If you’ve been through the home buying or selling process before, you know that a home inspection plays a crucial role. A home inspection can make or break the deal, depending on the severity of what is found during the inspection. No home inspection is perfect, and a potential home seller or buyer being able to inspect a home before they sell or buy can give them a great advantage.
Why Should Someone Do a DIY Home Inspection?
Being able to follow a checklist as someone walks through a home can help them look for potential defects or problem areas. Having a home inspection checklist for sellers can help them understand what areas may need some attention before they sell, and it can also help them keep on top of yearly maintenance of the home. Staying ahead of any issues can help save on costly repairs.
Having a checklist along as someone walks through a home that they’re interested in buying can help them keep an eye out for potential problem areas that a home inspector will check as well. This can also help them avoid any surprises on the inspection report, because they will have had their eye on some of the problem areas that a professional home inspector will investigate further.
A DIY home inspection checklist can give a current homeowner or a future homeowner an idea of what’s going on with the home, but a professional home inspector will be thorough and comb every inch of the home looking for any problem areas.
A homeowner isn’t qualified to inspect the electrical system, the plumbing system, or the HVAC system (unless, of course, they happen to have a career in that field), and that’s where a professional home inspector can help fill in the gaps of a DIY home inspection.
A professional home inspector is responsible for inspecting the entire house, inside and out, from the attic to the basement or crawlspace. They have special tools and instruments for inspecting a home that a typical homeowner likely won’t have. There are also many hours of education and practice inspections that a professional home inspector goes through to be able to do this for a living, which means they really are the experts in this field. So, while a DIY home inspection can be helpful, it’s incredibly important to leave the full job to a professional.
The Ultimate Home Inspection Checklist
A person can do their own home inspection, but a professional home inspector should always be hired to do a home inspection for the sale or purchase of a property, as it takes years of education and experience to be able to perform an inspection thoroughly and safely. Depending on the size, a home inspector can thoroughly inspect a house in 2-3 hours. This time can vary depending on the inspector’s experience, the size of the house, the condition/age of the house, and the weather conditions, just to name a few variables.
Most inspectors use the “Outside – In, Top – Down” method, and anyone can conduct their own DIY home inspection using our checklist with the same method. With the “Outside-In, Top-Down” approach, you begin on the outside of the property, walking around the exterior of the home. Then you inspect the roof, garage, and make your way inside the home. Once inside the home, you start at the top of the house with the attic, working your way down to the basement or crawlspace. If you do decide to do your own home inspection, please be sure to use caution and don’t attempt to inspect anything that doesn’t look safe.
This DIY Home Inspection Checklist is not exhaustive, as a professional home inspector will do a much more in-depth inspection, but it covers most of the major areas where problems can occur.
Inspect the Grounds
- Proper drainage away from the house
- No evidence of standing water
- No leaks from the septic tank/field
- No branches touching or hanging over the roof
- The yard, landscaping and walkways are in good condition
- Additional structures (fences, decks, garages, retaining walls, sheds) are in good condition
- Railings on decks and stairways are secure
- Driveways, sidewalks, and patios are in good condition
- Downspout drainage is directed away from the house/structure
- Visible foundation is in good condition – straight, no visible cracks
- Sides of house are not bowing or sagging
- Door and window frames are square
- Siding is not cracked or damaged
- No cracks in masonry veneers
- No dents or damage to vinyl siding
- No stains on exteriors or flaking paint
- Garage door opens and closes as intended
Doors, Windows & Trim
- Wood frames and trim pieces are secure, not rotting or cracking
- Joints around frames are caulked in
- No broken glass or damaged screens
- Shingles are not bent, molding or flaking
- No more than two layers of roofing
- Wood shingles or shakes – no mold, rot or decay; no cracked/broken shingles
- Flashing is present around roof penetrations
- Gutters are not sagging or rusted
- Chimneys are straight and flashed correctly; no damaged bricks
- Exterior vents are clear
- No stains around roof penetrations
- No signs of decay or damage
- Sufficient insulation that has been properly installed
- Proper ventilation
- No pluming, appliance, or exhaust vents terminate here
- Floors, walls, and ceilings are straight and level
- Flooring in good condition, not stained
- Walls, ceilings, and floors in good condition, not stained
- Paint is not chipped
- Wood trim installed properly and in good condition
- Light switches are functional
- Heating/cooling source present in each habitable room
- Adequate insulation in walls
- Windows are in good condition
- Doors are functional and not damaged
- Door frames are in good condition
- Fireplace flue is clean and functional, no cracks/damage in masonry
- Cabinets are functional
- Smoke detectors are working
- Stairway tread is in place
- Stairway handrails are secure
- Crawl spaces are adequately vented
- Basement is in good condition
- Carbon monoxide detectors are functional and located where required
- Exhaust fan operational; vents to exterior
- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection for electrical outlets within 6 feet of sink
- Dishwasher drains properly, no leaks
- No leaks under sink
- Cabinet under sink – no signs of stains, decay or mold
- Sink provides adequate water flow
- No signs of excessive rust or damage on garbage disposal
- Cabinets are functional and not damaged
- No leaks under sink
- Toilet operational, stable, no stains around base
- Caulking around tub/shower area in good condition
- Tub/shower tiles secure and not damaged
- No evidence of leaks around base of tub/shower
- Working exhaust fan that vents to exterior
- Proper water flow and pressure to all fixtures
- Shower, tub and sink drain properly
- No evidence of moisture/sitting water
- No stains or major cracks in foundation
- No sagging, damage, or decay in structural wood
- Adequately vented
- Insulation present on exposed pipes
- No insect damage
- No moisture damage
- Pipes are not leaking or damaged
- Water pressure is steady
- Plumbing is fully operational
- Water heater functions adequately
- Electrical outlets are functional and grounded
- Insulation is adequate
- Electrical wiring is secured and working properly
- Service panel is not overheating
- HVAC system operates well throughout home
- Air filters are clean
- Ductwork is in good condition
- No asbestos on pipes or air ducts
To ensure a thorough inspection, always hire a professional home inspector, as this list is only a small portion of what a certified home inspector will examine. But with this DIY Home Inspection Checklist, anyone can conduct a simplified home inspection themselves as a good starting point before they make an offer to purchase a home or put their home on the market.
And if you’re ready to begin your own career as a home inspector, Inspection Certification Associates is here to help! We offer affordable, comprehensive home inspection training to help you launch your career. Feel free to visit our website at www.icaschool.com, or give us a call at 888-374-4096 to get started today.
Download the full checklist PDF here.