Home Inspection

Home Inspection

Before You Buy: Home Inspection Checklist

When shopping for a new home, you have probably been told to get a home inspection before you buy. Some real estate companies include home inspections in their purchase agreements. Depending on where you live, your state might even require you to sign a waiver if you choose to forego an inspection. Finally, your home lender might require an inspection as a condition of closing.

Whether you are on your first house or your fifth, it’s a good idea to get a home inspection from a certified inspector. A professional knows what items to look for and can help you determine whether a home is a good purchase. Despite their expert knowledge, however, inspectors – and their methods – vary. Not every state requires home inspectors to be licensed or certified to work in their field. To get the most out of your inspection, create a home inspection checklist.

The Home’s Structure

The inspector should examine the overall construction of the home, including the integrity of the foundation, floors, wall, ceiling, and roof. Think of this component as a top-to-bottom inspection of the home’s most important elements. If the foundation isn’t sound, you will probably experience serious (and expensive) problems down the road.

Exterior Elements

Exterior elements include the landscaping, elevation, grading, driveway, fences, trim, doors, windows, outside light fixtures, and drainage. Many inspectors discover water problems when inspecting items such as grading and drainage. For example, a home constructed with inefficient grading might take on extra water where the upper portions of the basement walls meet ground level. Your inspector can also recommend that sellers replace and repair certain outdated items, such as windows and siding.


The inspector examines various pipes used to carry water and sewage away from the home. Part of this inspection includes an examination of the home’s toilets, showers, sinks, and faucets. It is important to keep in mind, however, that this does not replace a sewer, septic, or well inspection. Most areas, these items are inspected by a specialist with specific knowledge of their components and functionality.

Heating and Air

There are a number of items that comprise the home’s infrastructure, which refers to various working parts within the home. This includes HVAC systems, chimneys, smoke alarms, and home security systems.


Depending on the age of the home, electrical can be a big issue. Older homes are notorious for having outdated wiring that can’t accommodate modern electronics and appliances. The inspector will examine the home’s ceiling fans, light fixtures, circuit breaker, and various wiring.

What to Do if Your Home Fails the Inspection

It is very rare that a house fails every element of a home inspection. In most cases, the inspector finds a smattering of small issues that require minor to moderate repairs. Occasionally, a home inspection uncovers a serious problem, such as mold or water damage.

During the inspection if a problem is discovered, usually the seller will perform the repairs. Alternatively, buyers can hire their own repair company and simply bill the seller.

Additional Inspections

Although a home inspection is an important step toward responsible home ownership, it does not cover every potential defect. There are various inspections that require in-depth expert knowledge. Inspections are performed by licensed contractors who specialize in repairing defect if they are discovered. Some of these special inspections include asbestos, lead, termites, and toxic mold. Depending on your home lender, some of these special inspections might even be mandatory per the terms of your loan agreement.  

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