Home Inspection Checklist (Step by Step)

Home Inspection Checklist (Step by Step)
Urban Editorial July 30, 2019

One of the most daunting aspects of buying a new home is running through the home inspection checklist to ensure that everything is up to scratch. After all, you don't want to miss something that will become a potentially expensive problem for you later.

A home buyer inspection list isn't just there to ensure everything is ready for you to move in, it's also to alert you to any significant issues that may mean you shouldn't be buying the property at all. This is particularly pertinent if you are dealing with a potential investment property as the new tenants will be coming to you with any issues.

The main goal is to ensure that the property you are purchasing is exactly how you expected and you are getting what you paid for. To assist, Urban.com.au have prepared this home inspection checklist to show you what to look for in a brand new property. This guide has been updated in 2020.

What to look for in a new home inspection

It is important to remember that professional inspectors will be looking over the home for significant potential problems such as structural issues, damaged fixtures, or anything that may need to be replaced.

It is also a good idea to have a pest inspection to save hassles later. You don't want to find out you could have prevented a white ant problem after the fact. This is also an excellent chance to be aware of any potential for pest issues that may pop up in the future based on the location of your home and the materials used in its construction.

For properties with a swimming pool, it is vital to have an inspection of the pool fencing, surrounding area, and the pool itself. For safety, you'll want to make this a regular activity. 

It is also a good idea to obtain a surveyor's report which will identify the boundaries of your property, so you understand what exactly is your land and what is not.

House inspection checklist

Once you have decided which property is right for you, always perform a comprehensive check before the settlement of the following elements to ensure there will be no potential issues.

1. Water pressure and drainage

This can be tested by flushing toilets and running all taps, the shower and bath, keeping an eye out for leaks, drainage issues, or low pressure.

2. Windows and doors

Check for draughts on closed windows, open and close everything to ensure it is functioning correctly.

3. Flooring

Check for anything that seems uneven, bumps, warping, and survey the edges where walls and flooring meet.

4. Electricity

Turn switches on and off and test each outlet with something like your phone charger to ensure it operates correctly.

5. Cupboards

Open and close all cabinets and drawers, remember to be aware of any bad odours which could mean mould or poor ventilation.

6. Walls 

Inspect the paint job, in particular, corners and window frames.

7. Outdoor areas 

A general check for any aesthetic issues. 

8. Wall plastering

Look for fine cracks on the internal wall plastering which can be caused by the incorrect application of wall plastering. Plaster can crack further causing a more significant issue down the track.

9. External roof lines

Ensure that roof lines are straight with no deflections. It is also best to check the roof gutters from the top side to ensure they are not corroded and that all roof downpipes discharge into stormwater soak wells. 

10. Drain holes on external walls

In particular, if you have a multi-storey property, window and door frames should have small holes on the suspended slab levels which allow water to escape, so it does not penetrate the internal walls.

What happens if you find a problem?

Home Inspection Checklist (Step by Step)

If the above checklist does reveal some issues, you have the time and are well within your rights to ask that it be rectified. All properties need to pass an inspection before they can be sold. 

If the seller refuses to fix any non-structural issues you identify, you may look to ask for a lower price to allow for the fact that you will need to spend money making the repairs yourself. Just be aware that you may be in a competitive market and another buyer may be willing to take the property and deal with the issues themselves, making it an easier, and therefore more attractive sale for the current owner.

Homes or apartments that are purchased off the plan may require contact with the builder to fix any problems, just remember, rectifying these issues before you move in is the best course of action.

Professional home inspection contingency

Home Inspection Checklist (Step by Step)

You may have the passing of a professional home inspection as a contingency in your contract. If you do not, you may wish to add this as part of your negotiations. This means that if significant defects are found during an inspection, you can retract your purchase offer without penalty.

Keep in mind that the potential problems covered here need to be serious (you can't back out due to chipped paint) but it is an extra level of protection during the sale.

In most contracts, the home inspection clause for a newly built residence will cover an inspection from a professional inspector including:

  • Foundations

  • Pre-drywall

  • A full walk-through is performed of the completed home.

  • If issues are a safety issue, major or minor defect

  • Items that need replacement 

  • Items that should be monitored closely

  • An exterior inspection

  • Grading

  • The garage or carport

  • Roof

  • Interior inspection

  • Plumbing

  • Electrical

  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning 

  • Water heater

  • Kitchen appliances

  • Laundry

  • Fire safety

  • Bathrooms

Choose your inspectors wisely as they vary in experience and thoroughness. A typical inspection should last two to three hours, and it is a good idea for you to be present to receive a firsthand explanation of all findings. This is also a good opportunity to ask any questions you may have about potential issues with the property.

Things that will not be covered in a home inspection

Home inspectors are really only working off of visual cues meaning things like a slanted floor or issues under flooring will be missed.

Things that home inspectors will not do include looking inside walls, pipes, sewer lines, chimneys, and behind electrical panels. It is also unlikely that they will check for termite damage, site contamination, and asbestos.

Running through your real estate inspection checklist

There are few purchases in life as significant as buying a property. There are also few things that cause great expense when there are issues like property can. For this reason, being diligent and thorough when you have the opportunity, namely before you move into a new home, is vital.

It can be hard; you are excited to get into your new place and happy to overlook things that seem like small issues. Try to avoid this as minor issues become more prominent, and you will need to deal with them at some point. There are plenty of other costs coming your way with a new property so no need to add to the list.

Don't be averse to investing in professional assistance to ensure that things have been done correctly and never be worried about speaking up if you believe there is an issue. You've paid a lot of money for this new asset, make sure that the dollars were well spent.

Home Inspection Checklist (Step by Step)
Home Inspection Checklist (Step by Step) Infographic.

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