House inspection check list
Buying a home is one of the biggest milestones of your life, and it’s probably the most expensive thing you will ever purchase. So it makes sense that you should protect yourself by carefully inspecting the property – a thorough inspection will help you uncover any hidden issues that may affect the property’s value and liveability.
Whether you're a first-time buyer or an planning to expand your property portfolio, this inspection checklist will help you make the most informed decision about a potential investment.
Why you should pay close attention during a house inspection
A house inspection should go well beyond appreciating the property’s surface-level aesthetics. While it's easy to fall in love with the style and sophistication of a home, it's the structural integrity and functional elements that truly matter in the long run. Looking beneath the exterior facade during an inspection can help reveal the true ‘bones’ of the property, exposing any issues that might not be apparent at first glance.
You can safeguard yourself against future surprises by inspecting the windows, floors, water pressure, fixtures and more. It's easy to fall in love with how a property looks, but it's the quality of its construction and overall condition that will really count in the years to come. Should any issues arise, you can then use that information to negotiate repairs or adjustments before making an offer.
House inspection checklist: 15 key areas to examine
While it might take away some of the charm of looking at potential homes, conducting a meticulous house inspection can – and often does – shield buyers from any unpleasant surprises down the track. Beyond the surface charm, there may be parts of the property that aren’t up to standard and may end up costing you in future repairs.
From windows and door frames to walls to the foundation itself, each component of a home can something about its overall condition. So, if you’re ready to find that perfect home, pay attention to these 15 key areas as you carry out your inspection checklist.
1. Windows and doors
Check for signs of damage or wear on windows and door frames. Both elements need to be properly functioning in order to keep residents secure and to moderate the internal temperature. Inspect the surrounding internal wall plastering for fine cracks and rot, and test out whether the windows and doors are easy to open and shut. Ensure that windows are sealed well to prevent drafts. Make sure you check locks as well.
Look closely at the flooring for any signs of unevenness, cracks or sagging. Check for water damage or signs of termite activity, as these can seriously impact the property’s structural integrity. In multi-storey homes, make sure you also pay attention to potential sloping or unevenness.
3. Water pressure
Turn on taps and test out showers to check on the water pressure. Low water pressure could be an indication of more serious plumbing issues that might need attention. It might seem odd to check water leaks for these in someone else’s home, but having good water pressure can make daily life much more comfortable.
4. Fixtures and fittings
Inspect fixtures and fittings like sinks and light switches, making sure they are in proper working condition and aren’t showing obvious signs of excessive wear and tear. Also take note of things like ovens, ceiling fans, air conditioners and dishwashers, which are usually included in the transfer of a home. In the case of older homes, some fixtures might need updating.
5. Cabinetry doors and drawers
Take the time to open and close cabinetry doors and drawers, especially in kitchens and bathrooms, to ensure they move smoothly. Loose hinges or misaligned drawers probably won’t be a deal-breaker, but they can be a pain to fix after just moving in. Also check for any musty odours or signs of water damage in the cabinets.
Look for signs of sagging or water stains on the ceiling, which could indicate a leaky roof or minor water damage. This is important because if left unattended, a damaged ceiling could be an incredibly expensive fix. Pay special attention to areas under bathrooms or where the roof structure meets the walls.
7. External roof lines
Check out the front external walls and roof lines for any signs of sagging, damage or missing shingles. A well-maintained roof is essential if it’s going to stand up to the harsh Queensland weather for decades to come. If the property has them, also examine chimneys and roof flashing for potential problems.
Inspect the roof gutters for rust, corrosion, clogging or other issues. The gutters need to function properly in order to direct rainwater away from the property's foundation. Also ensure all downspouts are correctly positioned to stop water from pooling up.
9. Deck or porch
If the property has a deck or porch, spend some time reviewing its condition, including any railings and steps. Look for signs of rot, decay or structural issues that might compromise its integrity and potentially lead to safety issues.
Test light switches and outlets to ensure they are in good working condition. Any faulty wiring should be considered a safety hazard and will require immediate attention. Consider speaking to the agent or vendor to check the switchboard in case there are any signs of overheating.
Check the property’s drainage systems, including gutters, downspouts, drain holes and grading. You’ll want to make sure the drainage is all running well to stop water accumulation and potential issues with the foundation. Also make sure the grading directs water away from the foundation.
Take a look at the condition of any fencing on and around the property. Good fences not only give you more privacy and better security, but it can also raise the kerb appeal. If the fences are wooden, check for rot or termite infestations.
13. Free-standing structures
If there are any additional structures like a shed, carport or free-standing studio, don’t forget to inspect those areas too. Treat outdoor areas around them like the main home and ensure they are structurally sound and well-maintained.
14. Signs of corrosion and mould
Look for signs of corrosion on metal fixtures and fittings, as well as the presence of any mould or mildew that may be bleeding in through internal walls, especially plasterboard. If you find any, it probably means the property has poor ventilation or issues with water seeping in.
15. Home exterior and foundation
Finally, inspect the external walls (e.g. weatherboard or brick) and the foundation for any cracks small holes, bulges or signs of settling. Any structural issues here can have a big impact on the property's long-term stability. Check for large cracks and any unusual gaps between walls and windows or doors.
Presenting your findings
You should note areas of concern but should always get a full building and pest inspection report from a professional inspector as they are the experts and it's very easy to miss things that you don't have knowledge of. If additional inspections are needed (engineer, electrician, plumbing, solar), then you should consider getting those reports as well.
Also, if the property is to be an investment property, you should consider if the property meets the minimum housing standards. You will need to make repairs or renovations to the property if it doesn’t meet these standards before being let.
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