What You Need to Know For A Home Inspection Checklist
The home inspection portion of a home purchase is arguably the single most important step during the escrow process. It is one of the only times when the buyer can get an impartial picture of the state of their home. During previous walkthroughs with an agent or the seller, most buyers hear only the good aspects of a home. And while an intelligent person can pick up on some potential problems, a professional home inspector has the knowledge and training to detect minor and major problems with a home.
Home Inspection Checklist
If there are problems, your real estate agent or representative should negotiate these points with the seller or the seller’s agent. Once escrow closes, you move in, and then find significant problems with the home, your options have greatly diminished. It is difficult to prove that a home owner intentionally hid information from you.
The following are the major points that a home inspector will look for (and probably much more). As a suggestion, the home buyer may want to tag along and hear all of the information collected (and written down) by the California home inspector.
Roof: Make sure to check for leaks and that the roof is watertight. Notice whether large trees are overhanging the roof or are touching. Over time, the leaves can collect in the drains and, if not removed, cause large pools of water to collect during rains that can damage the roofs. Replacing a roof can be costly.
Foundation: Check for cracks or any shifting in the foundation – especially important for homes that are over 20 years old. Homes should be bolted to the foundation (they are required by law in many states if they were built in 1950 or later). If it has not been, the house may need to be retrofitted and bolted. In addition, check to see the condition of mudsill, the part of the house that rests on the foundation. This is another big ticket item so pay particular attention to this.
Windows: Your home inspection should include checking around the window frames and sills for any dry rot or significant cracking that may have occurred. Look to make sure that the windows have no small cracks in the corner and check the seals for proper insulation.
Electrical Systems: Your home inspection should include checking that all lights work properly. They need to test all outlets, switches and sockets to make sure they work and are up to code. Even older homes should have 3 prong outlets and up to date circuit breakers. Kitchen and bathrooms should have GFI or ground fault interrupt.
Plumbing: Make sure that there are no leaks in pipes, fittings or fixtures. If there are, there may be evidence of it when your inspector checks under the house as the pipes have probably been leaking for some time. The water pressure throughout the house should be tested, for both hot and cold water. Look for water damage in bathrooms around the toilets and showers. Check the hot water heater for leaks and make sure it is up to code.
Fireplace/Chimney: Any decay or crumbling in the mortar or main material that makes up the fireplace and check for overall stability. In addition, check to make sure that no obstructions are blocking the chimney.
Drainage: This is a pretty important one – water and water damage are the causes of the majority of damage in homes across the nation. All spouts and gutters need to drain away from the house. The yard should naturally slope gradually away from the house. Ground or earth needs to be at least 6 inches below the foundation.
Termites and Other Pests: Termites (especially in states such as California) can be a huge problem that can compromise the integrity of a home. Termites and other pests leave droppings below any wood that they have had contact with. Your home inspection should include a check around the home for signs of termites. Check attic vents for wasp or hornet nests. Check all spaces especially in rarely used rooms or spaces for rats, mice, termites or other pest droppings.
Floors: Damaged floors can be a consequence of water damage. The easiest way to check is to look for water stains, discoloration below laminate flooring and warps in wood floors. The most obvious places include around bathroom and kitchen pipes and fixtures. Make sure that the flooring and supports under the house is not water damaged.
Walkways and Stairs: Check the integrity of all stairs and walkways as they may be a hazard to health and a code violation. This includes all railings.
Pool/Spa: Make sure that pool is structurally sound – free of and leaks or cracks. Check that the cleaning/filter system works properly and that the thermostat is functioning properly.
Hazardous Materials: Check for any hazardous materials or any problem areas of dumping or collecting that may contain such materials. These must be removed by hazmat crews and can be very costly. Common household hazardous materials include lead and asbestos.
Paint: Check for cracked or peeling paint.
Furnace: Check to see whether the thermostat and venting works correctly.
Appliances: Check to make sure all major appliances work properly and are safe. This includes checking for gas leaks with the over, proper venting for dryers, water leaks for washing machines etc.
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