DIY Home Inspection Checklist: How to Assess Your Home

From roof to foundation, learn what’s most important to inspect in your home before listing it.

Ready to Sell? Inspect Your Home Before You List

Whether you need more space as your family grows, you accepted a new job in a different city or you’re looking to downsize, selling your home can be an exciting — and overwhelming — time.

While there will be a lot going on as you prep your home to hit the market, don’t forget a simple do-it-yourself home inspection. Spending a little time and money before you list your home often pays off in the end. Not only will you be able to increase your asking price, but you’ll also avoid any snags if the buyer opts for a professional home inspection, which can lead to last-minute repairs before the sale closes.

Find our downloadable DIY home inspection checklists and take a comprehensive look at your home with expert advice from Deborah Harari at Long & Foster Real Estate, Alan Singer with Sterling Home Inspections and Beth Sterner Real Estate to help guide you.

DIY House Inspection Checklists for Sellers

Ideally, when you go through our seller home inspection checklists, you find your home in pretty good condition. Maybe just a bit of touch-up painting or drywall patching is needed. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes there are bigger things, like a leaking pipe or a broken downspout, that need attention. There are also some problems that you might not even know about, which are issues that a DIY home inspection will often bring to light.

“Many times, sellers are not aware of issues in the attic, basement, roof, chimney, HVAC and hot water heater,” says Harari. “They only notice the everyday things that are visible to the eye.”

We gathered the most common repairs to check for, both indoors and outdoors, as you prepare to sell your home. While our checklist will give you plenty of items to consider, it is not a replacement for a professional inspection. Rather, it is intended to give you an idea of what professionals look for so know what to expect.

6 Areas to Inspect Inside Your Home Before Selling

As you work your way through the checklist, it pays off to think like an inspector. If you notice it was hard to access an area for your DIY inspection, it’s probably going to be difficult for a professional, too. According to Singer, there are a few small steps sellers can take to simplify an inspection ahead of time — whether it’s DIY or professional.

“Clear space to things we’ll need to inspect,” Singer says. “If I can’t get to the furnace or water heater or attic hatch, I can’t inspect them. And then the buyer will be unhappy.”

1. Plumbing

While plumbing is most often associated with the bathroom, this part of the DIY checklist can apply to the entire home. The kitchen, basement and laundry room all have pipes that will require inspecting. Wherever the plumbing is in your house, check for common issues.

□ Clogged drains.
□ Code violations.
□ Improper water flow.
□ Rusty or leaking pipes.
□ Unsteady or unlevel toilets.
□ Evidence of past leaks or mold.
□ Sediment buildup in a hot water tank.

2. Electrical

You don’t necessarily have to be an electrician to know when a light switch isn’t working correctly, but you should probably hire one to fix the problem. While there are plenty of items in this section that you should ask a professional for help with, there are some items you can diagnose yourself.

□ Painted outlets.
□ Hidden breaker boxes.
□ Uncapped, exposed live wires.
□ Unlabeled breaker box switches.
□ Ungrounded three-prong outlets.
□ Non-working outlets or light switches.
□ Adherence to GFCI protection outlet regulations — within six feet of a sink.

3. Doors

Keeping your doors in operational order is simple enough. However, there are some things that you may not notice about your door that could be flagged during an inspection, such as minor sticks or a loose knob. Be sure to check these common problems:

□ Bowing frames.
□ Signs of wood decay.
□ Non-working locks and latches.
□ Sticking when opening or closing.
□ Cracked or missing glass, if applicable.
□ Improper weather-stripping on exterior doors.

4. HVAC & Major Appliances

While the major appliances themselves aren’t typically inspected, the connections should be examined for functionality and safety. Keep in mind that, although not technically an appliance, the HVAC unit will be inspected and any issues will need to be fixed before a sale happens.

Top 5 Outdoor Areas to Check During Your Home Inspection

As you perform your home inspection, you’ll need to step outside to view the building structure as well as the property it sits on. While you should be able to notice if there are any issues using this checklist, there are some items, such as chimney roof flashing or exposed window lintels, that may require help to spot and a lot will require professional help if an issue needs to be corrected.

As you’re checking the outside of your home, use our DIY Home Inspection Checklist PDF to keep track of your progress.

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