First Time Home Buyers Inspection Checklist
If you’re a first time homebuyer, you may not know exactly what you need to look for when inspecting a property. But your home mortgage is most likely the most expensive loan you’ll ever take out, so it’s important that you know exactly what it is you’re about to purchase.
Before you can finalize the purchase of your first home, you’ll want to do a home inspection. While a professional home inspector will go through the property room by room and compile a report, it’s a good idea for you to also do this both on your own and when the inspector. This checklist will help make certain that you know what to look for and that the inspector you hire covers everything.
Before you go to the property to do your inspection, here are a few tools to bring with you:
- A tape measure
- Binoculars or a ladder
- A screwdriver or awl
- A flashlight
- A small ball, marble, or round can (anything that rolls)
- A camera or a fully charged cell phone with a good camera on it
- Check the roof with binoculars or, if possible, even climb up on it. Are there any shingles or tiles missing or damaged? If the house has a chimney, does it have any cracks in it, or is it starting to separate from the roof?
- Look at all sidewalks, the driveway, and any other paved area, taking note of cracks and places where it’s uneven.
- Inspect any stairs or steps around the house. Are there any cracks or broken areas? Are the railings solidly attached, or are they loose?
- Look all around the house at the foundation, noting any visible cracks.
- If the house has a woodpile touching it, take an awl or screwdriver and press in against the side of the house where the woodpile touches it. If the awl can easily be pushed into the home, it’s possible there’s a termite infestation. You will want to have the property inspected for termites.
- Inspect the siding, noting where it appears to need repairs.
- Does it appear that any of the rooms were added on later?
- The landscaping around the house should slope away from the home, not towards it. If it does slope towards the house, it may lead to flooding.
- Look at all of the fences around the property for signs of damage or rotting.
- If the property has a swimming pool, check for loose tiles or for any damage to the deck or pool equipment.
- If there’s an irrigation system on the property, turn it on and look for sections that are not working properly.
- Look at the windows for signs of mold. If the windows are double-paned, is there any condensation on the inside?
- Is there any sign of water damage underneath any of the sinks or around the hot water tank? Also look for signs of water around the toilets, washer/dryer, and refrigerator.
- Does the floor around the toilet seem soft or spongy? If so, it may be a sign of a leak.
- In addition to looking for water, smell for it. Take note of any areas that have a strong musty odor.
- If the house has a basement, check it for signs of any water damage or flooding. This could be a sign that the home has mold.
- Is there any grout missing around the tiles, or are any of the tiles cracked or stained?
- Check all of the faucets, toilets, and showers/tubs to make certain that they work, that there are no leaks, and that the water pressure is adequate. Listen for noise in the pipes.
- Check that all sink and tub stoppers work.
- Are the pipes protected from freezing?
- Look at the ceilings in every room for cracks or for any sign that the roof has leaked.
- Check the walls for holes, cracks, or stains. This is especially important in the basement, where you also need to look for white powdery substances (another sign of mold).
- If the home has tile or wood floors, look closely for cracks or warped boards.
- Are the floors uneven? One way you can tell is to place a small round ball or marble on the floor. If it rolls, the floor may be sloping.
- Take note of any windows that have cracks in the glass or the frame.
- Make certain that you can open all of the windows.
- Look at the door frames for cracks or to see if they have started to pull away from the doors. Check all locks and make certain doors open and close as they should.
- Note any exposed wiring.
- Check to make certain all lights work and that there are no broken light fixtures.
- Check all ceiling fans.
- Look at the hot water heater. Is it the proper size for the home? Is there any rust or signs of water damage around it?
- Check the garbage disposal to make sure it’s functioning properly.
- Are there smoke alarms in the house? Are they located in the proper place?
- Look at the fireplace and note any cracks, broken bricks, or places where it has separated from the wall. Is there a screen on it?
- Are all stairway railings secure?
Checking a home for these items will help make certain you don’t find any unpleasant surprises after you’ve closed. You can also use a shorter version of this checklist for any property walkthrough you do to get an idea of the overall condition of the house and decide if it’s a property you’re comfortable putting an offer on.
- Home Inspection Errors to Avoid – 5 things to make sure you don’t do.
- Common Issues Found During Inspections – Some of the most common property problems.
- Home Inspection Basics – Why get one, and what does it disclose?
- Home Inspector Checklist – Another DIY list
- Inspection Tips for the Seller – A look at home inspections from the seller’s side
- Wikipedia’s Home Inspection Article – A list of different types of home inspections
- American Society of Home Inspectors – A resource for those who need to find an inspector
- The Worst Things a Home Inspection can Find – A list of major issues an inspection can reveal.
- 20 Things to Inspect – A short list of the important things to check at your potential new home.
- Things to Ask a Home Inspector – A list to help you select a good home inspector.