HOME > CHECKLIST & GUIDES >
PROPERTY INSPECTION CHECKLIST FOR HOME BUYERS
photo of person

Property Inspection Checklist For Home Buyers

Last updated
facebook logotwitter logolinkedin logoemail iconprint icon

How to perform inspections & choose a Building Inspector when buying a house

After weeks or even months of house-hunting you've narrowed your decision down to a number of suitable options. By now you will have some idea of what you are looking for but want to be certain that you are making the right decision. Questions that you may be asking yourself are:

  1. How do I initially inspect a property effectively?

  2. Do I need to seek a professional’s opinion?

  3. How do I find a reputable Building Inspector?

Whether you're on the fence about which home to buy, or if you have already made up your mind, it is important to perform certain inspections before buying a house. Often when walking through a home for the first time it’s easy to be dazzled by the white walls, clean spaces and neatly placed furniture as well as its location and size.

This is why it is important to engage with a professional Building Inspector to perform a professional property inspection before you put your hand up at auction and have the winning bid.

Pro Tip: It is always a good idea to visit a potential home several times at different times of the day before you sign on the dotted line. This will give you a good feel for the home as well as the neighbourhood at all hours and you may become aware of different things at different times of the day.

Visual property inspections

Before you put in an offer on a property, perform your own visual inspection of the property. During this inspection you may become aware of items you would like the seller to repair before you purchase the property. It will also give you a good idea what the Building Inspector should be looking for and cover off  in the inspection report.

Potential issues that you should look for inside the home include:

Structure

  • Sagging ceilings

  • Gaps around window and door frames

  • Cracks and slants in floors 

  • Fine cracks in the internal wall plastering

  • Large cracks in the walls

  • Deflections and straightness of external roof tiles

  • Rust on the inside edges of roof gutters

  • Dangling wires

  • Loose wires

  • Any signs of asbestos

  • Puddles on lawns

Also ensure that there are stormwater soakwells into which downpipes discharge .

Bathrooms/Kitchen

  • Corrosion or water stains in sinks, baths and showers

  • Mould or mildew in the kitchen or bathrooms

Electrical

  • Do the electrical switches work?

  • Are the outlets grounded?

  • What is the condition of the panel?

Plumbing

  • Are there puddles on the lawn or paving?

  • Do you hear noises when you use the plumbing?

Appliances

If appliances are included, check the condition of the:

  • Fridge

  • Dishwasher

  • Stove

Sounds and Odours

As you move around inside and outside the property, take note of any unusual sounds or odours.

  • Is it temporary or permanent?

  • Can it be rectified?

Musty odours could indicate rising damp, which could lead to costly issues.

Professional inspections when buying a house

A buyer’s agent should request formal inspections when buying a house on your behalf. You can also hire a builder to do a building inspection for you. . The formal building inspection is probably the last opportunity you will have to learn exactly what you could be up for where the condition of the home is concerned.

Why you should book a professional inspection when buying a property

There is much more to a property inspection than meets the eye. When buying a property, especially your first, it is easy to be so excited that you overlook important issues. A property inspection can help you:

  • Avoid costly issues down the road: A building inspection may highlight potential structural problems that may end up costing you a lot of money if they go unnoticed.

  • Open up negotiations with the seller: A property inspection performed before you buy can provide you with additional   information and insight that may help you in  negotiating  the purchase price of the home. The real estate agent may include a term in the contract that allows you to break the deal if the results from the property inspection comes back with major problems.

  • Inspection reports can give you greater bargaining power: Information regarding the condition of the property can help you navigate the negotiation of the seller's repairs. If the seller does not want to complete repairs highlighted in the property inspection report, you can request estimates for the repairs and negotiate with the seller to have those costs deducted from the total selling price.

Property inspections are a crucial step in the home buying process as they can help to identify areas of concern that can be used to compile a list of what needs to be repaired or potentially replaced. . You can then use this information to potentially   negotiate with the seller on having these things rectified  or you may  decide not to proceed with the purchase of the property, potentially saving you from issues down the track.

Moving out from a rental? Checkout our rental inspection checklist to help get your bond back!

How to find a Building Inspector

It is important to hire a professional, licensed inspector to conduct inspections when buying a property. Your agent may recommend one or more Building Inspectors and you can also search for one online. Reviews and forums can be potential indicators of quality and client testimonials about their own experience with a Building Inspector or agency.

Here are some of the things you should look for when hiring a Building Inspector. You should be able to find the information on their websites.

  • Client testimonials: All one-star reviews are telling, as are all five-stars. Don't let a few 3-star reviews throw you off - even the best service providers deal with disgruntled clients from time to time. Also look at the amount of real estate agent reviews versus reviews from home buyers.

  • Number of years in business.

  • Qualifications: Check whether they have home inspection experience and not only industry experience.

Feel free to enquire about anything that is not listed on the website, and ask for a sample property inspection report. A quality report should contain a breakdown of every aspect of the property and a rating as to whether something is:

  • A concern

  • A major concern

  • Unacceptable

  • And possibly recommendations as to whether an item has to be repaired or replaced

Pro Tip: Look at the different items the inspector typically looks at. The more comprehensive the sample report, the more thorough an evaluation you can expect. A good report will provide clear details about a problem, an explanation of the significance of not repairing, and recommendations regarding the best course of action to take. Property Inspection reports should not contain suggestions for further evaluation and inspections by another licensed contractor.

Attending the open for inspection

On the day of the inspection, the real estate agent may also attend to ensure the inspection is sufficiently completed. In some cases, the seller's agent will also be on hand to answer questions from the inspector. The inspection may take a few hours, and you do not want to rush it.

The inspector will probably bring along protective gear to enter crawl spaces, so you may not want to go in there, but you can follow them everywhere else. He or she should take lots of photographs which will be included in the report.

House evaluation checklist

The professional property inspection checklist should typically include the following areas:

Structural Inspection

  • Wall structure

  • Floor structure

  • Roof structure

  • Ceiling structure

  • Foundation

  • Crawl space

Exterior Inspection

  • Grounds

    • Trees

    • Plants and shrubs

    • Driveway

    • Retaining walls

    • Surface drainage

    • Eaves

    • Fascias

    • Soffits

  • Exterior features

    • Deck

    • Siding

    • Trim

    • Flashing

    • Balconies

    • Steps

    • Guardrails

    • Porches

    • Vents

  • Roofing

    • Material

    • Access and limitations

    • Roofing materials

    • Chimney

  • Interior structure

    • Wall structure

    • Floor structure

    • Roof and ceiling structure

    • Crawl space

    • Foundation

  • Garage

    • Garage door and any door motors

    • Garage entry to house

    • Fire separation wall

  • Plumbing

    • Vent materials and drain waste

    • Supply pipe and water distribution

    • Water main location

    • Gas main location

      • Kitchen fixtures

        • Taps

        • Drainage

        • Mould

        • Rangehood or exhaust fan

      • Bathroom fixtures

        • Drains

        • Sink faucet valves

        • Bath

        • Shower

        • Toilet

        • Exhaust fans

      • Laundry

        • Washing machine

        • Hoses

        • Dryer duct

      • Hot water service

        • Connectors and water shut-off valve

      • Fuel lines

        • Gas pipes

    • Electrical

      • Main panel

        • Circuit breakers

        • Service panels

      • Subpanels

      • Overcurrent protection devices

      • Ground fault circuit interrupters

      • Random lighting fixtures and wiring

      • Outlets

      • Switches

      • Smoke detectors

      • Carbon monoxide alarms

      • Exterior lights

      • Exterior outlets

      • Garage wiring

    • Interior

      • Windows - sashes, insulation, trim, screens

      • Fireplace/s - bricks, mortar, chimneys

      • Kitchen appliances - extractor fan

    • Heating

      • Central heating

        • Central heating operation

        • Return-air compartment and filter

        • Grill and registers

        • Over heating systems

      • Water heating

        • Water heater type

        • Water heater age

      • Air Conditioning

        • Cooling method

        • Cooling age

        • Compressor

        • Condensing fan

        • Coil

    • Attic

      • Access

      • Exhaust fans and ducts

      • Insulation

      • Vapour barrier

    • Basement

      • Insulation

      • Vapour barriers

Key takeaways regarding a house inspection

It is important to note what property inspections do and don't involve. A Building Inspector should use some basic tools to check and test various parts of the home. As a professional, their years of experience and qualifications enable them to reasonably observe and make educated recommendations regarding the condition of the property. They cannot see inside pipes and behind walls, but they may note issues that signal concerns and may therefore include a plumbing inspection or pest inspection.

Ultimately, the property inspection report gives you peace of mind in knowing exactly what you are getting into. A property is a major investment - one that you may only make once in your lifetime. By following the recommendations on this inspection list for buying a property before you sign on the dotted line, you may be able to avoid costly and unforeseen problems or negotiate a better price with the seller.

Get a call back for an easy, no-obligation service that can connect you with leading industry providers.


Some of our favourites on Cleaning