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Buying a home is certainly an exciting and stressful time. Between shopping for houses, bidding, negotiating, and closing, all of the steps of buying a home can be overwhelming.

One of the steps that should never be skipped over is the home inspection. And that can be a giant hurdle, especially for first-time homebuyers who may not know what to look for in a home inspection. 

If you’re at a loss for what a home inspection entails, we’ve compiled a handy home inspection checklist for you, with everything the inspector should be looking at and potential problems that can arise. Read on for more! 

What Is A Home Inspection?

A good home inspection will ensure that you are aware of potential maintenance costs on the home, and give you leverage towards negotiations with the seller. A home inspection could even save you from buying a house with structural issues.

A home inspection is not an appraisal. It will not give you an estimate of the value of the property. Instead, it will reveal potential issues that either you or the seller will have to pay to fix.

Most house contracts include a home inspection stipulation for the buyer, allowing you to back out of purchasing the home if there are issues that are a deal-breaker.

At least one member of the buying party should be present for the home inspection, but it is generally discouraged that the sellers remain on-site during the process. Sellers should do their best to encourage transparency about potential problems.

Finally, a home inspection is conducted by a certified professional inspector, who is an unbiased party trained specifically to look for potential or existing issues in multiple areas of the home.  


A home inspection checklist will always include the exterior of the house. This includes the roof, windows, siding, gutters, and drainage around the house.

Roofs and siding should be inspected for hail and wind damage. Gutters should be attached and clean of debris. If the house is in need of painting, it should be noted. Additionally, the inspector should check for asbestos insulation in older homes. 

Bad drainage is easy to overlook but can cause foundation issues and rot. Check for standing pools of water or perpetually moist ground.

The foundation itself also needs to be inspected for cracks or shifting, both inside and out. Tree roots can often lead to foundation issues and should be noted.  


A lot of structural issues in homes can be found in attics and basements, as well as by checking the walls and floors.

In the attic, the inspector should look for signs of leakage and the interior of the roof structure, as well as check for asbestos and other issues. Basements should be thoroughly examined for foundation issues, leaks, and rot. 

The walls and floors of the home should also be inspected for any shifting or cracking, as this can be a symptom of structural issues as well. Ceilings, windows, and walls should also be checked for evidence of leaks.  


It may seem tedious, but checking the outlets and switches in your potential new home should also be a part of your home inspection checklist. 

The main panel (circuit breaker), as well as incoming service and branch wiring must be free of faults. All fixtures should work, and all outlets should be grounded. 

The age of the electrical systems in the house should also be checked and noted, in case of potential additions or remodels in the future. Old wiring is also more susceptible to issues and might warrant replacing if the condition is bad. 


If appliances are included in the home, they should be checked to make sure they are functioning correctly. Gas stoves and ovens especially need to be checked to make sure they are not leaking. 

Plumbing and Septic

Plumbing can be one of the trickiest and most expensive parts of your house, so making sure the inspection is thorough is important.

Old plumbing will likely need replacement, if not now, then in the near future. The material of the plumbing should also be noted, such as lead, copper, or PVC piping. 

Toilets should be checked to make sure they flush efficiently and have no leakage or other issues. Faucets should all drain properly and put out hot and cold water. Hot water heaters should also be inspected for signs of age or disrepair. 

If the home has a septic system, a separate septic inspection by a specialist can save you thousands in potential repairs and remediation costs. 


As part of your home inspection checklist, make sure to go over the heating and air conditioning system in your potential new home.

Your inspector will make sure the heating and cooling systems are fully operational, and check all thermostats and other controls.

In homes with radiators, they will also check these for malfunctions or leaks. Inspectors should also look over the furnaces and ductwork for potential issues.  

Rounding Out Your Home Inspection Checklist

A thorough home inspection checklist can also include some more elusive problems to keep an eye out for. 

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should all be fully tested. Garage door openers should work, and the garage door mechanical system should be free of any malfunctions or potential issues.

Inspectors will also check for odd odors or stains in the home. Sprinkler systems and other optional systems should also be inspected if present. 

Inspectors generally do not look for issues such as pests and termites, lead paint, or mold. If you have concerns about these issues, you will likely need to bring in specialists to examine the house further.  

Parting Words

While it can be tempting to do it yourself, always hire a professional home inspector to evaluate your potential purchase. They have a trained eye for problems that may not be apparent to the layman. 

If you are looking for a quality home inspector in the Northeast Ohio area, feel free to schedule an appointment with us!