DIY Home Inspection Checklist
While there will be a lot going on as you prep your home to hit the market, don’t forget a simple DYI home inspection. Spending a little time and money before you list your home often pays off in the end. Not only will you be able to increase your asking price, but you’ll also avoid any snags if the buyer opts for a professional home inspection, which can lead to last-minute repairs before the sale closes.
Should I Do a Home Inspection Before Selling My House?
A 2001 joint study by the National Association of Realtors and the American Society of Home Inspectors found that 84% of buyers had an inspection completed before closing the sale. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the home inspection business to grow 10% by 2026, meaning the trend of buyers requesting a home inspection isn’t going to stop. Being Proactive Can Help Your Bottom Line. Ideally you find your home in pretty good condition, maybe just a bit of touch-up painting or drywall patching. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes there are bigger things like a leaking pipe or a broken downspout that need attention. There are also some problems that you might not even know about. Those are the issues that a DIY home inspection will often bring to light.
The most common repairs to check for, both indoors and outdoors, as you prepare to sell your home. This it is not a replacement for a professional inspection. Rather, it is intended to give you an idea of what professionals looks for so know what to expect.
Pro Tip: There are plenty of tasks that you can fix yourself, but some are best left to a professional. If you are worried about completing a task, consider hiring a contractor
Six Areas to Inspect Inside Your Home
As you work your way through the checklist, it pays off to think like an inspector. If you notice it was hard to access an area for your DIY inspection, it’s probably going to be difficult for a professional, too. According to Alan Singer of Sterling Home Inspections, there are a few small steps sellers can take to simplify an inspection ahead of time — whether it’s DIY or professional.
How to Inspect: “Clear space to things we’ll need to inspect”
Plumbing | Electrical | Doors | HVAC | Attic | Walls & Ceilings
1. Plumbing – While plumbing is most often associated with the bathroom, this part of the DIY checklist can apply to the entire home. The kitchen, Garage and laundry room all have pipes that will require inspecting. Wherever the plumbing is in your house, check for common issues.
□ Clogged drains.
□ Code violations.
□ Improper water flow.
□ Rusty or leaking pipes.
□ Leaky Faucets
□ Water Shutoff Valves that don’t turn
□ Unsteady or unleveled toilets.
□ Evidence of past leaks or mold.
□ Noisy water heater, usually caused by sediment buildup.
Pro Tip: Code violations can be tough to diagnose because the pipes are in the walls. However, there are some to be aware of — such as a double-sink bathroom vanity needing separate piping into the main line — that can easily be seen.
2. Electrical – You don’t necessarily have to be an electrician to know when a light switch isn’t working correctly, but you should probably hire one to fix the problem. While there are plenty of items in this section that you should ask a professional for help with, there are some items you can diagnose yourself.
□ Painted outlets.
□ Hidden breaker boxes.
□ Uncapped, exposed live wires.
□ Unlabeled breaker box switches.
□ Ungrounded three-prong outlets.
□ Non-working outlets or light switches.
□ Adherence to GFCI protection outlet regulations (within six feet of a sink).
Pro Tip: Replace burnt out light bulbs. If the light doesn’t work, a possible electrical issue. That can create all sorts of problems that could have been avoided by simply replacing the burnt-out bulb
3. Doors – Keeping your doors in operational order is simple enough. However, there are some things that you may not notice about your door that could be flagged during an inspection, such as minor sticks or a loose knob. Be sure to check these common problems:
□ Bowing frames.
□ Signs of wood decay.
□ Non-working locks and latches.
□ Sticking when opening or closing.
□ Cracked or missing glass (if applicable).
□ Improper weather-stripping on exterior doors.
Pro Tip: Installing weather-stripping or fixing latches are easy DIY fixes, but other issues like replacing a door or updating the structure of the frame is best left to a professional.
4. HVAC – The larger items would be the ones to fix, such as the HVAC not functioning properly, issues with the roof, chimney, hot water heater and any electrical deficiencies. The buyer will always ask for them after the home inspection, so just fix them.
Here are some key things to check for as you inspect your HVAC
□ Dirty or old filters.
□ Refrigerant lines not insulated.
□ Improper connection of ventilation.
□ Inoperative or unstable HVAC systems
□ Inadequate outlet voltage for AC Compressor or Air Handler Heating
5. Attic and Crawlspaces – These spaces are often used only for storage, but they are a critical stop in any home inspection. Because they can be areas you don’t visit often, issues may develop without your noticing. While working through your DIY home inspection, be sure to look for these issues:
□ Damp, musty smells.
□ Large cracks in the walls.
□ Insufficient ventilation and insulation.
□ Decay or water stains on exposed wood.
□ Stains or major cracks in the foundation.
□ Plumbing, exhaust or appliance vents that end in the attic.
□ Water Damage.
6. Walls and Ceilings – If there are structural problems in the house, the walls and ceilings are usually the first to show it. While certain things such as small cracks or holes may not be a big issue, they are worth double-checking because they could be symptoms of a larger problem. While smaller issues like a dent in drywall might not merit much thought, here are some issues that you should be looking for:
□ Visible stains.
□ Leaning walls.
□ Sagging ceilings.
□ Flaking or peeling paint.
□ Significant cracks or holes.
□ Gaps between walls and the floor.
□ Cracks connecting with door frames.
Pro Tip: “My suggestion would be to fix items that will always come up again and again. Those are items that would scare potential buyers off if they knew about them or cause them to offer less during the negotiation process.”
Top 5 Outdoor Areas to Check During Your Home Inspection |Roof | Chimney & Gutters | Windows | Utility Connections | Building Structure | Property
1. Roof – The roof is one of the most important parts of a house, which is why it is so toughly scrutinized during a home inspection. It also is one of the hardest sections to check out yourself due to the general unfamiliarity with the parts that form a roof. While climbing onto your house will be the easiest way to see issues, many of these problems can be identified from the ground.
□ Curling shingles.
□ Painted over vents.
□ Rusty or cracking flashing.
□ Loss of texture on shingles.
□ Noticeable sags in the roof.
2. Chimney and Gutters – Gutters and downspouts help keep your home dry and take the water away from your foundation. That is why it is important to make sure they are all properly working. Many gutter issues can be taken care of on your own, but if you notice issues with a chimney, professional help is suggested. Whichever route you take, keep an eye out for these problems while doing your inspection.
□ Clogged gutters.
□ Unsealed gutter joints.
□ Rusty downspouts or gutters.
□ Missing bricks or a lean in the chimney.
□ Downspout directing water toward the home.
□ Water in a gutter does not run toward a downspout.
3. Windows – While a quick glance at a window could leave you thinking everything is fine, inspectors will spend a bit more time checking them out to make sure there are no issues with the seal and structure surrounding the panes, hurting their energy efficiency. Here are some common things home inspectors will look for:
□ Broken glass.
□ Bowed frames.
□ Worn weather-stripping.
□ Exposed or rusted lintels.
□ Rotting or decayed wood.
□ Difficulty opening and closing.
□ Cracked or missing caulk around joints and frames.
Pro Tip: “Check to see that exterior doors and windows operate. Doors that don’t open and windows that don’t work all get flagged on the report and end up having to be corrected.”
4. Utility Connections – Gas, water and electricity need to enter your home somewhere. Often times, these connections can be expensive to fix and need to be done in conjunction with your utility provider. Additionally, outlets, external air conditioning units and water spigots have to enter through the wall of the house. Inspect these connections and keep an eye out for:
□ Improper caulking and sealing.
□ Outlets not weather protected.
□ Spigots and outlets that don’t work.
Pro Tip: If your spigot or outlet isn’t working, don’t panic. Check your breaker box to see if the outlet is turned on and track your water pipes to see if the valve is shut off before you start to worry.
5. Building Structure – Homes are built to withstand a lot. Bad weather, Hurricanes and plenty of other things can happen to a house without leaving a mark. That is why an inspector will look over the external walls of your home to see if anything looks out of the ordinary. You should look for:
□ Vines on walls.
□ Leaning stairways.
□ Cracks in the foundation.
□ Leaning, bowing or sagging walls.
□ Flaking, peeling or bubbling paint.
□ Cracked or missing siding and masonry.
□ At least six inches of brick or block between the ground and siding.
□ Rotted Wood
Pro Tip: “Touch-up paint is always a great idea. A little paint goes a long way for a prospective buyer.”
6. Property – In addition to the home itself, inspectors will give the grounds a once over to make sure there are no obvious issues that could be problematic. While there are a range of things that inspectors can look for, here are the most common:
□ Unstable structures.
□ Inadequate drainage.
□ Trip hazards in walkways.
□ Loose railings on stairways.
□ Signs of wildlife or rodent issues.
□ Trees limbs touching or hanging over the house.
Pro Tip: If your driveway or walkways are uneven, they are considered a trip hazard. Consider breaking up and removing the concrete yourself before hiring a professional to level the ground below and pour new concrete.
While a professional home inspection is not required by law at any stage of the home buying process, it is a very common request from buyers. Performing a home inspection yourself allows you to disclose issues in the agreement or remedy them before listing.
Being Proactive Can Help Your Bottom Line
By following the DIY home inspection checklist, you can fix small issues yourself while lining up professionals to handle the bigger things — like a roof, HVAC or electrical repair, all on a timetable that works with your schedule. And making that small investment early can help increase your overall sale price as your home.