The Complete Home Inspection Checklist

Whether you're buying a newly built home or one that's 100 years old, a home inspection checklist can come in handy. Find out what to watch out for.


Home Inspection Checklist Summary

1.  Foundation Inspection

  2.  Roof Inspection

  3.  Attic Inspection


Why a Thorough Home Inspection is Essential

Almost any house can look beautiful on the outside. A little paint, new shutters, a beautiful green lawn. Hey, what could be wrong? Well, plenty - just ask an experienced home inspector. Every state has home inspectors; some states require licenses and some don't. Many inspectors are former contractors and know their stuff. So if you're buying a new home, make sure you get a complete inspection done during your contingency period. That's the time you can bring up anything that needs to be fixed.


A word of caution though, every home (even the newly built ones) has flaws and issues that need to be addressed. You're not going to find a perfect property with nothing wrong. So don't freak out if the inspection comes back with several items to be addressed. Plus, the inspector may feel he has to earn his fee, so he really digs in there to find everything possible. Along with that, if they miss something, they could be liable, so the inspector is going to want to do a complete job and list everything they find.


Not only is having a new home inspection vital if you are buying but also consider having one if you're thinking about putting your house on the market. Just knowing what needs to be fixed and getting a jump on it before you actually list your home for sale can take 50% of the stress out of the deal. The inspector will find stuff you never knew was wrong like insulation that needs to be strapped, areas of dry rot, loose roof tiles, etc. Better to know about it now that in the middle of escrow with a skittish buyer.


Although there are many steps in buying a home, as well as inspections, we're going to list the three major areas you should pay special attention to. These are the foundation, roof, and attic.


Foundation Inspection

A foundation inspection is an important inspection no matter where you live because if there is something wrong with the foundation, it can be costly to fix. If you are a getting a new home inspection be sure to have the home foundation looked at as well.


On the exterior inspection here's what they will look for:

  • Foundation cracks
  • Crumbling or chipping concrete
  • Water damage
  • Gaps on exterior doors frames
  • Gaps on exterior window frames


Excess moisture can cause wooden beams to rot and attract termites. Inspectors will want to check the crawl space for:

  • Heavy dampness
  • Standing water
  • Beams that curve
  • Beams that Lean
  • Termite damage


Within the interior they will check:

  • The elevation to see if the home is level
  • Damaged or sloping floors
  • Bulging or leaning walls
  • Vertical cracks
  • Cracks in staircases that zig-zag
  • Doors that stick or don't open or close correctly
  • Cabinets and counters that separate from the wall


What they are looking for in a foundation inspection is any indication that there is heaving settling, sinking, or shifting of the foundation. Ensuring that your home foundation passes all these tests is critical for your home inspection checklist.


Roof Inspection

The roof is another essential inspection in the home inspection checklist. You want to know what shape it's in and how much life it may still have if it is not a new home. The contractor will get on the roof and check to make sure there is proper flashing, gutters, and see if there are any leaks, missing shingles tiles, excessively worn areas, or damage.


Checking the condition of the chimney is also part of the home inspection process along with any other ventilation pipes that might be on the roof. Sometimes a roofer can fix a few things and give you a roof certification that the roof will be good for a certain number of years, and if not, they will fix it for you.


The condition of the roof can affect the rate of your homeowner's insurance, especially in Florida, where insurance companies are concerned about hurricanes. Some states are tougher than others. It's a good idea to do a visual check of the roof and find out how old it is before you make an offer on the house. Even if it’s new you will still want to add the roof to your new home inspection checklist.


Attic Inspection

An attic inspection is another major item to add your home inspection checklist. The attic is a place that indicates if there are any big problems with the house. In a thorough home inspection, most often the inspector will crawl through the attic and try and go from one side of the house to the other. He'll be looking for any signs of leaks, excessive moisture, and any mold. This is an exercise that should also be done in a new home inspection as well.


The inspector will also make sure there is proper ventilation and that the insulation is in good shape. A common problem that is found is missing or damaged insulation so don't be surprised if that comes up.


And last but not least, for the attic inspection, they will look for wood damage and infestation of rodents or insects. If buying new, you typically won’t have to worry about these two, but it’s always safe to be on the lookout for it during a new home inspection.


Once you have the information from the home inspection, it's time to regroup and decide if there's anything that's a deal breaker or that the seller must fix before you go through with the deal. Along with having all of your mortgage loan documents submitted to your lender, it's crucial when you're in escrow to have your inspections done right away, so you still have time to negotiate if you want them to lower the price of the house.


We hope this new home inspection checklist has been helpful. To learn even more, check out our 12 tips for buying a house



Contributed to Your Home blog by Carol Youmans

Looking for more tips, ideas or inspiration? Return Home here.

Published 7.5.19

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