Buying a house takes patience and time. In fact, the average homebuyer sees about seven homes when meeting with their realtor. And that can continue for several weeks.
That means you need to have an objective eye when touring properties. You need to know when a house is a great deal and when to walk away.
Nothing helps more than doing a DIY home inspection when walking through the property. But where do you start?
Here’s a simple DIY property inspection checklist to help you find the best house for your needs.
Outside the House
When looking at houses, your first step should be to inspect the exterior. Don’t panic. There are only a few key things you’ll want to check for.
Look at the Roofline
The roof is the home’s best protection against the elements. If it’s in bad shape, water can get into the attic, the walls, and do serious damage to the house.
While outside, take a look at the roofline. It should be straight and the materials should sit flush against the roof.
If the materials are loose, don’t rule the house out. Often, you can negotiate those repairs with the seller. You’ll just want to get a roofer’s second opinion.
Walk Around the House
The roof isn’t the only place that water can seep in. You’ll want to look at the siding and make sure everything sits tight against the walls of the house.
Look for bubbling and peeling paint or bulging materials. Check that the gutter system is still mounted beneath the roof and not sagging in places.
These are a sure-fire sign of severe water damage and could mean the owner hasn’t maintained the property.
Inspect the Doors and Windows
Drafty windows and doors are both an annoyance and a hazard. Pests, insects, and the elements can all slip through the cracks and make the house uncomfortable to live in.
While outside, take a look at the window frames and doors. Are they warped and sagging or sitting tight against the house?
If you notice any warp, consider inspecting the foundation. As the foundation shifts, the doors and windows shift as well. And it could be a sign of cracks and damage in the basement.
Inside the House
The inside of the house is where you should pay the most attention. It’s the primary living space and when it’s in disrepair, you’re in for a lot of maintenance and repair costs.
Check the Flooring
There’s a good chance you’ll be living with the current flooring, at least for a few months. So, make sure it’s in good condition.
Check the carpets for any stains and rips. If there’s tile, make sure the grout is secure and not crumbling.
For homes with wood floors, some creaking and popping noises are normal. It’s caused mostly by changing humidity levels. But if the floorboards have gaps between them or you see deep gouges and scratches, prepare yourself to replace them sooner rather than later.
Try the Light Switches
You want to make sure the electrical system is in good condition and works properly. Try the light switches in each room and make sure the lights turn on.
Are there any strange noises that happen when you flip the switch? Do the lights flicker constantly? If so, make a note of it.
You’ll also want to look at the outlets in each room. If they have the standard 3-prong outlet plate, the wiring is likely up to code. If not, an electrician will need to make sure the electrical system meets modern safety requirements.
Watch for Water Stains on the Walls and Ceilings
Water damage often leaves stains behind. As you walk through the house, check the walls and ceiling for discoloration. If you notice any freshly painted areas or see a change in the texture of the wall, it could be a sign of water damage.
This shouldn’t rule the house out as an option. If the leak gets fixed quickly, the damage will be minor. But if the damage is old and hasn’t gotten addressed, there could be mold and mildew in the walls.
Do the Smell Test
Speaking of mold and mildew, make a note of how the house smells when you walk in. If it smells musty, it probably just needs airing out. But if it smells like damp paper or wet socks, there’s probably a mold problem in the house.
Keep walking through and see if the rooms feel overly humid. Check the ceilings in the bathrooms and kitchen for visible mold.
If you see any, let your realtor know immediately.
Check the Faucets
A dripping faucet may only cost the average homeowner about $1.56 per year but it’s incredibly annoying. And worse, it wastes about two gallons of water a day.
Pay attention to the faucets as you walk through the house. Ideally, they won’t have active drips. But if they do, know that you’ll want to fix it eventually.
Also make sure the toilets flush, fill with water, and stop running after a minute or so. The toilet itself should be stable on the floor and not rock when someone sits on it.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary make a note of it and tell your realtor.
Use This DIY Property Inspection Checklist
This DIY property inspection checklist is a great way to narrow down the homes on your list. Properties with more issues can be more expensive to repair, but they can give you more negotiating power with the seller.
Regardless of what you see on your own walkthrough, you’ll always want to schedule an inspection with a professional before you close on the property. This way, you’ll know exactly what needs fixing and what’s in great shape before you move in.