The Ultimate Home Inspection Checklist
The home buying experience is a serious endeavor that requires a lot of effort on the part of many parties. The good news is that the process generally follows a predictable pattern, and with the right team behind you – a good real estate agent and a trusted home inspector, for example – the safe bumps in the road can feel more manageable.
If you’ve read this home inspection checklist, you’ve probably determined that you are financially (and emotionally) prepared to buy rather than rent.
You’ve probably considered things like your budget, such as knowing how much house you can afford helps refine your search. Then come dozens of house calls and probably a few nightly chats with your family or real estate agent.
All of that leg work ideally leads you to a home that you want to buy. And if you’re like most potential buyers, you might want to have a general home inspection done so you don’t buy a home on top of your budget that will need major repairs very soon. A general home inspection is considered a thorough inspection because it covers many aspects of the home.
Chances are, your real estate agent knows and can recommend a few home inspectors they’ve worked with before. And since the potential buyer may be present during the inspection, it would be a good idea to have your own home inspection checklist to use as a guide.
A clear list could also help you make sure that your emotions don’t cloud your view of possible issues. If you are in love with the appearance of the house, it can be difficult to see these issues.
What to look for in a home inspection
According to American Society of Home Inspectors, the categories below are the most common items that would be assessed in a general professional inspection. Note that a general building inspector, whose average cost varies from $ 278 to $ 390, may suggest a separate specialist inspection if they detect a potential problem but feel that an expert should assess it further.
The seller may also have already done an inspection. If this is the case, you can ask to consult this inspection in order to have as much information as possible.
Heating and air system
Depending on your location and the weather, functioning heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems may be a top priority. So take a close look: Does the house you are considering have an HVAC system? Does it work? If it doesn’t, you’ll want to know what it will cost to fix it.
An older property may not have an HVAC system at all, in which case you may want to research and evaluate the purchase (and installation) of one through a local company.
And if there is a system but it is practically vintage, the US Department of Energy says it might be worth replacing, as newer models are more efficient and therefore could lower your energy costs.
It is easy to forget about pipes and wires when walking around a house. We do not see them, but they have a heavy impact on daily life, and they are not always easy to repair.
Have your home inspector check all plumbing work for possible leaks, as a leaking pipe can cause water damage and require additional repair work.
Inspectors could also check the drainage throughout the house, the status of garbage disposal, the water heater and the overall water pressure. If the house is older and has a septic tank, that could also be inspected.
A professional home inspection will likely include an assessment of a property’s entire electrical system, ensuring that it meets the safety standards outlined by the National Electrical Code.
The operation of the electrical box, outlets, switches and lighting will be checked, as well as the condition of the wiring throughout the house. If any defects are discovered, you can use this information to negotiate your purchase price or request repairs before purchasing the home.
If the house has solar panels installed to offset energy costs, you may want to make sure they are currently in working order and ask for the maintenance history of the panels.
Your roof protects the interior of your home, and no matter what type of roof – shingles, tiles, metal, and synthetic are common – your home inspector will check its current condition and age.
A roof in good condition helps prevent leaks and provides a certain level of insulation. It is also important to know if you are buying a home with an end-of-life roof so that you can save money up front to replace it in the years to come.
Floors, Walls, Ceilings
Structural components like these will likely be examined during your home inspection. You’ll want to make sure the floors are level – falling or sloping floors can indicate bigger problems below. You will also want to consider floors from an aesthetic point of view. Is the carpet new? Are there any wooden floors that need to be repainted?
Look for cracks in the drywall or plaster that also makes up the walls and ceiling. Sometimes these cracks are a natural change in a home, as the walls expand and contract with changes in the weather. But it’s good to know if all you’ll need is spackle and paint, or if repairs will take a lot more time and money.
Foundation, attic and / or basement
A home inspector will crawl through a foundation space, checking for stability and compliance with national safety codes.
The same goes for basements. As these are built into the ground and are the lowest point in your home, inspections check for humidity and good ventilation for humidity control.
A home inspector will crawl through a foundation space, checking for stability and adherence to national safety codes.
And if the house has an attic, your inspector will verify that the beams and rafters (which support the roof) look secure and free from distress.
Houses generally lose heat through windows, walls, roofs and attics. Proper sealing and insulation can be a good way to avoid this and thus reduce your energy costs.
If your future home is old enough, it may not have insulation, and you may want to consider adding it or considering the costs for it in your area. If the house has already been insulated, your home inspector will check its condition and look for any gaps.
Check the condition of your exterior walls, looking for damaged bricks, shingles or siding, as well as wavy or bubbling paint. Other important exterior components to evaluate include chimneys, gutters and downspouts, doors and windows. You can also check the humidity.
If water collects and stays anywhere on the property – due to poorly hung gutters or a leaking sprinkler, for example – you may want to ask the seller to fix this to prevent growth. future mold and / or water damage. Also check for pests, such as termites or cockroaches.
Some houses are fully equipped with household appliances. So if there is already a refrigerator, stove, washer and dryer, have your inspector make sure they are in good working order with no leaks or other issues.
If the home has few or no appliances, figure out how much money you can spend on these items while on budget.
Home is where the heart is
A home inspection checklist like this can help a buyer focus their attention on real estate issues that may require a financial investment.
Keep in mind, however, that many homes will need repair here or there – and this may be acceptable depending on the severity of the repair. Make sure you know what you are up against and that the necessary fixes are mostly cosmetic in nature and within your budget. Health or safety issues could impact the loanability of the property depending on the loan program you are approved for.
External websites: Information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, although believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. The links are provided for informational purposes and should not be taken as an endorsement.
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