With thoughtful presentation, anyone can cover up the tell-tale signs of home defects, and many homebuyers have found themselves stuck with a surprise fixer-upper. Here’s an essential home inspection checklist for first-time home buyers.
Do You Need a Home Inspection?
If you want a better understanding of a house’s condition, you absolutely need a home inspection. The old adage says that knowledge is power, and it’s completely true in this case. Learning whether a home is a fixer-upper or move-in ready will save you time, money, and sanity in the future. If certain aspects of the house aren’t in great shape, you can ask the seller to fix them or offer you credit at closing.
Outside the House
When your inspector looks at the house, they should check a few key areas on the outside. First, the roof: If there are dark stains, growing moss, or missing tiles, take note. Ensure that the gutters and downspouts are attached properly, and take stock of the siding’s condition.
Look at exterior windows and doors, too. If you have trouble opening or closing either, or if they seem misaligned, that could cause more problems in the future. Finally, check out the foundation. Cracks are a bad sign, and nearby trees suggest the potential for stray roots to invade your basement one day.
Inside the House
There are a couple of things to look for inside the house, as well. First, look at (and ask about) the heating and cooling systems. How long ago were they installed, and how well do they work? Also, check every light switch you can find, and keep an eye out for grounded outlets (those are the ones with the extra hole in addition to the slots for two prongs).
As hard as it may be, try to ignore the real estate agent’s freshly baked cookies, and sniff out any odors like mold or mildew. A musty smell might indicate leaks, but you can also test out faucets to check the water pressure.
It’s a good idea to have a professional test the home for radon in addition to the other home inspection staples. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in the country, right after smoking, so knowing the house is not a radon hotspot will give you significant peace of mind.
With this home inspection checklist for first-time home buyers, you’ll know for sure whether the house you’re looking at is the one for you!