Home Inspection Tips & Checklist – What’s Included?

So, are you selling your own home or in the market to buy a new home for yourself? Guess what — you’re going to need a home inspection done by a qualified professional prior to completing the sale or purchase. Because purchasing a home is (probably) the largest single purchase you will make in your life, it’s important to get your potential new asset inspected for any problems before you sign on the dotted line. After all, there is nothing worse than finding any huge problems after you have taken ownership that are then your responsibility to take care of! While home inspections do vary in quality and requirements, there are some aspects that will usually be the same no matter where you live or whom you decide to work with, and this is because there are guidelines put forth by the National Association of Home Inspectors which good home inspectors take care to follow when doing their job. Let’s take a look at some of the items and standards included in a house inspection so you’ll know what to expect when it’s your turn to get one!

Before you sign the sales agreement for that new home, you want a home inspector to check out every aspect of the home. This includes any safety issues, health issues, and structural issues that could potentially be problematic down the road. Upon beginning the inspection, your inspector may be looking for or at any of the following:

  • Signs of mold or mildew
  • Presence of lead paint
  • Asbestos
  • Rodents/animals
  • Radon
  • CO2 leaks
  • Heating/AC units
  • Water drainage/landscape grading around the house
  • Cracks in the foundation
  • Wood rot
  • Smoke/CO2 detectors
  • Rain gutters
  • Skylights
  • Quality of wood framing
  • Fireplaces and chimney problems
  • Attic/roof ventilation
  • Sump pump inspection
  • Seals on windows and doors
  • The condition of plumbing and electrical systems
  • Walkways, decks, stairs, balconies, and patios
  • Subfloor crawl spaces

Older homes will exhibit their age in different ways, and potential owners of such homes should know that they won’t be buying a brand new house without any issues at all. But small repairs should not be a deal-breaker on such a big purchase as a home, so it’s important to keep that in mind when you get an inspection report back prior to sale. Upon completion of the inspection, you will receive a full report on the condition of the home and it will be up to you to decide if any items listed are enough to scare you away from wrapping up the sale. If there are major issues on the report and you still wish to proceed with the sale, you can use the report to either have things fixed prior to sale or have money taken off the selling price to make them yourself.

When it comes time to get your own home inspection, the American Society of Home Inspectors website can help you find a qualified home inspector near you, and the National Association of Home Inspectors has a handy PDF download of their Standards of Practice, which “provide the minimum standards of performance for a written report on a residential home inspection performed by and for the exclusive use of members of the National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc..”

Whatever you do, remember that buying a home is a huge step and expense — so be sure to get an inspection before signing any contracts!

(photo credit: erix!)

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