Homebuyer’s Checklist: What does an Inspector Look for During the Home Inspection?
Home inspections give first-time homebuyers confidence and peace of mind.
Buying your first home is an exciting and busy time, but the anticipation of finally getting the keys to your first place shouldn’t distract you from the importance of protecting your investment. The home inspection provides something that most homebuyers desperately want: peace of mind.
The inspection itself should take no more than three or four hours, after which you will have a full report that outlines any potential problems discovered by the home inspector, usually with pictures included. This report enables you to identify the costliest home improvement problems, at which point you can renegotiate or walk away.
So, what exactly does a home inspection entail? Below, we cover the areas included in a home inspection, as well as those items not typically included.
The Home Inspection: What's Included?
- Roof (signs of unusual wear such as damaged shingles)
- Flashing, trim, gutters/downspouts, chimneys and skylights (if applicable)
- Exterior walls
- Decks, balconies, stoops, porches, steps and railings
- Rafters, fascias and eaves that are visible from the ground
- Garage, carport and/or driveway
- Patios and walkways that lead up to the home
- Some aspects of landscaping (such as proper drainage, grading and retaining walls)
- Inspectors are not required to walk on the roof if it could damage the roof or put the inspector in danger
- Underground systems or tanks
- Walls, floors and ceilings*
- Stairways, railings and steps
- Doors and windows in the house and garage
- Garage door opener
- Countertops and cabinets
- Major kitchen appliances
- *Visible cracks or damage to the walls, floors and ceiling are noted, along with whether the damage is cosmetic or appears to be a serious structural issue.
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (unless required by state ordinance)
- Walls are not inspected for the presence of termites
- Common walls if the property is a condominium
- Light switches or fixtures
- Water heater
- Draining and waste systems
- Plumbing vents
- Sump pumps, sewage ejectors
The American Society of Home Inspectors established inspection standards to test the functionality of certain installed appliances that are included with the property for sale. If your state does not require appliance inspection, your inspector is not required to test appliances; if it does, your inspector will check the following appliances:
- Kitchen range
- Built-in microwave
- Food waste disposal
- Washer and dryer
Heating, Ventilation and Cooling (HVAC)
- The proper function of installed heating and cooling equipment
- Vents, exhaust and distribution systems
- Flues and chimneys
- Air conditioning units installed in windows
The inspector will look at any electrical component that may present a fire hazard, including:
- Visible wiring is in good condition and secured
- Service panel has adequate capacity
- All cables are attached with cable connectors
- Branch circuits aren’t attached to aluminum cables
- Foundation of the home
- Solid floor, wall and ceiling structures
Asbestos, radon and other environmental hazards are not required as part of a standard home inspection. However, some inspectors offer environmental hazards testing as an add-on service.
What Issues Are Definite Red Flags?
The American Society of Home Inspectors warns that homebuyers should be concerned if any of the following problems are flagged in the home inspection report:
- The roof needs replacing
- Major foundation issues
- Aluminum wiring (this type of wiring almost always needs to be replaced, a process that can cost thousands of dollars)
- The house is in a flood zone (to find out, visit the FEMA Flood Map Service Center and enter the address of the prospective property)
Ready for the next step?
These tips will come in handy when you’re ready for a home inspection. But, you’ll also need a knowledgeable mortgage loan officer to help you navigate the steps of the lending process. If you're ready to speak with a mortgage expert about buying your first home, contact us today. We'll walk you through every step of the process.
This checklist is provided as a free service to you and is for general informational purposes only. Cadence Bank makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the content in the checklist. The checklist is not intended to provide legal, accounting or tax advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes.