Congratulations, you’ve finally found your dream home! After months of searching, negotiating, paperwork, and tears, you are now ready for the final step before officially becoming a homeowner: the home inspection.
The home inspection is a crucial process that ensures the property you’re about to purchase is in good condition and free from any major issues. Without a suitable checklist, you may not be able to check that each feature and facet of your home is up to snuff. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate checklist just for the lucky home-buyers reading this. Let’s dive in!
1. Research the Home Inspector
Before the actual inspection day, it’s essential to do some research on the home inspector or property manager who will be evaluating the property. Choosing a property manager means looking for someone who is reputable and experienced, with positive reviews that ensures you’re getting service you can trust your new home with.
Also, don’t forget to check if they are licensed and certified, as this ensures their expertise and knowledge in identifying potential problems; and that they’re an actual home inspector in the first place!
2. Gather Necessary Documents
Make sure you have collected all the relevant documents related to the home and its history, such as the seller’s disclosures, previous inspection reports, permits for any renovations or additions, and any warranties that may still be valid. These documents will give you a better understanding of the property’s history and any past issues that were addressed, as well as if there are any issues that have slipped through the cracks.
3. Verify Utilities and Appliances
You don’t want to buy a new home just to find it inhabitable with a glitchy electrical system and water leakages in the basement. So, ensure that all utilities, including water, electricity, gas, and heating, are functioning correctly. To do this, test all major appliances like the stove, oven, dishwasher, and air conditioning unit to see if they are in working order. This way, you can identify any potential issues that need to be addressed before closing the deal.
4. Check for Structural Integrity
Pay close attention to the structural components of the home, such as the foundation, walls, roof, and windows. Look for cracks, water damage, or signs of settlement. These issues could indicate larger problems and may require further investigation. After all, a small crack in the ceiling could develop into a sagging roof under the right circumstances.
5. Inspect the Plumbing
While you’re looking for structural damage, don’t forget to check for any leaks, water stains, or water pressure problems in the sinks, faucets, showers, and toilets. You should also include the water heater and sewage system in your inspection also, as they are the foundations of a comfortable home. Plumbing issues can be costly to repair, so it’s crucial to identify them early on to save you the time and money of buying a home with irreplaceable issues.
6. Examine the Electrical System
Another system you will need to check is the electrical system, which needs to be up to code and capable of handling the entire home’s electrical functions. Search for any exposed wires, malfunctioning outlets, or outdated wiring, which are some of the more crucial problems to identify. A faulty electrical system can pose safety hazards and may require significant upgrades.
7. Assess the HVAC System
The final system to check is the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, which plays a crucial role in the comfort of your home through air filtration and temperature control. Have the HVAC system inspected by an expert as needed to determine its condition and efficiency, and be sure to ask about its age and any maintenance records to hand over to the expert.
8. Look for Insulation and Energy Efficiency
Proper insulation is essential for energy efficiency and keeping your home comfortable year-round. That’s why you should always inspect the insulation in the attic, walls, and floors of a home. Also, be sure to inquire about the home’s energy-efficiency features, such as energy-efficient windows and appliances to see if there are any bonus features of the home.
9. Test Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Safety should always be a priority, especially when it comes to finding a home you will build a future in. So be sure to verify that all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are installed and working correctly in each necessary room. If they are battery-operated, you should always replace the batteries to ensure they are functional.
10. Evaluate the Exterior
While the interior of your home is crucial in a house inspection, don’t forget about the exterior of the home, including the siding, paint, and gutters. Look for signs of water damage or pest infestations that may result in lengthy repair jobs if not addressed now. Also, you should examine the landscaping and drainage to ensure water is appropriately directed away from the foundation to prevent any further mishaps.
11. Check for Pest or Termite Infestations
Pest infestations deserve a checkpoint all on their own just because of the amount of damage they can do to a home. Keep an eye out for any visible signs of infestations, such as droppings, damaged wood, or insect wings. If there are any doubts, consider hiring a professional pest inspection service since they can get started on clearing out the house immediately if they identify a problem.
12. Assess the Garage
If the property includes a garage, take the time to inspect its condition and functionality. Ensure the garage door operates smoothly, and there are no signs of structural issues or water damage. You don’t want to be paying for a garage only to leave your car out on the front yard; think about the grass!
13. Test Doors and Windows
Open and close all doors and windows to check for smooth operation and that you won’t be wrestling with any frames any time soon. Look for any cracks in the glass or signs of air leakage around the frames, as with improperly sealed doors and windows, your energy efficiency is greatly reduced.
14. Review the Attic and Basement
If you are lucky enough to have the additional space of an attic or basement, be sure to check for signs of leaks, mould, or structural issues. These areas are often overlooked but can reveal crucial information about the home’s overall condition.
15. Document Your Findings
During the inspection, take notes and photographs of any issues or concerns you come across. This documentation will be helpful when discussing repairs or negotiating with the seller, especially if you formalise it as an official building inspection report.
16. Ask Questions
Don’t hesitate to ask the home inspector questions about their findings or any recommendations they may have. A good inspector will be happy to provide clarification and advice, and you can learn a lot from such an expert.
17. Prioritize Repairs and Negotiations
After the inspection, work with your real estate agent to prioritise necessary repairs. Decide which issues are deal-breakers and which ones you are willing to address through negotiations with the seller. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground; a house is a big investment, so you want your new home to be well worth it.
18. Schedule a Re-Inspection
If significant repairs are made based on the initial inspection report, consider scheduling a re-inspection to ensure that all issues have been properly addressed. If they aren’t, it may be a sign that the seller is not willing to put in the work to make the house your new home.
19. Consider Additional Inspections
Depending on the location and specific concerns of the property, you may also want to consider additional and unique inspections, such as radon testing, mould inspection, or lead paint testing. These tests are likely to reveal further necessary information about the home, and if there are any underlying issues the home inspector may have missed.
20. Plan for the Unexpected
Keep in mind that no home is perfect, and there may be unexpected issues that arise during the inspection process. Be prepared for surprises and approach the inspection with an open mind. While it is important to stick to any non-negotiable factors you may have, be ready to negotiate or acquiesce on others to secure that home of your dreams.
In conclusion, the final home inspection is a crucial step in the home-buying process that many seem to forget, leaving them unprepared. By following this comprehensive checklist, you can ensure that you’re more than ready and equipped to make informed decisions about the property. If you want more specific information, however, you can find further clarification with Westpac Australia and their pre-settlement inspection checklist.
Remember, a thorough inspection will provide you with the peace of mind you need to move forward confidently in making your dream home a reality. Happy home hunting!