Here is a brief mini inspection checklist to consider before entering a contract to purchase a home or building. Engineering and environmental evaluations are necessary after completing the purchase contract agreement.
First impressions are good. Having the ability to review what you saw in the comfort of your home or office is priceless. This mini checklist will help you to do just that, adding some objectivity and confidence to your search. This will enhance your confidence when you retain a professional inspector for structural, habitability, safety and environmental evaluations.
- Take pictures. Front and rear views plus significant features.
Modern real estate listings and website presentations often include pretty pictures. Obtaining a Google Earth overview and actual photos of when you were at the property will improve the quality of your decision making. You do not need any special camera equipment. Smart phones are very convenient, unobtrusive, and do an excellent job to achieve this objective. Taking a photo of the front yard and rear yard from both sides of the building will help you to understand the drainage grading conditions. Water intrusion is one of if not the largest cause of problems to buildings.
- Talk with neighbors.
Much can be learned by having discussions with potential neighbors. Have there been any flooding or elevated ground water problems in the neighborhood? Do the neighbors know anything about the property you are purchasing?
- Consider location risks or zoning problems
Check current zoning requirements for this location to learn if the existing structure is non-conforming and what restrictions may exist at this location.
- History of additions, alterations, permits
Learn the history of additions and alterations. Were they designed by an architect or engineer? Are plans available? Building permit history should be available from the local building department. An “opra” official public records act request may be required. Today histories are often kept on a computer for at least 10 years that should be readily available.
- Exterior condition of roof, siding, windows, & doors
Your photos may include sufficient detail especially if you take both a distance photo and close up photos of each side.
- Foundation cracks and/or water entry history
Look for any foundation cracks or any indications of water entry history. Check for any odors. Understanding the source of odors will be important particularly if there is any indication of air quality mold problems.
- Plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical, appliances
Make notes of first impressions of the interior conditions and equipment observed.
- Well, septic, pools, engine generators, specialized equipment will require special testing
Make a list of equipment and features that may require specialized evaluations.