Home Inspection Do-It-Yourself

Home inspection can be a condition for selling a real estate property. Therefore, it can be the deal-breaker of a transaction when it comes to selling or purchasing a home. As a seller, preparing your home properly before a sale is concluded is vital to get a pass from a home inspection report as part of the conditions of the sale. As a buyer, it is good to know how home inspections are done so that you can either do it yourself when you check out the property or hire a knowledgeable inspector to perform the inspection for you.

Acquiring a mortgage is often one of the largest investments in one's life. In a hot real estate market, homebuyers often drop the home inspection condition to make their offers more competitive. In such an event, we recommend you perform the inspection yourself before submitting your offer. Below is a list of things that you can check or fix yourselves around the house:

Checking the HVAC System

The HVAC system of a house is responsible for the heating and cooling of the property. Here's a list of things that you can do:

  • Does the furnace turn on (warm air coming out from the vents) when you set the thermostat in heating mode? If the house does not have a centralized heating system, does each of the heaters turn on around the house?
  • Does the AC turn on (cold air coming out from the vents) when you set the thermostat in cooling mode? If the house does not have a centralized heating system, does each of the air conditioners turn on around the house?
  • Do the filters need to be replaced?
  • Do all of the thermostats work around the house? For larger properties, there may be more than one thermostat in the property.

Checking the Central Vacuum System

Many of the homes in North America are equipped with a central vacuum system with multiple vacuum ports around the house. If the property is equipped with such a system, make sure you bring a vacuum hose, connect to each port, and check to see if the central vacuum system tuns on and provides suction when the hose is connected to each port.

Checking the Plumbing System

  • Ensure that there's hot (if applicable) and cold water coming out from the faucets around the house (e.g. bathroom showers, sinks, kitchen, laundry room, outdoor faucets).
  • Ensure that there's no water leak coming from each of the faucet and drainage systems.
  • Test the drainage system around the house by turning on all the faucets for 5 minutes and checking for overflows in sinks/tubs and water leak marks on walls or ceilings.
  • Ensure that the cleanout port of the property is accessible. The cleanout port is what the plumbers will use to access the plumbing system in the event of clogging and sewage backups. Because it is not used until there's an issue, we have seen homeowners/contractors even cover it up behind walls during renovation.
  • If the property has a basement, ensure that the floor drain in the basement is accessible. We have seen homeowners/contractors cover it up under carpet or flooring, which can be catastrophic.
  • If the property has a sump pump, make sure that it is in working condition. It can be easily tested by pouring in a few cups of water. The sump pump should turn on automatically and remove the water.
  • Turn off all the water sources and take a look at the water meter of the property. The water meter should not have any activity; otherwise, there is a leak inside or outside the property. The water meter can be found beside the master shut-off valve inside or outside the property.

Checking the Electrical System

  • Use a circuit tester and check every outlet around the house (inside and outside) to make sure that there's power in every outlet.
  • Ensure that only GFCI outlets are used in the kitchen, washrooms, and exterior walls from the outside.
  • Walk around the house and ensure that all the light fixtures are in working condition.
  • Check the electrical panel and ensure that only one pair of wires are used for each of the circuit breakers.

Checking the Appliances

  • Test all the appliances (range hood, stove, oven, microwave, dishwasher, washer, and dryer) provided with the property to see if they are in working condition. Just a quick power on, run for a couple of minutes, and power off with each of the appliances is sufficient. There should be air coming out from the exterior vent openings when the range hood and dryer are running.
  • Test the garage door to see if it is in working condition.
  • If the property comes with a pool, check to see if the pool system (pump, heater, and chlorine generator) is working properly.
  • If the property comes with a jacuzzi or sauna, check to see if they are in working condition.
  • Test all the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors around the property.

Checking for Water Damage

  • Walk around the house to see if there are new water stain marks or fresh paints on walls or ceilings. Some sellers may cover up water damage with quick paint jobs without fixing the actual problem. Use a moisture detector to check for unacceptable moisture levels on floors, walls, and ceilings, especially the washrooms, the kitchen, the laundry room, and the basement.
  • Check for water damage around the windows from the inside, especially in the basement. Use a moisture detector to check for unacceptable moisture levels on the window frames.
  • Check the water tank for leaks at the bottom of the unit.
  • Checking the Roof and Gutters
  • Check the gutters and gutter drains (downspouts) around the house and make sure nothing is clogged.
  • Check the roof to see if replacements (e.g. missing shingles) or repairs are needed.
  • Check the roofline for water damage.
  • Check for possible entry points (holes) from rodents around the roofline/gutters and the roof vents. Install gutter guards and metal mesh exclusions on the vents if not already installed.
  • Check for possible entry points from rodents around the chimney. Install metal mesh exclusions if not already installed.
  • Check the condition of the flashings and replace/repair if necessary.

Checking the Exterior of the Property

  • Check the condition of the caulking on exterior openings (doors and windows) and re-apply if necessary.
  • Check the trim on exterior openings and repair if necessary.
  • Check for any holes that need to be filled on the exterior walls and apply filler if necessary.
  • Check the condition of all the pipes and wire conduits around the house. Repair/replace if necessary.

Checking the Attic Space

  • Check for water damage on the ceiling inside the attic.
  • Check for possible entry points (holes) and animal droppings from rodents in the attic. Perform exclusions on the holes if necessary.
  • Check for the condition of the insulation in the attic.

Checking the Foundation of the Property

  • If there's a basement and it is not finished, check the condition of the foundation walls in the basement. Fix the cracks if found as cracks will lead to water damage.
  • Walk around the house and inspect the exterior walls close to the ground around the house for any cracks in the walls. Fix the cracks if found.

All of the above can be inspected quickly by yourself on your visit to the property. The tools/equipment you need include:

  • Circuit Tester
  • Moisture Tester
  • Ladder
  • PPE (Safety Hat, Safety Glasses, Masks, Gloves)

Even if you are paying a home inspector to inspect a property for you, we still recommend you spend some time and check the property yourself before you commit to a purchase. After all, no one will care more about your potential property more than yourself.

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