The Ultimate DIY Home Inspection Guide: Spotting Issues and Knowing When to Call a Professional

Whether you’re a proud homeowner looking to assess your property or trying to sell your house and are interested in evaluating it, conducting your own inspection can provide valuable insights.

In this in-depth article, we’ll walk you through a detailed and comprehensive checklist to help you spot common issues. However, it’s crucial to recognize that some problems require the expertise of a licensed home inspector. We’ll also discuss specific scenarios where it’s best to seek their assistance. Let’s embark on this journey of understanding and empowering you to make informed decisions about your home’s condition.

home inspection checklist

The Interior Inspection

  • Look for leaks, drips, or water stains under sinks and around fixtures.
  • Check for clogged drains and slow water flow.
  • Inspect the water heater for signs of corrosion or leaks.
  • Test the toilets for stability, proper flushing, and signs of leaks or mold.
  • Ensure all light switches and outlets are functioning.
  • Look for exposed wiring or loose connections.
  • Check for outdated or damaged electrical panels.
  • Verify the presence of GFCI protection outlets near sinks and wet areas.
  • Inspect the condition of door frames, including signs of decay or rot.
  • Test all locks and ensure they are working properly.
  • Check for any sticking or misalignment when opening or closing doors.
  • Address cracked or broken glass and inadequate weather-stripping.
HVAC & Major Appliances
  • Clean or replace HVAC filters and inspect the system for proper functioning.
  • Check major appliances like refrigerators, stoves, and dishwashers for any issues.
  • Address inadequate outlet voltage or non-functioning outlets.
  • Test heating and cooling systems for proper temperature control.
Attic, Basement, and Crawlspaces
  • Look for signs of water intrusion, such as dampness, mold, or water stains.
  • Inspect the insulation for damage or inadequate coverage.
  • Check for signs of pest infestation, including droppings or damage to wood structures.
  • Verify proper ventilation and address any obstructions.
Walls and Ceilings
  • Investigate any visible stains, cracks, or bulges in walls and ceilings.
  • Check for peeling or flaking paint, which could indicate moisture issues.
  • Look for significant cracks or holes that may need repairs.
  • Address gaps between walls and the floor, especially near door frames.

The Exterior Inspection

  • Inspect the condition of the roof, looking for missing or damaged shingles.
  • Check for signs of leaks, such as water stains or sagging areas.
  • Examine the flashing around chimneys, vents, and skylights.
  • Address any issues with gutters and downspouts, ensuring proper water drainage.
Chimney and Gutters
  • Clean out gutters and ensure they are securely attached.
  • Check for cracks or missing bricks in the chimney.
  • Verify that the chimney cap is in good condition and properly installed.
  • Inspect windows for cracked or broken glass.
  • Check the condition of frames, looking for decayed wood or signs of moisture damage.
  • Test windows for smooth operation and ensure they lock properly.
  • Address any gaps or cracks around window frames and apply fresh caulk if necessary.
Utility Connections
  • Check the caulking and sealing around gas, water, and electrical connections.
  • Ensure weather protection for outdoor electrical outlets.
  • Test outdoor spigots for leaks or damage.
Building Structure
  • Inspect the exterior walls for cracks, bulges, or signs of settling.
  • Look for flaking, peeling, or bubbling paint on the siding or masonry.
  • Check for damaged or loose siding, fascia, or soffits.
  • Address any issues with the foundation, such as cracks or water intrusion.
  • Inspect the property for any signs of potential hazards, such as unstable structures or trip hazards.
  • Look for proper drainage and address any areas prone to flooding.
  • Trim overhanging tree limbs that could damage the property.
  • Address loose or damaged railings and steps.

When to Call a Licensed Home Inspector

woman making a decision

While conducting a DIY home inspection can provide valuable insights, there are certain situations where it is crucial to call a licensed home inspector. These professionals have the expertise and specialized tools to thoroughly assess your home and identify potential issues that may be hidden from an untrained eye. Here are specific instances when it is recommended to enlist the services of a licensed home inspector:

Complex Structural Issues

If you come across significant structural problems during your DIY inspection, such as large foundation cracks, sagging floors, or major roof damage, it is best to call a licensed home inspector. These professionals are trained to identify and evaluate structural issues that could affect the safety and stability of your home. They can provide a comprehensive assessment and recommend appropriate repairs or further evaluations by structural engineers if necessary.

Hazardous Materials Concerns

When dealing with potential hazardous materials like asbestos, lead-based paint, or mold, it is crucial to involve a licensed home inspector. These professionals have the knowledge and experience to identify signs of hazardous materials and can guide you on proper testing procedures or recommend specialists who can perform thorough inspections. Dealing with hazardous materials requires expertise to ensure the safety of both you and your family and/or potential buyers.

Electrical and Plumbing Systems

If you are uncertain about the condition of your electrical wiring or plumbing systems, it is advisable to call a licensed home inspector. These systems are essential for the functionality and safety of your home. A licensed inspector can assess the overall condition, identify any deficiencies. They can also detect potential safety hazards such as outdated wiring, improper grounding, or plumbing leaks that may not be readily apparent to an untrained observer.

Comprehensive Reports for Buyers

When selling your home, providing a comprehensive inspection report to potential buyers can build trust and streamline the negotiation process. A licensed home inspector can conduct a thorough evaluation of your property and provide a detailed report that highlights both the positive aspects and any areas of concern. This report carries more weight and credibility in the eyes of buyers, as it is conducted by an impartial and qualified professional.

Lack of Expertise or Confidence

If you lack the necessary expertise, confidence, or time to conduct a comprehensive DIY home inspection, it is highly recommended to hire a licensed home inspector. They possess the knowledge, training, and experience to thoroughly assess all aspects of your home, ensuring that no critical issues are overlooked. By relying on their expertise, you can have peace of mind knowing that your home has been thoroughly evaluated by a qualified professional.

While a DIY home inspection can be a valuable first step in identifying potential issues, there are certain situations where calling a licensed home inspector is essential. They have the expertise to handle complex structural issues, address concerns regarding hazardous materials, evaluate electrical and plumbing systems, provide comprehensive reports for buyers, and ensure a thorough assessment when you lack expertise or confidence. Investing in a licensed home inspector’s services will provide you with a detailed understanding of your home’s condition and help you navigate the selling process more effectively. Should you encounter any significant or complex issues during your DIY inspection, it’s always advisable to seek the assistance of licensed home inspectors. Contact us today to schedule a thorough home inspection and ensure the safety and functionality of your property.