Home Inspection Checklist

You are in the market to buy a house. You have your finances in order. You find the perfect home and make an offer. Your real estate agent suddenly slows you down. The offer is contingent on a home inspection. You’ve walked through it and everything appears sound. Why pay for someone else to do the same thing? A home inspector’s job is to find what lays behind the façade. They, like everyone’s dad seems to claim, know the ins and outs of a home, and can appraise any potential ugly surprises in the future.

What is a Home Inspection?

Finding a Home Inspector

Like all professional services, it’s important to find the right professional for the job. If your accountant drives a junker car, that’s probably a bad sign. For home inspectors, you can ensure they are certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors for peace of mind. Whether certified or not, it’s important to ask questions. You want someone unaffiliated with the home, and the real estate agents involved in the potential sale. You want someone with a massive amount of broad knowledge, rather than a specialist. After all, your electrician may be able to wire anything, but how are they at plumbing? As well, a professional will have insurance for errors or omissions.

What Home Inspectors Look for

A home inspector looks for all the flaws behind the veneer. They’re looking for anything and everything to create a comprehensive list of all damages and potential repairs. From the structure to the roof, the yard to the pipes, the windows to the central heating. A great home inspector’s checklist will be extensive and include all aspects of the home. Check out our printable home inspection checklist below!

Home Inspection Checklist

Use this checklist as a general guide for what is reviewed during a home inspection. Remember, only a licensed professional can provide an official home inspection. This list reflects the key areas of an inspection but is not all-encompassing.

Grounds:

o   Proper drainage gradient, leading away from the home

o   No evidence of standing water

o   No leaks from a leech field or septic tank

o   Yard, landscaping, trees, and walkway in good condition

o   No bushes or branches touch the house, or overhang the roof

o   Exterior structures are in good condition. No evidence of termites, or rotted wood (fences, sheds, decks, retaining walls, detached garages)

o   Railings on stairs and decks are secure and adequate 

o   Driveways, sidewalks, patio, and entrance landings are in good condition, and pitched away from the structure

o   Downspout drainage directed away from the structure

Structure:

o   Ridge and fascia board lines appear straight and level

o   Sides of the house appears straight. No sagging or bowing.

o   Windows and door frames appear square

o   Visible foundation is in good condition, straight, with no significant cracks

Exterior Surfaces:

o   Adequate clearance between ground and wood siding material (6” minimum) with no wood in contact with earth

o   Siding – no cracking, curling, loose, rot, or decay

o   Bricks appear undamaged with no cracks in joints

o   Masonry veneers: no cracks in joints, no broken, spalling, or flaking components

o   Stucco – no large cracks (discuss any stucco cracks with a professional inspector)

o   Vinyl or aluminum siding – no dents, damage, no bowing or loose siding

o   No vines on surface of structure

o   Exterior paint or stain – no flaking or blisters

o   No stains on exterior surfaces

Windows, Doors, and Wood Trims:

o   Wood frames and trim pieces are secure. No cracks, rot, or decay

o   Joints around frames are caulked

o   No broken glass (window, or storm panes) or damaged screens. No broken double-paned, insulated window seals

o   Muntin and mullion glazing compound in good condition

o   Storm windows or thermal glass used

o   Drip caps installed over windows

o   No condensation inside double-paned windows

Roof:

o   Composition shingles – no curling, no cupping, no loss of granulated particulate, no broken, damaged, or missing shingles, no more than two layers of roofing

o   Wood shingles or shakes: no mold, rot, or decay. No cracked / broken / missing shingles, no curling

o   Flat roofs – No obvious patches, no cracks nor splits, minimal blisters / “alligatoring”, and wrinkles, no split deposits (indicates improper drainage), sealed tar at flashing

o   Flashing around roof penetrations is present and in good condition

o   No evidence of excess roofing cement / tar / caulk

o   Soffits and fascia – no decay, no stains

o   Exterior venting for eave areas – vents are clean and not painted over

o   Gutters – no decay or rust, joints sealed, attached securely to structure, no bending or sagging, no sections of gutter or downspout missing, gutters clean, no mud deposits

o   Chimneys – straight, properly flashed, no evidence of damaged bricks or cracked joints, mortar / cement cap in good condition

Attic:

o   No stains on underside of roofing, especially roof penetrations

o   No evidence of damage or decay of structure

o   Sufficient insulation and properly installed insulation (moisture barrier installed closest to the heated area of the house)

o   Adequate ventilation, clear path into attic for air entering through soffit vents, adequately sized gable end louvers, all mechanical ventilation operational

o   No plumbing, exhaust or appliance vents terminating in the attic

o   No open electrical splices

Interior Rooms:

o   Floors, walls, and ceilings appear straight, plumb, and level

o   No stains on floors, walls, or ceilings

o   Flooring material in good condition

o   No significant cracks in wall or ceiling

o   Windows and exterior doors operate easily and latch properly, no broken glass, no sashes painted shut, no decay: windows and doors have weather stripping, “weep holes” installed

o   Interior doors operate easily and latch properly, no damage or decay, no broken hardware

o   Paint, wall covering, and paneling in good condition

o   Wood trim installed well and in good condition

o   Lights and switches operate properly

o   Adequate number of three pronged electrical outlets in each room

o   Electrical outlets test properly in a spot check

o   Heating/cooling source in each habitable room

o   Evidence of adequate insulation in the walls

o   Fireplace has no cracking or damaged masonry, no evidence of back drafting (staining on fireplace façade) damper operates properly, flue has been cleaned, flue is lined

o   Stairway treads and risers are solid

Kitchen:

o   Working exhaust fan that is vented to the exterior of the building

o   Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection for electrical outlets within 6 feet of the sinks

o   Dishwasher drains properly, no leaks, baskets, door spring operates properly

o   No leaks in pipes under sinks, no signs of water damage on pipes

o   Floor in cabinet under sink solid, no stains or decay

o   Water flow in sink adequate

o   No excessive rust or deterioration on garbage disposal or waste pipes

o   Built-in appliances operate properly

o   Cabinets in good condition: doors and drawers operate properly

Bathrooms:

o   Working exhaust fan that doesn’t terminate in the attic space

o   Ground Floor Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacles for all electrical outlets located within 6 feet of sinks

o   Visible plumbing under sink is in good condition and shows no signs of water damage

o   Adequate flow and pressure at all fixtures for hot and cold water

o   Toilet is stable, with no rocking at base

o   Sink, tub, and shower all drain properly

o   Plumbing and cabinet floor under the sink in good condition

o   If sink is metal, it shows no sign of rust, overflow drain doesn’t leak

o   Toilets operate properly

o   Toilet stable, no rocking, no stains around base

o   Caulking in good condition inside and outside of the tub and shower area

o   Tub or shower tiles secure, wall surface solid

o   No stains or evidence of past leaking around the base of the shower

Miscellaneous:

o   Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors where required by local ordinances

o   Stairway treads and risers solid

o   Stair handrails where needed and in good condition

o   Automatic garage door opener operates properly, stops properly for obstacles

Basement or Mechanical Room:

o   No evidence of moisture

o   No evidence of water damage to above floor

o   Sump pump operates properly

o   Exposed foundation – no stains or major cracks, no flaking, no efflorescence

o   Visible structural wood: no sagging, no damage, no decay, no stains, no damage from insects, sills attached to foundation with anchor bolts

o   Insulation at rim/bank joints

Crawl Space:

o   Adequately vented to exterior

o   Insulation on exposed water supply, waste, and vent pipes

o   Insulation between crawlspace and heated areas, installed with vapor barrier towards heated area

o   No evidence of insect damage

o   No evidence of moisture damage

Plumbing:

o   Visible pipes – no damage, no evidence of leaks, no signs of stains on materials near pipes, drainpipes slope slightly downward towards outlet to septic / sewage system

o   Water heater – no signs of rust, vented properly, sized to produce adequate quantities of hot water for the number of bedrooms in the house

o   Water pump – does not short cycle

o   Galvanized pipes do not restrict water flow

o   Well water test is acceptable

o   Hot water temperature between 118 – 125 degrees Fahrenheit

Electrical:

o   Visible wiring – in good condition, no “knob-and-tube” wiring, no exposed splices, cables secured and protected

o   Service panel – adequate capacity, all cables attached to panel with cable connectors, fuses or breakers are not overheating

o   No aluminum cable for branch circuits

Heating / Cooling Systems:

o   Appears to operate well throughout (good air flow on forced hot air systems)

o   No gas odor

o   Flues – no open seams, slopes up to chimney connection

o   No rust around cooling unit

o   No combustion gas odor

o   Air filters clean

o   Ductwork in good condition

o   No asbestos on heating pipes, water pipes, or air ducts

o   Separate flues for gas / oil / propane and wood / coal

A home inspection is a vital part of the home purchasing process. While it’s not deemed entirely necessary, it is extremely wise. This comprehensive checklist should give you an idea of what to expect from your home inspector and what to look for in their report. Happy house hunting!