How to quickly inspect your home before you sell, purchase or doing maintenance

It serves you to check your house often to maintain the building’s integrity and check for problems that can cost $$$. A maintenance issue may become a minor issue and that can turn into a major problem if it doesn’t gets fix. You can break down this list to suit you. Here is the scope: To protect the building envelope; penetrations to the structure, cracks, holes that may allow moisture or critters to get inside. Checking the Integrity and service ability of building materials and its components for functionality and serviceable life. Checking for any health and safety hazard: tripping exposed wiring, connections, missing safety items, fire and health hazards, etc… That may compromise safety and security of building and its inhabitants.
Observe record and repair minor, major and maintenance items that can have an impact on the bottom-line, comfort and habitability of the building.

Take a look at your building from a distance. You should be able to see the roof structure from all sides. Look for anything missing, broken or doesn’t look right. Observe the condition of the roof covering. How does it look (moldy, deteriorated, missing pieces, previous replacements, and mix/match)? I will break it down into three areas:

Site and common areas:

Look for attached/detached structures or areas where people may gather like gazebos, storages, garages, basements, closets, balconies, porch, playground, decks, and pool areas. Also you’re surrounding areas. Check interior and exterior fences for holes, damage missing sections and anything that can compromise security and safety, retaining walls for integrity, falling, leaning, grounds for erosion (specially near building and components) or overgrown vegetation that would prevent ventilation around the building or pose a hazard, roads, sidewalk for potholes, cracks and tripping hazards, look for site drainage, ponding, wash outs. Ask when the last time it rained was. Usually take up to 48 hrs. For some sites/areas to completely drain.

Exterior

Walk around the building take a look at the exterior structure for cracks, gaps, holes, missing pieces of the exterior walls and foundation wall (lower portion of wall). Any crack, gap, missing piece(s) can be a potential moisture intrusion point which it can have hidden and costly damages on the interior wall structure (the one that bears the roof weight and structure over your head). As you walk, look up and down the wall from the very top where it meets the roof to the bottom of wall and adjacent grounds. Observe for broken, cracked windowpanes, siding condition, particularly on wood structures. Observe other components that come in and out of your building such as sewer/ sanitary pipes for broken pipes to missing clean out caps (which smell pretty bad). Look for Air conditioning components, lighting, electrical boxes and water hose bibs for anything missing, broken, leaking or have a potential health and safety hazard. This item need attention and may have a bottom line on the total value of the building.

Systems:

Look at A/C, sewer, plumbing and electrical components. Check the electrical boxes for rust, openings on the panel enclosure, missing cover or breaker switch that would cause an immediate fire or shock hazard. Think about what if when you look at a component. Ask for these questions:

Does it look right, what may be missing?
Does it looks old, rusty, makes lot of noise?
With electrical equipment…What could happen if someone touch it or accidentally poke it?
What you think may happen if it doesn’t get fix in a timely matter?
If it doesn’t look right, write it down.

If the building is over 30 years old, hire a qualified inspector to look over. There may be items that need updating to comply with today’s industry standards.

Interior:

Open your main entry door, check for damage weather-strip around the door. Close the door see if light can be seen through closed door. This is a sign of damage/missing weather-stripping that may allow air/water to entry building raising heating/cooling cost and allowing pest to enter. Operate door as you would normally operate it. Check operation of door handle, deadbolts and locking mechanism. Ring the doorbell (if any). Walk to your immediate right depending on the interior configuration. Open and close doors, check for proper operation, and damage to surface or hardware. Check flooring condition and wall integrity, cracks, and bulging, peeling paint. Look for stretched out carpet, stains, missing flooring, tears and tripping hazards. Operate the windows. Does it stay up on its own, broken, cracked pane? Damaged, peeling around window or sill? Always keep in mind means of egress or exiting in case of emergency. Leave one window completely accessible and do not block it with heavy furniture. Check ceilings and wall surface for stains, cracks bulging and other condition that doesn’t look right. When in doubt call a professional, get a second opinion.
Test the smoke alarms, do they need a battery? Does the area need an additional smoke alarm? (Recommended in every room) enter the bathroom, does it smell moldy, is a ventilator damaged, missing? Does it need one? Are there any signs of plumbing leaks? Stains, rust, on wall, floor? Toilet flush? Is secured to the floor? Does it rock when you rocking a bit? Any cracks on the bowl, seat? Shower/tub enclosure. Rust spots? Operate the shower/tub diverter. Fill the tub and check for leaks. Do you get hot/cold water? Check cabinetry and vanity for damage, leaks. Check electrical outlets. Does it have a GFCI outlet? If not consider upgrades for safety. Missing/broken outlet covers, exposed wiring, lighting fixture work? Check the living room, hallway and other areas look for ceiling, wall, floor damages or in need of attention. . Go to the kitchen, operate the stove. Check for missing damaged elements, not operating, as they should. Check the refrigerator for proper closure and seal. Damaged seal/gasket. If you can see the black magnet or it has a tear on the seal insulation, it needs to be replaced or fixed. Do you see moisture on the doors, does it looks rusty. Does the compressor operate on and off? Check cabinetry for proper operation. Test outlets and GFCI’s. Replace as needed. A GFCI is recommended within 6 feet of any wet area for safety to prevent shock hazards that can be deadly. Test the outlets if you have a tester. Most testers have different lights to diagnose several issues. Check under sink for any leaks and plumbing issues and any potential electrical hazard. Check for dish washer (if any) plumbing connection to garbage disposal or plumbing pipe. Make sure “P “ trap is seen. Operate the garbage disposal and dishwasher. If stuck, use an Allen tool to un- stuck it. Check dishwasher for seal and proper operation. Look for insect/rodent infestation. Look for any fire extinguisher in the area. If not, install one for safety. Locate a suitable are for installation. Close but not directly next to stove, where it can be easily reached. Find the location for electrical panel and water. Heater. It can be in the laundry area, utility closet. Kitchen or service area. Check for surface integrity of the water heater. Make sure TPR valve (the bronze valve connected to the water heater) is in place and drain pie connected and extended at least 18 in to floor or routed outside. Check for electrical connections and no exposed wiring. If is a gas operated WH check for combustion/air exchange, rusty components and misaligned vent pipes. Gas water heater should be raised approximately 18 in from floor and impact protected. A carbon monoxide monitoring device installation is recommended for safety. Ensure that there are no combustible materials inside the gas water heater compartment for safety. Check the electrical panel for missing breakers, missing cover, exposed connections, rusty enclosure and other hazards. If possible remove the interior cover and observe breakers connections. If not sure, use a qualified electrician or inspector to do this inspection. Check for burned breakers, circuits, double wiring connections and signs of deterioration, rust, foul smell and upgrades needs. Again if not sure, hire a qualified person to do this part. Check the laundry area for signs of leaks. Ensure dryer vent is connected to the dryer and venting to the exterior. For inside stairs, check for railings and steps. Make sure railings are secure, not missing and steps are fixed and not loose in need of repair. If a balcony or porch area, check the decking and railing. Is it loose? Needs reinforcing?

If you have a crawlspace or basement. Check or plumbing connections, leaks, crack on walls and floor, floor support alignment and conditions. Excessive litter, foul smells, insect/rodent intrusion. Inside the attic. Look for air leaks, check air ducts for leaks, critter intrusion, stains and damage to the roof frames, roof member damages, leaks.

If on the roof, be careful where you walk, be safe. Have someone to watch you from the ground level or with you while on the roof. Do not climb/use an unsafe ladder. Use common sense. Check for missing, broken, loose shingles, deterioration, exposed areas. Moss/debris covered areas that will shorten the serviceable life of your roof structure. Observe Trees to close to structure and/or too close to electrical equipment. Make necessary repairs and keep area clear from any vegetation. Check roof vents and top (ridge) vent to make sure it is properly attached and secured. Hire a qualified contractor to perform this inspection if not sure. Always get three estimates from three different contractors if doing any repairs. If have a chimney, check for proper flashing to wall/roof, signs of leaks and attachment. If unsure, leave it to the pros. If have no gutter system to properly drain roof, install one, it will save you down the road for proper roof drainage and prevent wash out or erosion.

If equipped with a pool, check equipment for proper operation. If not sure hire a pool contractor. Watch for leaks on the equipment, unusual (not right) noises and exposed wiring/connections. Ensure there are a GFCI outlet or breaker within the equipment and that it is working. Observe for rust on the equipment and other potential hazards. Observe the pool floor for installations of safety drain cover, if not visible; hire a pool contractor to verify. Check for jet operation and entire equipment. Observe any cracks on deck on enclosure, tripping or safety hazards. If enclosed, check for lanai integrity and self closed door operation.