There are lots of unknowns in the home-buying process. To clear up some of the mystery of at least one step—the home inspection—here’s an overview of what you can expect your home inspector to examine. Use the following home inspection checklist to help you know what to look for in the home inspector’s final report. If any of these items aren’t covered in the home inspection report, ask your inspector why. A home inspection is meant to be a general examination of the main features of a house; so if you’re concerned about an area that’s not included on this home inspection checklist, you may want to request a separate inspection by a specialist in that particular area, such as a pest inspector, structural engineer, HVAC specialist, electrician or plumber. If you are especially concerned about any of the following areas, inform your home inspector ahead of time so he or she knows to pay particular attention to that area for you. In the state of Texas the Texas Real Estate Commission’s (TREC) Standards of Practice are the rules governing inspections.
Home Inspection Checklist:
The home inspector should examine the drainage system surrounding the house to make sure it allows for water to be correctly drained away from, and not toward, the home. Any areas that are soggy or have standing water would be identified and will be included in your home inspection report.
The general condition of the home’s exterior will be noted by your home inspector. If the home shows signs of needing siding repair, sealant, or other repairs soon, a good home inspector will notice. They will also check the gutters and downspouts to make sure they’re firmly connected to each other and to the house. Inspectors will take note of loose, cracked, rotted or twisting in the exterior siding materials, all of which would mean added costs to repair or replace.
While a home inspector is not a roofing inspector, he or she will be able to inspect the overall condition of the home’s roof. They will make note of the condition of the shingles, pointing out any flaws or leaks, which should give you a good idea about potential repairs that are needed.
Inspectors will examine the base of the walls and the ceilings of each room. They will make note of any observable cracks (even those that the homeowners may have attempted to “cover up” if noticeable), buckling floors, uneven window casings, or other signs of foundation shifts. They will do the same inspection around the outside of the home, along the foundation and siding. A good inspector will also make note of any nearby trees where roots may be a hazard to the foundation.
Electrical systems can be especially tricky in older homes, or homes that have had DIY electrical work done by non-professionals which can lead to potential unsafe living conditions. Your home inspector will check accessible light switches and receptacles, run electrical tests to make sure the receptacles are grounded, check that the electrical panel is functioning properly, identify the presence of safety features such as smoke detectors, arc fault protection and GFCI protection at appropriate locations.
Your home inspection report will give you an overall idea of the condition of the home’s current plumbing system. The home inspector will run each accessible and operable faucet and check for unusual noises or other malfunctions. The inspector will also check for leaks in the system. If you have reasons for concern beyond these general checks, you could bring in a plumber or a septic system inspector for a specialized inspection. The water heater is also checked at the time of the inspection.
Inspectors will enter accessible attic spaces to check the interior roof structure for signs of leaks (water stains, light entering through the roof). The inspector will also identify any other observable deficiency with the roof structure and attic space that needs to be reported as Deficient.
While basements are fairly uncommon in southeast Texas, some custom homes and older homes may have them. If so, it’s important that your inspector check for dampness, leaks, and adequate insulation. If your home has a crawl-space underneath, it would warrant the same treatment.
Your home inspector will turn on each accessible and operable appliance to check for malfunctions. This can be quite handy since when you initially view the house, you usually don’t have the time or opportunity to do these checks yourself. The home inspection report will provide the general condition of the stove, dishwasher, disposer, garage door operator and any other major appliances that are required to be inspected by the Standards of Practice.
The HVAC system is another important (and expensive) feature of the home you’re purchasing. Your inspector will make sure it’s working properly and will check temperatures on both sides of the HVAC evaporator coil. The heater will be operated also and any deficiencies will be noted per the Texas Real Estate Commission’s (TREC) Standards of Practice.