Interior spaces are a bit easier to evaluate than other areas because signs of damage are often apparent.
Sometimes it takes a little extra effort to gain access into the attic and crawlspace areas. But the effort is always worth the peace of mind of knowing what shape they're in.
The attic area is crucial in assessing the condition of the roof trusses, sheathing and insulation. Use a good deal of caution when moving in an unfinished attic area.
Always walk on planks or truss chords. Stepping between the chords (joists) may crack or punch a hole in the ceiling. Be wary of exposed sheathing nails and wear a respirator mask to avoid breathing in dust particles.
- no stains on underside of roofing, especially around roof penetrations
- no evidence of decay or damage to structure
- adequate insulation
- adequate venting, clear path into attic for air entering through soffit vents
- no vents or ducts terminating in attic
- no open electrical splices
Your strongest impressions of a house (good or bad) may come from the sizes, shapes and decor of the rooms. Don't be too preoccupied with a room's wallpaper or paint; those things can be changed. But moving a bearing wall or correcting a slope in the floor is a bit more challenging.
- floors, walls and ceilings appear straight and plumb/level
- no stains on floors, walls or ceilings
- flooring materials in good condition
- no significant cracks in walls or ceilings
- windows and exterior doors operate easily and latch properly, no broken glass, no sashes painted shut, no decay; windows and doors have weatherstripping.
- doors operate easily and latch properly, no damage or decay, no broken hardware
- paint, wallcovering and paneling in good condition
- wood trim installed well and in good condition
- lights and switches operate properly
- adequate receptacles in each room
- receptacles test properly (spot check)
- heating/cooling delivered to each habitable room
- evidence of adequate insulation in walls
- fireplaces: no cracking or damaged masonry, no evidence of smoke, damper operates properly, flue has been cleaned
- smoke and carbon monoxide detectors where required (hard wired preferred)
- stairway treads and risers solid
- stair rails where needed and in good condition
The kitchen is a frequent target of remodeling projects -- and for good reason. It can make life immensely easier.
But, a kitchen is often the most expensive room to remodel. Make sure there are some features you want already in place, like room size, wiring, or the directions walls face.
- working exhaust fan
- ground fault interrupter protection for all countertop outlets
- dishwasher: drains properly, no leaks, baskets in good condition
- no leaks in pipes under sinks
- floor in cabinet under sink solid, no stains or decay
- water flow in sink adequate
- no excessive rust on garbage disposer
- disposer runs properly
- cabinets in good condition: doors and drawers operate properly
Bathrooms are often modified or expanded. Make sure that bearing walls and plumbing routes don't hinder possible expansion. Check existing pipes and drains for clogs, leaks, water stains. And check the subfloor from the basement below, if possible.
- working exhaust fan
- adequate water flow in all fixtures
- sink, tub and shower drain properly
- plumbing and cabinet floor under sink in good condition
- metal sink shows no signs of rust, overflow drain doesn't leak
- toilet operates properly
- toilet stable, no rocking, no stains around base
- caulking in good condition inside tub and shower area
- tub or shower tiles secure, wall surface solid
- no stains around base of tub or shower
Basements are prone to moisture and air infiltration. For these reasons, they often feel damp and chilly. Check for water stains and wet walls and floors. If the house is newer construction, inspect for and ask if a vapor barrier and sill plate gasket were installed.
- no evidence of water
- exposed foundation: no stains, no major cracks, no flaking, no efflorescence
- visible structural wood: no sagging, no damage, no decay, no stains, no damage from insects, sills attached to foundation with anchor bolts
- insulation at rim (band) joist
Crawlspaces can be a tight squeeze and may have dirt floors, so be prepared to get a little dirty.
Like basements, crawlspaces are prone to moisture/air infiltration. Although you might not be able to see a vapor barrier, sill plate gasket and insulation they're important items to ask about.
- adequately vented to outside
- insulation on exposed pipes and vents
- insulation between crawl space and heated areas, installed with vapor barrier towards heated area
- no evidence of insect damage
- no evidence of moisture damage