump is in a defrost cycle.
Look at the manufacturer plates on the outside compressor unit, or the air handler/furnace unit inside. It may say if it is a heat pump. It’s also a good idea to Google the serial number because sometimes the manufacturer plate says it is an air conditioning unit, but it can still be a heat pump.
On a thermostat for a heat pump you should see a setting called “emergency heat”. This is not foolproof because I have found A/C thermostats used for heat pumps. The emergency, or auxiliary, heat turns on when the heat pump alone cannot warm the house to the desired temperature and a backup furnace will come on to boost the temperature.
Heat pumps will be up on 4 inch plastic legs that allow for water to drain when it is in defrost cycle. A/C units will usually sit directly on a cement or brick pad.