Home inspection checklist: 15 things to check before buying a home

A personal house inspection is a walk-through inspection of a property with the real estate agent present that happens right at the start of your home-buying journey. It is often the qualifier for if a home suits your needs and whether or not you proceed to do further due diligence and make an offer.
Erin Howell
Written by
Erin Howell
Imogen Baxter
Reviewed by
Imogen Baxter
Last updated
March 15, 2023
0 minute read
Table of contents
Person inspecting a kitchen with a real estate agent

A personal house inspection is a walk-through inspection of a property with the real estate agent present that happens right at the start of your home-buying journey. It is often the qualifier for if a home suits your needs and whether or not you proceed to do further due diligence and make an offer.

This is such an important inspection as it allows you to visually check for things that are important to you, spot any concerns and check if the space will meet your needs while you are house hunting.

Follow this property inspection checklist to make sure you have checked off all of the important things to check for when you are buying a home.

1. Check for layout defects, noise, and natural light - make sure these suit your needs.

When buying a home, you should write lists of what is important to you. Sit down and start with an extensive list of what you need in your new home.

Once you have this list, create three columns labelled ‘must have’, ‘nice to have’ and ‘must not have’. From your list, prioritise what are the things you really need in a home. This will help you when you are inspecting in person and online.

If you're a first home buyer, you may find that some of your 'need to have' items move quite quickly into the 'nice to have column'. That's okay, it's all part of the journey! 

Using your personal home inspection checklist, you are prepared to assess if potential properties will meet your needs. Things like natural light, where the road is and surrounding noise will be things that are easy to forget but will make a big difference when you are living in your home.

2. Check the surrounding facilities and amenities.

Now is the best time to go for a drive in the area, hop on Google maps or have a walk around the suburb you are looking in. Knowing whether you are close to local shops, schools and parks could be something easy to forget as well, but important for when you move in.

3. Parking, driveways, and visitors’ spots.

Does this home have enough parking for your needs? Does it have a garage or a carport? Are there enough visitor spots or street parking if you need this?

It is also important to note shared driveways or areas that are shared, particularly in a strata complex.

4. Check for signs of moisture and mould.

This will often be covered in your building report. But these checks are important to note to ensure anything you see is explained in the report and you can identify what the costs will be for you moving forward on any defects. Look out for red flags, such as water stains on walls and on the ceiling. Look for any signs of moisture or dampness in the home - including mould!

5. Check for sagging ceilings and walls

While looking around for signs of moisture. Also, check the roof, roof lines and walls for signs of sagging. This can be caused by a variety of factors but is particularly important to note as it can present the risk of a potential for it to collapse inwards, causing danger and a large upcoming cost.

6. Check that the roof, gutters, water drains and downpipes appear to be in good condition

This will typically be looked at in a building report, but it is important to note anything that you may notice. Rusting pipes and gutters may show that they are in need of replacement or they may not be serving their purpose. Poorly-working gutters pose the risk of roof cavities holding stagnant water in them, as the water can’t flow to the ground. This can also be due to the fact that they haven’t been cleaned, so note it down if you see gutters that are full of leaves and debris.

7. Check indoor cabinets, doors and handles.

Not something obvious to check, but knowing if cabinets are coming off hinges or if handles are missing can help down the track. While this may not be something that is going to stop you from buying a home, it can be annoying. If you know of the issues, you may even have a vendor who is willing to fix some of them before settlement.

8. Check doors, door frames and hinges

Closing doors and checking if they are swelling, and checking their frames and hinges will help identify if there is something wrong with moisture or structure. If a door or its frame is swelling, it will typically be due to the structure around the house moving or moisture making the wooden door expand.

9. Check exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen

These are great additions to a home, but unhelpful if they don’t work. Checking these will save you from having to call someone to investigate at a later date.

10. Turn on the hot water, test the water pressure and check the water heater

Checking the temperature of the hot water in the home will identify if there are any issues with the water heater and the function of the water flow in the home. These things can be expensive to fix so it pays to check early.

11. Check the air conditioning and fans.

Another expensive thing to fix is an air conditioning system. It is important to check this is working before you purchase a home so you know this isn’t something you need to get fixed later. This can often be costly, especially if you have to replace a unit.

12. Check the wet areas.

Check the bathrooms and kitchen for signs of leaks, mould or significant issues like a lack of ventilation.

13. Check for any brackets on walls/holes

Checking for pictures or TV mounts on walls will be handy when you are talking to your legal team about a contract. Your legal team may be able to request that these holes are filled before you settle on the property.

14. Check power points

A dead power point could be evidence of a larger and possibly costly wiring issue. It’s a good thing to know about before purchase. Especially when inspecting older houses, it’s also worth noting if power points are located in practical positions, as moving some may be something you want to budget for.

15. Commission a building inspector and pest inspector

Make sure you get a building inspection report to check for any major or minor defects in the home. They will also flag any major safety issues they find, including swimming pool compliance and asbestos. If you're buying a unit, apartment or townhouse, request to review the strata documents too.

You should also get a pest inspection report to see if there are any pest infestations, including termites.

All of these steps will help set you up to be happy homeowners who have no surprises when you move in!

Remember: You should write down all the things that were agreed to be fixed and make sure they are done in your pre-settlement inspection when you buy a home!


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This article is intended to be general in nature and is not personal financial product advice. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation, or needs. In particular, you should seek independent financial advice and read the relevant product disclosure statement (PDS), or other offer documents before making an investment decision in relation to a financial product (including a decision about whether to acquire or continue to hold).
Prepared by OwnHome Services Pty Ltd ACN 664 492 059. This information does not take your personal objectives, circumstances or needs into account. Always read the disclosure documents for products and services before deciding on a product or service, and consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice for your unique circumstances.

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