The exterior inspection includes everything on the exterior of the structure, including the exterior cladding of the structure itself. Typically, an exterior inspections will take approx. one third of the total inspection time. As a general rule, inspections take approx. forty-five minutes to one hour per one thousand square feet of structure space. The older the home, the longer the inspection time per square foot required.

Exterior inspection topics include: Site and other observations, Landscaping, Vegetation, Tree Limbs & roots, Debris, Grading and Drainage, Elevations, Drainage Mode & Swales, House Wall Finish, Types of Exterior Cladding, Exterior Components, Driveways and Walkways, Walls, Fences and Gates, Doors, Decks and Covers, Balconies and Guardrails, Windows, Outlets and Lights.

All of these categories play an important role in the total inspection. The exterior cladding of the structure or home protects the structural walls. The foundation, although a section of another category, is also affected by the exterior sections.

For example, let’s look at grading and drainage. It is important to know how water and run-off drains away from the home. Water and foundations do not mix well, and uncontrolled run-off can compress or erode soil from around or under the foundation, causing settlement damage. Drainage swales, yard drains, gutters and downspouts…are all important in controlling how the rain run-off moves away from the foundation and structure of the home. Although we do not get regular rain here in the desert southwest, when it does finally rain, it can be a very hard and heavy rain, testing the efficiency of the drainage systems designed into and around the home structure. Without a well-designed system, designed to accommodate the heavy rainfalls we can have here in the desert, moisture damage can occur, with dangerous mold spores developing over time.

Site and Other Observations

The Site section covers everything, excluding the structure. Landscaping heads the “Site” category, which includes trees, tree roots, vegetation, debris on the property, and any conditions that could adversely affect the structure.

Grading and Drainage

Grading and drainage is next in the inspection. As in our example above, drainage should take water run-off away from the property, and out to the street. It is important in an area with masonry yard walls surrounding most properties, that water is not allowed to pool near the foundations, and has a path to the street. This can be accomplished by swales, yard drains, hard surfaces, proper slopes gutters and downspouts…regardless of the method, proper drainage is extremely important.

Another thing to consider, storage sheds, yard equipment, stacked supplies, planted trees, flower gardens…if not properly positioned, homeowner added items can redirect run-off in untoward ways, causing additional drainage concerns.

House Wall Finish

Sometimes referred to as “exterior cladding,” The house wall finish is the type of materials covering the exterior structure of the home. Although predominant exterior cladding is Stucco in this area, it is not the only type. Vinyl and Aluminum siding, Concrete Masonry Units (CMU’s), Cut Stone or brick, Wood or composite siding, and many other types are used here in the desert.

Exterior Components

Everything else not already listed, including driveways, walkways, yard walls and gates, patio covers, windows, screens, sliding doors, balconies and guardrails, lights, outlets, even doorbells, all are covered in this category. If it is on the property, it gets a full and thorough inspection. There is more to an exterior inspection than just walking around looking at the landscaping, and that is why it can take as long as a third of the inspection time.