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Having your prospective home inspected by a professional is an important step to home ownership. It can reveal things that you might not be able to spot yourself.

Print the following checklist. By identifying any potential problems up front, you may convince the seller to either fix them or reimburse any repairs. If too many problems turn up here, it may be a signal for you to search elsewhere.

Item Check for
  • Cracks, shifting or settling
  • Structures bolted to foundation for earthquake safety
  • Mudsill should be dry (this is the part of the house that rests on the foundation)
  • Dry rot on panes, sills and frames
  • Cracks in glass
  • Windows open properly and seal tightly
  • Moisture damage inside
Electrical Systems
  • Properly working outlets, lights and switches
  • System updates (3-prong outlets, circuit breakers, etc. — for older houses)
  • GFI (Ground Fault Interrupt) outlets in the bathroom and kitchen
  • Broken or loose outlets
  • Leaks around pipes and fixtures
  • Water pressure (try more than one faucet at once)
  • Test hot water pressure (same method)
  • Water damage, including walls around shower
  • Rust or leaking around hot water heater
  • The water heater being up to code
Fireplace / Chimney
  • Crumbling mortar around brickwork
  • Stability of chimney and any obstructions
  • Leaking or cracks
  • Age of the shingles
  • Nearby overhanging trees
  • Termite / beetle holes in wooden supports
  • Attic vents for hornet / wasp nests
  • Rodent droppings in cupboards and under house
  • Water damage, especially around plumbing fixtures
  • Soft spots in floor
  • Water-damaged floorboards and supports under the house
  • Operational appliances and faucet
Hazardous Materials
  • Asbestos and lead
  • Make sure that all stairs and walkways (inside and out) are free of obstructions
  • Firm stepping stones
  • Steady railings
  • Working cleaning / filtering system
  • Leaks or cracks
  • Cracking or peeling paint
  • An operational thermostat
  • Clean and clear venting
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