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Checklist for Home Inspection: The Key to a Successful Home Purchase

A home inspection is critical when buying a home in Canada and is especially vital for first-time home buyers.

It is a comprehensive assessment of the property’s condition, ensuring home buyers are well-informed about their investment. This inspection checks various trouble spots, examining everything from the electrical and plumbing systems to the foundation and roofing. The idea is to identify potential issues or hidden problems that may require attention before finalizing the purchase.

A home inspection checklist is indispensable for potential homeowners. It meticulously guides buyers through each phase of the inspection process, covering exterior and interior evaluations, systems inspection, and additional concerns like pests, radon, and mould. With a comprehensive home inspection checklist template, buyers gain the clarity to negotiate better.

The Basics of Home Inspection

There is no doubt that understanding the basics of home inspection is important for prospective home buyers. Here’s everything you need to know for an in-depth home inspection.

  • Choosing an Inspector: Look for an independent home inspector for an unbiased assessment. To ensure objectivity, avoid inspectors recommended by real estate agents or sellers. Consider professionals affiliated with the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors (CAHPI) for qualified expertise.
  • Costs and Responsibilities: The average cost of a home inspection hovers around $342, varying from $281 to $402 nationwide. Typically, buyers bear the inspection costs, though negotiations might shift this expense. You can choose to be present during the inspection, allowing for real-time questions and a deeper understanding of potential issues.
  • Comprehensive Checklist: A detailed home inspection checklist must cover:
    • Exterior and Structural: Foundation, drainage, walls, siding, roof, and chimneys.
    • Systems: Electrical, HVAC, and plumbing, including visible pipes and water pressure.
    • Interior Evaluation: Rooms, floors, ceilings, and fixtures in kitchens and bathrooms.
    • Additional Checks: Smoke detectors, stairway integrity, and basement conditions.

This checklist serves as a basic guide to identifying trouble spots, ensuring first-time home buyers and seasoned investors can make informed decisions.

Exterior and Structural Components

A home inspection should focus on the exterior and structural components, and it’s good to have a detailed checklist for a home inspection at hand. Let’s break down the key areas to inspect:

Foundation and Structural Integrity

  • Inspect the foundation for signs of issues like cracks, movement, or drainage problems. Nearby tree roots can also pose a threat.
  • Look for uneven floors, water damage, and cracks in walls, as these may indicate deeper structural or foundation issues.

Exterior Features and Drainage

  • Ensure windows and exterior doors operate smoothly and latch properly. Check for adequate weather-stripping and the presence of ‘weep holes’.
  • Automatic garage doors should reverse for obstacles. Verify proper grading drainage away from the house to prevent water damage.
  • Examine the yard, landscaping, and exterior structures (e.g., fences, decks) for good condition and absence of termite damage or decay.

Roofing and Exterior Walls

  • Roof inspection should include looking for damaged or missing shingles, proper flashing around penetrations, and no signs of excess roofing cement.
  • Siding should be free from cracks, curling, or decay. Masonry, stucco, and vinyl or aluminum sidings should be intact and without damage.
  • Check for adequate clearance between ground and wood siding materials, ensuring no wood-to-earth contact.

This comprehensive approach to inspecting exterior and structural components will identify any issues that could affect the property’s long-term integrity and safety.

Systems Inspection: HVAC, Plumbing, and Electrical

In home inspections, focusing on the systems such as HVAC, plumbing, and electrical is critical, as these are integral to the home’s functionality and safety. Here’s a breakdown of what to inspect in each of these systems:

HVAC Inspection:

  • Ensure there is no gas odour. Inspect the air conditioning and heating units for proper operation.
  • Check air filters, flues, cooling units, and ductwork for cleanliness and damage.
  • Services to consider include AC repair, furnace tune-up, and checking for correct air filter installation.

Plumbing Inspection:

  • Visible pipes should be inspected for leaks or damage, and the water heater should be evaluated for age and condition.
  • Test water pressure and hot water temperature for consistency.
  • Examine sinks, toilets, and showers for proper drainage and operation, ensuring there are no leaks under sinks or signs of rust in metal sinks.

Electrical Inspection:

  • Verify that lights and switches operate correctly and that there are adequate three-pronged outlets in each room.
  • Check for GFCI protection near sinks and inspect the service panel, cables, and outlets for any signs of wear or damage.
  • Ensure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed as local ordinances require.

Interior Evaluation: Rooms, Floors, and Ceilings

In the Interior Evaluation phase of a home inspection, attention to detail is paramount. Here’s a structured approach to examining rooms, floors, and ceilings, ensuring nothing is overlooked:

Interior Rooms Checklist:

Structural Aspects:

  • Floors, walls, and ceilings should be straight, plumb, and level, with no significant cracks or stains.
  • Inspect for evidence of adequate insulation in walls to enhance energy efficiency.

Operational Features:

  • Interior doors should open and close easily, latching properly without damage or decay.
  • Check that paint, wall coverings and panelling are in good condition, and wood trim is well-installed.
  • Ensure built-in appliances operate correctly and cabinets are in good condition with operational doors and drawers.

Safety and Comfort:

  • Verify the presence of a working exhaust fan that doesn’t terminate in the attic space.
  • Caulking inside and outside the tub and shower area should be in good condition to prevent leaks.

Kitchen and Bathroom:

Kitchen Inspection Points:

  • Examine visible plumbing under the sink for leaks or damage.
  • Ensure the dishwasher drains properly, with operational baskets and door springs.
  • Check that the floor under the sink cabinet is solid, with no stains or decay.

Bathroom Inspection Points:

  • Tub and shower tiles should be secure, without evidence of past leaking around the base.
  • All fixtures, including sinks, faucets, and shower heads, should operate adequately, and caulking should be intact.

Thermal imaging can unveil hidden issues like moisture, pest infestations, and structural problems, adding an extra layer of scrutiny to the interior evaluation.

Additional Inspections: Pests, Radon, and Mold

When checking for pests, radon gas, and mould, you must first understand their significance and the process involved. These inspections go beyond the standard checklist, addressing specific concerns that could impact health and safety.

Radon Testing:

Testing for Radon is crucial as it is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

This process involves placing a radon monitor in the home for 48 hours to measure levels. While the cost may amount to a few hundred dollars, taking proactive measures in testing ensures safer living conditions and reduces the risk of potential health hazards associated with exposure.

Wood-Destroying Organism (WDO) Inspections:

Pest and fungi inspections target common threats such as termites, wood-boring beetles, carpenter ants, and fungi causing dry rot. These inspections are usually mandated by states or lenders to safeguard properties.

With an approximate cost of $100, investing in these inspections offers peace of mind, mitigates the risk of potential damage, and preserves the structural integrity of the property.

Mould Inspections:

Detection of mould involves using moisture meters and air samples, which are instrumental in identifying areas of concern.

These inspections primarily focus on high-humidity and moist areas prone to mould growth. Mould inspection costs typically range from $200 to over $600, varying based on the size of the home. Investing in these inspections is necessary to maintain a healthy indoor environment and prevent potential health issues associated with mould exposure.

These specialized inspections empower home buyers to negotiate repairs not disclosed by the seller and ensure the home’s environment is safe and healthy.


This guide decodes the intricate process of home inspections, arming buyers with the necessary tools and checklists to ensure their investment is sound and secure. A thorough home inspection is essential to transforming a house purchase into a well-informed decision.

From the foundational aspects and structural integrity to the more detailed interior evaluations and system inspections, the comprehensive overview serves as a checklist for homebuyers.

The inclusion of additional inspections, such as pests, radon, and mould assessments, can support the buyer’s negotiating power and ensure the long-term health and safety of the home environment.

As we conclude, remember that a meticulous home inspection is the cornerstone of a successful home purchase, paving the way for a stable and joyful future in your new dwelling.


What Should Be Included in a Home Inspection Report?

A comprehensive home inspection report should contain photographs and detailed comments on the condition and structure of the home, including its systems and exterior. It should assess the functionality and condition of appliances and the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems.

What Areas Do Home Inspectors Examine in Canada?

In Canada, home inspectors thoroughly evaluate various aspects of a property. This includes inspecting windows, doors, the basement, kitchen, driveway, roof, electrical and plumbing systems, and heating and ventilation. The inspection aims to identify any existing issues and provide buyers with an estimate of the potential repair costs.

What Are the Key Focus Areas for Home Inspectors?

Home inspectors focus on several critical areas during their assessments. These include checking for mould, water leakage, and structural damage. The inspection also covers the examination of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, as well as plumbing fixtures like pipelines, sewage lines, sinks, and toilets.

How Can I Become a Certified Home Inspector in Ontario?

To become a certified home inspector in Ontario, you must complete an online home inspection course. Upon completing the course, you will receive your home inspection certification and a certification number, officially recognizing you as a certified home inspector in Ontario.

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