Two sections from my book “the Ultimate Home buyer’s Handbook”. From Chapter “What falls through the cracks…”

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*#12 Special case: The presence of urea formaldehyde insulation in the walls. *

I’ll discuss this a bit more in the chapter on environmental hazards, but this type of insulation will not typically be visible to the home inspector. The presence of this insulation is no longer regarded as a concern – other than the stuff crumbles and tends to fall to the bottom of the wall cavities, so it is no longer effective. Ignore.


#13 The home inspection is a “home” inspection – not a “property” inspection. Structures and ‘stuff’ that are ‘remote’ from the house are not part of the inspection. This could include the below:


  • Remote garages (sometimes not even visible from the home). Informyour inspector about any accessory structures on the property.
  • Sheds and outbuildings are not inspected. (Outbuildings and remotegarages can be formally inspected, but they typically involve extra costs –and you must request that they be inspected). The electrical systems inthese structures should be inspected, in my opinion.


While sheds ARE NOT inspected, take note of their condition. Make sure they do not contain hazardous waste or noxious materials, abandoned equipment, or other items that you may have to pay to get rid of. I found one shed that was filled with asbestos tiles. Hazardous materials are sometimes present in sheds or at the back of the property.


  • Remote* retaining walls or other walls*. These can be a source ofmajor expense – but they may not be viewed or considered part of theinspection. Home inspectors are normally required to inspect retainingwalls that affect the home. I recommend that you walk the lot and identifywalls, retaining or otherwise, that could be a concern. Retaining wallsover four feet in height that are in significant distress may warrant afurther evaluation by a qualified engineer or a masonry contractor. Theubiquitous short timber and other walls/barriers such as found alongwalkways are ignored. All wood walls that did not utilize pressure treatedwood will have a limited life. Even walls with pressure treated wood willeventually decay. Barrier walls are not retaining walls and would not beinspected or noted.
  • Seawalls. Seawalls could be present but they may require astructural engineer who knows what he is looking at – and a contractor whoinstalls these and who can provide further input and cost estimates whenrepairs are needed.
  • Remote landscaping and drainage. Large trees – and especially deador dying trees – are a common problem. Trees on your property could fallonto not only your own home – or car, or outbuilding, or fence, or pool, orkid, etc. - but your neighbor’s as well. It’s your insurance that will payif they fall down on an adjacent property. Remote drainage issues includeditches that may fill with water, swampy areas, child hazards, landunsuitable for agriculture or specific usages, etc.
  • Abandoned vehicles, hazardous waste, hazardous conditions, andstructures or materials not adjacent to the house would also be excludedfrom the home inspection.


All of the above are important. I advise that you walk the property, get disclosures on everything, ask questions, and have a good attorney to advise you if the property has ‘issues’.