Your Home Inspection Checklist: What to Look for Before Buying

Buying a home

Buying a home can be an exciting time. Once you’ve found what appears to be the perfect home, the next step is the inspection. When you look at the home in person, use the list here to make sure you’re looking at everything with a critical eye. While you may want to have a professional inspection done and tests for radon and other potential issues, doing your own inspection first can help you see if the home is worth these expenses.

Check the Exterior

Before even entering the home, take a look at the outside. Check out the siding, the gutters, and other parts of the exterior to make sure it’s in good shape. Look for dangling wires, loose boards, older siding that may have asbestos in it, and any other potential repairs that may be required.

Take a Look at the Roof

While you’re outside, look up at the roof. You don’t need to climb on it, but you should look for any dark spots, missing shingles or tiles, and any moss or algae growing on the roof. Ask about when it was replaced last and look to see if there is any damage.

Inspect the Foundation

Check out the foundation and the area around it. Look for large cracks or trees that may be growing too close to the home. Inspect the area around the exterior of the house for any areas that seem to be sunken or soggy, as this can be an indication of water puddling by the foundation, which could lead to issues in the future.

Test Windows and Doors

Inside the home, check all of the windows and doors to make sure they open and close easily. Look for signs of moisture around windows and exterior doors or inside the windowpanes. Look for anything that looks off or misaligned, as this can be an indication of a much larger issue.

Look for Water Intrusion

Take a look in the basement and the attic, if possible, to see if there are any signs of moisture or water getting into the house. Look at the insulation that can be seen to ensure it’s in good shape and not damp. Signs of water can include damp insulation, dark spots on the framing in the basement or attic, or the growth of mold and mildew.

Check the HVAC System

Find out what kind of HVAC system is in the home and look for any labels that may indicate how old the system is. If the home has been converted from a different type of system, find out if the old system is still in place or if everything has been removed. Make sure the system turns on and works properly, so it will work if you decide to purchase the home. While it’s running, pay attention to any odd noises.

Try the Plumbing

Throughout the home, try out the plumbing where possible. Turn on sinks and faucets, and flush the toilets. Does there seem to be sufficient water pressure? While the water is running, is there a leak underneath the sinks? Listen for odd noises and check the water heater for leaks or other possible issues. Look for a label on the water heater to determine its age.

Look at the Electrical

It’s a good idea to bring something that you can plug into outlets with you when you inspect the home. Check all of the light switches to make sure the lights come on. Look at the outlets to make sure they’re grounded and test out any accessible outlets if possible. Also, look at the electric panel to see if it has the older fuses or if it has circuit breakers. Older electrical systems can be hazardous, so if the system is older, it’s a good idea to have it inspected further.

Have Radon Testing Done

Radon testing is something that you may not realize is needed, but it’s never a good idea to skip. Radon is a naturally forming radioactive gas that can get into buildings through the smallest of cracks and start to build up. Radon can be extremely dangerous, especially when there are high levels inside the home, and you’re exposed to it for years before it’s detected.

Radon testing does need to be done by a professional. Before you purchase the home, during the inspection period, have it tested for radon to see what the levels are inside the home. Depending on the results, you may need to request the seller handle remediation before the closing.

You’ve likely been looking at every home that pops up on the local real estate listings in the hopes you’ll find the perfect one. Once you have found a home you’re interested in, do an inspection to find out what potential problems may require a more thorough inspection. Do not forget to have the radon testing done, as this can be a huge factor in your decision to purchase the home and your safety while living in it.

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