Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice

Your 48-Point DIY Home Inspection Checklist

Expertise: Real Estate Investing Basics, Real Estate News & Commentary, Personal Development, Flipping Houses, Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Finance
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The title of this article has the potential to be misunderstood.

I am NOT suggesting that you forego a professional home inspection from a licensed home inspector. Unless you ARE a professional home inspector, you should absolutely hire one after you’ve performed this checklist and your contract has been accepted.

No, the purpose of this checklist is to inspect it yourself before you even make the offer.


Because a home inspection runs between $500 and $1,000. Not the end of the world — and certainly worth it on a home you really want.

But it’s silly to drop that cash on a home inspection only to discover deal-breaker items you could have found on your own.

So this checklist is for you to go over once you’ve decided you like the house and want to make an offer. You don’t need special tools or training — you just need eyeballs, a notebook and pen, and a marble. If you’re feeling ambitious, take a tape measure.

Related: Home Inspections Can Save You Thousands: Here’s How to Get the Most Out of Yours

Note: Not all items on the checklist will apply to all homes.



  • Windows: Check that they open and close easily. Any broken panes?
  • Doors: Check that they open and close completely. Do they stick? Lock? Scrape the floor at any point?
  • Floors: Any creaking? Obvious unevenness? Place a marble on the floor and see if it rolls to check for slant. (Do the marble test in multiple locations in the house.)
  • Walls: Any holes?
  • Trim: Any damage or missing pieces? Animals can be brutal to wood trim, and matching old trim is almost impossible.
  • Lights: Turn on every light switch to make sure they work. (Note: If the home is unoccupied and the power is turned off, this won’t be possible.)
  • Stairs: Walk up and down the stairs and touch every spindle on the railing. Do they seem sturdy or wobbly? Do the stairs creak? Are any parts missing?
  • Outlets: Get a voltage tester at your local big box home improvement store for less than $20 and test every single outlet.
  • Furnace: Look at the furnace. Are there any stickers that indicate installation date?
  • Water Heater: Check for water around the base of the water heater. Any stickers on this to indicate installation date?



  • Cabinets/Drawers: Open every cabinet and drawer, then close again. Do they move smoothly? Does anything prevent any of the doors or drawers from easy use?
  • Oven: Open and inspect the oven. Does the door open slowly, indicating the springs still work? What is the condition of the oven? Turn on the oven to make sure it works.
  • Stove: Turn on each burner on the stove. If gas, turn on and turn off before turning the next one on to make sure they all turn on by themselves, rather than catching the flame from an adjacent burner. If they all work individually, turn them all on to make sure they all work at the same time. If electric, just turn them all on.
  • Fridge: Open the refrigerator/freezer doors. Do they open easily? Note: Do NOT do this if the home is vacant and appears to have been vacant for some time. Trust me on this one. Assume it must be replaced.
  • Dishwasher: Open and inspect the dishwasher. Do the springs work on the dishwasher door?
  • Faucet: Run the water in the sink. How is the pressure?
  • Garbage Disposal: Does the garbage disposal run? (Don’t forget to turn on the water before you test it.)
  • Cabinet Interiors: Take a good look at the cabinets. Is there adequate storage? Do you have enough drawers? (I once bought a condo that had one drawer in the kitchen. Sigh.)
  • Microwave: Open up the microwave and take a peek inside. Turn it on to see if it works — but don’t let it run for very long. That’s not good.
  • Hood: Turn on the range hood fan and light to make sure they work. Peek underneath to check for filth — this is a commonly overlooked area for cleaning.
  • Stone Countertops: Look at the stone countertop and check for chips and cracks.
  • Formica Countertops: Check the Formica countertop for chips.
  • Tile: Check the floor for cracked tiles.
  • Windows: Open and close all windows.


Related: 8 Common Questions Investors Have About Home Inspections – Answered!


  • Plumbing/Drainage: Flush the toilet. Fill up the sink and tub and then let the water run out to test for backups or poorly performing drains. Check for leaks from all faucets.
  • Flooring: Any broken tiles?
  • Toilet: Does it rock or is it solidly on the floor?
  • Tub: Any cracks or chips?
  • Vanity: Check the condition. Make sure to open it up and check the inside, too.
  • Ventilation: Does the fan work? Is there a window? Does it open and close easily?



  • Closets: Do closets have doors? Do they open and close easily?
  • Windows: Open and close all windows.
  • Flooring: Check the state of the flooring — does carpet have stains, wear spots, etc? Is the hardwood scratched and damaged?

Living/Dining/Family Room

  • Doors: Any doors? Do they open and close easily?
  • Flooring: What is the state of the flooring?
  • Walls: Are there any holes or other damage in the walls?
  • Windows: Do the windows work? Are they vinyl, wood, aluminum?


  • Odor: What does it smell like? An overpowering odor can be mold or mildew.
  • Walls: Do the walls have any cracks? Small, hairline cracks are not so concerning, but large cracks — especially horizontal cracks — can be an indicator of bigger foundation problems.



  • Sprinkler: Turn on the sprinkler system.
  • Lights: Turn them on.
  • Outlets: Test them.
  • Fence: Walk the fence to check for loose boards and the overall sturdiness of the fence.
  • Siding: What is the condition of the siding?
  • Roof: Go to the South side of the house and look at the shingles. The South side gets the most sun, and curling or buckling can be an indication that the roof needs work.
  • Garage Door: Does the garage door(s) open and close easily?
  • Lawn: What does the grass look like?
  • Yard: Are there any dead trees?

A Good First Step

This list is just a starting point for you to look deeper into the home. It isn’t meant to be a substitute for a professional home inspection performed by a licensed inspector — but it’s a great way to really see a house. Sometimes the beauty (or ugliness) of a home can make you overlook items you aren’t excited about repairing.

Use this checklist to determine your offer price, as well as your level of interest in the property. You won’t find everything that an inspector will, but you also can save the cost of an inspection fee if you discover a deal breaker on your own.

Investors: Any items you’d add to this list?

Let’s talk in the comments section below!

Mindy Jensen has been buying and selling homes for more than 20 years. She buys houses, moves in, makes them beautiful, sells them, and starts the process all over again. She is a licensed real est...
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    AC Hoyt Investor from Seattle, Washington
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Mindy, great article!
    Joshua Dawson Real Estate Agent from Columbus, OH
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Mindy, this is such a great post! Thanks so much for taking the time to put this together.
    Tommy Mejia from Coral Springs, Florida
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Mindy, Thanks once again! Great Post with some amazing nuggets that everyone should add to their systems especially as newbies like myself. many of us dont even know what too look for when starting out, and this is a great roadmap that can save precious $s for those with limited funds. not only that, but it also offers an opportunity to learn about each of those things, how to identify them and how much it would cost to fix, etc..which will make for a more accurate underwriting process before even making an offer. really appreciate this one!
    Chris Harjes Investor from Asheville, North Carolina
    Replied over 3 years ago
    I’d add that it’s worth climbing into the attic and spelunking into crawl spaces as well- it has saved me from even bothering to offer on homes that otherwise looked fine, and it makes a good impression on the seller that you are willing to get dirty and take this extra step before making an offer- adds a bit more weight to the number you give them IMO.
    David Beckley Real Estate Agent from Saint Louis, MO
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Absolutely love this! Definitely will implement this immediately in my business. Thanks!
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Make sure the windows lock, make sure the deadbolt doors lock, run the dishwasher if you have time, look under the basement stairs for signs of water damage, look at the furnace for signs of rust, look at the central air conditioner for signs of age, rust, critters, etc, make sure lot slopes away from the house, look for driveway cracks or sidewalk cracks ( very expensive to fix). Many of the items, you may want to refresh/upgrade anyway ( formica counters), but be very careful with grading, foundation, and concrete issues. These are expensive fixes and won’t add to the “wow” factor the way a new kitchen, bath or refinishing hardwood floors will. If you decide to get an inspection and you are buying an older house, consider springing for a sewer line inspection with a camera. It is about $200 and a new sewer line can run you thousands.
    Seth Rouch Specialist from Aurora, CO
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Great article Mindy. I’ve found that personally knowing more about inspections helps a lot in the buying and selling process. I recommend readers also find an inspector they trust/know, and ask to shadow him/her for a number of inspections;asking questions along the way of course. I’ve found it has saved me time and money over and over to simply know basics before making an offer. Thanks again for making this list for the community.
    Shawn Davis Investor from Wilsonville, Oregon
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Great list Mindy. Thank you for sharing! I might have missed it on your list but I would add “look up”. In every room scan the ceilings for evidence of current or “repaired” water damage.
    Dylan Barth from Mankato, Minnesota
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Great list, Mindy! If every buyer did this their success in buying would surely increase! Thanks for taking the time to put it together!
    Bob Norris Investor from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Very nice, list. Thanks! Can this (including the suggestions) be turned into a Bigger Pockets form?
    Julie Marquez Investor from Seattle, WA
    Replied over 3 years ago
    This is a very helpful list! I’ve had inspectors charge an extra $100 just to test the appliances, and that’s an easy one to do on your own. I’ve also had an inspector come out for just an hour to tell us the bad news, and we paid him $100 and went on our way.
    Pravda Haas
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Water drainage from the house!!!!!! Check how other neighbouring houses and the neighbourhood in general are draining in comparison to your house. I’ve seen a neighbour’s eavestrough go straight between their house and my prospective house and then all pool right up against the basement/foundation of the house for sale. Are the neighbours’ backyards all draining into your backyard? Again, I’ve seen areas that have no back alleys, so there are 5 other yards bordering my prospective property–which had a yard that looked like a bowl along the back fence. Perfect nesting ground for mosquitos, etc.
    Libby Baugher from East Peoria, IL
    Replied over 1 year ago
    I’m looking for a printable checklist that contains these tasks. Does Bigger Pockets have such a checklist? If not, I’ll just create my own using this list. Libby