Home Inspection Checklist: What to look for when buying a new home

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on March 17, 2022 Fact Checked
Home Inspection Checklist: What to look for when buying a new home

If you’re in a position to buy a home - congratulations! But before you sign those papers, there’s a number of things you should inspect on the property.

Through the pandemic, many home buyers relied on virtual inspections for assessing properties. While it allowed prospective buyers to look at homes interstate, it’s likely that many may have missed some important details.

Data from ME Bank in October found up to a third of Aussies were going ahead with their purchase without properly inspecting the property.

Director of Ayre Real Estate Craig Donohue told Savings.com.au buying a home should be a positive experience, but warned virtual inspections don’t tell the full story.

“Agent marketing, including virtual inspections, is always aimed at highlighting the most attractive features of a property,” he said.

“Virtual inspections were a great tool the industry embraced over Covid, but ultimately you are not going to virtually live in the property so as a first home buyer you need to walk through the door to determine if it’s the right home for you.”

Personal inspection

Mr Donohue said he often sees first home buyers make mistakes in the inspection process.

“The biggest mistake I see is first home buyers being unprepared when they find the right property,” he said.

“An experienced buyer will know they have to have a solicitor or conveyancer lined up, finance approved and know they have to jump onto the building or strata inspectors right away before they start negotiating or bidding.

“Buyers have access to more information than ever before so doing your research is always important. Don’t forget to enjoy the experience, buying a first property should be a positive and exciting achievement.”

Personal inspection checklist:

Water pressure and drainage

  • Check the toilets all flush

  • Turn the taps on and off

  • Check the water pressure in the showers and bath

  • Check for leaks, pooling around drainage

  • Check the hot water in bathrooms.

Windows and doors

  • Open and close to check they work

  • Check the locks on the doors and windows

Flooring

  • Check if the carpet is stained, frayed or ripped

  • Check the edges of the wall and floor meet flush

  • Note any stains, chips or scratches on wooden floors

Electricity

  • Check the power points are working

  • Turn light switches on and off

  • Note if they are energy saving bulbs, smart home etc.

Cupboards

  • Open and close all cabinets and drawers

  • Check for chips, missing handles etc.

Walls

  • Check paint, scratches, especially around windows and door frames.

Outdoor areas

  • Check the backyard, patio, deck for maintenance issues or damages.

Wall plastering

  • Look for fine cracks on the internal wall plastering

External roof lines

  • Check the roof gutters

  • Check roof downpipes

Location

If you are happy with the physical components of the property, make sure it's in a location that suits you. That might mean close proximity to schools, shops, cafes, gym etc.

These aspects will also add value to the property down the track when you consider selling.

Building and pest inspection

So now you have personally walked through the property and noted any small issues. The next step is to get a building and pest inspection.

The purpose of a building and pest inspection is to identify any issues with the property you may have missed - structurally or otherwise - so that you’re fully informed about the condition of your new asset. With a building and pest report, you won’t be caught out by any nasty, unexpected surprises.

Issues that could pop up on a building and pest report include:

  • Structural issues with the building

  • Any evidence of termite infestations/other pest infestations

  • Holes or cracks in the roof or walls not visible in plain sight

  • Any mould, rust, stains, dampness, rotting timber, or any other kind of damage to the property

  • Doors, windows, or any other feature of the home not working correctly

  • Any potential electrical, gas, or water issues

  • Any other issue with the property identified by the inspector

Surveyor’s report

Land surveying is an important part of a property inspection checklist.

It allows you to understand the boundaries of your yard, house and land, as well as contours, drainage and plumbing that may go underneath your home.

It helps should you consider renovations down the track, as well as any renovations done by neighbours that might impact your land. You don’t want your neighbours planting trees that will drop branches into your property, have roots pushing up your driveway, or putting in a new pool that will disrupt the foundations of your house.

Pre-settlement inspection

This inspection is the final inspection before settling on your new home. It’s an important step as you want to make sure the previous owners have taken their belongings, and the house is in the same condition or better than when you first walked through.

Checklist

  • Check the home is vacant

  • Ensure no rubbish or belongings have been left by previous owners

  • Ensure the conditions of the contract have been fulfilled like painting, cleaning, gardening etc.




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Aaron joined Savings.com.au in 2021. He is a finance journalist with a keen interest in property, the share market, and improving financial literacy in young Australians.

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