The Ultimate Home Inspection Guide: A Checklist for Buyers and Sellers

The Ultimate Home Inspection Guide: A Checklist for Buyers and Sellers

A home inspection isn’t just something you do to see if there are any issues with the house you want to buy; it’s an opportunity to learn about your future home and its systems, while also discovering ways to improve your home in the future, after you move in.

To make sure that you don’t miss anything important when your inspector does their walk-through, here’s an ultimate home inspection guide with tips from the pros on everything from inspecting electrical outlets to hiring home inspectors.

Pre-inspection preparation

Before your home inspection, make sure you have a list of everything you want checked. The best time to put together a checklist is when you have a buyer or seller (whichever is appropriate).

This will ensure that you are both looking at your house with a similar vision in mind, rather than one of you assuming something will be checked and another assuming it won’t. Your inspector should be able to answer any questions that come up during your preparation.

It’s important to remember that no inspection can reveal every single problem—no matter how comprehensive it is—but you should walk away with greater peace of mind after taking full advantage of an expert’s eye.

General inspection

After you’ve made an offer, your real estate agent will often recommend that you have a general inspection done on your new home. Even if they don’t suggest it, you can ask them to do so yourself.

It’s an important step because it allows both you and your agent to see what kind of shape your new home is in, allowing both parties to get a clearer picture of any issues that may need addressing.

While most inspectors won’t give too much attention to superficial things like wall color or overall decorating, they will check for big issues such as broken windows or evidence of past flooding.

Roof inspection

While your real estate agent can tell you if there’s anything wrong with a house based on her experience and knowledge, a home inspection is usually required to secure financing.

Inspectors will look at all major components of a home—the roof, attic, water heater, kitchen appliances, HVAC system, windows—and give an expert assessment of their condition. Depending on where you live, that person could be licensed to do an inspection (as in some states), or not (in others).

If they’re licensed it’s important to check their credentials. Inspectors are legally required to disclose any defects they find; something you want your inspector to know about up front.

Interior inspection

When buying a home, it’s important to have an inspector look over every aspect of its interior. If you’re in a new area or looking at houses that are significantly different from your own, make sure you bring someone who can give you a second opinion on every feature. Keep in mind that every inspection is different based on house size, location, age, etc.

Your list of potential defects will vary with each new house—but certain issues are common throughout homes across America (the presence of mold and asbestos are two key examples). You should write down any problems you notice during your walkthrough and ask your real estate agent to follow up on them.

Exterior inspection

The exterior of a home tells you a lot about its overall condition. Inspecting outside surfaces can give you clues about what’s happening on the inside.

Start at street level to check things like paint, siding, gutters, doors, windows and much more. Make sure to walk around each corner of your house to see if there are any cracks or signs of damage.

If you find something that looks off-kilter or dangerous, use it as an opportunity to negotiate repairs with your real estate agent or seller. It never hurts to ask!

Foundation inspection

If you’re planning to purchase a new home, it is important to know if there are any structural problems before moving in. Check for structural issues like uneven floors, protruding nails or beams, or cracks on ceilings. You may want to consider hiring a home inspector to make sure that your house will be as safe as possible once you move in. There are several questions that you should ask a potential inspector before signing up.

Make sure that he has recent experience with homes similar to yours; an experienced inspector will be able to point out major issues in addition to minor ones that could cause problems down the road. The next step is scheduling an inspection of your house.

Electrical inspection

There are plenty of things that can go wrong with your electrical system, including damaged wires and outlets, burnt out light bulbs, faulty switches or fuses. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, knowing what to look for is important.

Use an inspector to help ensure there are no electrical problems in your future. Note that these inspections usually don’t cost much – so even if you’re on a tight budget it might be worth asking about it when you’re at your real estate agent’s office.

And if a problem does come up later on down the road – well at least you’ll know where to start looking!

Plumbing inspection

Look out for signs of leaky faucets, running toilets, or any other issues with your home’s plumbing. This is a common problem—if not fixed promptly, it can lead to serious structural damage in your home.

Look under sinks, behind toilets, and in other areas around your house to see if you notice leaks. You may also want to use a flashlight at night to look for damp spots on ceilings or walls. These are common symptoms of a leak in your plumbing system.

HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) system inspection

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems are very complex. It’s important to make sure your home inspector checks it out thoroughly to identify potential problems with your HVAC system.

Consider asking questions such as these: How often do I need to change my air filters? What should I do if my vents smell bad? And what about duct cleaning? These are just a few of many HVAC-related questions you should ask your home inspector before you purchase a new home or sell an existing one.

Make sure that you have all of your questions answered before signing any paperwork or making any major decisions. Be sure to ask these types of questions when hiring an inspection service provider as well—it’s always best to hire a professional who can give you answers!

Get In Touch