The home inspection serves a couple of key purposes, including informing buyers of any major repair needs that may impact their desire to purchase the property. And in many cases, it results in a few back-and-forth negotiations between buyer and seller regarding repair requests or price modifications. If you’re a seller, getting a home inspection in advance might cut down on these types of negotiations and help you close the deal at or above the listing price.
A home inspector is trained to assess the condition of the property. It’s not required in most cases. But unless you’re an experienced contractor who can spot deficiencies yourself, it makes sense.
The home inspector won’t give the home a pass or fail. That’s your job as the buyer. You can choose to buy a home that’s falling down. Or you can renegotiate with the seller over the smallest deficiency.
Home inspection checklist for buyers
Having your own home inspection checklist will help you work with your inspector. You may identify areas of concern that you can pass along.
Outside the house
Roof. All roofs need maintenance, so you’ll want to know how soon it could become a major expense. Find out how old it is and ask questions about any damage or discoloration you see. Also, check nearby trees. Leaves and branches cause damage and give rodents easy access.
Water. Water can rot wood, damage your foundation, and cause mold. Look to see if anything would cause rainwater to flow onto or under the house. The rain gutters should be clean and direct water away from the property.
Foundation. Problems with the foundation could prove costly. Watch out for big cracks in the ground, raised foundation, or walls. Also, pay attention to any trees growing close to the house. It’s very common for roots to cause damage that you can’t easily see.
Inside the house
Water. Water can be so destructive, you’ll want to look for it everywhere. Watch out for:
- Water stains on ceilings, walls, or floors. These could indicate a roof or pipe leak.
- Leaks or water stains inside sink cabinets. Be sure sinks and tubs drain properly.
- Evidence of leaks in the attic and basement.
- Water stains below windows. Bubbling paint on a window frame could be evidence of water intrusion and a poor seal.
Appliances. Turn on appliances, including the heater and air conditioner, to make sure they run. Run the garbage disposal. Confirm the home has hot water and all plumbing fixtures work.
Signs of age. Old houses are wonderful, but if you buy one, you might need to upgrade certain features. If a wood floor has already been refinished, it may be too thin to refinish again. Clay and cast iron pipes wear out. Old windows are not energy efficient. Old wiring could be a fire hazard. Older homes may not have enough electrical outlets to accommodate a digital family.
Tips for home inspection day
Here are some tips to get the most out of your home inspection:
- Be there. You don’t have to go to the inspection, but it means you can see any problems for yourself.
- Be prepared. Bring a blank inspection checklist and jot down questions to ask the inspector.
- Check for disclosures. Review any seller disclosures you received before inspection day. Be sure to ask your inspector to look at those areas and verify repairs. If you are buying a foreclosed home, there may be no disclosures.
- Let the inspector work. Avoid unnecessary interruptions.
- Make sure there’s time to ask questions. Set aside some time before the inspector leaves.