When you choose to buy any kind of property, your property will undergo an inspection. The property inspection is to assure you and the lender that the property is in reasonable condition as agreed. If any issues come up on the property inspection report, you’ll be able to work with us and/or the lender to make sure the problem is resolved satisfactorily for all parties. However, to know exactly what is the condition of the property, you do need to be able to understand the property inspection report. If you’re new to buying property, some of the terminologies might also be new to you. You may be familiar with some of the terms, but there are probably many that you might not have heard of before reading your first property inspection report. This glossary of common property inspection terms might help.
Abatement is the action of remediation of a problem. For example, if asbestos abatement is mentioned, that means that asbestos has been detected and needs to be removed or mitigated. The form of acceptable abatement processes would be either detailed in the property inspection report or available for discussion.
ACBM is an acronym for Asbestos-Containing Building Material. This would be used to describe building material comprised of over one percent asbestos by weight.
Related: 38 Most Important Real Estate Abbreviations and Acronyms
Amperage is the quantifiable measurement of the capacity of one or more electrical circuits. If an addition was put onto a home, it’s possible the property inspector could determine there is insufficient amperage, and more circuits would need to be added.
In construction, an apron is an area of juncture, such as the apron of a window, where the bottom of the window stool meets the wall; a decorative apron may be added. Apron also refers to the area of juncture between the driveway and the garage door.
Batten are decorative strips of wood employed to cover joints. Frequently, battens are used in doorways between two rooms with hardwood flooring.
A beam is a structural, load-bearing column that transverse the load.
A bearing wall supports a load. Bearing walls cannot be easily removed or modified without significantly impairing the structural integrity of a building.
A bibb is just another word for a standard water faucet, where the nozzle faces downward. Your property inspector may also call a bibb a sillcock, a bibcock, or simply a faucet.
A brace, constructed of wood or metal, is a structural member used to strengthen or stiffen framing. Braces are frequently found in basements, attached to a column and the basement ceiling.
BTU is an acronym for British Thermal Unit that measures heat gain and heat removal capacity. BTUs are commonly used to measure the capacity of air conditioners, heaters, and furnaces.
A buttress is part of a structure that projects from and supports a wall. Buttresses are most often made of masonry or wood.
A cantilever is a structural member that both supports a load and projects beyond a column or wall.
The cockloft refers to the air space between the top of the ceiling of the top floor and the underside of a flat roof. Cocklofts are structured to facilitate water drainage and to manage heat levels on the top floor of a building.
A column is a structural member that supports load in a vertical position.
The expansion tank is the empty part of a hot water heater that allows for the natural expansion of water when it is heated.
Flashing is the material used around a chimney, for example, that is designed to prevent water seepage. Flashing sometimes fails and needs to be replaced.
The house footing is the concrete masonry beneath the foundation, upon which the structure sits.
The house foundation is atop the footing and supports the building.
GFCI is an acronym for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. GFCI outlets are typically required anyplace where an outlet socket is located within a certain distance from water, such as in the bathroom or kitchen. Older homes may need to have GFCI outlets installed, as determined by the property inspector.
Related: The Ultimate Property Inspection Checklist for Investors
An electrical ground connects an electrical system to the earth with zero voltage, for safety purposes.
Joists are parallel beams that are commonly used to support ceiling or floor loads.
A leader refers to an addition to a water conduit, used to deflect water, such as from a downward gutter out away from the house.
Vapor barrier or moisture barrier is treated paper that is used to prevent moisture from passing through into interior living spaces.
The pitch refers to the slope of a slanted roof.
A plate is a flat structural member that is anchored to a masonry wall for support or so that another structural member can be attached.
Radon is a naturally-occurring gaseous element that is a health hazard. Radon remediation is sometimes necessary in properties located in certain regions of the country; in particular, mountainous regions.
Roof sheathing is comprised of the large, flat boards nailed to the roof trusses or rafters. Roof sheathing is also sometimes called roof decking.
A soffit is the underside of an overhanging cornice. Soffits can easily be fitted with overhead lighting fixtures.
Spalling is a condition where bits of concrete or masonry are breaking off. Spalling can be caused by age, but also by poor concrete formulations, in addition to other reasons.
As you can see, there are a number of words in the property inspector’s lexicon. Some are commonly used in everyday language when talking about construction, but others are a bit less widely known. We thought that it might be helpful to acquaint our readers with some of the less common words that you might find on your property inspector’s report.
Remember that your property inspector is available to clarify or answer any questions you may have about the report. As the future homeowner, you deserve to know about any existing problems or any potential issues that need to be fixed. You should be 100% happy with your property purchase. Understanding the property inspection report is just part of ensuring that.
This article has been contributed by Antoine Martel.