DIY & Apartment Hacks

Home Inspection Checklist to Become Your Own Inspector

Home Inspection Checklist to Become Your Own Inspector Expand options

Are you planning to buy a new home? Maybe you want to check out an apartment before signing the lease? Either way, an inspection is a must before signing off on any agreement.

Sure, you’ll see bright, colorful flowers and the aroma of freshly baked cookies. The walls are newly painted and modern countertops have been installed. But you don’t know what’s lurking just beneath the surface.

A home or apartment inspection goes beyond the facade to look for cracks in the foundation, outdated plumbing and dangerous wiring. You might be surprised what defects are revealed. More than 70% of homeowners say their inspection helped them avoid potential problems, ones that could be a nightmare to fix.

An inspection has a lot of benefits. For a home or apartment that’s extensively damaged, you can choose to walk away. If you’re up for the challenge, you can use the defaults as a list of projects to complete. You can also use your inspection checklist to keep up with regular maintenance and repairs.

If you want to become your own home or apartment inspector, follow the five steps below to create an inspection checklist.

1. Look at Mechanical Systems

Check the mechanic room of your home or apartment and look for problems with the heating or air system. If you plan to hire a professional inspector, the room will need to be clear of debris. Keep in mind the average home inspection can take two hours — one hour for an apartment — more than 500 individual components of the home considered.

Be sure to look at and test the water heater. Does it produce enough hot water? You should also check ventilation systems, especially in rooms with increased moisture, like the bathroom and kitchen. Don’t forget the exhaust fan in the kitchen, as well. One sign of poor or faulty ventilation is a smell or odor. Look for the source of the odor to identify the root of the problem.

2. Inspect Lights and Switches

One item you can get dinged for during a home or apartment inspection is non-working lights. Faulty lights could point to an issue with the electrical system. Walk around and check all of the switches. Are the ceiling fans working? A professional will do a visual inspection of the system, including the electrical panel.

Remove the panel and inspect wiring to determine if everything meets safety standards. Ensure each outlet is properly grounded. Double-check that the electrical panel has not been recalled. If anything about the electrical system raises concern, it’s time to bring in a professional electrician who can assess the issue further.

3. Walk Around the Exterior

The outside of the home is just as important as the inside. Walk around the house or apartment and look for peeling paint or loose siding. Check for hanging or broken gutters. Focus your attention lower and carefully inspect the foundation for cracks. Are there trees nearby whose roots could cause future damage? A crumbling foundation can be costly to fix.

Look for missing shingles or signs of a leak on the roof. Any route for water to get in your home will need to be fixed immediately. Just an inch of water in your home can cause $27,000 or more in damage. Plus, water creates an environment where mold and mildew can grow in just 24 hours.

4. Test the Appliances

Your home or apartment may contain a lot of appliances. As an impromptu inspector, it’s your duty to ensure each is running correctly. You should also look at their appearance to assess their ages and if they’re properly maintained. Some homeowners may also want to check the efficiency of outdated appliances — how much water or energy they consume.

Inspect and test appliances, including:

The Oven

The Refrigerator

The Dishwasher

The Washer

The Dryer

5. Check Doors and Windows

Make sure all of the doors and windows in your home open and close easily. If you have doors on sliding tracks, they may need to be cleaned and lubricated. Windows on old houses can be sticky and difficult to open. Silicone spray is an inexpensive fix for stuck vinyl windows. Check wood-framed windows for soft or rotten spots.

Inspect the edges of the framing around doors and windows for gaps that should be filled. Even small spaces can increase airflow and allow hot and cold air to get inside. Plus, gaps are a welcome sign for critters, allowing ants, mice, termites and other pests to invade. Also, look for stains around windows and doors that could point to water damage.

A home inspection can cost between $200 and $500, depending on size, location and property type. When you need a home inspection or doing a regular check throughout the year, follow your checklist to make sure all your bases are covered for a more promising result.


Kacey Bradley is the blogger behind The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Along with writing for her blog, she has written for sites like U.S. News, SUCCESS, Guides for Brides, Hotel Online and more!

Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts!

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