Home Inspection Versus Structural Engineer Inspection


A home inspection is when a qualified Building Inspector comes to your house and inspects it for defects. Usually, the defects are cosmetic like peeling paint, loose tiles, and slightly rusting guttering. In an old house, the Building Inspector will probably identify quite a few minor defects. However, if anything major is identified, like shifting foundations and cracked walls, this is when you call in the Structural Engineer. In some cases, it may not be worth proceeding with the purchase, as the expense will be too great. The Structural Engineer will scope the problem and usually give an estimate of what it will cost to fix it.

Checklist for Home Inspection vs Structural Engineer Inspection-What’s the Difference?

Home Inspection

  • Drainage: Are gutters downpipes and drains intact, are there pipes carrying water away from the house. Water should not be lying around in the yard.
  • Guttering: Sometimes guttering is rusted with holes in it, or it may be merely blocked with leaves, either way, it will require fixing.
  • Termites: The inspector should check all woodwork for evidence of termite damage, any crumbling or rotting wood.
  • Window and Door Frames: Should not be bowed or rotted. Window glass should not be broken or damaged.
  • Exterior Paint: Is it peeling? If so it is most likely cosmetic and you knew about it anyway from your first visits, unless it is caused by an underlying issue like water damage, don’t worry about it, as you can paint it later.
  • The Roof: Is the roof structurally damaged, and are any roof tiles missing? Is the chimney in good condition, is there proper insulation in the roof space?
  • Electrical Outlets: Should be tested, along with the stove that is a fixed appliance, is it working? Are there enough power points in all rooms?
  • Flooring: Are all floors in good order, no holes or missing boards.
  • Windows and Doors: Do they open freely? if not check why old fashion window cords could be broken and need replacing.
  • Water Pressure: Is it okay, when you turn on taps does the water flow freely? Do toilets flush?
  • Ventilation: Is ventilation adequate? Does the house smell musty? is there sufficient airflow? Is there a heat pump or air conditioner? ( If yes, turn it on to circulate clean air)
  • Smoke Detectors: Are they working?
  • Asbestos: Any asbestos present will need to be removed, if it is just around the pipes this can be done later. If any asbestos does have to be removed now, this is a big expense, as it has to be removed by a Hasmat team and disposed of accordingly in a safe manner.
  • Gas: There may be gas heating or a gas cooker, can you smell gas? Any leaks should be identified and fixed.
  • Fuse Box or Electrical Panel: Is it old and needing replacement, check for overheating of fuses. Make sure all lights work, if they don’t it may just be a bulb.
  • TV Cables: Are TV cables secured.
  • Garage: If there is a garage check it out, and make sure that the seller has removed all his stuff from the premises. It is very annoying to settle on a property and be forced to remove a truckload of someone else’s junk.

A Structural Engineer would be called in if any Structural defects are found.

When choosing a Structural Engineer choose a local one who understands houses, ask your realtor for recommendations.

  • Foundations: The foundation is checked as the structural integrity of the building depends on it. The Structural Engineer looks for cracks or shifts that are causing a problem.
  • Under Floor Area: Check for dampness and pipe leakage. A chance to look at the floor joists from a different angle and make sure there are no white ants or termites down there.
  • Walls and Ceiling: Are there any cracks in the walls as this could indicate a shift in the foundations. The ceiling should not have any loose plaster or cracks. If you do find any seismic shift in the house, this is serious and would be a reason not to complete as you need to know that the house is safe. Call in the Structural Engineer.
  • Roof: Does the home need a new roof? If the roof is structurally unsound a new roof could be required, this is expensive.


A Structural Engineer Inspection will identify any structural defects that are usually very expensive to fix, or at worst may require a knockdown and rebuild. A home inspection points out defects often minor, but if not fixed may cause problems later. Check out for home inspections in Long Island, NY.  https://www.alwaysguardingyou.com/long-island-home-inspection/ for home inspections in Long Island, NY.