- Make sure crawl space is unlocked and as accessible as possible.
- Remove excessive stored items and ensure the attic can be accessed.
- If possible, move stored items to the centre of the garage to expose all exterior walls.
- Move any shelves or stored items from in front of the electrical panel so the cover can be easily removed.
- Ensure all rooms are generally accessible.
- Wood rot is often the main problem found on the exterior of a home. Examine wood siding and trim. Look along the bottom edges of window and door trim for any signs of rot.
- Examine the jambs and door cores for both the hinge and latch sides on exterior doors. Open each wood or clad window and make sure there is no rot in the sills.
- Look under the eaves for water stains and wood rot.
- Check any trees close to the house. If there are any dead or dying, have them removed.
- Walk around the house. From a distance, does anything look out of the ordinary?
- Check exposed concrete slab for excessive cracking and the separation of joints between blocks or bricks.
- Check for erosion around the foundation.
- There should be a minimum of four inches between the soil and the bottom of exterior cladding, siding, or stucco.
- The crawl space can host some major problems encompassing everything from wood rot, pest infestation, and electrical, plumbing to HVAC and ductwork issues. If there is a crawl space, ensure it gets inspected.
Roof and Attic
- Asphalt and fiberglass roofing shingles have an average life of 15-20 years.
- Architectural shingles are generally good for 20-25 years. Most mortgage and insurance companies will require a minimum of five years life remaining on the shingles.
- How old is your roof and do you have records of the original installation date and any upgrades along with who did the work?
- Remove all roof debris and clean gutters and downspouts. Are the gutters properly sloped toward the drain spouts?
- Moisture stains on the ceiling are an indication of leaking in the roof decking and may have produced rot.
- Check around chimneys for leaking and wood rot.
- Check around plumbing stacks for leaking.
- Water heaters’ life expectancy is 12-15 years. Check for corrosion and leaks around the valves.
- Check water supply lines under sinks and at the water heater. Be aware that homes built in the early 1990’s often used polybutelyne piping which has created serious problems with leaking in some homes.
- Have the septic tank pumped, the field checked by a licensed technician, and the inspection report available for the home inspector.
Heating and Cooling
- How old is the HVAC heat pump unit? The unit normally lasts 12-15 years.
- Have a licensed technician check and service the system as well as check all ducts for leakage. Keep a record of the service.
- If you have a furnace, do the vent pipes have appropriate clearance?
- Has anyone other than a licensed electrician done wiring on your home? If yes, it is recommended that an electrician review it.
- If the electrical panel has fuses, an update may be required prior to removing subjects due to insurance requirements.
- Check interior doors to ensure they open, close, and latch easily.
- Check windows to ensure they open, close, and lock. Are any of them fogged?
- Check interior walls and ceilings for moisture stains. If stains are present, investigate further.
- Check floor coverings for stains and damage.
- Ensure chimney is cleaned annually by a licensed chimney sweep; keep service records.
- Check handrails on stairs to ensure they are tight.
- Test all smoke detectors and install new batteries as required.
- Look for cracks greater than 1/8 inch in width and differences in height from one side to the other side of the crack
- Check ceilings and walls for damage.
- Ensure garage opener works well and that there is no damage to the door.
- Check faucets, sprayer, and underneath the sink for leaks.
- Ensure all elements, lights, and controls work properly on the range and oven.
- The light and filter on the range vent should be clean and operational.
- Check that refrigerator seals, especially along the bottom on the hinge side, are intact.
- Ensure dishwasher is properly attached to the cabinet and is in good working order.
- The disposal should have a proper splash guard and be operational.
- Check other kitchen appliances including the trash compactor, microwave, hot water dispenser, free standing icemakers, and built in food processors to ensure they are all working well.
- Washer and dryer should have electrical that is grounded.
- Is the dryer venting properly installed and clean?
- Check the plumbing connections to ensure they are clean and have no leaks.
- Look under the sinks for leeks.
- Are sink and tub drain stoppers working?
- Check toilets for leaks around the bottom. Check flapper valve inside the tank.
- Check tubs and showers for damage and proper operation.
Ensure the whirlpool is operational.
- Look for damage around the trim and sheetrock of shower and tub enclosures.
- Check enclosures for leaks.
- Check bathroom vents are working.
- Check pump and equipment for leaks. Check gauge to ensure it works.
- Does the pool need to be cleaned?
- Check pool deck for cracks or damage.
- Note that fencing around a pool is normally required for insurance purposes.
The above is not a complete inspection process, however, when the seller takes these recommended steps, the possibility of the home inspection breaking the deal is minimized.
Repairs should also be performed by licensed professionals.