Home Buyers Guide

Basic Visual Self Inspection

What to inspect before you call the home inspector.

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By keeping a sharp eye out for the following, you may be able to spot some major problems and eliminate a potential property before paying for an inspector.
These are basic visual problems that may be found but there are thousands of potential hazards when purchasing a home, and most buyers have no idea where to begin to look for problems. That's why it's so important to have the proper inspections completed before you buy the house. A detailed home inspection from a professional inspector is always highly recommended.

A basic visual inspection consists of watching out for the following:

Basement Inspection:

  • Wet, Clammy, Sticky, Smelly Basements. A damp feel to a basement can hint at water seepage caused by improperly graded soil, or an improperly laid foundation.
  • Cracks in the Basement Walls. A visible crack line in the interior of the basement or on the exterior foundation could point to more than normal settling. Or the house may have been built on new landfill, a hill, or an improperly graded site. It could also point to an area prone to earth quakes or earth movement.

Exterior Inspection:

  • Sloppy Masonry Work. Has the home owner tried to patch up the masonry himself? It could be a sign of a larger problem. If your looking at new construction, sloppy masonry and detail work can mean that other work was also done in a sloppy way.
  • Roofing. Worn, torn, missing or discolored tiles is a good indication that the roof shingles will need to be replaced in the near future and leakage may have already occurred.

In-House Home Inspection

  • Poorly Fitted Duct Work. Heating and cooling systems can be problematic, especially if the original work was done in a sloppy way. Check the duct lines to see that they fit snugly and securely.
  • Discolored Spots on Walls and Ceilings. Discoloration could be the result of a water problem, either a leak from the roof, walls, or pipes. Also, beware of fresh paint, particularly in the top floor of the house. It may be covering up a problem.
  • Do-it-yourself Electrical Work. Proper electrical wiring is a must to avoid future problems that could be costly to fix as well as a serious safety concern.
  • Damp Attic. Poor attic ventilation can lead to moisture being trapped in the upper recesses, causing dry rot or condensation.

Basic Visual Home Viewing Tips

  1. Bring along a camera of video camera to take pictures for later use.
  2. Look past the furniture: Are the rooms big enough? Do they get natural light? Is it Quiet?
  3. Location, location, location. Check out the neighborhood: What school district is the home in? What transportation is it near? Is it next to a garbage dump? etc.
  4. How easy or tough would it be to sell this home?
  5. Don't fall in love at first sight. It may hinder your better judgement.
This article made possible in part by: ILyce R. Glink - Veteran Reporter specializing in the real estate market.


Useful Resources for Home Buyers
  • Home Inspection Checklist
  • an important step in protecting yourself from buying a home with hidden faults that will require costly repairs.
  • Choosing a Home Inspector
  • Many new home buyers have the impression that all home inspectors are the same, in fact, many Canadian provinces and American States have no regulations for home inspectors so the experience level of inspectors vary.
  • Toxic Substance Inspection
  • You've already asked for the right to have a professional home inspector inspect your house. And you've asked for the right to have your home inspected for pests. Have you thought about having an inspector test for toxic substances?
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Home Inspection Checklist
Home Inspection Checklist
A proper home inspection from a professional home inspector is always highly recommended but that doesn't excuse you from looking carefully over the home before you get to the inspection stage. By keeping a sharp eye out, you may be able to spot some major problems and eliminate a potential property before paying for an inspector...