Buying a home is one of the biggest investments, if not the biggest, a person can make in life. That’s why home inspections need to be so thorough. To help make sure the inspection you’re conducting is comprehensive and touches on the many aspects of a home, we’ve included the following checklist to help you along the way.
- Grounds. Do you see any potential water issues, such as downspouts or standing puddles? Is the landscaping in good condition, and are all fences and railings functional? Make sure the layout of the yard is safe and that there aren’t any concerning shrubs that the buyer should be aware of.
- Structure. How does the foundation look? Is it solid with firm, straight sides? Are there signs of decay along the foundation or crumbling brick or wood? Are the windows and door frames square, or does anything seem out of alignment? This is perhaps the most important part of the inspection, especially if you’re inspecting an older home.
- Roof. Do you see any defects with the roof? Are any shingles degraded? Do they look especially worn down? Are any shingles missing? If so, this could cause costly drips and leaks. Do the gutters look solid? Do the chimneys or skylights have any defects?
- Windows and doors. Do the home’s windows look secure? Are there any cracks in the doors? Do the windows and doors open and close easily and without issue? Is any glass damaged? If there is damage to doors and windows, the home owner might have to contend with high energy bills.
- Exterior. How does the house look from the outside overall? Are there cracks in the siding, brick, etc.? Is there rot and decay anywhere? If the home is made of vinyl, do you see dents? Is paint chipping away or flaking?
- Walls. Does the framing look OK? Are any walls leaning in or out? Do you see any stains on the ceiling or toward the upper portion of the walls? This could indicate potentially serious water problems.
- Insulation. Is there adequate insulation behind the walls? Alongside the insulation, does the ventilation look functional? Are there defects with any of the heating vents?
- Kitchen. How does the kitchen look? Do range hood fans vent to the outside adequately? Do you see leaks under the sink? Do the cabinet doors open and close properly? Do any electrical outlets look defective? Do the drawers in the kitchen open easily?
- Bathrooms. Does the toilet flush properly? Does it make an odd noise when flushing? Are any of the sinks leaking? Are the drains adequately draining? Does the shower turn on and spray water? If so, you’ll want to closely investigate the plumbing and understand how its defects are causing issues in the bathroom.
- Plumbing. How do the pipes look? Do you see any leaks or defects? How is the water pressure? How is the water temperature? Does the water appear to heat and cool at an adequate rate? Do you see any water damage? This may indicate a problem with the plumbing.
- Electrical. How does all visible wiring look? Are there defects? Are all visible electrical panels in good shape? Do all light switches work? Is the HVAC system working correctly? Do you see a sufficient number of electrical outlets in each room, and are they functional?
- Heating system. Is the heating system in working condition? Does the home ever become too warm or too cold? Does the heating system take a long time to kick in? Having a working heating system is crucial for a comfortable home, especially if the home is in a colder climate.
- Cooling system. If applicable, is the air-conditioning system in good shape? Is cold air flowing through the home when the AC is turned on? Does the AC make any strange noises, or does it leak water? Does it get too cold? A working air-conditioning system is very important, particularly during the summer months in a warmer climate.
To ensure you’ve conducted a full inspection and are ready to write a report, review the Standards of Practice that have been developed by the American Society of Home Inspectors. And always remember to pay special attention to any red flags or concerns brought up by the buyer.