Home Inspection Checklist

You’ve found a house that could be your next home. The floor plan is right, the backyard is nice and big, and you’ll finally have that great kitchen with tons of storage space. Before you get too excited, you should know it’s vital to perform a home inspection.

The home inspection is a crucial part of the home buying process. It’s when you learn about any potential damage to the house or important repairs that need to be made. So, how do you know if an issue is serious enough to pass on the home? What kinds of less expensive repairs should you invest in if you love the property?

These are all important questions you should be asking yourself before proceeding with your home inspection. Here’s a handy home inspection checklist to help guide you through this crucial step in buying your next home.

Home Inspection Checklist

Foundation

Cracks in your home’s foundation could be an indication of a more serious (and more expensive) problem. If the crack is wider than 1/16 of an inch, it could be an issue, in particular if water is coming out of it or it has grown, which could indicate the soil underneath the house is moving and putting stress on the foundation.

Another problem to consider with cracks is that they can make your home more vulnerable to unwanted pest infestations. Termites in particular, can fit through even hairline cracks in your foundation. Be sure to watch out for any mature trees very close to the house. Their roots could cause damage over time.

Roof

Most roofs are able to last between 20 and 25 years. During your inspection, make sure you ask about the last time the roof was replaced. Can you see obvious missing shingles? Do you see any buckling or warping? It could be a sign you’ll have to replace the roof soon, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Utility Systems

Be sure to note any issues with your home’s utility systems. This includes heating and air conditioning, fireplaces, water heaters, furnaces, electrical systems, plumbing and septic systems.

Does the heater make a funny noise? Do the fireplaces work? Are there any issues with the chimney? Any funny smells? Musty odors can indicate leaking water and poor insulation.

If you notice any backed up toilets, standing water, wet soil in the yard above the septic tank, or bright green grass above it, you may have a leak. The cost of connecting a house to the city sewer to replace a full or damaged septic tank can cost $20,000 or more.

Water leaks can cause or exacerbate issues with the foundation of the house, and bad wiring can be a fire hazard. Be sure to inspect these areas are thoroughly so you have the necessary information to assess repair costs.

Home Exterior

It’s important to check the integrity of the wood in your front porch or backyard deck. Likewise, damaged siding (warping, splitting, bubbling, etc.) can significantly increase your home’s heating and cooling costs. This is due to a loss of insulation in your home.

Check the driveway of the property thoroughly. A few oil stains are relatively easy to remove yourself. However, cracks or sinkholes in the driveway could be more costly to repair.

If there is an in-ground pool on the property and you live in an area with freezing winters, make sure you know if it is winterized. Similarly, you should check the filtration and plumbing systems of the pool to make sure they are in good working order. These checks will ensure the exterior of your home is in good shape.

Wood Safety

Check joists in the attic and/or basement for any rotting wood. Keep an eye out for bubbling paint on the walls inside, which could indicate wet or rotting wood behind the wall.

Check around the windows inside to make sure the seal is in tact. Also look on the ceilings for any evidence of leaks. Rotting wood should be replaced immediately, and can be very expensive.

Mold

Some mold is easy to remove, especially if it is only in one small area. When you should be concerned is if you see black mold. Black mold is toxic and can cause permanent health damage. If you see black mold on the property, contact a professional to remove it.

If you have a less serious kind of mold, but it is widespread throughout the house, you might be facing repairs that tip the scales on deciding not to buy. That the mold is growing so freely could be an indication of poor insulation, leaks, plumbing issues, previous flooding and more.

Weigh the Costs

When you hear the final report from the inspector, make a list of the most costly repairs the house needs. Now, assess your risk versus return. At what point down the road will you need to replace major systems in your home? Is it worth it to buy a home that needs a new roof? Can you walk away from an ominous crack in the foundation?

The key to reaching a decision is to determine the market value of the home and the neighborhood. Then, evaluate the repairs you would have to complete to make the home ready for occupancy. A good guide to use is if the investment you make in the repairs would start to pay off in a couple of years due to the increased value of the home. If the repairs will cost more over time than the home is worth with them, you might want to hold off on funding any major repairs.

Think about each of these things before you go to your home inspection. Do your homework on the property you’re considering. If you do encounter a larger issue, such as the ones we’ve covered in this home inspection checklist, you’ll be ready to have an informed discussion with the experts. Happy home buying!