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I’m looking at several homes and may purchase one, but realized that I’m probably missing important details when trying to identify potential money-pits. I have a simple checklist so I can save the time and money of hiring an inspector if there are obvious issues. I’ve filtered out a couple of options due to very blatant issues such as cracked foundations and mold, but know I’m missing others.

This is my simple checklist so far and what I currently look for:

Critical:

  • Roof - Damage / age
  • Foundation - Cracks
  • Electrical - Age
  • Termites/pests - Better ways to identify pests aside from nibbled corners and droppings?
  • Water damage / mold - residue on ceilings, baseboards, basement
  • Siding - peeling, gaps
  • Heating & Air - Does it work?
  • Pipes - Any obvious leaks
  • Gas lines - ?

Important, but less concerning:

  • Paint / Finishes - peeling, chips,
  • Appliances - Does it work?
  • Garage - None, covered, closed

Other considerations affecting home value

  • Crime
  • Schools
  • Shopping
  • Restaurants
  • Industrial

Questions:

  1. What else am I missing and what should I look for?
  2. What’s the expected cost-range to repair/replace professionally or can I reasonably DIY it for less in a worst case?

I’m a DIYer when able (and appropriate), but would like to know as much as possible when performing a preliminary inspection before spending resources on a professional who would tell me something I could have found out prior to inspection.

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A certified home inspector should inspect gas lines with a sniffer to check for micro leaks. Further peeling paint may not be that important physically, but you will be unable to get an FHA mortgage to purchase the home if peeling paint is clearly visible on inside or out. –  maple_shaft Jan 15 '13 at 18:04
    
Are cracks in the foundation always the sign of a serious problem? It was my understanding that certain types of cracks in concrete are common and harmless. –  Henry Jackson Jan 15 '13 at 18:18
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Similar question: What should I look for during a deficiency walkthrough? –  BMitch Jan 16 '13 at 2:46
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1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Congrats on your pending venture, a new home! I am a certified Home Inspector and have a few ideas for you.

Actually, there are several items that a good home inspector is going to look at that are not on your list. Keep in mind that an inspector is going to be able to render an opinion on the condition of the systems and structure of the house. Other items should include, chimneys, flashings, gutters, windows, screens, sills, exterior fixtures/lighting, attics, vent fans, proper wiring, GFIs, water heater/temp, heating systems, fireplace dampers, window operation, door operation and weather stripping, step and railing safety, and the list goes on. Extra inspections may include, radon, water, septic systems, wells,or pools.

If you want a good reference and sample checklists, I recommend the book The Complete Book of Home Inspection by Norman Becker, PE. There are several good books out there, but this one is simple and to the point.

When you do find a property that you want to make an offer on, be absolutely sure you include a contingency, or condition of sale, that calls for a professional home inspection, and that the inspection results meet with your approval. In other words, if any discrepancies or findings are in the report, you can get your deposit back and walk, or negotiate with the owner for a reduction in the amount of your offer to professionally repair the problems.

The average cost of an inspection in my area for a home under 4000Sq feet and less than 100 years old is about $350.00. Under no circumstances should you not have a professional inspection and the associated contingencies in your offer to purchase. Once you make an offer, a DIY inspection is not legally enforceable, and you will have no recourse and unable to walk away with a refund of your earnest money deposit.

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It is said lawyers should never defend themselves and I believe you should always have someone else do your home inspection. Even if you don't think they will, emotions will effect your judgement. –  mikes Jan 15 '13 at 21:05
    
@mikes: My motives are primarily to get a good idea of what repairs would cost in a home before going to a professional to inspect. If I know from a self-inspection that the roof needs to be repaired or the foundation is unsuitable then I could just move on to the next property and avoid the hassle. If I don't see anything on the surface and I'm fairly sure the home is a good deal, I'll then request a professional to inspect it. –  Workman Jan 15 '13 at 22:21
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@shirlock homes: Thanks for your response! I'll certainly look into that book as a reference point. Thank you for also noting the contingency requirement. –  Workman Jan 15 '13 at 22:26
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