Perform Your Own Home Inspection

Hiring a home inspector before purchasing your dream home, putting your house up for sale, or before embarking on major renovations is a smart way to protect your investment. What if you used a typical home inspection checklist to identify weaknesses and potential trouble spots? Perform you own home inspection and add any needed fixes to your fall home maintenance to-do list.

Start with the roof.

Your roof should look good – no sagging, no missing shingles, no damaged or rusting flashings. Valleys should be free of debris, as well as the roofing tiles.

Reapply the sealant around roof installations such as dormer windows or skylights if it has become damaged.

Check for mold or mildew. Patches of damp are often a sign of leaks – you will need to find the source.

Examine the soffit and fascia for wood rot, peeling paint, and warped soffit or fascia boards. Especially if you have vented soffit, make sure they are clean on the outside and clog-free on the inside.

Does the attic need an upgrade?

Construction professionals recommend that the insulation in attic ceilings and walls be 12 to 15 inches thick. Check to see if the attic is sufficiently insulated.

Ensure air is circulating – poor ventilation could cause condensation, heat buildup in summer that warps roof decking and shingles, and mold growth.

Check the attic for leaks – stained walls and ceiling are red flags.

How are the gutters doing?

Make sure that the gutters are attached to the fascia – no loose hardware, missing or sagging gutter sections, and no dents. The inside of the gutters and downspouts should be clog-free. The outside of the gutter system, including the downspouts, should be cleaned to remove visible streaks.

Walls, ceilings, and floors should be in good shape.

The purpose of walls and ceilings is to support the roof. Structural problems typically manifest themselves on ceilings, walls and even the floors. If left alone, problems could worsen until the structural integrity of your home is compromised. Signs to look for are:

  • Warped floors
  • Walls that lean
  • Ceilings that sag
  • Large patches of damp
  • Flaking or peeling paint
  • Cracks or holes
  • A gap between the wall and the floor

Do windows and doors open easily?

While windows and doors that don’t open or close easily could be a safety hazard, they can also indicate structural issues. Examine the windows and doors of your home for the following:

  • Gaps between the trim and the wall
  • Buckling or bowing frames
  • Wood rot
  • Locks, latches, and levers that don’t work properly
  • Cracked sealant or weatherstripping
  • Missing or cracked panes (if your door includes glass)

Don’t forget the basement.

If you only use the basement for storage and a place to do the laundry, it might be easy to forget that it is an important area of your home that requires regular maintenance. Common basement issues to look for include a damp or musty smell; large cracks in walls (the foundation) and the floor; insufficient insulation; not enough ventilation; and stains on the foundation.

Plumbing is not just the bathroom.

When we hear the word “plumbing” most of us think “bathroom.” Plumbing impacts the entire house – think laundry room, kitchen, wet bar in the basement rec room. The plumbing system in a house includes pipes, fixtures, and drains. All aspects of the plumbing need to be inspected. Things to look for include:

  • Outdated or rusted pipes
  • Plumbing system not up to code
  • Uneven water flow
  • Leaking pipes
  • Clogged drains
  • Unlevel toilets
  • Fixtures are loose or not properly secured
  • Inadequate or fluctuating water pressure

Don’t get shocked.

It is important that the electrical system is up-to-date and functioning properly. When it isn’t you and your family are vulnerable to potential fire hazards, appliances not working properly, and other kinds of safety issues such as electrical shocks and sparks. While it’s recommended that you inspect the electrical system for potential problems and things that need fixing, plan on hiring a licensed professional electrician to do the work. Things to be aware of include:

  • Electrical outlets work and are grounded
  • Extension cords aren’t overused
  • Non-working outlets
  • Lights that flicker or don’t turn on immediately
  • Painted outlets
  • Exposed live wires
  • Switches in breaker box not clearly labeled
  • Electrical panels aren’t overheating

Especially if you live in an older home, check to see that your electrical system meets current building codes relevant to residential electrical systems.

Check your HVAC and appliances.

A standard HVAC system lasts 10 to 15 years. If your heating system is older make sure filters are cleaned or replaced regularly and that it is inspected by a professional once every two years. When it breaks down often, consider replacement – a HVAC system that constantly needs fixing is not good for you or the environment.

Major appliances such as a gas stove, the washer and dryer, the refrigerator, and the dishwasher have connections, connectors, and lines. These should be checked for functionality and safety issues.