The Buyers Preliminary House Inspection will focus on the most costly items which will make or break the deal such as HVAC, Roofing, Kitchen, Electric, Structural, Insect Infestation and Plumbing. Following your inspection, call a certified home inspector as soon as possible. If your home inspector finds a problem you may need to call in an electrician or HVAC mechanic as a follow up and you would need time to follow through.
Before going out, visit the courthouse and note the zoning and surrounding zoning, the lot shape and irregularities, deed, liens, permits for house additions, owners and age of the house.
Now, begin your house inspection visit by bringing an inspection bin with you in your vehicle filled with tools, a flashlight, old shoes, change of clothes, clipboard and forms to fill in to record your findings, pens, questions for the seller, tape measure, camera, magnifying glass and binoculars.
Begin by evaluating the curb appeal, front and back yard and the quality of the neighborhood. List the highlights and concerns. Are there any sheds in poor condition that need to be repaired or removed. Next check the age of the roof, the type material used, any missing shingles, truss condition, rain gutters or lack of, facade pulled away, large tree overhang and insect issues. Check the concrete slab or basement or crawl space. Look for cracks, structural issues, mold and water damage.
Now is time to inspect the interior. Give attention to the overall layout of the interior, size of rooms and bedrooms, number of rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms. Some issues are too many steps, no separate dining room, odd entrances, small kitchens. Check for cracks, flooring issues, window condition, condition of walls. Try every light switch and every faucet. Check the color of the water and the water pressure. Check how long it takes for the hot water to heat up at the faucets. Note the condition of the light fixtures. Check the electric box for condition and see if there are fuse boxes which are a problem, expense wise to upgrade. The most important areas to inspect are the kitchen and bathrooms. Check the age of the appliances particularly in the kitchen. Look around and under all sinks, hot water heater, all appliances with water, toilets, tub, showers, washing machines and see if there is water damage, structural damage or mold. Check the plumbing pipes. If the house is before 1986 make sure it does not have lead pipes.
Contact a handyman and contractors as needed to estimate the cost of repairing the major problems. Ask that the estimate include parts separate from labor. This will give you a better idea of the criteria if you are getting competing bids. Figure the approximate cost of repairing the home. Then contact the Certified Home Inspector for his inspection. Use that certified inspection report to locate additional issues and use to renegotiate the price if necessary.