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Free Buyers Home Inspection Checklist

Use our handy printable home inspection checklist to make sure that you know what to look for in a home inspection report, and carefully examine ALL the important parts of a home before you purchase it. Check off those items that are in good or working condition and make notes and take pictures of any that are not. The major issues that we recommend homeowners look for at the ones that could cause the most potential damage if not remedied now.

What Is A Home Inspection

The most important thing to remember about a home inspection is that it is not a “pass/fail” test. It is simply an in depth inspection of your home to identify any issues that currently exist that you should be aware of. Home inspectors adhere to strict guidelines based on current building codes, so it is also important to remember that older homes (even those just a few years old) may have been built to different standards, and that items identified in your inspection may not be actual defects but just a previously standard method of construction that is not used anymore. 


This is why we advise people not to sweat the small stuff, and to focus on items of true concern when reading a home inspection report. A few cracked tiles or some doors that need adjusting are normally not items of major concern. Instead look for defects that could be more serious or more expensive to address. For instance, dangerous electrical issues, active water leaks, serious foundation movement, faulty HVAC equipment etc.

What To Look For During A Home Inspection

When doing a home inspection, think about major systems like an HVAC system that might go out, a roof that is near the end of its useful life and pay attention to ANY indications of water penetration. If left unaddressed these 3 items, while not the ten most common inspection repairs that are needed, have the potential to result in the biggest expense for a new homeowner. (Please note, this home inspection checklist describes a house in perfect condition, but in our experience no house is perfect. Not even one that was built yesterday!

When our team is analyzing repairs for our home inspection cost calculator, we focus mainly on the “BIG FIVE” systems. Namely:






These are the areas where we most commonly see big ticket items that can total thousands of dollars in needed repairs. 

Yes, there are other areas of the home that can be expensive to repair (think drain lines/sewers), but generally these 5 above are where you can find larger issues over 90% of the time. So we would say focus your attention on these areas first. 


Interior Rooms

    • Floors, walls and ceilings appear straight and plumb and level
    • No stains on floors, walls or ceilings
    • Flooring materials in good condition
    • No significant cracks in walls or ceilings
    • Windows and exterior doors operate easily and latch properly, no broken glass, no sashes painted shut, no decay; windows and doors have weather-stripping, “weep holes” installed
    • Interior doors operate easily and latch properly, no damage or decay, no broken hardware
    • Paint, wall covering, and paneling in good condition
    • Wood trim installed well and in good condition
    • Lights and switches operate properly
    • Adequate number of three pronged electrical outlets in each room
    • Electrical outlets test properly (spot check)
    • Heating/cooling source in each habitable room
    • Evidence of adequate insulation in walls
    • Fireplace: no cracking or damaged masonry, no evidence of back-drafting (staining on fireplace façade), damper operates properly, flue has been cleaned, flue is lined



    • No stains on underside of roofing, especially around roof penetrations
    • No evidence of decay or damage to structure
    • Sufficient insulation and properly installed insulation (moisture barrier installed closest to the heated area of the house)
    • Adequate ventilation, clear path into attic for air entering through soffit vents, adequately sized gable end louvers, all mechanical ventilation operational
    • No plumbing, exhaust or appliance vents terminating in attic
    • No open electrical splices



    • Working exhaust fan that is vented to the exterior of the building
    • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (“GFCI”) protection for electrical outlets within 6 feet of the sink(s)
    • Dishwasher: drains properly, no leaks, baskets, door spring operates properly
    • No leaks in pipes under sinks
    • Floor in cabinet under sink solid, no stains or decay
    • Water flow in sink adequate
    • No excessive rust or deterioration on garbage disposal or waste pipes
    • Built- in appliances operate properly
    • Cabinets in good condition: doors and drawers operate properly


    • Working exhaust fan that doesn’t terminate in the attic space
    • Adequate flow and pressure at all fixtures
    • Sink, tub and shower drain properly
    • Plumbing and cabinet floor under sink in good condition
    • If sink is metal, it shows no signs of rust, overflow drain doesn’t leak
    • Toilet operates properly
    • Toilet stable, no rocking, no stains around base
    • Caulking in good condition inside and outside of the tub and shower area
    • Tub or shower tiles secure, wall surface solid
    • No stains or evidence of past leaking around base of bath or shower


Basement or Mechanical Room

    • No evidence of moisture
    • Exposed foundation; no stains no major cracks, no flaking, no efflorescence
    • Visible structural wood: no sagging, no damage, no decay, no stains, no damage from insects, sills attached to foundation with anchor bolts
    • Insulation at rim/band joists



    • Visible pipes: no damage, no evidence of leaks, no signs of stains on materials near pipes; drain pipes slope slightly down towards outlet to septic/sewage system
    • Water heater: no signs of rust, vented properly, sized to produce adequate quantities of hot water for the number of bedrooms in the house.
    • Water pump: does not short cycle
    • Galvanized pipes do not restrict water flow
    • Well water test is acceptable
    • Hot water temperature between 118 – 125 degrees Fahrenheit



    • Visible wiring: in good condition, no “knob-and-tube” wiring, no exposed splices, cables secured and protected
    • Service panel: adequate capacity, all cables attached to panel with cable connectors; fuses or breakers are not overheating
    • No aluminum cable for branch circuits
    • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors where required by local ordinances
    • Automatic garage door opener operates properly, stops properly for obstacles


Crawl Space

    • Adequately vented to exterior
    • Insulation on exposed water supply, waste and vent pipes
    • Insulation between crawl space and heated areas, installed with vapor barrier towards heated area
    • No evidence of insect damage
    • No evidence of moisture damage


Heating/Cooling System

  • Appears to operate well throughout (good air flow on forced hot air systems)
  • Flues: no open seams, slopes up to chimney connection
  • No rust around cooling unit
  • No combustion gas odor
  • Air filter(s) clean
  • Ductwork in good condition
  • No asbestos on heating pipes, water pipes or air ducts
  • Separate flues for gas/oil/propane and wood/coal



    • Proper grading drainage away from house
    • No evidence of standing water
    • No leaks from septic tank or leech field
    • Yard, landscaping, trees and walkways in good condition
    • No branches or bushes touching house or overhanging the roof
    • Exterior structures (fences, sheds, decks, retaining walls, detached garages) in good condition, no evidence of termite damage or rotted wood
    • Railings on stairs and decks are adequate and secure
    • Driveways, sidewalks, patios, entrance landings in good condition, and pitched away from structure
    • Downspout drainage directed away from structure



    • Ridge and fascia board lines appear straight and level
    • Sides of house appear straight, not bowed or sagging
    • Window and doorframes appear square (especially bowed windows)
    • Visible foundation in good condition – appears straight, plumb, with no significant cracks


Windows, Doors and Wood Trim

    • Wood frames and trim pieces are secure, no cracks, rot or decay
    • Joints around frames are caulked
    • No broken glass (window or storm panes) or damaged screens, no broken double- paned, insulated window seals.
    • Muntin and mullion glazing compound in good condition
    • Storm windows or thermal glass used
    • Drip caps ins talled over windows


Exterior Surfaces

    • Adequate clearance between ground and wood siding materials (6″ minimum); no wood-to-earth contact
    • Siding: no cracking, curling, loose, rot or decay
    • Masonry veneers: no cracks in joints, no broken, spalling or flaking components
    • Stucco: no large cracks (discuss all stucco cracks with a professional inspector)
    • Vinyl or aluminum siding: no dents, damage, no bowing or loose siding
    • No vines on surface of structure
    • Exterior paint or stain: no flaking or blisters
    • No stains on exterior surfaces


  • Composition shingles: no curling, no cupping, no loss of granulation particulate, no broken, damaged or missing shingles, no more than two layers of roofing
  • Wood shingles or shakes: no mold, rot or decay, no cracked/broken/missing shingles, no curling
  • Flat roofs: no obvious patches, no cracks or splits, minimal blisters/”alligatoring” and wrinkles, no silt deposits (indicates improper drainage), sealed tar at flashings
  • Flashing around roof penetrations
  • No evidence of excess roofing cement/tar/caulk
  • Soffits and fascia: no decay, no stains
  • Exterior venting for eave areas: vents are clean and not painted over
  • Gutters: no decay or rust, joints sealed, attached securely to structure, no bending or sagging, no sections of gutter or downspout missing, gutters clean, no mud deposits
  • Chimneys: straight, properly flashed, no evidence of damaged bricks or cracked joints, mortar/cement cap in good condition

Want to see how your inspection report stacks up against the average home? We recommend you read our article on the most common repairs needed after a home inspection – we did a deep dive on over 15,000 reports to highlight the most important repair items you should be looking out for!

Home Inspection Checklist For Sellers

Although it’s not always possible to get a full pre-listing inspection, it isn’t too hard to use our home inspection checklist above to give your house a quick look over for major warning signs BEFORE you put it on the market. 

Remember, something that seems minor to you could present a big problem to a potential buyer, so it’s best to fix and remedy any issues now before they become a problem. 

Luckily most defects in a home can be easily repaired or replaced, but there are some warning signs we would suggest doing more investigation on before you list. These are:

Evidence of mold/bacterial growth

Foundation issues

Active leaks/water penetration

If you wait for a BUYER to find items like these, often they can kill the deal before it’s even started. These types of defects usually require extensive testing and investigation and it’s simply not possible to adequately determine and repair these issues during a contingency or inspection period. 

So often the buyer gets nervous, and simply cancels the contract rather than extending it indefinitely. 

Much better to address the issues upfront before you list, and simply make them a non-issue. 

This way you have a better chance of making sure that any accepted contract actually proceeds smoothly to closing without becoming a “dead duck” because of something that could have been fixed weeks ago. 


This home inspection checklist should never be used as a home inspection report, nor should it be considered a replacement for an actual home inspection by a qualified home inspector. This list is thorough, but NOT complete. If you require a home inspection rather than just a home inspection checklist, please contact a qualified and experienced ASHI or InterNACHI licensed home inspector in your area

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