It's a smart idea to get a professional home inspection completed prior to closing escrow on any real estate purchase, especially a home you are going to be living in. Doing a home inspection prevents the prospective buyer from getting some unpleasant surprises once the deal is done, such as furnaces or appliances that don't work or water pipes that start to burst.
It's easy to compile your own home inspection checklist to conduct during your own walk-through of the property you are purchasing so you can be assured that any problems or defects are discovered ahead of time, allowing you the option of having the seller fix them to your satisfaction or delaying or even stopping the final sale.
- First check all the plumbing fixtures in the house, including toilets, sinks, faucets and traps to make sure there are no blockages. Ask about the kind of material used for water pipes and find out the year the pipes were upgraded or installed and their current condition.
- Next, do a thorough check of any and all appliances that you are purchasing as part of the sale. These might include ovens and ranges, refrigerators, freezers, washers and dryers, dishwashers, built-in microwaves and smoke detectors. If you expect them to be in working condition, be sure to ascertain they are in fact usable and ask if the seller is leaving you with any instruction manuals or warranty papers.
- Check that the home's electrical system is working and up to code. Find out where the main electrical breaker panel is located and check to see that electrical outlets are in working order in all rooms of the home.
- Find out the type of roof construction, its general condition and when it was last repaired or initially installed.
- Do likewise for any systems in the house such as air conditioning and furnace heating, water heater, fireplaces, chimneys and any built-in fire sprinkler system or burglar alarms. Make sure they are in working order and you have any maintenance instructions for the future.
- As you walk through the house, look up at the ceilings for any sign of water spotting or damage, check the condition of the flooring, and find out what construction material was used for the walls and foundation. If a garage is part of the sale, do a walk through to check the condition of the walls, roof, flooring and electrical outlets.
- Take a complete walk around the perimeter of the property to notice any damage to fencing, walkways, landscaping, porches and patios. Check to see that exterior light fixtures are in good working order.
Taking the extra time to build a home inspection checklist and doing a walk-through of a new property can save you much time and disappointment after the sale has closed.