The Complete DIY Home Inspection Checklist
Ready to Sell? Inspect Your Home Before You List
Whether you need more space as your family grows, you accepted a new job in a different city or you’re looking to downsize, selling your home can be an exciting — and overwhelming — time.
While there will be a lot going on as you prep your home to hit the market, don’t forget a simple do-it-yourself 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.
DIY House Inspection Checklists for Sellers
Ideally, when you go through our seller home inspection checklists, 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.
We gathered the most common repairs to check for, both indoors and outdoors, as you prepare to sell your home. While our checklist will give you plenty of items to consider, 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.
Areas to Inspect Inside Your Home Before Selling
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
What home inspectors can and cannot tell you
After all the house hunting and hand-wringing, you’ve finally made an accepted offer on a home. Now, if you’re like many buyers, you’ll hire a home inspector to cast a critical eye on the property.
But while a good inspector can give you a thorough assessment of the home’s condition, alerting you to potential safety hazards, problems big and small, and what costly repairs might be in your future, there’s a limit to what they can tell you — and even the best ones can’t see through walls.
Despite new tools such as infrared cameras and moisture meters, the process is still “a visual inspection of readily accessible areas,’’ Popp added. “We don’t necessarily speculate with any authority about what may be inside the walls.’’
Still, a well-trained eye can detect dozens of clues about the condition of a house that buyers might otherwise overlook. “One of the most revealing things is the condition of the roof. People just don’t think about it too much; they might give it a passing glance,’’ Popp said. “If those roof shingles look like burnt bacon — you know when you overcook bacon it gets crunchy and puffy looking — occasionally you’ll see roof shingles like that, and they’re done.’’ And if there’s tar smeared in spots or on the base of the chimney, that signals a stop-gap repair that will need attention.
Popp explains all this to buyers as they circle the home together, starting outside from across the street. You should attend your inspection and participate as much as the inspector allows, he added. “I encourage people to stay right at my elbow, and I’ll explain things to them and answer their questions as I go around,’’ he said, starting with the exterior elements like the roof, gutters, wood trim, siding, window components, doors, porches, and decks. Then he brings them up close to inspect the siding and look for telltale problems like sagging gutters before heading inside to look at the living space and, crucially, the basement.
Other Mistakes Buyers Shouldn’t Make During the Home Inspection
The house-buying process can seem endless: Attending open houses. Separating your must-haves from nice-to-haves. Identifying your (sort of) dream home. Making an offer. Negotiating the final price. So when you get to inspection day, it’s tempting to heave a huge sigh of relief now that your work is basically done.
But not so fast. The home inspection is one of the most crucial steps for buying a home, and it shouldn’t be overlooked or rushed. In fact, the inspection process has the potential to be just as nerve-racking for the buyer as it is for the seller. What if you’ve fallen in love with a beautiful home that has major problems lurking beneath the surface?
Forgoing an inspection in the first place
Sure, most people know they should get an inspection on a home they’re buying from someone else
Choosing the cheapest inspection option
There are a lot of inspectors who offer very low prices for home inspections, Marlow says, and that could indicate they’re new and inexperienced, or that they’re having trouble finding clients.
Not being present for the inspection
Tempted to let the inspector just do her job and read the report later?
Increase Your Professionalism From the Moment You Arrive at a Home Inspection
Boost your home inspection referrals and client satisfaction by following these simple guidelines. Get tips on arriving to your home inspection from Kaplan’s instructor, who has been a home inspector for over 20 years. Learn how to show your customers you value their time from the moment you arrive to the time you finish.
To begin an inspection, it’s absolutely critical that you arrive on time. As a matter of fact, I like to arrive about 15 minutes early. Why? I want to show the customer that I value their time. That means if they’re waiting for me, I’m going to be concerned about how they’re going to begin to feel about me. So, I’m here early. The second thing that’s really critical about a home inspection: to look professional is to bring equipment that’s clean. Don’t bring a ladder that you’ve been painting your bedroom with last night. Bring a clean ladder. Bring clean drop cloths. Bring clean booties. Keep in mind that these people haven’t bought the house yet, but they’re most likely going to. You want to show respect to their new home. You don’t want to be walking around their carpet, leaving things behind.
Make sure, again, that as you come up to the door and knock on the door, give people time to come to the door. You’d be amazed. They could be in all other parts of the house, and it’s going to take them a while to get there. What you don’t want to do is to come in and surprise somebody. Boy, that’s embarrassing. It can be, again, very, very bad for the customer relationship issue. What I like to do when I get here early is I begin to prepare my report. I begin to fill out things that are kind of general comments, the style of the home, the type of the shingles, and things like that prior to the customer getting here. The other thing that I would encourage you to do as we go throughout the house for the entire inspection is: digital photography is really in the marketplace now. It gives you a little bit of an edge, being able to explain to people what you’re looking at, what you’re seeing, and what’s good and what’s bad.
Remember that you can overuse digital photography. So, don’t make it a showmanship attitude. Make it a, “I need to show somebody something.” Communication is the number one key to the success of a home inspection. If I can both in writing and verbally explain myself well to my customers, I just won the battle, and I haven’t even started the inspection yet. The more you can prepare before the customer comes here, the less you’re going to be inconveniencing them. That’s just good business, and I encourage you to do that. I would also encourage you to, one more time, just check their name so that when you do get out and greet them, and they should be here in a few moments, you’ll be able to call them by their first name. Boy, that’s just great marketing.
The other thing that you want to pay attention to after you’ve set the ladder up on the house is to be concerned about damaging the home. If you looked up here, these are brand new gutters. I wouldn’t even consider putting my ladder up on those gutters. So, I chose to lean it against the stucco. I’ll work around some of the products that the seller has, so that I don’t damage those products. So, prepare yourself. Then, when they arrive… Oh, by the way. Here they come now.
How a home inspection works
After getting a mortgage, picking a great house, and making an offer, you might assume most of the heavy lifting in the home buying process is done. But wait—there’s one more big thing that could determine whether or not the home you’re hoping to buy is a good decision: the home inspection. No matter how invested you feel in a particular house, it’s important to get a professional opinion from a trustworthy home inspector and factor the results into your home buying decision.
What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a report generated by a professional home inspector after they make a careful evaluation of a property. It’s intended to give home buyers an unbiased, knowledgeable accounting of any identifiable issues a home has before they make the final decision to buy it.
A home inspection typically takes place while a home is under contract—which means you’ve made an offer on a house and it’s been accepted. A buyer has a set period of time, which is laid out in their purchase agreement (it’s often a week to 10 days, but it varies) to complete the home inspection, review the results, and decide if they want to leave the contract. Under most purchase agreements, the buyer can leave the contract without a financial penalty if the home inspection reveals costly issues.
What will be covered in the inspection?
The inspector will do a visual evaluation of the house. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)
this review includes noting the condition of the following things:
central air conditioning system (weather permitting)
interior electrical systems
roof, attic, and visible insulation
walls, ceilings, floors
windows and doors
foundation, basement, and structural components