“A DIY home inspection checklist can be a new baseline of where your house is at, and what you need to focus on doing,” explains Jeremy Rynders, a top-performing real estate agent serving the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. “The concept is: ‘Let’s find out what’s wrong with my house so we can fix it.’”
Even if you’ve been on top of repairs and upkeep, there are likely some areas you’ve neglected that could come up in the process of selling your home. “Homeowners think they know everything about their property, but they never went up in the attic. And there’s mold in the attic because nobody ever goes there,” adds Rynders.
Note that a DIY home inspection does not equate to or replace the need for a professional home inspection. But an informal checkup can be done at your leisure, and the repairs you choose to make after won’t need to be completed on such a tight timeline.
However, because you’re not used to investigating every nook and cranny of your house, you’ll need a template to guide you. We scoured the web and talked to real estate agents and home inspectors about the best free DIY home inspection forms and resources on the web. Check out the round-up below.
1. HomeLight’s ‘Fix it or Risk it’ DIY home inspection checklist
This home inspection checklist was created with the help of real estate agents across the country who have loads of experience helping their clients get ready for an inspection before listing their homes.
HomeLight also consulted home inspection associations and leading home inspector sites to put together this resource for homeowners. The list features the top things home inspectors look for in a property before you can close on a home and is organized by a home’s main systems.
2. Esurance’s interior and exterior home inspection guide
Direct-to-consumer insurance company Esurance knows a thing or two about how a home should operate—they provide homeowners and renters insurance.
Its DIY home inspection checklist offers brief, but comprehensive jumping off points for evaluating the main features in your home. A strong place to start, this runthrough can give you an idea of areas to improve on before a professional home inspector takes a look.
3. BiggerPockets’ 48-point home inspection checklist for investors
BiggerPockets is a comprehensive educator in the real estate investing space. This detailed checklist serves as a tool to identify any big issues with a house before bringing in a home inspector.
With 48 actionable items, this checklist is a great way to approach your home with fresh eyes. It covers the basics like checking light switches all the way through those items you might not be thinking about day-to-day, such as the sturdiness of your outdoor fencing.
4. Popular Mechanics’ DIY home inspection breakdown for catching minor issues early
Popular Mechanics has been around since 1902 and offers practical and insightful DIY tips for homeowners. The magazine’s home inspection checklist includes helpful items to bring on your DIY expedition, and serves as a starting point for your home sale process.
These experts recommend using this list up to a year before you put your home on the market. With pictures and comprehensive explanations for each space, this list could be tackled bit by bit as you prepare to sell your house.
5. Total Home Inspection’s checklist
If you’re looking for a no-frills but highly accurate home inspection checklist, look no further than Total Home Inspection’s resource. This seven-page checklist includes things to look for in each area of the home, but doesn’t include photos or explanations for each action point.
If you’re completely unfamiliar with the basic systems of a home, this checklist might work best as a supplement to another home inspection guide for beginners.
6. InterNACHI’s Comprehensive Standards of Practice
InterNACHI, or International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, is the source for home inspections. The organization offers training, testing, and certification for home inspectors. If you’re looking for a checklist that mirrors the exact process of a home inspector, you’re unlikely to get closer than this.
The standards of practice is the guiding principles for an InterNACHI certified home inspector. Be advised, this guide is meant for a trained professional, so there could be jargon or practices you’re unfamiliar with in it. Beginners might want to pair this with another guide from the list.
7. American Society of Home Inspectors’ Code of Ethics
If InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice wasn’t enough, you can check out ASHI’s, or American Society of Home Inspectors, 12-page Code of Ethics. In addition to a comprehensive walkthrough of a home, the code of ethics offers a background and history of the home inspection process.
The code also includes a handy glossary in the back, which might help address jargon you find in other home inspection checklists. Again, given that this material is used by a certified professional, it might be best to use this in conjunction with another guide or checklist on this list.
8. Love to Know’s home inspection PDF
Love to Know’s PDF checklist also comes with a walkthrough explanation for each system in your home.
With an interior and exterior checklist, these easy to use, but comprehensive PDFs address a lot of the smaller details in your home, including easy-to-miss flaws like cracked tiles or water stains and wood rot. The guide also includes suggestions to best plan and time for a DIY home inspection.
DIY home inspections: Useful for the ambitious homeowner, but not an end point
Going over your home with a fine-toothed comb before a professional takes a look might save you from being blindsided by obvious issues. The sooner you know what you need to fix, the faster you can resolve it.
But most homeowners aren’t also professional home inspectors, who are trained to develop a deep understanding of all the components and subsystems of a property and how they’re supposed to function. Many states regulate the home inspection industry with licensing and require additional field training and continuing education.
As an amateur, you can take steps to look at your house through an inspectors’ lens, but the bottom line is these forms and informal processes can’t take the place of an inspection performed by a certified home inspector.
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