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Home Inspection Tips for Buyers

When it comes to buying a rental property or a home, what you see isn’t exactly what you get.

You’ll see superficial colors like gleaming hardwood floors, granite countertops, freshly painted walls and colorful flowers. What you can’t see are defects like broken appliances, dangerous wiring, ancient plumbing, and foundation cracks.

By hiring a home inspector, you can rest assured that all the flaws in your potential home will be revealed. A home inspector looks for the safety, operation, and condition of each component they inspect.

Typical Home Inspector Checklist

A professional home inspector will look at over 400 items during any given inspection. The home inspection is a visual, non-invasive report of the condition of the property on the day of the inspection.

A professional home inspector will typically look at:

  • The grounds

  • The roof

  • The exterior of the home

  • The garage

  • The internal rooms (living room, family room, bedrooms)

  • The kitchen (including plumbing and operation of installed appliances)

  • The laundry room

  • The bathrooms

  • The interior (fireplace, stairs and attic area)

  • The basement (including the structural components)

  • The crawl space

  • The plumbing system in the house

  • The heating system

  • The electrical systems and cooling system

Home Inspection Tips for Buyers

Here are some red flags to be on the lookout for before you make confident decisions regarding your first home.

1.Water Damage

Crawl Space Water Damage

Water damage can come from several sources: seepage, leaky roofs, burst pipes, floods, and so on. Damage resulting from any of these sources can be detrimental to the value of a home.

If you overlook such issues in the home buying process, you may be left with an expensive outlay on repairs.

The following are telltale signs of water damage in your potential home:

  • Loose caulk around pipes

  • Rusty metal around the house

  • Big cracks on the ceiling and wall

  • The walls feel damp

  • Mold growth in the property

  • A nasty, humid smell

  • Rotting wooden items

  • Swollen drywall

  • Yellowish water rings that form in floors, ceilings, and walls

2.Electrical or Plumbing Problems

Federal Pacific Electric Panel and Double Tapping

Electrical and plumbing problems are more common in older homes. You may notice scorch marks near outlets or visible wiring. You may also notice exposed wires, especially in crawlspaces, garages, and attics.

When it comes to plumbing, you may notice that the drainage is slow or that the toilets are leaking. A professional inspector will also notice any hazards as far as problem piping, sewer issues or water heater problems.

If you notice any defects in electrical and plumbing systems, call the experts for a more detailed analysis.

3.Old Roof
Roof Damage

Replacing a roof is one of the most expensive repairs you can make. Thus, you want to make sure that the roof on your potential home is structurally sound. A home inspector should be handy in this regard.

4.Foundation Issues

Finding the perfect home oftentimes takes a lot of time. When you see “the one,” learning it has a foundation issue can be a real deal-breaker. The following are common signs of foundation issues in a home.

  • Counters and cabinets separating from the wall

  • A damp crawl space in a pier and beam house

  • Sagging or uneven floors

  • Gaps around window frames or exterior doors

  • Doors that stick or don’t open and close properly

  • Foundation upheaval or settling

  • Foundation cracks

If you notice any of these signs, call a foundation repair specialist immediately. Then, when you get the report, decide whether you want to continue with the purchase or not.



Mold can grow anywhere there’s a food source and moisture. Not all mold types are cause for concern. If you find it growing in the bathroom, installing an exhaust fan may be all that you need to get rid of it.

However, if it’s growing as a result of a plumbing damage, irrigation or roof leak, you may want to research the repair costs before proceeding.

6.Lead Paint

Lead Paint

When buying a home built before 1978, make sure that you get a “Lead-Based Paint Disclosure” from the seller. Lead is a toxic metal that can cause serious health problems if it’s ingested or if dust containing lead is inhaled.

Popcorn Ceiling - Asbestos

In addition to lead paint, older homes built before 1989 may contain this hazardous material.

Asbestos is a proven human carcinogen, and all forms of asbestos can cause cancer. If asbestos is present, it must be removed and properly disposed of by a professional.


From burrowing rats and mice to cockroaches, to wood-eating insects, pests can damage a home’s structure in a variety of ways. Not all pest problems are as serious, though. When in doubt, contact a pest expert prior to closing on the house.

Although it’s typical for a home inspector to find minor issues, the aforementioned problems should warn you to proceed with caution or walk away from the house completely.

For more detail on what a professional home inspection entails, here is a link to the ASHI home inspection standards of practice: ASHI Standards of Practice. Also, here is an example of a well written professional home inspection report: Professional Home Inspection Report.

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