Because you're not a professional home inspector, understand that you may miss vital issues. This list might just provide you some peace of mind. In some cases, your lender may require a home inspection by a professional, and Realtors may not accept any requested fixes unless a proper home inspection is conducted.
Here is how to get started with your own home inspection.
First, carefully inspect the exterior from top to bottom.
You want to check for a few major things in the attic. First, make sure there are no detectable signs of water damage from a leaky roof. Then, inspect the trusses — make sure everything is structurally sound. Lastly, make sure it's well-insulated and the insulation is in good condition.
Walk around every room of the house and look for any cracks or sloping of the walls, ceilings or floors. Any cracks would indicate a problem with the foundation. Any stains will alert you of water damage, in which case you'll need to find the source. It's also important to check for termites. Pull on all stair railings to make sure they're sturdy and safe. Open all windows to make sure they're in working order, and open and close all doors so you know they're functional — also make sure they all lock (if they have locks).
If all the appliances are being sold with the house, make sure they're in good working order. This includes starting the washer and dryer, dishwasher, oven and all other included large or small appliances.
Start with the plumbing. Make sure the toilets flush, the sinks work and the tub and shower faucets run. Don't forget to make sure the bathroom vent fans work as well. In the kitchen, make sure the sink does not leak.
Start both the furnace and the air conditioner to make sure they work properly. Examine the boiler for malfunctions.
This is the hard part, because odds are, you're not an electrician and won't know exactly what to look for or the proper tools to investigate. Do plug something into each outlet in the house, so that you know which ones work and that they're grounded. Another tip is to plug a hair dryer into one outlet in each room, with the lights on. If the lights flicker, this could reveal a wiring problem that needs to be looked at by a professional.
There should be a fire alarm installed within close proximity to every room, and each one should be equipped with working batteries. Carbon monoxide detectors are an important asset to your family's safety as well.
Each home is different, from the location to building materials, age to structure. This is not an exhaustive home inspection list. When in doubt, hire a professional.
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