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The home inspection is probably one of the most important parts of buying a home. But just because you're hiring a pro doesn't mean you can't inspect the house yourself. That's why we've put together this home inspection checklist. You can look for these issues at open houses or showings before moving forward with the purchase.

Remember, it is absolutely essential that you hire professional to do an inspection of the home before officially closing on it. This way, you can save yourself from unnecessary grief or financial distress.

Why are home inspections so important?

Home inspections can reveal major red flags in a property! When making an offer on a home, your offer is usually contingent on the home passing the inspection. After all, you wouldn't want to buy a home with a cracked foundation, flooding issues, or an asbestos infestation.

We encourage you to be an active participant in your potential home’s inspection. Be sure to attend the actual inspections, ask questions of the inspector and homeowner, and stay vigilant.

You are about to make a major financial investment. It is important that you complete your due diligence beforehand to avoid any setbacks.

Home Inspection Checklist

(Remember: this isn’t a substitute for a real home inspection! It’s just to give you an idea of what to look for.)

Structure and Foundation

  • Is the foundation solid?
  • Are the load-bearing walls strong?
  • Are the visual lines of the home straight and not sagging?
  • Are the windows and doorframes structurally sound?

Ceilings and Walls

  • Are the ceilings taut?
  • Is there adequate clearance between ground and wood siding materials?
  • Is the siding in good condition?
  • Are the walls well-painted?

Yard and Grounds

  • Is there proper drainage away from the house?
  • Is there any evidence of standing water?
  • Are the yard, landscaping, trees, and walkways in good condition?
  • Are all exterior structures in good condition?
  • Are the driveways, sidewalks, and patios in good condition?

Plumbing and Guttering

  • Is there damage, evidence of leaks, or signs of stains on materials near pipes?
  • Do the drainage pipes slope properly towards the sewage system?
  • Is the water heater in good condition?
  • Is the well water test acceptable?
  • Is the hot water temperature between 118–125º F?

Electrical Areas

  • Are all visible wires in good shape?
  • Is the control panel in working order?

Heating and Cooling

  • Does the HVAC system appear to operate well throughout the home?
  • Is there any damage to the HVAC system?
  • Are the ducts in good condition?
  • Are there separate flues for gas/oil/propane and wood/coal?
  • Is the system clean?
  • Is there any asbestos (even trace amounts)?

What isn't covered by an inspection?

There are few major housing issues that typical home inspections do not cover.

Swimming Pools

To inspect a home’s swimming pool, you would need to hire a local pool service.

Explicit Termite Damage

A good inspector will inform you if he sees obvious signs of termite damage, like half-eaten wood or eggs around the house, but he won’t set out specifically to look for them. For a full termite inspection, you need to hire a pest control company. Talk to your Realtor about what they suggest, because the need for this varies by state and even locally within each state.


Home inspectors will not look for mold. Of course, they will point out soggy areas and the potential for mildew and water damage. However, proper mold testing is a specialized inspection for which you need special training and equipment. So, you would need to hire a third party for this.

How to Find a Reliable Home Inspector

Finding a reliable inspector you can trust is very important. This is because you want to ensure that the home inspection is as objective and truthful as possible. A good place to start is by asking friends and family for recommendations.

You can make sure that their suggestions are certified home inspectors that are registered with the American Society of Home Inspectors by cross-referencing its website.

Once you have selected your home inspector, things can start moving rather quickly. The goal is to complete the home inspections and identify any red flags as soon as possible. This is because the sooner the process is over, the sooner you can close on and move into your new house.

The actual home inspection should only take about 90 minutes to two hours each, but depending on the size of the house, it can take longer. Once finished, it can take about one to two business days to get the inspection report back. So, if you have your home inspected on a Friday, you can expect to wait longer for your results.

What happens after a home inspection?

Once a home inspection is finished, if both parties are satisfied with its results, it’s time to proceed toward closing day. However, if the inspection revealed any issues—major or minor—then it's time for the buyer to make a choice.

If the buyer made a contingent offer on the property (and the contingency was the results of the inspection) if the seller refuses to negotiate the needed repairs or upgrades, then the buyer can typically walk away without losing their earnest money.

However, the buyer also has the option of staying in the deal and purchasing the home as is. In a dream scenario, if the inspection reveals any problems, the seller must work with the buyer to either fix the issues before closing day or lower the sales price under the assumption that the buyer will need to solve the issues on their own.

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Need a Realtor to help you navigate the inspections process? We’re here to help! The team of professional Partner Agents at Clever deal with inspections every day and are here to make life easier for you. Call us today at  1-833-2-CLEVER or fill out our online form to get started.


Andrew Schmeerbauch

Andrew Schmeerbauch is the Director of Marketing at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you top agents to save on commission. His focus is educating home buyers and sellers on navigating the complex world of real estate with confidence and ease. Andrew has worked on projects for the United Nations and USC and has a particular passion for investing and finance. Andrew's writing has been featured in Mashvisor, L&T, Ideal REI, and Rentometer.

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