Before you buy a home, you have a home inspection completed by a professional, just to make sure there are no hidden surprises that could turn your dream home into a money pit.
With each year, however, you should continue to inspect your home’s construction and systems. Paying close attention can help you curtail an issue before it becomes a costly problem. You don’t need to hire a pro for the annual checkup. Do it yourself instead. Here’s a DIY annual home inspection checklist to guide you through the process.
- Look for peeling paint that could signal moisture has penetrated the wood. Cracked or flaking paint is not adhering to the wood, which means you need to repaint, repair, or replace the surface.
- Check the foundation for cracks. Photograph any cracks that you discover, and mark the date, so you can track any progression of the cracks. If you notice more than hairline foundation cracks, contact a professional to inspect it.
- Inspect the roof. Take note of damaged or missing shingles that could cause leaks, and repair or replace them. Remove any branches that touch your roof, because insects and rodents that reside on the trees can make their way to your roof, and possibly inside your home.
- Examine the gutters and downspouts. Remove any debris that clogs up these drainage areas. Replace damaged elbows and repair all cracks.
- Check the chimney. While you’re on the roof, make sure nothing is blocking the opening of the chimney. Look for cracks in the bricks or mortar that could allow water leaks.
- Take a look at your windows from the outside. Be sure the weatherstripping is intact to avoid drafts and leaks.
- Inspect all stairs, decks, and porches. Look for rot or insect damage. Make sure the boards are intact (e.g., no missing screws or loose boards). Study the surface and the underside.
- Look for stains and cracks on walls and ceilings. Dark, blotchy stains could indicate the presence of mold. Brown rings are a sign that water is leaking behind that surface.
- Examine your attic’s structure. Be on the lookout for stains, cracks, or gaps in the beams. Poke the joist ends with a screwdriver to make sure the wood is solid. Check the insulation. If your attic isn’t fully insulated, you’re wasting energy.
- Walk through the basement and sniff for a mildew smell that indicates moisture build-up. Look for cracks in the floor and walls. Check the bottom of anything that touches the floor, looking for signs of moisture, like dampness, stains, or rust. While you’re in the basement, take a screwdriver and poke the subfloor above. If you find any areas that are soft, you need to repair the subfloor.
- Make sure your water pipes are corrosion-free. Rusty pipes show that water has leaked through. Also, check the insulation on the pipes.
- Stairs and railings should be sturdy. Check for wobbles or cracks, and be sure to look under the stairs, where problems can start.
- Inspect the sinks throughout the house (e.g., kitchen, bathroom, utility). The caulking should be intact, with no cracks or gaps. Check the washers on the faucets to make sure water isn’t dripping. Run the hot and cold water for each faucet and look under the sink while the water is running to identify signs of leaks.
- Examine the bathtub and shower surrounds. Repair any cracks in the grout and replace broken tiles that could allow water to leak into the walls and subfloor.
- Check your electrical panel. Scorch marks or rust are signs of a problem. Call your electrician immediately.
- Replace the batteries on alarms. Test your smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, and any other battery-operated sensors, and change the batteries once a year.
Keep your home safe, comfortable, and energy-efficient with an annual home inspection.