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Have you ever wondered what a home inspector looks at when they are doing a home inspection? Here is a complete home inspection checklist for buyers that you can use to evaluate a house to see if there is anything wrong.

Some of the items in this home inspection checklist for buyers may not be relevant to the house you are looking at buying but these are the items they will be looking at (and possibly others). This doesn’t replace a getting a home inspection by a professional home inspector or a certified home inspector, but it can give you a head start on deciding if you want to make an offer on this house. This DIY home inspection checklist is a great way to dig a little deeper and see if this house is worth putting an offer on. Think of it as a pre inspection to move you further along in your first time home buying.

Click here and we will send this checklist to you! 

printable home inspection checklist

Download our free home inspection checklist for buyers

 

 

Outside Home Inspection Checklist

Some of these things will be easy to check, others your real estate agent can address. This is designed to give you a leg up before you go with a professional home inspection, that has a home inspection report that provides a disclosure statement.

As a first or second time home buyer you may not be familiar with all of these items, ask a relative or your real estate agent if they can assist you with anything you are uncertain about. Another thing to be aware of is the time of year you are inspecting the house. Real estate agents know the best month to sell a house, and they also know that different times of the year can hide things (like snow on a roof with old shingles), so it’s a good idea to think about these things as you are going through your inspection.

 

House Exterior

The home buying process starts with the outside as soon as you arrive on site. You may have loved the look of it or there may be a few things that you have noticed that you would like to change aesthetically. It’s important to look past the the landscaping and inspect the outside of the house thoroughly. Here is what you should be checking.

  • Check the exterior for any cracks in the stucco or brick.
  • Look at the eaves and drain spouts and see what condition they are in.
  • Look for any cracking or peeling paints.
  • Ensure stucco is in good shape and not flaking.
  • No damage to or bowing of siding.
  • Turn on external tap to see if they work.
  • Check exterior doors for damage and ensure they close properly

 

Roof

Having a good roof is wonderful for your peace of mind. New shingles can look great but they may be hiding other items. Inspect the roof for the following things

  • Check to see if there is any bowing in the roof.
  • Look to see how old the shingles are and if there is wear. (Old shingles can mean water seeping through the roof and lead to water issues inside the house.)
  • Check for any shingles that are missing.
  • Look for evidence of roof penetrations or potential roof penetrations like large trees close to the house.

 

Adequate drainage and grading

  • This can be hard to see to an untrained eye.
  • Grading means you want the water that hits the house to drain away from the house. If this doesn’t happen, then the water drains back into the house and you can get water coming into the house.
  • Check for any septic leakage. Make a note of if there is a septic tank, as you will have to get it pumped regularly.

 

No Standing Water

  • This may be hard to check for if there hasn’t been a recent rain, but standing water can mean bigger issues. To tell if there is standing water, look at the yard to see if there are any pools or puddles.

 

Concrete in good condition

  • Check the driveway and walkways to see what condition they are in. Do they need to be replaced? Are they sinking in places? Make a note of any issues.

 

Foundation

  • You will want to look any visible cracks on the exterior of the house.
  • Look for bowed in walls and see if the house looks level from the outside.

 

Deck

  • Check to see the quality of the deck.
  • Inspect for signs of rotted wood
  • Look underneath to see how the posts are holding up. (An old deck could mean tearing it all down, which mean time and money.)

 

Other Structures

Extra buildings can be great for storage, but you want to make sure they are on a solid footing and in good condition. Look at all of these items while you are on site and make sure there are no safety issues as these buildings are often done by previous owners whose building know how may be questionable.

  • Look for any visible issues and for wood rot.
  • Check to make sure they are level and shingles are in good shape. This can also apply to things like the garage, retaining walls.
  • Look for termite damage.

 

Getting ready to move into a new home? Get this free house essentials checklist.

Indoor Home Inspection Checklist

Inspecting a home on the inside requires a bit of detective work, certain things you will need to check in every room, while others are room specific. Don’t just take things at face value, do a little digging. Does the paint look new? Was it covering up a crack? Why is the area carpet only in this one room? What is it hiding? Having an inspector mindset will help you analyze each room and help you uncover more issues that just taking a room at face value. While one thing may just minor home improvement, another could be a warning sign of bigger issues.

All rooms

  • Floor is level and in good condition.
  • No stains or water on the wood floors
  • Look for stains on ceiling or walls.
  • No cracks in the ceiling, walls or floors.
  • Inspect wood trim and casings.
  • Move area carpets to see if concealing anything.
  • Walls are properly insulated.
  • Each room is properly ventilated for heating and cooling
  • Doors open and close properly.
  • Windows open and close properly.
  • All windows are in good condition (no cracks).
  • Window screens are tightly sealed (no gaps).
  • Any usual odors.

 

Bedrooms

  • Has a window that passes egress.
  • Can adequately fit a bed and necessary storage.
  • Closet doors open and close.
  • Is the weather stripping on the windows cracking?
  • Do any of the windows have broken glass?
  • Inspect the door frames to make sure they open and close properly.

 

Kitchen

Your kitchen will make or break a house. A healthy kitchen is great, and one that has issues can be a red flag for many home buyers. Spend some time here with this do it yourself home inspection checklist because you will spend a good amount of time here if you move in. We also have a list of kitchen essentials in case you need to stock for the new place.

  • Are there any signs of leaks under the drains (this is a great place to check for mice).
  • Swelling in countertops.
  • Swelling in flooring (could indicate water issues like a leaking dishwasher).
  • Do the taps operate properly?
  • Is there hot and cold water?
  • Is the refrigerator cold and does the dishwasher work?
  • Dishwasher drains properly without leaks.
  • Does the oven and stove top work.
  • Are the appliances in good shape and well maintained.
  • Do any appliances need to be replaced or purchased.
  • Exhaust fan work and is it properly ventilated.
  • Cabinet doors and drawers all open and close properly.
  • Countertops are level and in good condition.
  • Outlets near water sources are GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) and in proper working condition.

 

Bathrooms

Bathrooms can make or break a house. A beautiful one can boost value to a home and a bad one can leave potential buyers walking away in disgust. Because of this there is a great need to make the bathroom be amazing, here is what to look for in your home inspection worksheet.

  • Bathroom is absent of mold in the shower.
  • No presence of black mold in the toilet.
  • Has an exhaust fan to remove moisture.
  • Fan is ventilated to outside not attic.
  • Bathtub, sink and shower all drain properly.
  • No swelling on the floor or walls from water.
  • Caulking around toilet, sink, bathtub and shower are all present and in good condition.
  • No sign of water damage or evidence of leaks under the sink.
  • Tiles are secure and not needing any repair or re-grouting.
  • Toilet flushing power is strong and fills up at an acceptable pace.
  • Toilet is stable and level (see if it tilts or rocks).
  • Cabinet doors and drawers all open and close properly.
  • Countertops are level and in good condition.
  • Plumbing fixtures are all in working order.
  • Any unusual smells.
  • Outlets near water sources are GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) and in proper working condition.

 

Basement and Crawl Space

The basement of a house can tell you a lot about how it has been maintained. You can inspect the walls for damage see the main floor from underneath to look for water damage. It also gives you insight to the seller. Are there boxes everywhere? Is it completely empty (meaning it might flood, or they may be flipping the house or something else)? So take your time in the basement. There are lots of clues down there. Crawl spaces are the same thing, though if that is the case, make sure to dress accordingly as they can be pretty dark and you may have to move around on your hands and knees.

 

Mechanical, Heating and Cooling

This area can be difficult to inspect so take your time and ask questions if you don’t know the answer. The physical components of a house are important and the machines that keep your house running are a part of that.

  • Furnace works and disperses heat evenly throughout the house
  • Check around to see if the furnace is leaking water as this could mean bigger issues like a cracked heat exchanger
  • Air conditioning / Cooling works and air flows through house properly
  • No gas odor
  • Air filters are clean and well maintained
  • Furnace is well maintained and serviced
  • Ducts have been cleaned in the past 5 years
  • Are the smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors working?
  • HVAC is working.
  • Water heater is working and easily produces hot water.
  • Inspect around the water heater for leaks. This includes water coming from the top of the hot water tank, and water leaking from the bottom of the water heater. Any sign of water stains is worth noting.
  • No asbestos in house (check with your real estate agent if this must be disclosed at time of sale, ask your agent about disclosure requirements for the house).
  • Look at the age of the major components of the house and determine if there are any major repairs or replacements that could be coming up.

 

Plumbing

Plumbing can easily be done during your home inspections but without proper knowledge it’s a good idea to see what certified home inspectors see.

  • Water is drinkable.
  • Area is not on a boil water advisor.
  • Are all the sinks draining quickly.
  • Signs of water damage around the sink drains.
  • What type of plumbing is being use (brass or poly)?
  • Water pump works.
  • Hot water tanks are in good condition (note the age).
  • No issues with low hot water pressure.
  • Are the taps dripping?
  • Is there any visible plumbing?
  • Is there adequate cold water pressure?
  • Hot water tank is large enough to handle family needs.
  • Check for any leaking pipes.

 

Electrical

If you know nothing about electricity beyond light switches and plugs, don’t worry. This part can feel like an overwhelming process but there are some things you can do to see if the house has good electrical system, or if it needs to have upgrades.

Some things could be an easy fix from one of the improvement stores, but others may require a certified electrician to come in and handle. For example knob and tube wiring is hard to get insured in many areas which means you may need to upgrade before you can get insurance. The bank giving you your mortgage will only lend you money if the house can be insured. So it’s good inspect this thoroughly.

  • Does every light switch work and have a purpose (lights and ceiling fans turn on)?
  • What type of electrical panel is it ? (older houses can have old wiring and may be harder to insure such as knob and tube wiring)
  • Are the outlets properly grounded?
  • Electrical outlets are up to code (3 prongs).
  • How old is the electrical panel?
  • Electrical service and panel is in good shape and properly wired?
  • Circuit breakers are all working?

 

Other

There are other places you will like get to inspect, basement garage or separate garage. Inspect the following items to make sure things are in good standing.

  • Garage doors open.
  • Garage opener works.
  • Light switches turn on and off and there is adequate lighting
  • Door locks all work properly (no need to jiggle key).
  • Garage door can be opened and closed manually.

 

Once you have finished with your inspection

Once you have gone through this list on your own, should you decide the house is worth pursuing you will need to hire a certified home inspector (your realtor will know one, or you can look at the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) to find one near you)  to conduct a thorough home inspection.

This will usually be done once an offer is accepted and you have placed an inspection contingency on your purchase contract. Hiring a professional home inspector to perform a thorough home inspection costs money out of your own pocket. When you use a professional they may use inspection software and provide you with a detailed report, it’s best to ask what you will get for the service they are performing and what is included in your inspection fee (also ask if they take cash, credit card or e-transfer). The average cost of a home inspection is around $500 and it’s well worth it. I realize it can feel like a lot with things like closing costs and buying everything you need for a new house. But this can save you big time down the road.

If you decide to back out of the house because of the items they find, you will be out the cost of the inspection. This may seem tough to swallow but it is way better than buying a house with a lot of issues that could cost you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in repairs over the years.

They will use their own house inspector checklist that is much more detailed and will provide a home inspection report at the end of any issues and things noted. At that point the inspection process is over and you can decide if the items the inspector has found are deal breakers or not. You can also go back to the seller and show them the issues and make an offer contingent on these items being remedied.

 

Final Thoughts on Home Inspection Checklist

If you would like this printable home inspection checklist pdf click here and we will send it to you! If you are just getting informed and aren’t quite at the home buying stage yet but are will be looking in the near future grab this house hunting checklist, it’s free!

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