A Handy Home Inspection Checklist

Property inspection by qualified Home Inspectors is a common practice in the West, but hasn’t quite caught on yet in India. However, given the importance of the exercise, it is essential that investors inspect the property they are interested in (whether for renting or buying), before making a financial commitment. Included below is a handy house checklist that will help weed out the major red flags that can affect your investment decisions. Keep in mind that these are basic guidelines and each buyer may add in individual points that are relevant to their family and circumstance. For example, a family that believes in Vastu Shastra will appraise a plot quite differently from one that doesn’t.

First -time investors as well as repeat buyers can use the checklist as a starting point in the vetting process. Property investment involves a lot of in-depth research and decisions regarding budget and location even before a search is begun. Once budget and preferred location are finalised, and a list of properties identified, it is time to go through the checklist and use it to see which homes tick all the boxes and which ones are non-starters.

As investors become seasoned in the process, they will realise what their priorities are and where they are willing to compromise. Buyers must be more cautious than renters as their investment is larger and more permanent. They can avail the services of a property-valuer and/or engineer to assess the financial value & structural integrity of the property selected.

Here is a basic Checklist to begin with during the first home visit. Inspect the house thoroughly for physical problems. Start from the exterior and work your way in.

Outside:

Structural Integrity:

  • If there is a tiled roof, are there any tiles missing?
  • Are there any signs of leaks and water seepage in the roof?
  • When will the roof need to be replaced?
  • Are there visible cracks on the outside walls?
  • Are there signs of water seepage on the walls, discolorations and chipping of the paint?
  • Are the walls damp to touch? India has a heavy monsoon and water damage is a very common and serious problem.
  • Are there any trees near the foundation?

Yard/Garden Area:

  • Does the drainage slope away from the house?
  • Are there any soggy areas you can identify? These can be a breeding ground for mosquitos and must be dealt with.
  • Are the walkways and driveway in good condition?

Inside:

Structural Integrity:

  • Are there cracks, signs of seepage or stains in the walls, floors and ceilings?
  • If there are staircases and balconies, check the firmness and integrity of the railings.
  • Always carry a measuring tape to measure the length, breadth and height of the room. This can help with future furniture placement and space optimization.
  • Are the windows and sidings properly installed? Check the window latches and closures.
  • Are there any leaks under the sinks (bathrooms and kitchen)?

Kitchen:

The kitchen is the heart of the home and must be thoroughly inspected. It is best to have the lady of the house along to check whether the space fits her needs.

  • Check the walls, floor and ceiling for signs of damp and cracks.
  • Check the height of the kitchen platform installed as it must be comfortable and ergonomic for use by the lady of the house.
  • Check for storage. All installed cabinets and drawers must be inspected for wear and tear.
  • Check the size and depth of the kitchen sink.
  • If appliances are installed, these must be checked to determine how old they are and that they are in working condition. If not, the spaces provided for them must be measured so that future appliances will fit easily.
  • Check that there are enough electrical points provided for kitchen gadgets like mixer, toaster, kettle etc.
  • Is there a working exhaust fan in the kitchen?

Ventilation and HVAC Systems:

  • Does the house smell? Can you identify the source?
  • Do the heating and AC systems appear to be working?
  • Does the water heater produce enough hot water?
  • Are there working exhaust fans installed in the bathrooms?

Miscellaneous:

Electrical:

  • Do all the switches work?
  • Is each outlet properly grounded?
  • Do the ceiling fans, exhaust fans work?
  • Are there enough electrical points installed in every room for your gadgets?
  • Check the wiring, main panel, circuit breakers, phase switches for signs of damage.

Plumbing:

  • Are there any unusual noises?
  • Do the faucets and other fixtures have enough water pressure?
  • What material the pipes are made of? Check for any corrosion and leakage in the system.
  • Are the plumbing fixtures in good, working condition? Check taps, water inlet and outlet valves, bathroom flushers, showers, sinks, traps, etc. for damage and signs of leakage.

Amenities:

  • In case of apartments, in addition to all of the above checks, common areas such as lifts and parking arrangements for self and visitors must also be checked.
  • In addition, amenities such as the swimming pool, gym, club house, playgrounds etc. should also be given the once over to check how well they are maintained.

Additional Tips:

  • It is always a good idea to visit the property more than once at different times during the day. This gives you an idea of what the neighbourhood is like at different times – how busy it is, how noisy it is, how safe it is, etc.
  • Always make it a point to speak with the neighbours! They can be valuable sources of information regarding the history of the individual property itself and the workings of the apartment complex in general.
  • Don’t forget to take the time to walk around the immediate surroundings as well to get a fair idea of the amenities available close by.

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