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.
Decks always require building department approvals because of the safety concern if they're improperly built. Check for any rotted sections of wood that need to be replaced. Some decks will be too low to the ground to view the structural members. Just do the best you can. The deck perimeter railings should be sturdy. The balusters under the railing must be spaced so that a maximum gap of four inches exists between them. This is to help prevent small children or dogs from falling through.
There should be lag bolts in the main beam, called the header beam, where the deck is attached to the side of the house. Lag bolts are a far superior ay to support the deck as opposed to just using nails. Copper flashing should be installed between the header beam and the side of the house. This will prevent water from getting trapped and rotting the wood.
The floor joists of the deck should have steel support hangers. Steel support hangers give the floor joists more support then by just nailing them. All deck support posts and girders should have steel brackets at the top and the base for support. This will also keep the wood from being in contact with the soil. The base should be resting on a concrete support post.