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The Ultimate Home Inspection Checklist

by Editor | ezLandlordForms

Hiring a professional home inspector before buying real estate is never a wasted cost.  Home inspectors focus on a building’s structural elements, while as buyers, we tend to notice the design and finishes. 

During an inspection, every nook and cranny of the home is carefully examined.  A professional home inspector will visually survey everything from your roof to your foundation.  They examine the exterior of the building, including the roof, gutters, wall claddings, stairs and decks.  They inspect other exterior aspects as well, such as proper grading, signs of pests and any additional structures on the property. 

Once inside, a home inspector will poke through the attic, looking for proper insulation and a sound structure.  They inspect for signs of moisture or other potential problems.  Systematically, they will work their way through the home, testing every system.  They will also inspect the basement for leaks or cracks in the foundation.  It’s important to note that inspectors are not allowed to cut open walls or remove flooring to check for potential problems.  They must leave the property in the same condition as when they arrived.

A total home inspection often takes anywhere from two to four hours.  The then generally follows up within a day or two with a detailed written report.  Many home inspectors now insert photos of problem areas directly in the report, making it easier for homeowners to see what repairs need to be done.

When to Complete a Home Inspection

Most often, home inspections are requested (and paid for) by the buyer, before the purchase offer has been finalized.  Real estate professionals recommend that all home purchase offers be conditional on a satisfactory home inspection.  By adding this condition, only the buyer has the right to decide if a home inspection was satisfactory or not. 

Sometimes, when preparing your home for sale, you may choose to have your own home inspection done.  Once you receive your inspector’s report, you can pinpoint which repairs need to be completed before listing.  The inspection can also give you a better understanding of your home’s current value.  Having an inspection done will help you be better informed, making it harder for buyers to lower your price based on inflated repair costs.

The Importance of a Home Inspection

Having a home inspection can help you make an informed decision.  You will gain a better understanding of the property’s potential problem areas.  If any major deficiencies are discovered during the home inspection, you can then decide how to proceed.  You may ask to have the issues fixed, or to have the purchase price reduced to offset the cost of repairs.  If the problem is structural or too costly, you may even decide to walk away.  By finding major issues before an offer is finalized, you can help protect yourself from unexpected surprises and expenses.

Choosing a Home Inspector

When it comes to choosing your home inspector, it’s important to note that there are different requirements by state.  Regulations and licensing can vary from one state to another, so check with The National Association of Home Inspectors for more information.  Your local real estate agent may also be a great resource for finding a reliable home inspector.

Before even placing an offer, it’s important to have a clear understanding of potential repair costs.  With a bit of time and a good eye, you can carry out your own initial inspection when first walking through a property.  If you like what you see, you can then make a professional inspection a condition of purchase.  Below is a sample home inspection checklist to get you started.

Home Inspection Checklist

Indicate if each item is in good condition (g), damaged (d), or missing (m)

Exterior

___ Roof

___ Shingles

___ Flashing

___ Fascia

___ Soffits

___ Gutters

___ Chimney

 

___ Doors

___ Windows

___ Screens

___ Bricks and masonry

___ Siding

___ Paint

 

___ Exterior lights

___ Mailbox

___ Doorbell

___ Decks, patios and railings

___ Stairs

 

___ Grading

___ Driveway

___ Walkways

___ Garage

___ Sheds

___ Signs of pests

___ Problematic trees or landscaping

 

Systems

 

___ Heating

___ Air conditioning

___ Electrical systems

___ Fireplace, wood stove

___ Hot water tank

___ Plumbing

 

Interior

 

___ Cabinets (kitchen, bathrooms)

___ Countertops (kitchen, bathrooms)

­___ Flooring

___ Walls

___ Ceilings

___ Windows

___ Doors

___ Trims, baseboards

___ Light fixtures

___ Stairs

___ Railings

___ Heating/cooling source in every room

___ Attic (structure, insulation)

___ Basement (moisture, insulation, foundation)

___ Appliances if applicable

___ Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

 

Related Reading:

How to Screen Contractors, from Humble Handymen to Pricey Pros

Should You Use a 203(k) Rehab Loan for Your Next Investment?

Planning to Buy a Fixer-Upper? Proceed with Caution

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