Free & Comprehensive

HOME INSPECTION CHECKLIST

Identify Potential Risks and Need for Repair Like A Professional


When acquiring your first home or investing in real estate more generally, few steps carry more weight than a home inspection. A comprehensive home inspection is your chance to get a thorough assessment of a property’s condition and identify potential issues before committing. If you think you don’t need an inspection or if you are ready to waive it to win a bid, then think again! Learn more about home inspections to understand their importance, and be sure to leverage our home inspection checklist to ensure you’re fully equipped for the job!

Disclaimer: The purpose of our Home Inspection Checklist is to provide real estate investors with a systematic approach to evaluating properties. By examining every aspect of a property, you’re more likely to identify potential risks and accurately assess any need for renovation. This checklist should not be relied upon as a home inspection report and should not be used as a substitute for a proper home inspection performed by a qualified professional. We created this document to be as detailed as possible but it is by no means an exhaustive list. Every property is different, therefore the inspection should be tailored to your specific situation.

This Free Home Inspection Checklist is the most comprehensive inspection document available online to individual real estate investors.

Download our Free Home Inspection Checklist

Available in both PDF and Excel formats

How to Use the Home Inspection Checklist

The document comes in two formats – PDF and Excel template – and is composed of 4 sections:

1. General Information

This is where you will enter information about the property you’re inspecting as well as the conditions under which you performed this inspection (i.e. time of the day, temperature, weather, etc.)

2. Property Details

Here you can enter more details about your property, including the size of each room as well as details about the basement, garage and attic. You can also enter details about the structure and components of the property (foundation, roofing, siding, pipes, floor, etc.).

Understanding how your property was built and what material was used is key to identifying issues and maintenance requirements so don’t overlook this step. This type of information is something that every homeowner or investor should know about their property.

3. Checklist

The checklist itself is the core of the document. Broken down in 23 categories, it covers over 200 inspection items, both for the exterior and interior of your property. The checklist is presented as a list of “Yes” or “No” questions. If you’re not sure about an answer, ask your real estate agent, home inspector or another qualified professional.

For ease of use, each question has the expected answer (i.e. the answer you should look for) highlighted in green so there’s no confusion about what is normal and what is a potential issue.

Each question also has a “Comment” area if you wish to enter additional information.

4. General Condition

In addition to the 200+ inspection checks, the checklist also includes a section listing the general condition of various items of your property. Condition of any item can be described as New (N), Good (G), Average (A), Poor (P), Broken (B) or Not Applicable (N/A).

The general condition section includes a list of items by default that you can customize based on your needs. Each section also includes a few blank lines to add other specific items.

Why should I use a Home Inspection Checklist Before Acquiring a Property?

Performing a full home inspection should be a priority to any home buyer or investor as it can offer several benefits:

  1. Identifying Issues: A thorough inspection helps uncover any hidden or potential issues with the property, allowing buyers / investors to make informed decisions.
  2. Negotiation Leverage: Inspection findings can provide leverage for negotiations, allowing buyers to request repairs or adjustments to the purchase price based on the identified issues.
  3. Understanding the Property: Inspections provide buyers with a comprehensive understanding of the property’s condition, including its structural integrity, system functionality, and potential maintenance needs.
  4. Peace of Mind: Knowing the true condition of the property before purchase provides peace of mind, reducing the risk of unexpected expenses or surprises after closing.
  5. Safety Assurance: Inspections can reveal safety hazards such as electrical problems, plumbing issues, or structural concerns, allowing buyers to address them promptly.
  6. Long-Term Investment Protection: Identifying and addressing issues early can help protect the long-term investment value of the property and prevent costly repairs down the line.
  7. Insurance Purposes: Some insurance companies may require a home inspection before providing coverage, ensuring that the property meets safety and structural standards.
  8. Education: Home inspections offer valuable insights into the property’s maintenance needs and how to properly care for it, especially for first-time homebuyers.

Download our Free Home Inspection Checklist

Available in both PDF and Excel formats

What Is Included In Our Home Inspection Checklist?

If you don’t want to use a PDF or Excel template, here’s a description of what’s included:

Ground & Drainage

  1. Does the yard slope away form the house?
  2. Does the driveway slope away from the house?
  3. Any sign of soil movement around the property?
  4. Any water around the foundation?
  5. Any standing water in the yard?
  6. Any sign of leaks from septic tank or leech field?
  7. Are the downspouts properly oriented (away from house)?

Driveway & Walkway

  1. Any large cracks in the driveway or walkway?
  2. Is it uneven or buckling?
  3. Is it crumbling around the edges?
  4. Is it stained?
  5. Is it even and level?
  6. Are the outdoor steps level and safe?
  7. Is the house numbers readable from the street?
  8. Are there any illegal vehicles or illegal parking?
  9. Are there any trash, litter, debris, car parts or garbage?

House Siding

  1. If wood, any signs of wood rot?
  2. If wood, any signs of termite damage?
  3. If bricks, are the bricks and mortar in good condition?
  4. If aluminum, are there dents, bowing or scratches?
  5. Any signs of cracking, curling, loose, rot or decay?
  6. Adequate clearance between ground and wood siding materials?
  7. Any vines on surface of structure?
  8. Any signs of flaking or blisters on exterior paint or stain?

Roof

  1. Are there broken or missing shingles?
  2. Are any shingles buckled?
  3. Comp. shingles: any curling / cupping, any more than two layers?
  4. Wood shingles: any mold, rot or decay?
  5. Is there flashing around roof penetrations?
  6. Is the coping broken or missing?
  7. Do you see pooling water on the roof?
  8. Any evidence of excess roofing cement/tar/caulk?
  9. Any signs of DIY repair?
  10. If there’s a sky-light, is it well-sealed?
  11. No sign of decay or stains on soffits and fascia?
  12. Are the gutters and downspouts in good condition?
  13. Are the gutters and downspouts attached securely?
  14. Are the gutters free from decay and rust?
  15. Are vents clean and not painted over?
  16. Is the chimney straight and properly flashed?
  17. Is the chimney showing any evidence of damaged bricks?

Decks & Porches

  1. Any sign of rot on posts, railing, floor or steps?
  2. Any termite damage?
  3. Are the railings adequate and secure?
  4. Are the stairs sturdy and in good condition?
  5. Does the porch have its own foundation?

Other Exterior Structures

  1. Is the fence in good condition? Built to code?
  2. Is the fence well maintained and waterproofed?
  3. Are retaining walls in good conditions?
  4. Is the shed in good condition?
  5. Do ridge and fascia board lines appear straight and level?
  6. Do sides of the house appear straight (not bowed or sagging)?
  7. Is visible foundation in good condition?
  8. Is the pool maintained and secure?

Trees, Lawn and Vegetation

  1. Are tree roots affecting the foundation?
  2. Is there overgrown vegetation?
  3. Are trees trimmed away from power, phone and cable lines?
  4. Are there branches or brushes touching the house?
  5. Are there branches or brushes overhanging the roof?
  6. Are yard, landscaping and trees in overall good condition?
  7. Do the sprinklers work?

Water & Plumbing

  1. Is there proper water pressure?
  2. Is the water pump functioning properly?
  3. Was the water tested for contaminants?
  4. If well water, is the water at acceptable levels?
  5. Any signs of pipe leaks, damage or stains?
  6. Are drains functioning, with proper traps & covers?
  7. Do drain pipes slope down towards outlet to septic/sewage?
  8. Does the water pump short cycle?
  9. Do galvanized pipes restrict water flow?

Water Heater

  1. Is the water heater functioning properly?
  2. Is hot water working (between 118 – 125 degrees)?
  3. Do you have access to the gas shut-off valve?
  4. Are there proper pop-off valve and drop pipe?
  5. Is the water heater vented properly (gas only)?
  6. Will the capacity meet your needs?
  7. Is there any sign of rust or leak?

Electrical

  1. Are all outlets working properly?
  2. Are there any signs of improper wiring (no “knob-and-tube” wiring)?
  3. Are there exposed splices? Are cables secured and protected?
  4. Are cables secured and protected?
  5. Are all lights and switches fully functional?
  6. Are wires placed in conduit where required?
  7. Are there covers on switches and outlets?
  8. Is the fuse box or main panel easily accessible?
  9. Is the main panel in good condition (no rust or damage)?
  10. Is the electrical panel properly grounded?
  11. Are there any open circuits in box?
  12. Are all circuits correctly labeled?
  13. Is Service amps adequate for usage?
  14. Are there enough outlets in each room?
  15. Is there a minimum of 2 spaces outlets in all rooms?
  16. Safe, limited use of extension cords?
  17. Are the fuses or breakers overheating?
  18. Any aluminum cables for branch circuits?
  19. Are there CFGI outlets in the kitchen and bathroom?

Heating / Cooling System

  1. Does the system appears to operate well throughout?
  2. Any signs of rust around cooling unit?
  3. Is there an adequate distribution to all rooms?
  4. Are the shutoff valves accessible?
  5. Is there adequate surrounding clearance?
  6. Any combustion gas odor?
  7. Are the air filter(s) clean?
  8. Is the ductwork in good condition?
  9. Any asbestos on heating pipes, water pipes or air ducts?
  10. Are there separate flues for gas/oil/propane and wood/coal?
  11. Does the system provides a minimum of 68 degrees?

Doors, Windows & Wood Trim

  1. Do any of the interior doors bind?
  2. Do any of the interior windows bind?
  3. Any signs of mold or mildew?
  4. Are the windows foggy or discolored?
  5. Any broken windows, doors, screens?
  6. Is exterior caulking present around all windows, doors and trims?
  7. Are wood frames and trim pieces secure, with no cracks, rot or decay?
  8. Are drip caps installed over windows?

Ceilings, Floors and Walls

  1. Any water spots on ceilings, walls or floors?
  2. Is the drywall pulling away from the walls?
  3. Are there cracks on the walls or ceilings?
  4. Any stains on floors, walls or ceilings?
  5. Do the floors feel spongy or weak?
  6. Do the floors slope in any of the rooms?
  7. Flooring materials is in good condition?

Rooms

  1. Do windows and exterior doors operate easily and latch properly?
  2. Do interior doors operate easily and latch properly?
  3. Are Paint, wall covering, and paneling in good condition?
  4. Adequate number of three pronged electrical outlets in each room?
  5. Is there a heating/cooling source in each habitable room?
  6. Is there evidence of adequate insulation in walls?
  7. Unobstructed egress with and out of home?
  8. Adequate area & height & proper layout?
  9. Do bedrooms and bathrooms have privacy doors?
  10. Proper locations & sizes for light & ventilation?

Bathrooms

  1. Are there any loose tiles?
  2. Missing or moldy caulking around tub or shower?
  3. Cracked or damaged floor of the shower?
  4. Are all outlets GFCI outlets?
  5. Any water stains, sagging floors or signs of mold?
  6. Are the faucets draining slowly?
  7. Do sink, tub and shower drain properly?
  8. Is the water pressure appropriate?
  9. Are plumbing and cabinet floor under sink in good condition?
  10. Does the bathroom have ventilation?
  11. Working exhaust fan that doesn’t terminate in the attic?
  12. Does the toilet operate properly?
  13. Any overflow to sewer from tank?
  14. Is the water flow in sink adequate?
  15. Any leaks or continuous water running?
  16. Is the Toilet stable, with no rocking, no stains around base?
  17. Caulking in good condition inside and outside of the tub/shower?
  18. Are the tub or shower tiles secure? Is the wall surface solid?
  19. Any stains or sign of past leaking around base of bath or shower?

Kitchen

  1. Is there a ventilation above the cooking appliances?
  2. Are there GFCI outlets?
  3. Any signs of leaking under the sink?
  4. Is the water flow in sink adequate?
  5. Any rust or deterioration on garbage disposal or waste pipes?
  6. Any signs of leaking around the fridge?
  7. Built-in appliances operates properly?
  8. Are the cabinets in good condition and secured well to the wall?
  9. Does the dishwasher properly drains, with no leaks?

Fireplace & Chimney

  1. Is the mortar crumbling, pulling away or loose?
  2. Does the chimney have a rain cap?
  3. Do you see smoke staining around the exterior of the firebox?
  4. Is there creosote buildup in the firebox?
  5. Any sign of cracking or damaged masonry?
  6. Any evidence of back-drafting?

Laundry Room

  1. Is there a proper dryer vent to exterior with cover?
  2. Is there a gas shut-off valve, capped if unused?
  3. Proper and grounded electrical connection?

Garage

  1. Is the floor cracked or stained?
  2. Is the exterior in good condition?
  3. Are the garage doors painted and free from damage?
  4. Do the garage doors function well?
  5. Proper electrical service, wiring, fixtures, etc.?

Attic

  1. Is there an easy access to the Attic?
  2. Any sign of leaks or water damage?
  3. Does the attic smell damp or musty?
  4. Any stains on underside of roofing?
  5. Any evidence of decay or damage to the structure?
  6. Is the attic adequately ventilated?
  7. Is the attic well insulated? (with moisture barrier)
  8. Any plumbing, exhaust or appliance vents terminating in the attic?
  9. Any open electrical splices?

Basement

  1. Does the basement smell damp or musty?
  2. Any signs of water leaks on ceiling or floor?
  3. Any signs of water seepage around foundation?
  4. Is the sump pump operational?
  5. Any signs of termite damage on beams?
  6. Any signs of rotten wood on beams?
  7. Any cracks in the basement interior?
  8. Is the visible structural wood in good condition?
  9. Is there insulation at rim/band joists?

Crawl Space

  1. Is the crawl space easily accessible?
  2. Is the crawl space damp?
  3. Any cracks in the foundation?
  4. Is the foundation crumbling?
  5. Any evidence of moisture damage (along the foundation, etc.)?
  6. Any signs of termite damage to the wood or insect damage?
  7. Any signs of rotting wood?
  8. Is the crawl space adequately vented to exterior?
  9. Is there insulation on exposed water supply, waste and vent pipes?
  10. Is there insulation between crawl space and heated areas?
  1. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors properly installed?
  2. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed in correct locations?
  3. Stair handrails where needed (5+ steps) and in good condition?
  4. Are stairway treads and risers solid?
  5. Are steps are stable and unbroken?
  6. Automatic garage door opener stops properly for obstacles?

Frequently Asked Questions

A home inspection is a comprehensive examination of a property’s condition, typically conducted by a certified inspector. During the inspection, the inspector assesses various aspects of the property, including its structural integrity, systems functionality (such as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC), interior and exterior components, and safety features. The goal of a home inspection is to identify any existing or potential issues with the property, providing buyers with valuable insights into its condition before finalizing the purchase. This helps buyers make informed decisions, negotiate repairs or adjustments, and ensure the property meets their expectations and safety standards.

While both a home inspection and a home appraisal are essential components of the home buying process, they serve distinct purposes:

  1. Home Inspection:
    • Purpose: A home inspection focuses on evaluating the condition of the property, identifying any existing or potential issues with its structure, systems, and components.
    • Conducted by: A certified home inspector, typically hired by the buyer.
    • Scope: The inspection covers a thorough examination of the property’s interior and exterior, including its structural integrity, systems functionality (e.g., electrical, plumbing), and safety features.
    • Outcome: The inspector provides a detailed report outlining the findings, including any areas of concern or recommended repairs.
  2. Home Appraisal:
    • Purpose: A home appraisal aims to determine the fair market value of the property, providing an estimate of its worth based on various factors such as location, size, condition, and comparable sales.
    • Conducted by: A licensed appraiser, often hired by the lender as part of the mortgage approval process.
    • Scope: The appraiser evaluates the property’s overall condition, size, layout, and amenities, as well as recent sales of similar properties in the area (comparables or “comps”).
    • Outcome: The appraiser delivers a formal appraisal report indicating the property’s estimated value, which influences the lender’s decision on the mortgage amount.

Typically, the buyer pays for the home inspection. Since the inspection is for their benefit, it’s considered part of their due diligence process in evaluating the property’s condition before finalizing the purchase.

However, in some cases, the seller may opt to have a pre-listing inspection done before putting the property on the market. This allows them to address any issues upfront and potentially attract more confident buyers. In such instances, the seller would cover the cost of the inspection.

Ultimately, who pays for the home inspection can vary depending on negotiations between the buyer and seller and local real estate practices. However, it’s most commonly the buyer who assumes this responsibility as part of their investment in assessing the property’s condition.

The cost of a home inspection can vary depending on several factors, including the size and location of the property, as well as the inspector’s experience and qualifications. On average, home inspections typically range from $300 to $500 for a standard inspection. However, prices can be higher for larger homes, older properties, or those with additional features such as pools or outbuildings.

Additionally, some inspectors may offer additional services, such as radon testing, mold inspection, or pest inspection, for an additional fee. Buyers should inquire about these services and their costs when scheduling a home inspection to ensure all relevant aspects of the property are thoroughly evaluated.

A home inspection contingency is a clause included in a real estate purchase contract that allows the buyer to conduct a professional home inspection within a specified timeframe after the offer is accepted. This contingency gives the buyer the right to withdraw from the contract or negotiate repairs or concessions with the seller based on the findings of the inspection.

In essence, the home inspection contingency protects the buyer by providing an opportunity to thoroughly evaluate the property’s condition before finalizing the purchase. If significant issues are discovered during the inspection, the buyer can request repairs or concessions from the seller, or in severe cases, opt to withdraw from the contract without penalty.

The inclusion of a home inspection contingency is standard practice in real estate transactions and is highly recommended to safeguard the buyer’s interests.

The duration of a home inspection can vary depending on several factors, including the size, age, and condition of the property, as well as the thoroughness of the inspector. On average, a standard home inspection typically takes between two to four hours to complete.

However, larger or older homes with more complex features may require additional time for a thorough examination. Likewise, properties with known issues or areas of concern may necessitate extra attention from the inspector.

Repairs identified during a home inspection are typically not mandatory, but rather negotiable between the buyer and seller. After the inspection, the buyer receives a detailed report outlining any issues or concerns discovered by the inspector. Based on these findings, the buyer can choose to:

  1. Request repairs: The buyer may request that the seller address specific issues identified in the inspection report before closing. Negotiations may ensue regarding which repairs the seller agrees to complete and how they will be addressed.
  2. Seek concessions: Alternatively, the buyer may request concessions from the seller to offset the cost of repairs or address issues themselves after closing. This could involve negotiating a reduction in the purchase price or a credit at closing to cover repair costs.
  3. Renegotiate terms: In some cases, significant issues uncovered during the inspection may prompt the buyer to renegotiate the terms of the purchase contract, such as requesting a reduction in the purchase price or walking away from the deal entirely if the issues are deemed too severe.

Download our Free Home Inspection Checklist

Available in both PDF and Excel formats

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