Home Inspection Checklist: What Do Home Inspectors Look For?

October 4th, 2023  / Author: Zachariah Peterson
Essential Guides

What you see isn’t exactly what you get when it comes to buying a home. You’ll see freshly painted walls, colorful flowers, gleaming hardwood floors, and other superficial things. However, you won’t see ancient plumbing, foundation cracks, broken appliances, and other defects that can be revealed when you do a home inspection.

However, a home inspection can be pretty demanding. So, we’ve created a home inspection checklist to help transition you into your new home without worries.

What Is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection refers to an assessment of a newly bought house for any potential problems. A professional inspector usually conducts this process and provides a full status report on the property.

The goal of a home inspection is to discover any issues within the home before the end of the closing process, offering the buyer and the seller an opportunity to renegotiate or even give up on the transaction if needed.

Although it may sound frightening, a home inspection is one of the best precautions for homebuyers. And many times, inspections don’t reveal any unpleasant surprises. However, when they do, the buyer can negotiate with the seller about a potential repair, and any fixes can be checked over in the final walkthrough.

Even if you have a good feeling about the home, it’s vital to get a home inspection as it can protect you and your wallet from unpleasant surprises in the future. That’s especially true if you’re downsizing your home. And if you’re a seller, here are the best ways to prepare for inspection to ensure it runs smoothly.

What Are Home Inspection Contingencies?

A home inspection contingency is a clause you can add to a real estate contract, stating that the purchase deal is contingent upon the result of the inspection. If the results are unsatisfactory in any way, the contingency provides the buyer with the right to negotiate repairs or completely back out of the transaction.

If you include a home inspection contingency in your contract, you’ll have a timeframe in which the inspection has to occur and any following assessments. Around one to two weeks is a typical period.

If the inspection and follow-up evaluation discover any deal-breaker issues, you can give up on the deal with no consequences at all. That’s why inspection contingencies are excellent for protecting yourself against unpleasant surprises.

How to Hire a Home Inspector?

Before hiring an inspector, ask for a sample report. This way you can see what the inspector includes and evaluate their comments. Pay special attention if the report seems vague. Ask the inspector what’s included in and excluded from the inspection. And if you have specific concerns about the property, make sure to address those items in your inspection.

Your purchase contract should include an inspection contingency that provides you with a number of days to complete an inspection. Note that if properties in your location are selling fast, you may have only a few days. On the other hand, if the market is slow, you might get a week or even two.

Choosing an inspector early will help you schedule the inspection as soon as possible. Keep in mind that excellent inspectors may be in high demand. That’s especially true in the spring.

Depending on the property’s size, the cost for an average home inspection is between $350 and $600. Moreover, you need to budget for any additional examinations if the inspector reveals issues or mentions problems that warrant further investigations.

The Ultimate Home Inspection Checklist

Here’s the ultimate home inspection checklist that will help you pay attention to common trouble spots when it comes to evaluating your new home.

Outside the Home

  • Exterior: Make sure to check whether the gutters and downspouts are properly attached and drain away from the home. Also, pay attention to the siding on the home. This should be in good condition.
  • Roof: When checking the roof, your home inspector should look for any dark spots or moss. Also, he needs to see whether some tiles and shingles are missing. You may also want to ask when the roof was last replaced.
  • Foundation: When checking the foundation, it’s important to look for any big cracks and pay attention to whether the trees are close to it. Also, notice if any parts of the ground near the foundation seem sunken, squishy, or soggy.
  • Doors and windows: Do doors and windows on the home open and close easily, or do they seem misaligned? Are there any signs of moisture between the panes or around the frames? These are some questions you may want to ask regarding windows and doors.

Inside the Home

  • Smells: If you notice any unusual scents, it can indicate the presence of mildew or mold, so pay attention to how the house smells.
  • Basement and attic: When checking the basement and attic, you’ll want to pay special attention to any signs of moisture or water intrusion. And if they are unfinished, check if the insulation is in good condition.
  • Cooling and heating: When it comes to cooling and heating, you need to check what systems are being used and whether they are functional. Looking for a serial number will let you know about the system’s age.
  • Plumbing: Check the air pressure and whether the fixtures work. Also, pay attention to signs of leaks in under-sink cabinets and the age of the water heater.
  • Electrical: Look at whether all light switches work and the outlets are grounded. Also, check if the home has older electrical panes, newer, or both because outdated wiring can be hazardous.

What Is Excluded from a Home Inspection?

Although the home inspection is thorough, a few things are excluded, such as internet service, landscaping, and sprinkler systems. Such things are excluded from a home inspection because inspectors are more focused on reviewing the home itself, rather than features that can be considered extras. Fortunately, you can check these items during a walkthrough.

Depending on the property or inspector, several other areas may be excluded from an inspection, such as flooring hidden by carpet, the fireplace or chimney, roofing covered by snow, and sometimes pests.

Your safest bet to ensure these areas are working in order before buying a home is to ask the inspector to move carpet or snow or hire an expert on pest control. Although this may seem overwhelming, it can protect you from future unpleasant surprises.

What to Do once You Complete the Home Inspection Checklist

Home inspection is a critical step to take before buying a new house. But you should also consider these vital actions once the inspection is done.

Add an Inspection Contingency

Protecting yourself by ensuring there’s an inspection contingency in your purchase contract will give you time to complete necessary inspections and get estimates of required repairs. It will also allow you to negotiate with the seller or give up on the transaction if any unsurmountable issue pops up.

If fixes are necessary, decide which one is more urgent and negotiate it with your seller. For example, you can ask them to complete the repairs. However, to keep the sale moving and give you control over the work, you need to request a credit due at closing or a reduction in the sale price.

Pay Attention to Seller's Disclosures

Sellers are typically required to disclose any familiar property defects, which can also include information about the neighborhood or neighbors. Often, a real estate agent will give you a copy of the disclosure once you’ve made an offer.

There are dramatic variations in what states ask sellers to disclose, and having a disclosure requirement doesn’t mean the seller will actually honor it.

Home Inspection Protects the Buyer

Since home inspections exist to protect the buyer from unseen issues in the property, it’s vital to hire a home inspector before purchasing your new house. This way, you will avoid any unpleasant surprises regarding the home in the future.

If you need to sell your home before buying your new one, consider selling it to SleeveUp Homes, as we’ll buy it as-is for top dollar. This way, you will have some extra cash to invest in your new home.

Moreover, you can bypass home inspections since we’ll buy your home in its current state without the need for any improvements. This will save you both time and money, which can benefit you in the long run. To see how much you can get for the home you want to sell, request a no-obligation cash offer and then make your decision.



If you want to sell fast and are worried about how long the traditional process takes, and the commission and fees involved, consider working with SleeveUp Homes.