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Home Inspection Checklist

Home Inspection Checklist: What to Check Before Buying a House

So many complex steps make up the process of buying a home and settling in. Once the hard work is done, homeowners can relax and enjoy the feeling of owning a new home, while working to make it theirs. Recently, our team talked about home maintenance and advised you on how to keep your home in tip-top shape so you can avoid costly and time-consuming repairs. However, it is just as important to talk about a crucial step that could help you avoid these repairs altogether or at least minimize them—a thorough home inspection. Inspections help prospective buyers determine the condition of a house before they commit to a purchase, allowing them to make an informed decision and allocate funds for renovations. Yet, some homeowners might be in the dark about home inspection specifics, so we are here to break down the process, give you a handy home inspection checklist, and some tips on how to conquer inspections.


Home Inspection Process

The first thing homeowners must know is what to expect when it comes to home inspections. Having prior knowledge of how the process works is vital so you’re not caught off guard and can ask the right questions.

First, you can expect to pay approximately $300 or more for your prospective home’s inspection, which will take roughly two to four hours. It is worth noting, however, that inspections may vary according to the size and condition of the home. Nonetheless, for that fee, and during that time, an inspector will visit the home and assess its roof, walls, floors, windows, doors, ceilings, attic, and basement. In addition, they will also check the home’s foundation, its major appliances, heating system, electrical system, central air conditioning system, and plumbing system. Following the inspection, you will receive a detailed report within 24-48 hours that lists the inspector’s findings. Typically, the report will include a detailed analysis of the home’s condition, with pictures and suggestions for improvement attached.

While this may seem overwhelming, it’s all part of the process of mitigating financial losses. A protective measure for you and your investment, home inspections allow you to see the full picture of a home, while also acting as a tool to help guide your financial decisions. Everyone wants to get the best deal they can, right? With inspections, this aspiration remains possible.

Another great factor to remember is that home inspections are tied to maintenance. They can provide you with a roadmap for where to start making repairs or replacements, should you ultimately decide to purchase the home you’re interested in, and you can plan accordingly when it comes to your finances.

Finally, it’s important that buyers remember that no home is without its flaws or quirks. You will rarely find a home that fits like a glove, but it might just make the hard work to make it your own even more rewarding.


Home Inspection Checklist

Knowing the extent of what areas of your prospective home inspectors will be looking at is key to being prepared on inspection day, so we’ve provided a helpful checklist detailing the major areas inspectors will check to get you acquainted with what you should look out for, broken down by section:

  • Exterior of the Home:

    • Foundation: The foundation of a home is one of the primary, if not first, aspects of a home an inspector will analyze because it spans the home, excluding the basement of course. Ideally, there should be no cracks, noticeable slant, stains, sagging, or weakness.
    • Roof: From their position on the ground, inspectors will check to see if the roof has any missing or damaged shingles and tiles, intact flashing, and strong underlayment. The chimney will also be examined for damage and alignment.
    • Gutters and Downspouts: Gutters protect your roof from taking on too much water, which could lead to leaks and cave-ins so your inspector will make sure the gutter is draining water properly, has no cracks, and won’t be clogged by granules or tiles. Moreover, the home’s downspout will also be assessed to make sure drainage moves away from the home.


  • Interior of the Home:

    • Electrical System: Inspectors will always check the electrical outlets, light switches, electrical panel, and wiring to make sure they are in functioning order. Outlets should be grounded, wiring should be up to date and unexposed, and cables should be secure and well-placed.
    • Plumbing: The home’s plumbing system should have adequate water pressure, a water heater that fits your home and shows little to no signs of wear and tear, working fixtures, no damaged pipes, and no signs of leakage. Furthermore, your drainpipes should lead to your septic tank, which should also be leak-free.
    • Heating and Cooling: In terms of heating and cooling, inspectors will look for your system to function well, while also making sure your cooling system is not worn or rusted, gas is odorless, and the air filters are clean.
    • Rooms: Inspectors will examine for a wide array of issues when it comes to a home’s interior. They will make sure the doors and windows are straight and square, the ceiling has no cracks or stains, and the lights, switches, and outlets are in working order. Moreover, they will check the fireplace for cracks, stains, and cleanliness, while also examining the smoke detectors and making sure you have quality heating and air conditioning vents in every room.
    • Basement and Attic: Basements and attics are another important component to inspectors. Inspectors will check for stains, structural damage, and sufficient insulation and ventilation. On the other hand, they will usually check the basement for moisture or water damage.
    • Bathrooms: You can expect to see inspectors checking for leaking around the tub or shower, good water pressure coming from the shower and sink, while also making sure the toilet also flushes and fills in a timely manner. Lastly, they will also make sure the shower and sinks drain smoothly.


Tips for Effective Home Inspection

As a buyer, being prepared on home inspection day is vital. You want to be able to document your prospective home’s flaws and strengths in order to make an informed decision when it comes to buying and fixing the home, so here are some helpful tips for a successful home inspection:

  • Take a notebook with you for note-taking and take photos of the home’s interior for reference, so you can review your options, or talk with your partner about where you stand.
  • Use this checklist to satisfy your curiosity and ask questions you want answers to on the day of the inspection.
  • Remember that every home is different, so while there will be basic commonalities—like the primary factors listed above—be prepared for some surprises or variations.
  • Pay attention to the seller’s disclosures about any major defects, the neighborhood, etc. Keep in mind, this disclosure may vary by state.
  • No home inspector is the same as another. Oftentimes, inspectors have different procedures for inspecting homes, although they will touch on the major areas listed above and are expected to provide a full and detailed report to you, the buyer.


We hope this home inspection rundown, our helpful checklist of all the major components covered, and our tips on how to succeed on inspection day helped simplify an often daunting process so you can get one stop closer to buying your dream home!

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