Home Inspection Checklist

Baker Fred "Gene", Reichel, Claudette H.

The inspection begins with a walk around the outside of the house at least twice. As you walk, note areas you’ll need to inspect more carefully when inside the house. On the first trip, look at the foundation, drainage and siding. On the second trip, check windows, gutters and the roof.

Once the outside inspection in finished, develop a procedure for inspecting the inside of the house. Work up through the house to the attic. Take plenty of time to look at everything behind boxes, in dark areas, under cabinets, etc.

You can use this checklist to record your inspection findings. Note that the items may not be in order of your inspection procedure. The list does not cover décor or special equipment you may want.

OK Needs Attention   


________ ________ Does the slope of the lot drain all rainwater away from the house?                                                                 
________  ________ Are finished grades safe and convenient for access to and use of the lot?
________ ________ Are all trees at least 10 feet from the house and are shrubs planted 3 feet from structures?

Soundness of Construction

________ ________ Are the foundation walls, interior walls and ceilings free of cracks?
________ ________ Check for out-of-square door frames. These conditions might indicate excessive settling.
________ ________ Does the structure sag? Are exterior walls plumb and square? Do floor or ceiling joists sag?
________ ________ Are the floor and ceiling joists in good condition? Check the size and condition of the main beams, support posts and rafters.
________ ________ Do the windows operate easily and close tightly? Check inside and outside.


________ ________ Is the woodwork surrounding all windows a good fit and in good condition?
________  ________ Are the weather stripping, caulking and glazing in good condition?
________  ________ Are there insulated or storm windows and screens? Do they fit properly? Are any missing or broken?


________ ________ Do all exterior doors fit tight and operate easily? Check by opening and closing each door. If one tends to stick, it could be swollen from too much moisture. Carefully check the weather stripping to see if it’s in good condition. Check the operation and security of locks and hinges.
________  ________ Are the interior doors in good condition, or are they warped? They should close and latch properly and easily. Check the door trim for good fit. Check knobs, locks and hinges for ease of operation and condition.


________ ________ Are the painted surfaces of the house in good condition? Check for mildew and water stains, peeling, blistering and chipping both inside and outside the house. Remember, paints with significant amounts of lead could be on surfaces painted before 1978. This presents a very serious health hazard to young children when any lead paint is removed.


________ ________ What is the condition of the siding materials and the paint or stain? Peeling paint or white spots on stain could indicate moisture problems. Look for decay, split siding or excessive rusting of nailheads. Look for mildew problems.
________ ________ Is the caulking around doors and windows, at corners and wherever different building materials meet in good condition?


________ ________ What is the condition of the roof? Note the type of roofing material used. Try to determine its age. Are there broken or missing shingles or some with curling edges?
________ ________ Is there evidence of water leakage inside the house? Inspect rafters and insulation in attic as well as ceilings and interior walls for water stains.
________ ________ Is the flashing in good condition and properly placed to prevent water from entering the attic?
________ ________ Are the gutters and downspouts in good condition? Are there any signs of leakage? Do downspouts empty away from the foundation?

Crawl Space

________ ________ Is the crawl space dry and resistant to water penetration? Look under a raised house and examine the floor joists and subfloors. Is there any fungi or wood rot?
________ ________ Are there large foundation vent openings in the crawl space?


________ ________ How do you get to the attic?
________ ________ Are there gaps in the insulation or compressed areas?
________ ________ Do you see evidence of moisture, such as discoloration of the rafters, stains on the attic floor, masonry and pipes, and insulation which is damp or compacted?
________ ________ Is there adequate ventilation in the attic? Do all plumbing, heating and exhaust fan vents extend to the outside?
________ ________ Do you see streaks of light around vents, chimneys or roof seams? These are potential locations of water entry.


________ ________ What types of and how much insulation is over the ceilings, in the walls and under the floor (if the house is not on a slab)? Check the thickness and general condition. Recommended R-values for Louisiana are R-30-38 in the attic, R-13-19 in the walls, and R-13 under raised floors.

Heating and Cooling System

________ ________ What is the condition of the heating and cooling system? Replacing a heating or cooling system is a major expense, so it’s wise to have the system inspected by an expert. How old are the units? Turn the system on and note its performance. Check for adequate air movement in each room if the system is forced air.
________ ________ Where are the thermostats located?
________ ________ Has an energy audit been done on the system? If an energy audit has been conducted, ask for a copy of the report. Ask to see the previous year’s utility bills. What are the rated efficiencies?

Electrical System

________ ________ Does the service box have at least 100 amperages? Check the quantity and types of circuits for appliances and other electrical equipment to be used. Check to see whether kitchen and laundry circuits are adequate.
________ ________ Where are the electrical receptacles located and are there enough of them to meet your needs? Grounded receptacles are identified by the presence of a third, round hole for the grounding conductor. Use a circuit tester to see if receptacles are wired correctly and are grounded.
________ ________ Does the house have ground-fault circuit interruption (GFCI) protection in the kitchen, bathroom, garage and outdoor circuits? Special GFCI receptacles can be identified by the “test” and “reset” buttons on the face of each outlet; GFCI breakers are labeled in the service box. This protection may not exist in older homes but is a possible indication the electrical system has been upgraded.
________ ________ What is the condition of the visible electrical wiring in the attic, basement or garage? Note the type of wire used and its condition. As with the heating system, you may wish to have a more detailed inspection made of the electrical system. Also, it is recommended you get a professional inspection of gas heaters for gas and carbon monoxide (CO) leaks and backdrafting.

Water System and Quality

________ ________ What is the condition of the plumbing fixtures, especially in the bathroom and kitchen? Also, look for water damage on the bottom of sink cabinets, around the bases of toilets and on ceilings (below where plumbing fixtures are located upstairs).
________ ________ What is the water pressure at the faucets? Turn on all faucets and flush all toilets(s) at the same time. How long it takes the tanks to refill under these conditions is a good indication of water pressure.
________ ________ Are there shut-off valves on hot and cold water supply lines to all sinks?
________ ________ What is the capacity and condition of the hot water heater? Look for signs of rust and leaks. Is there a pressure relief valve?
________ ________ If there is a private well, has the water supply been tested? Acceptable water quality can be a contingency on your purchase offer.

Sewage Disposal

________ ________ If the home is not on a municipal sewerage system, what are the septic tank age and condition? Has it been pumped regularly at 3- to 5-year intervals? Are there any signs indicating faulty or inadequate capacity of drain lines, such as a slowly draining sink or a toilet that backs up? Is the lawn over the drain field soggy?

Insect Damage

________ ________ Are there signs of wood damage from insects? The most destructive insect in houses is the termite. Termites eat wood framing and may cause much damage before their presence is detected. Termites travel from the soil to wooden structural members of house through mud shelter tubes, which they usually build on or in foundation walls. After mating, these insects discard their wings, which may be found in piles near the site of their infestation. Has the house been treated for termites?
________ ________ Are there piles of coarse sawdust beneath the timbers? This may indicate carpenter ants. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat wood but nest in it. They are most likely to attack wood that has already begun to rot. These ants also may be heard within the walls and may be spotted in a house throughout the winter season. They are black and are about ½ inch long.
________ ________ Do you see deposits of sawdust on the floor and small pencil-lead-size holes in wood beams and floor joists? This may indicate the presence of the powder-post beetle. To verify, check to see if the wood crumbles when an ice pick or pocketknife is pressed into the beams, floor joists, support posts and sill plates.

Note: If there is some indication of the presence of termites, carpenter ants or powder-post beetles, your purchase offer can be contingent on the house being free from infestation by these or other insects. You can ask the seller to pay the cost of a professional insect inspection and treatment.

Related article:

5/24/2007 10:36:28 PM
Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture