Can My Florida Home Inspector Tell Me if I Have a Sinkhole?

A home inspection performed by a licensed inspector is often necessary on a real estate transaction involving a home purchase. A trained home inspector will perform a visual review of the structure, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, the electrical panels and wiring, the plumbing fixtures and connections, and the roof. The inspector then produces a report that covers defects and observations of the inspected areas, and then makes necessary recommendations. 

When performing a Lakeland home inspection, or in other nearby areas of our region, homebuyers are often curious if the inspection will uncover additional issues like sinkholes. At Whitt Inspections, our licensed inspectors actually frequently hear this exact question: “Can you tell me if I have a sinkhole?” Because of this, we want to make sure you are fully informed on what to expect from your professional home inspection.

Will a Home Inspection Report Show a Sinkhole?

No, home inspectors can’t tell you if you have a sinkhole. We also can’t tell if you may have one in the future, since we can’t predict future events. Sinkhole determination requires a licensed professional geologist – Often working in conjunction with a geotechnical engineering firm. As a side note, these professionals often use the term subsidence incident, instead of the more familiar term sinkhole. All sinkholes are subsidence incidents, but not all subsidence incidents are sinkholes.

Is There a Database That Shows All Sinkhole Locations in Florida?

No, there is not a central database that shows every sinkhole (i.e. subsidence incident) in Florida. There have been attempts to build a database, but they are grossly incomplete as they rely on self-reporting. Plus, many sinkholes open in areas that are uninhabited and will not be found for years, if at all. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has more useful information on this topic that you can read about here: https://floridadep.gov/fgs/sinkholes/content/sinkhole-faq

Can a Home Inspection Identify Issues that May Affect the Stability of a Home?

Yes, home inspectors can help identify if a potential issue exists, such as building movement, that may affect the stability of a home. It’s important to note that this works only if signs are visually showing. We do this by studying patterns of cracks, erosion, and other conditions that can be an indication of potential movement with the site and/or foundation. 

Since a home inspection is visual-only, we are unable to look under the ground or slab to determine what can’t be seen by the eye. However, if we see signs that something bigger may be occurring, we will always let you know and recommend further evaluation by a relevant, qualified professional.

Contact Us to Schedule Your Professional Home Inspection

At Whitt Inspections, our customers receive prompt, detailed inspection reports (with photos), and we utilize the latest technology such as FLIR® thermal imaging. Saturday appointments are available. Give us a call today to schedule your home inspection in the Lakeland, FL, area.

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