How To Perform A Home Inspection As A First Time Homebuyer

Contracting a professional home inspector before buying a home is a good way to ensure that you will not encounter any major problems after you've signed a contract and bought a house.

Then again, official home inspections are only required after an initial contract is signed. It would be better for you to gather your own information about the house you are eyeing. You can go straight to the seller and ask him or her everything about the house. You can also ask for permission to conduct your own mini-inspection.

Most sellers will be open to having you inspect the home well before signing any type of contract, and this gives you some leverage when you are negotiating the final price. Barron's 'Smart Consumer's Guide to Home Buying' encourages all prospective homebuyers to prepare a checklist and note any problems and areas of concern as early as possible. The authors of the book explain that, "If you are thinking about buying a house that will need renovation or upgrading, the more value will be derived from your mini-inspection."

Consider creating a checklist for a home inspection report so you can do a walk-through of the home and take notes about the appearance and overall condition of the home. Here are some essential areas to cover:

The age of the house - You should know exactly when the house was built. Find out if there are any renovations or upgrades done and when these took place. Ask if blueprints, architect or engineer plans are available.

Check the foundation for potential problems - are there any large cracks or noticeable water problems around the home or in the basement? Ask about flooding issues and weather-related problems that have taken their toll on the home in different seasons.

Inspect the house's interior for flaws - Walls should be even and free of cracks. Check if you can manipulate the doors with ease. All water entry areas should function properly and keep an eye out for mold and mildew infestations. Take a note of noticeable cracks and corrosions. You might also want to take a snapshot of problems that really stand out.

Inspect the exterior of the house - Check if all windows and doors move smoothly and if these are properly insulated. Inspect the sidings of the house. Look for signs of deterioration.

Inspect the house's heating and air conditioning systems - You want to know the average electricity cost per month when operating these appliances. Ask about the age of these appliances as well. Old heating and air conditioning systems are usually inefficient and you may need to replace them.

Take all the information you gathered and create a written inspection report. You may also use a digital camera or camcorder to take pictures or video clips that you can review later. Video clips and pictures will allow you to document your inspection in more detail. These visual documents may also give you additional negotiation leverage.

About the Author: Alexandria P. Anderson is a Maple Grove real estate agent that helps people to find and purchase Homes in Maple Grove of Minnesota.