Home inspection tips?

Question by Jennifer: Home inspection tips?
I am about to do a home inspection on a  property and was just wondering what could be some major issues that I should lookout for in the house I want to buy.


Any major renovations to the property?

Are there any uncompleted renovations or repairs needed?

Are there receipts/warranties/guarantees provided by repair contractors for the renovations done?

Pest control clearance provided?

Indications of roof leakage?

Gutters and downspouts secure?

Signs of roof surface, flashings, vent or chimney damage?

Evidence of cracks, paint peeling or other visible defects?

Trip hazards, cracking in the walkways, driveway or steps?

Plants/vegetation growing on the exterior of the home?

Stairway, deck, porch and other railings secure?

Cracks or indications of retaining wall failure?

Signs of inadequate surface drainage?

Openings into the building at trim, flashings, chimneys, etc.?

Signs of soil movement around perimeter of the home?

Are all accessible areas dry?

Are there any indications of current or prior water damage?

If there is a sump pump, is it operational?

Indications of foundation cracking or movement?

Musty odors or signs of mold or mildew?

Stains, cracks or damage to interior walls, ceilings or floors

Cracked or broken windows?

Windows and window latches operate properly?

Doors and door latches operate properly?

Stains or leaks at kitchen, bathroom or laundry sinks?

Interior staircases have safe, secure handrails?

Smoke alarms in hallways, on each floor, in each bedroom?

Kitchen and Bathrooms
Are all appliances functional?

Cabinets, countertops, sinks or floors damaged?

Water Pressure is ok at sinks, shower and tub spout?

Any sign of water leaks under sinks?

Are all ceramic tile floors and wainscoting intact and well grouted?

Garage door functional?

Automatic door opener reverse properly?

Indications of dampness or mildew?

All light fixtures operational?

All electrical outlets functional?

All smoke detectors provided and functional?

Doorbell operational?

GFCI outlets in kitchen, bathrooms, exterior and garage?

GFCI devices functional?

Any visible dangling or exposed wiring?

Extension, lamp cord, or zip cord used as permanent wiring?

Adequate water flow at fixtures and drains?

Faucet or drain pipe leaks?

Adequate water pressure?

Ample hot water provided?

Clothes washer and dryer functional?

Water heater adequately strapped?

Water heater has popper pressure/temperature relief?

System functional?

Serviced recently?

Is there adequate heat/cooling distribution to each room?

Are there large differences in temperature between different rooms?

Safety check on older fireplaces and chimneys?

Last time serviced?

Dampers operational?

Fire boxes need repair?

Spark arrestor and rain cap installed?

Further, I would visit the house on a rainy day of you can. Look for water puddles on the lot, any drainage concerns, and see if you can get in the attic as well. Look for any truss or sheathing discoloration – anything black is not good – that is an indicator of mold.

Good luck!

Give your answer to this question below!

About Kristofer Nance

Kristofer Nance, Real Estate Broker with Nance & Associates, Realtors in Fredericksburg VA
Owner/Agent of Nance & Associates, Insurance.


  1. Condition and age of the roof
    same for water tank, plumbing, electric, siding,
    Make sure railings are secure to walls.
    Make sure there are no insect or rodent problems
    I always check for cleanliness and maintenance. Open the cabinet under the kitchen sink, look in the bathtub and shower, if they are dirty while they are showing the house watch out, you may be moving into a mess.
    If you want to put in an offer be sure that there is a clause that says only after a satisfactory inspection is done by a professional.

    Good Luck!

  2. in short, EVERYTHING.

    appliances (working?)
    A/C, furnace (working?, efficency, age)
    water heater (working?)
    electrical (is it enough?, up to code?, GFCI’s?)
    plumbing (leaks, all fixtures work)
    roof, flashing (age?, condition, leaks?, missing shingles?)
    siding, trim, soffits (condition)
    windows, doors (condition, broken seals)
    attic (look for signs of leaks, fire, proper ventilation, framing)
    basement (water damage, smells, cracks, sump pump)
    foundation (cracks)

    your best bet is to get a reputable inspector, they will know what to look for. I used a company called AmeriSpec, and the inspector did an outstanding job. I ended up getting a $ 900. credit from the seller for some of the things he found.

  3. judy_derr38565 says:

    I would pay the extra and hire a professional inspector, they have a trained eye to spot things that aren’t right, and it will put your mind at ease, plus if he finds anything major you can request that the sellers repair it before you purchase the house. Minor things aren’t so bad to fix…also if he finds something major you can request that the cost for you to have it repaired is deducted from the cost of the house. On any major finds it will be well worth the extra cost of hiring a professional, and if he finds nothing major then you can relax. They check for things like hail damage on a roof, the furnace, and any plumbing or electrical things that aren’t up to code as well as any structural problems in house and foundations. Good Luck

  4. In addition to all above, I want to add that even if you have it inspected, things might go phooey anyway. We had our new place inspected and then the furnace cleaned. When we turned it on for the season, it died and we had to replace it.

    I’d also reccommend looking behind the heat duct vents – we discovered that one of ours (a majorly important one) had been cut off permanently from the heating/cooling system in a remodel and they left the vent cover so it appeared functional.

    And the chimney flue for the fireplace was broken and it wouldn’t close properly.

    Make sure you check to make sure that the house is properly grounded and that the electrical meter is properly attached to the house.

    Professional home inspectors in my area are only allowed to check if items are operational and not what condition they are truly in. For that you’d need to hire individual maintenance persons at your expense.

  5. Focus-Bofus? says:

    An excellent list from the (FL) earlier poster… Make sure the inspector isn’t friends with the realtor. Many/most of them know each other and can help or hinder the sale accordingly. I had my previous house inspected by a “Professional.” It took major restraint not to run him over in the Home Depot parking lot when I saw him later that year. Shame on me for not being more careful.

  6. Basement leaks, basement leaks, basement leaks.

    After that it is the roof

    Finally be sure there are no modifications to the house that were accomplished without a building permit. If you find one/some get a licensed inspector to validate the work is consistent with the CURRENT building code.

    Remember if the a/c, furnace, water heater etc are old this is something that can be negotiated. The roof and the basement are too big a risk to negotiate.

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