Top 16 things you must Inspect before Buying a Home
A comprehensive guide to help you find and manage any defects you discover when inspecting a property
You’re about to inspect the house you want to become your home—exciting! This is a comprehensive guide to help you find and manage any defects you find when inspecting the property.
A personal inspection is a walk-through of a property, with the real estate agent present, that happens right at the start of your home-buying journey. It will help you decide if the home suits your needs, whether you want to do further due diligence and if you want to make an offer.
Inspections are vital as part of the house-hunting process, as this is also the opportunity to spot defects, query dodgy finishes and confirm that the property is in good shape.
To make sure you’re buying a lovely home (and not a lemon), follow this property inspection checklist to make this step a breeze.
1. Check for layout defects, noise, and natural light - make sure these suit your needs.
When buying a home, we encourage our customers at OwnHome to write lists of what is important to them. 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.
Turn all of the lights on and off in the rooms. Checking for things like natural light, where the sun shines through the home, the road and surrounding noise 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. See how long it takes to get to your local shops. Knowing whether you are close to local shops, schools and parks is important for liveability when you move in. Check how long it takes to get to public transport options.
3. Parking, driveways, visitors spots.
Does this home have enough parking for your needs? 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 water stains on walls and on the ceiling. Also, look for any signs of moisture or dampness in the home - including mould! Pay special attention to bathroom corners, around windows and in dark areas of the home.
5. Check for sagging ceilings and walls
While looking around for signs of moisture. Also, check the roof 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 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 of removing water from the top of the property. This proposes a risk that the roof cavities are holding stagnant water in them due to the water not being able to 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. Plants love to grow in gutters and on roofs, but you don’t want to be responsible for them post-settlement.
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
Open and close all of the doors and windows in the house. If there is something wrong with moisture or structure in a building, it often reveals itself in the doors and windows. 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 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. Check behind the TV.
14. Note down the appliances which come with the property and check they work.
Turn on the dishwasher, dryer, washing machine if they come with the property. You don’t want to pay for broken appliances!
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.
You should also get a pest inspection report to see if there are any pest infestations, including termites.
16. Video the inspection.
Take a video of the entire inspection, start to finish. If you can, give a voice-over of what you’re seeing so that you can review it later and take notes. Yes, it might feel awkward to say “there appears to be mould in this room”, but it’ll come in handy. If you can, have a friend with you to take pictures.
What to do if you find a defect during a home inspection?
If you have inspected the home and there was nothing to note, well great! Regardless, recording the condition of the home is important. Why? Well, if something comes up between purchase and settlement, it is the vendors responsibility to fix anything that wasn’t present at the time of the purchase. Like a hole in the wall or a door handle that has been broken.
If you did find a defect during the home inspection that you want fixing, raise it with the agent to understand if the vendor will fix them. If the agent says they will, ask your conveyancer to add the defects into the contract as ‘special conditions’. If defects are not added to the contract of sale, an agent saying ‘they’ll be fixed’ is not legally binding!
If there are any items you wish to keep, such as a dishwasher, ask your conveyancer to add them to the ‘front page’ of the contract, where all of the additions are added.
You should complete a ‘pre-settlement’ inspection to confirm that what was promised to be fixed was fixed. This is because once settlement happens, any problems become yours.
All of these steps will help set you up to be happy homeowners who have no surprises when you move in!
Remember that 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!
What are the most common problems seen in inspections?
The most common issues found in home inspections are:
- Issues with the roofing
- Electrical wiring issues
- Poor drainage
- Issues with leaking & moisture stains
- Heating/cooling issues
- Typical maintenance issues like paint scratches, marks on walls or holes in walls
What to say in home inspections to an agent?
When inspecting a property to buy, it is important to ask about the defects that you have found. This will give you an idea of if the vendor is looking to fix these before the sale.
If the agent says they won’t be fixed, then you can still address it in the contract, but it may well get declined.
If the agent says that it will be fixed, as we mentioned earlier, this is definitely something you should make sure gets added to the contract.
How do I make sure things are fixed post an inspection?
As the future owner of the home, you have the right to a ‘pre settlement inspection’ which allows you to check the condition of the property is the same as the time you purchased it and also allows you to check the issues have been fixed.
If you settle on the home without confirming everything has been fixed, any outstanding issues become your responsibility.
Inspections need to be taken seriously as they have legal and financial implications for purchasing a home. Don’t wing them. Use our checklist to make sure you’re protecting yourself against a poor purchase.
At OwnHome, we help all customers navigate home purchases and get onto the property ladder, without needing hundreds of thousands up front in deposit savings. If you’re considering buying a home and would like to learn more about rent-to-own, you can use the buying power calculator online.
Settling on a home purchase is a momentous occasion and is something to celebrate, so when you get there: congratulations!