When it comes to maintaining your home, the exterior is just as important as what’s inside. A well-maintained exterior enhances the curb appeal of your property. It also protects your building’s structure and contents from the elements and potential hazards. 

An exterior home inspection is a crucial step in ensuring that your home’s exterior is in top shape. So naturally, we take great care to perform a thorough exterior home inspection every time we inspect a home. (And that goes for commercial property inspections, too!) 

What Exactly is Included in an Exterior Home Inspection?

When we inspect a home’s exterior, we’re looking to make sure everything’s secure, sealed, repaired, and well maintained. We want to make sure that there are no safety hazards present, or anything that would compromise the structure of the building. 

In this blog, I’ll take you step by step through all the things I look at when I inspect a home’s exterior. Let’s take a look! 

Siding: The Guardian of Your Home’s Outer Shell

Your home’s siding acts as the first line of defense against the elements. Whether it’s wood, vinyl, or another material, it’s essential to check your siding for any signs of damage or deterioration. 

During every exterior home inspection, I look for cracks, warping, or missing pieces. It’s also important to inspect the flashing around windows, doors, and other protrusions to ensure it’s properly sealed.

Check out our blog, The Ultimate Guide to U.P. Siding Maintenance, for more tips on siding maintenance and inspection for Upper Peninsula homes. 

Exterior Windows and Doors

Exterior doors and windows act as the gateways between your home’s interior and the outside world. They play a crucial role in maintaining your home’s security, energy efficiency, and overall comfort. Regular inspections can help identify potential issues early on, allowing for timely repairs and preventing further damage.

Your exterior doors should be sturdy, well-fitting, and equipped with secure locks. Inspect your doors for any signs of damage or deterioration, such as cracks, warping, or loose hinges. Check that the weatherstripping and door seals are intact and in good condition, ensuring a tight seal to prevent drafts and energy loss. And of course the doorknobs should be in good working condition and not loose or falling off! 

Your windows should be properly installed, sealed, and equipped with functional locks. Inspect your windows for any cracks, gaps, or loose caulking. Check that the window panes are intact and free of condensation. Ensure that the window locks are working properly and that the screens are in good condition.

Trim: Not Just For Looks 

photo of rotted window trim shot during an exterior home inspection
Rotted window trim can degrade the value of a home.

Trim adds a touch of elegance and definition to your home’s exterior. But it also serves an important function: protecting the edges of your siding and windows from moisture damage. 

If you are inspecting trim on any home, check for any peeling paint, rot, or loose pieces of trim. Once you own the home, regularly painting and sealing your trim will help it withstand the elements and maintain its appearance. This will not only protect your home, but it will help to preserve its resale value should you ever want to sell. 

Additions: Safeguarding Your Extra Spaces

Decks, patios, and porches are wonderful additions to any home, but they require regular maintenance to ensure their safety and longevity. 

Inspect decks for signs of weathering, loose boards, or rotting railings. Check for cracks or gaps in patios and porches. Regular cleaning and sealing will help protect these structures from the elements. 

For a deep dive into the ins and outs of deck inspection and maintenance in the U.P., check out our blog, Deck Maintenance: The Ultimate Yooper’s Guide

Your Foundation: The Backbone of Your Home

Loose bricks in foundation found during an exterior home inspection

No exterior home inspection is complete without checking on the condition of the exterior of the foundation. A strong foundation is essential for the structural integrity of your home. Inspect the exterior of your foundation for any cracks, crumbling mortar, flaking paint, or uneven settling. Check for any signs of water damage, such as efflorescence or staining. 

In the U.P., it’s very common to see rubble or stone foundations with a mortar coat (called a coating) that they put on the surface. It’s very similar to stucco. You want to check this carefully to make sure it’s in good condition because it’s common to find failed coatings, especially in older homes. 

In addition to checking on the condition of the foundation itself, we also check the vents. Foundation vents allow for airflow into the basement or crawl space and are important for ventilation. We want to make sure they are not blocked with earth or debris. We also check for damage and to make that vent screens are intact to prevent insects or animals from entering the home. 

Of course it goes without saying that any foundation issues should be addressed promptly to prevent further damage.

Eaves, Soffit and Fascia: The Unsung Heroes of Your Home’s Exterior

The eaves, soffits, and fascia are the trio of elements that form the underside of your roof overhang. These components play a crucial role in protecting your home from moisture damage, wind infiltration, and pests.

Regular inspection and maintenance of your eaves, soffits, and fascia are essential to ensure their longevity and effectiveness. Check for signs of damage, such as cracks, rot, flaking paint, or loose pieces. Also look for debris that may accumulate in the soffits, as this can obstruct ventilation. 

Plumbing and Electrical: Ensuring Safety and Functionality

Your home’s exterior plumbing and electrical systems should be in proper working order to prevent leaks, shorts, and other hazards. Check for GFCI outlets near water sources, such as decks and patios. Ensure that exterior faucets are functioning properly and that there are no leaks or loose connections.

Landscape: Harmony with Nature

Your home’s landscape not only enhances its beauty but also plays a role in drainage and vegetation management. Check for proper drainage around your foundation to prevent water from pooling and causing damage. Ensure that trees and shrubs are not growing too close to your home, as their roots can damage the foundation or siding.

Stay tuned for a future blog that will go deeper into the role of landscape in an exterior home inspection! 

What is NOT Included in an Exterior Home Inspection? 

At U.P. Home Inspection, as an accredited home inspection company we follow InterNACHI’s International Standards of Practice (SOP’s) for performing a general home inspection. This guide details exactly what needs to be included in every home inspection we do. It covers all parts of the home, both interior and exterior. 

In addition, it also specifies what is NOT included or expected in a home inspection. According to the SOP’s, an exterior home inspection does NOT include: 

  • Inspecting or operating  screens, storm windows, shutters, awnings, fences, outbuildings, or exterior accent lighting
  • Inspecting items that are not visible or readily accessible from the ground, including window and door flashing
  • Inspecting or identifying geological, geotechnical, hydrological or soil conditions, or  erosion-control or earth-stabilization measures
  • Inspecting recreational facilities or playground equipment
  • Inspecting seawalls, breakwalls, docks, wells or springs
  • Inspecting  for safety-type glass or determining the integrity of multiple-pane window glazing or thermal window seals.
  • Inspecting underground utilities or other underground items such as fuel tanks
  • Inspecting solar, wind or geothermal systems
  • Inspecting swimming pools or spas
  • Inspecting wastewater treatment systems, septic systems, cesspools, drainfields or dry wells
  • Inspecting irrigation or sprinkler systems.

To inspect most of these items requires specialized expertise or licensing beyond the scope of a general home inspection. (For instance, an irrigation system is best inspected by a landscaping company certified in irrigation work.) If a homeowner or buyer wishes to have one of these elements inspected, we do our best to refer them to a qualified professional in that area where possible. 

Exterior Home Inspection: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional Home Inspector

So there you have it: An exterior home inspection is an essential step in maintaining your home’s overall health and value. By regularly inspecting and addressing any issues, you can ensure that your home’s exterior remains secure, sealed, repaired, and well-maintained for years to come.

  • If you are inspecting your own home, you are free to include or exclude any elements you wish from your exterior home inspection. This guide is meant to provide a basic checklist you can work from to help the job along. 
  • If you are a homeowner, it’s a great idea to inspect your home’s exterior once or twice a year to ensure that your property stays safe and sound. Knowing what to look for on a home’s exterior can also help home buyers identify potential red flags. 

However, there are times when it’s best to hire a professional home inspector to do the job. These include when you are buying or selling a home. A professional home inspection report provides an expert third party document that is invaluable in the negotiation process.

A professional home maintenance inspection can also be extremely helpful if you are a homeowner planning major repairs to your home or if you just want to be sure everything is safe and secure on your property. 

Reap the Benefits of a Comprehensive Exterior Home Inspection

At U.P. Home Inspection, we enjoy a reputation not only for delivering thorough inspections, but for taking the time to educate our clients on how to use the information we provide. We pride ourselves on providing peace of mind and helping you get the most value possible from your home.

Ready to schedule your next home inspection? Call us at 906-360-3879 or schedule online today