The Operating Systems, Lower Level, Interior and Exterior Inspection sections are EXTREMELY condensed versions of those found in our home inspection book: Home Inspection Business From A to Z
Real Estate Appraisers are not required to be home inspectors. However, I will include these sections anyway to give you some basic details about home inspections.
Floors and Stairs
As you go through the house check the floors for any sagging or uneven areas that'll indicate structural settlement. Jump on the floor in each room to make sure they're sound. Don't jump so hard that you knock things off the walls, just do it lightly. Also, remember to look above you before you jump to test the floors. One time I forget to do this and I hit my head on a light fixture above me. Also, remember to look above you before you jump to test the floors. One time I forget to do this and I hit my head on a light fixture above me.
If there are hardwood floors, see if you notice any damaged areas or bowed sections. If there are carpets, check for signs of aging and worn areas that'll show the need for replacement. Check under the corner of some carpeting, if you can, to find out what's underneath. It's usually hardwood or plywood underneath but check to make sure and notify the client of what you see. The reason for this is that some people think that there's always hardwood floors underneath the carpeting. After they move into the house they may want to remove the carpets and leave the hardwood floors visible. You don't want them to be surprised about finding plywood as opposed to nice hardwood floors under the carpets.
You also have to be careful about carpets that hide damaged areas underneath. I did an inspection once, where the client bought the house from a dishonest seller. After the client moved in, they found damage under the carpeting. The seller intentionally hid the damage during the home inspection. The seller had placed a couch over one section and put a large pile of toys and boxes over another section. I told the client to do a "walk-thru" inspection before the closing. This would enable them to check for any damaged areas after all furniture and personal items were removed from the house. The client did a walk-thru but they still didn't see this damage until after they removed the carpeting from the floor.
You also have to be careful to see if there are any moisture problems underneath hardwood floors. Moisture from basements, crawl spaces, water leaks, etc. will cause a hardwood floor to buckle. The reason the floor buckles, is that the wood absorbs the moisture and when it dries out, the wood will expand. If there are no gaps between the wood boards to allow for this expansion, then the boards will buckle upwards.
Check all staircases for sturdiness and secure handrails. Always recommend that they install handrails on both sides of the staircases for safety. There should be a light fixture and a light switch at the top and bottom of all stairways for safety. If there's a window at the base of a staircase its sill should be at least 36 inches above the floor. This will help prevent someone from falling through the window in the event they fell down the stairs. If the sill is less than 36 inches high, a window guard should be installed as a precautionary measure.