What a Home Inspector Will Look For
When you’re buying a home, it’s a good idea to have a professional home inspector look over the property. This home inspection checklist may help you and your inspector discover potential issues before you buy the house.
What to Look For: Exterior
When examining the exterior of a home, here are a few things to take a look at.
Make sure the chimney is straight and whole, with no missing bricks or mortar. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), you should also ask your home inspector to check the tightness of the flashing, which isthe sheet metal that prevents leaking at the point where the roof and chimney meet.
You’ll want the inspector to take a close look at the roof, but while you’re at the property, Bob Villa recommends examining the roof from a distance to see if the roofline is straight or if it dips in the middle.
Gutters should be clean, rust-free and attached securely to the house. Watch out for bending or sagging in the middle. Be sure to check that gutters are connected to a downspout that allows water to flow away from the house, says ASHI. Most importantly, they need to drain water into a downspout and away from the structure, according to ASHI.
According to Zillow, you’ll want to note if the exterior of the home, including siding and paint, is in good shape or may repairs soon. Zillow also recommends checking for any loose boards or exposed wiring.
Windows and Doors
Look for decay or rot around the frames, advises Bob Villa. Make sure there’s no broken glass, that screens are not damaged and that windows and joints are sealed, caulked and insulated properly, says ASHI.
Make sure the home looks square from all sides with no leaning or sagging. ASHI recommends making sure there are no significant cracks and that insects cannot reach wood. And Zillow further recommends ensuring there are no trees or roots near the foundation.
Ask your inspector to look for any standing water, as this can be a common red flag for drainage issues or a septic tank issue. Look for tree branches that touch the house or loom above the roof. ASHI also recommends looking for large cracks in the driveway and walkways that may need repairs.
What to Look For: Interior
As you and the inspector move to the inside of the house, it’s a good idea to look at the following components.
Zillow recommends looking for signs of leaks, like decay or water stains. ASHI says you should also check for signs of pests (nests, droppings, etc.).
Bedrooms, Living Room and Dining Room
According to ASHI, all floors, walls and ceilings should be stain-free and level. Test windows and doors to make sure they open and close easily and fit in frames squarely.
Paint or other wall coverings should be in good shape. All electrical outlets should be covered and working properly. Check all the light switches to make sure they work.
ASHI recommends testing the water pressure in showers, sinks and toilets. It’s also a good idea to check to see if fixtures and tile are attached securely and that you don’t see signs of leaking or water damage. Your home inspector can help you ensure that everything’s installed correctly and working properly.
Sign up for our email newsletter.
The inspector should check that all the appliances in the kitchen are in working order and that sinks drain, that exhaust fans vent to the home’s exterior and that outlets within six feet of the sink have a ground fault circuit interrupter, says ASHI. It’s also a good idea to be sure that drawers and cupboards open and close and appear to be in good shape.
Ceilings, Floors and Walls
As long as everything appears level, ASHI suggests keeping an eye out for stains or decay and making sure there are no loose materials or cracks. Your home inspector should be able to identify any potential issues that might not be easily visible to the naked (or inexperienced) eye.
It’s important to have your fireplace inspected by a professional, says the National Fire Protection Association. He or she will confirm that the masonry is intact, make sure there are no stains or cracks on the outside of the fireplace and confirm all the components work (flue, damper, etc.).
According to ASHI, you should look for signs of water damage in this area. Have the inspector check for any signs of mold or mildew. Make sure there are no cracks, bulges or discoloration in the floor and walls. Any exposed foundation should be free of cracks or stains. Your home inspector may also check for signs of insect damage (like termites) and ensure that it’s adequately insulated.
Finding a Professional Home Inspector
Working with a professional home inspector can be a good way to help ensure you’re aware of any potential flaws or issues in your future home. If you’re working with a real estate professional, they can likely direct you to inspectors in your area. You can find qualified inspectors in your area through ASHI.
Buying a new home can be an exciting time, but it also can come with a lot of steps that may move quickly. If you have questions during a home inspection, be sure to ask the inspector and your real estate professional.