Inspecting Your Own House

//Inspecting Your Own House

Inspecting Your Own House


Jagvir Goyal

Often, we undertake inspection of sites, offices and other areas under our jurisdiction as per the nature of our work or profession. During these inspections, we examine if everything is in order and note down steps to be taken to set right the things that have gone wrong. How about applying the same concept to your own house? Have you ever undertaken the inspection of your own house? If not, let’s do it now.

Importance of inspection: Once you have constructed and completed your house and entered it, it’s time to heave a sigh of relief and cherish the fulfilment of a long dreamt target. However, with the passage of time, the house is subjected to vagaries of weather, attack of insects and behaviour of the earth over which it is erected. These forces may cause structural changes in the house, may attack its components or may damage its finishing work. That’s why it is important to inspect your house at regular intervals of time.

How to start: You may start the inspection of your house from the roof downwards. Inspect the roof area, descend to lower storey, inspect its rooms and areas, continue like that till you reach the ground floor. Inspect the ground floor, front and back court yards and the area around. Inspect the basement, if provided in the house. Throughout the inspection, keep a paper over a clip board and a pen in your hand to take notes.

Roof area: Inspect the roof area for its cleanliness. Check that dirt is not accumulated over the rain water pipe gratings as it may prevent drainage of rain water and result in ponding of water over the roof, further causing seepage of water through some fine cracks in the terracing to the rooms below. Undertake special inspection of the roof area before the onset of monsoons. Get removed all the dirt and dry leaves from the roof. Check the parapet and tile terracing for any fine cracks that may allow seepage of water. Check the outdoor units of air conditioners to be in position and the insulation of the wires and copper conduits leading to indoor units. Check that the lids of water tanks are in position and well secured.

Interiors of the house: Next, undertake the inspection of internal areas of the house and look for any signs of termite, any appearance of cracks, any indications of leakage or dampness, any emergence of efflorescence, any accumulation of dust or any provision having become non-operational. Take note of all these points for their immediate repair and removal.

Signs of termite: During the inspection of house, most important is to look for any signs of termite. Examine the base of all door frames closely. If the windows are in wood, examine window sills also. Examine the inside of cupboards and the space between the bottom most shelf and the floor below. Similarly, examine the space between the bottom of kitchen cabinets below the countertop and the floor. Examine the rooms and areas less visited in the house. In the top storey, examine the corners of the ceiling. Sometimes, termite is present in the earth deposited over roof slabs and makes its way into the rooms. Check the door frames with your knuckles and note if any portion of a door frame has gone soft. Whenever you note some signs of termite, immediately call the local agency for anti-termite treatment and get it done immediately. Never delay this job as termite makes its way very fast and attacks the wooden components severally.

Appearance of cracks: Examine all the wall surfaces closely to note appearance of any cracks. In addition to wall, check the door and window projections, ceilings and parapets also. Note the location and type of any cracks for discussion about them with the structural engineer. Often a new building slowly settles under its own load and if the bearing capacity of the soil below is lesser, some settlement may occur causing cracks in the walls. Cracks may appear in walls, ceilings or projections either due to settlement of foundations or due to temperature stresses. Some underground water pipe or source near your house, if leaking, may also cause water to percolate to the foundations, causing some settlement. Often, horizontal cracks are harmless while vertical or inclined or toothed cracks are serious and need immediate attention.Take note of location of all cracks and discuss with your architect or structural engineer for immediate repair of these cracks. Get the cracks repaired well and finish the affected portions to look like originally finished surface.

Indication of leakages or dampness: Check the roof and side walls of the house for appearance of any damp patches or any sort of leakage. Whenever any leakage or dampness is noted, it is more important to check its source and plug that source. Check the roof against any ponding of water leading to appearance of damp patches on the ceiling of a room. Any dampness signs may appear in walls due to leakage in rain water pipes.Check that no water has risen by capillary action into lower portion of ground floor walls, causing dampness in them. This indicates that damp proof course of the house hasn’t been laid properly. Take adequate measures in consultation with your architect for repair and plugging of all sources of leakage and dampness.

Emergence of efflorescence: Efflorescence or shora occurs when the bricks contain free salt or lime which come out after sometime when the moisture soaked by the bricks begins to dry. The moisture evaporates, leaving the shora on the surface of walls. This problem keeps on recurring and reduces with time as salt or lime in the bricks diminishes. Till the time, the moisture is retained by the bricks, efflorescence recurs again and again. Brick walls turn white very soon, during construction of house itself. If plastered, the efflorescence penetrates the plaster and appears on its surface. No sure remedy is available for efflorescence and best solution lies in choosing good quality bricks. If you note efflorescence in any part of the house, get it removed through dry brushing and apply a layer of efflorescence tackling materials being marketed by water proofing companies these days. That will help in arresting the problem to some extent.

Accumulation of dust: Check the outer faces of walls, all horizontal surfaces, top surfaces of refrigerators, kitchen cabinets, crockery cabinets, shelves of the lofts without shutters, grooves in the walls and you will find that most of these need cleaning as fine layers of dust is appearing there. Check the LED TV surfaces, decoration pieces and wall hangings. All these may need soft dusting in a proper manner and with proper cloth. Check the walls of the houses for any repainting to be done. If you have finished the walls with plastic emulsion, most of ugly spots appearing on them can be removed with a moist cloth. Check the fans and tube lights. Often dust accumulates on them and these present an ugly look. Check the electrical switches and plates. These often go dirty due to daily use. Get them cleaned.

Provisions of the house: Next, Check all the electrical appliances and provisions. All should be in working condition. Change any fused lights or tubes. Check the Air Conditioners, water purifier, washing machine and kitchen chimney for their regular service. Check the inverter for topping up the water in battery cells. Clean the filters of the air conditioners. Check the remote controls for LEDs, set boxes and Air Conditioners and replace the batteries if the remotes are not working well. Check the aerators of faucets and clean them. check the wash basin counters in the bathrooms and clean them of any salt deposits. Check that all hydraulic hinges of cupboards and cabinets are working well and none needs an adjustment.

Once you have listed all the points after inspection of your house, ensure to tackle them asap. Let it be a regular affair. Like your own, ‘health’ of your house too demands regular check-ups.