DIY Home Inspection Checklist
Most homeowners put off doing property inspections until it comes time to sell. And we use the term “most” loosely. When the housing bubble burst, roughly 1.4 million American homes sold without any type of inspection.
But even if you have no intention of moving anytime soon, inspecting your home for damage is still a good idea.
Although nothing beats a professional inspection by a licensed contractor, electrician or plumber, even a DIY analysis of your home can save you thousands of dollars down the road. By catching problems early on, you can fix them affordably before they get worse (and more expensive)
Below is a handy DIY home inspection checklist to get you started. All you really need is a flashlight, clipboard and free afternoon:
1. Checking for Foundation Damage
The foundation is arguably the most important component of the entire home. As such, it deserves a dedicated checklist of its own. But you’ll want to be on the lookout for cracks, crumbling concrete, buckling pillars or water damage.
At the first sign of danger, call in a professional ASAP. DIY foundation repair is almost always a bad idea.
2. Cracked, Crumbling or Peeling Walls
After checking for foundation damage, begin a thorough inspection of all the walls — both inside and outside:
- Vertical cracks are unsightly, while horizontal cracks are often a symptom of foundation troubles.
- Crumbling plaster or construction material (anywhere) requires immediate intervention.
- Stains, mold and condensation are all telltale signs of water damage (especially on interior walls).
Whether or not to cover up peeling paint is a personal decision. But on exterior walls, adding an extra coat of paint can protect your home from the elements.
3. Windows and Doors That No Longer Close Properly
Loose-fitting doors and sticky windows are sometimes signs of foundation damage. But even when they’re not, fixing these gaps can save you tons of money in energy bills.
4. Plumbing and Wiring
You may have a leak in the home and not even know it. One easy way to test your plumbing system is to turn off all the water and see if the meter changes over the next several hours. If it does, you’ll need to call in a professional plumber.
Checking your electrical wiring is a bit more involved. Unless you know what you’re doing, it’s best to leave it to the pros. But you can reduce the strain on your electrical system (and utility bill) by updating your appliances with Energy Star alternatives and switching out incandescent light bulbs with more energy-efficient options.
5. Attic & Roof Inspections
The attic should be well ventilated, showing zero signs of moisture buildup. In addition, missing shingles on the roof make it easier for rainwater to creep into your home and cause damage elsewhere. Fix these as soon as possible.
Don’t forget the importance of seasonal gutter cleaning. Improper water drainage is one of the leading causes of foundation damage.
The Most Important Home Inspection Tip of All
If you really want to optimize your annual home inspections, walk through the house as if you were a prospective buyer:
- Is the staircase banister too shaky?
- Are there bulges under the rug that you can’t explain?
- Strange noises coming from behind the wall?
Be ruthless. Better still; make it a family activity to see who can discover the most tics and fixes.