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The DIY Home Inspection Checklist

Inspect your home with the help of this handy checklist to prevent minor problems from growing out of control and becoming expensive headaches.

Save time and money on costly future home repairs, by performing a DIY home inspection. Once you know the trouble spots to look out for, you can easily examine your home throughout the year.

We’ve provided a helpful home inspection checklist that you can refer to as often as needed. It’s helpful to take notes of issues and repairs and make sure it’s dated. This log will serve as a great reference point as long as you live in your home.

The Inspection Checklist

What to Bring:

1. Print: This checklist

2. Wear: Gloves

3. Carry: Flashlight, flathead and Phillips-head screwdrivers

Where to Look:

1. The Attic

2. Living Spaces

3. The Basement

What to Look For:

1. Rotted Wood: Probe joist ends and sill plates with a screwdriver or an ice pick. Soft spots may indicate wet or dry rot, especially if the floor above sags. Look for bubbling or rippled paint and check behind siding for rotting wood. Rotted wood should be repaired immediately.

2. Holey Joists: Poorly placed drill holes or notches for wire, pipe or duct can sap a floor joist’s strength. What’s safe varies by manufacturer, but here are some rules of thumb: No holes or notches in the top or bottom flanges of an I-joist. Even big holes could be okay in the center, but not the ends, of the framing. Drilled holes must be at least 2 in. from top or bottom and no greater than one-third the depth of an I-joist. Notches in a conventional lumber joist should not exceed one-sixth of its depth or penetrate the center third of the joist span.

3. Termite Tubes: Pencil-thick tubes snaking along joists may mean trouble. Break the tubes. If termites spill out or the tube is repaired in a few days, call an exterminator.

4. Heater Noise: “If you hear your water heater gurgle, pop or snap, it’s time to drain out sediment,” Rick Yerger says. “Flushing 3 to 4 gal. prolongs the life of the heater.”

5. Shoddy Splices: Spliced wiring outside electric boxes is a sure sign that an unskilled electrician has been at work—and a good reason to check out the rest of the home’s wiring. “If I find sloppy work in such a visible place,” says home inspector Karl Champley, “then what does that say about wiring hidden in the walls?”

6. Foundation Cracks: Hairline cracks in a block or poured concrete foundation are nothing to panic about. But watch for cracks that are both horizontal and vertical, or ones that are growing. Keep track of how wide they are–if they get bigger, call in a pro.

Be Sure To:

Poke through enough dank crawlspaces and dusty attics, and you gain an encyclopedic store of cautionary tales about ill-conceived DIY plans, bad workmanship and deferred maintenance.

Author: Jim Gorman