Home Inspection Checklist
Doing a residential home inspection before you purchase is certainly good advice. It doesn't matter whether it's your first home or your tenth, personal residence or investment property, applying a good home inspection checklist and knowing what you're buying before you buy it, is critical.
I'm not likely to get an argument from anyone on this, but what should you or your home inspector be looking for?
The purpose of this home inspection checklist is to give you some home inspection tips regarding what should be checked when buying a property. If you're competent in these areas, great, if not, get a professional in any area that you need to have inspected. If you do hire someone to inspect a potential home or rental purchase, these home inspection questions will give you an idea of things your home inspection expert should be looking for on your behalf. Many pros will use their own checklist, which could include many of these items or different ones for inspection.
Many things that are found are minor and don't jeopardize the sale. Some however, are important and either must be addressed or are deal-breakers.
My residential home inspection checklist begins when I drive up to a potential property. I look first at the overall picture. What kind of curb appeal does the property have? If it's not very appealing, but the price is good, keep in mind it may not be appealing to a buyer when you're trying to sell unless you make the price good for them too. This will certainly cut into your profit. From here, let's begin with the home inspection checklist and questions for each area.
Home Inspection Tips
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You can't tell much by looking at the roof from the street, but the type and age should be information you can easily get. Also, you might be able to see if one or more areas of the roof is sagging. This normally causes me to turn around and get right back in the car.
Speaking for homes in south Florida, tar & gravel roofs don't last long, maybe 5-6 years, shingle roofs last maybe 10-15 years and tile roofs can last 20 years or more, if you take care of them. If the seller tells you the roof is newer than original, you'll need documentation before you buy.
A qualified roof inspector should do at least the following:
- Check for blisters or cracks in tar & gravel roofs.
- Check for loose, broken or damaged tiles on tile roofs.
- Check for damaged flashing at roof penetrations like vents and plumbing risers.
- Check the underside of the roof for water stains, dampness, wood rot and termite infestation, where accessible.
- Check the fascias for decay and/or the need for paint.
- Check the gutters to be sure they aren't clogged and that they're in good shape and properly attached to the house.
Walk around the house and look at the exterior of the building and:
- Check the exterior paint. Does it chalk when you touch it and need to be repainted?
- Check the masonry for cracks.
- Check any siding and/or trim for any damage or decay.
- If there's a wood deck, inspect it for rot, damage or termite decay.
- Can you see this house in the rain to determine which way the water drains? (away from the house is best :-)
- Check for puddles that form against the house after a heavy rain.
- Patios and porches should be sloped away from the house for the same reason.
Doors, Windows and Screens
- Check for broken glass, torn or missing screens.
- Check all doors and windows to make sure they fit and seal properly.
- Check all weather stripping for tightness of fit.
- Check to be sure all windows open and close properly. In the case of single or double hung windows, check to be sure that they'll remain in any position after being opened and don't fall.
Air Conditioner - Outside Condensing Unit
- Listen to the unit when it's running to make sure the condenser fan motor makes no additional noise, like grinding or clanking.
- Check to see if you can view the coils and check for dirt or clogging.
- Make sure no landscaping is close to the unit where it could cut off needed air.
- Find out if it is an original unit or if replaced, get documentation.
- Make sure that the condensate line is not clogged.
- See my HVAC Repair site for more on the outside and inside air conditioning condensing units.
Landscaping and Grounds
- Check driveway for cracks and/or holes.
- If there's a wooden fence, check for loose posts and/or loose nails, decay and/or termites and holes, also the need for paint.
- If the fence is chain link, check for loose posts, faulty hinges and holes in the fencing.
- Does the landscaping need a lot of work. (Big trees are expensive to have trimmed)
- Do any plants need to be replaced?
- (See above regarding air conditioners and landscaping)
- Does the property have automatic sprinklers? If so, do they work? Are any valves associated with the sprinkler system leaking?
- Know your horticulture. Some plants have roots that will seek out water lines and grow into them causing plumbing problems.
- Check all interior walls for settling cracks and all ceilings for stains and/or bulging areas.
- Where possible, check for cracks in the foundation. (Garage, basement, areas of exposed floors)
- Does the inside of the house need to be repainted?
- Check for leaks around all plumbing fixtures in bathrooms, under sinks and toilet valves.
- Open and close each faucet a few times to check for drips and leaks.
- Check under the kitchen sink faucets for leaks and also underneath the sink for leaks.
- Check the water heater for signs of leakage.
- Test the garbage disposal and make sure that it doesn't leak.
- Check the water pressure by turning on the water in the sink and tub and flushing the toilet, making sure that the water supply doesn't diminish to a trickle.
- If there is a private well, have the water checked for safety.
- Check all outlets to be sure they are wired properly and aren't damaged or malfunctioning.
- Make sure extension cords are not run under carpeting or are stapled to walls.
- Make sure all electrical switches are working properly and aren't damaged.
- Check all circuit breakers to be sure they're working properly.
Air Conditioner - Inside Condensing Unit
- Check to make sure that the a/c filter is clean and has been recently replaced.
- Check to sure that nothing blocks the return airflow to the a/c unit.
- Check the inside condenser unit to be sure that the coils are clean and if there's a filter, that it's also clean.
- Check all appliances to be sure they're in proper working order.
- Check to be sure the refrigerator coils are clean.
- Check that the dishwasher works and doesn't leak.
- Check that the oven gets hot quickly as well as all of the burners on the stove.
- Check that the fan works in the range hood.
Miscellaneous Interior Items To Check
- If there is a garage door opener, check that it works properly.
- Make sure that all garage door bolts are tight. (So none come loose and fall when the door is up and your car is parked in the garage)
- If there is a septic tank, have the system inspected by a septic tank specialist and be sure the tank is big enough for your needs. The U.S. Public Health Service has recommended septic tank sizes based on number of bedrooms.
- If there is a pool, have it inspected by a pool maintenance company to be sure there are no leaks and that pool lights are properly wired.
Many people have different areas of expertise in many of the areas mentioned in my home inspection checklist. Again, if that's you, great, if it's not, hire home inspection experts in whatever areas you need help. Buying a home is almost always the biggest investment you’ll make and buying a property with problems can be a nightmare of epic proportions.
The above home inspection checklist does not cover every possible item that should be inspected when buying a property, but it should give you a good place to start and more importantly ask questions of the home inspection experts you'll hire to do these inspections. Happy hunting!
Home Inspection Tips video
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