Checkpoint summary

Walls and ceilings

    • Do not be concerned with minor cosmetic problems. Specifically check for
      • broken walls and ceilings;
      • loose, missing, and bulging areas of plaster or plasterboard;
      • missing, loose, and sagging sections of ceiling tile;
      • sagging sections of plaster;
      • truss uplift cracks (at wall-ceiling intersection);
      • water stains on ceilings, particularly below roofs, bathrooms, and kitchens;
      • disintegrating plaster, peeling and flaking paint, and water stains on walls facing the exterior (usually caused by open or exposed exterior joints).
  • Note rooms that have cracked walls in which the windows and door frames are not level (professional evaluation is recommended).
  • Check paneled walls for plasterboard backing (often omitted).
  • Check trim for missing, loose, cracked, or broken sections.


  • Inspect for floors that are not level, have loose floorboards, or have sagging areas. Sagging floors that are also noted in the ceilings below should be evaluated by a professional.
  • Inspect for large open joints between floor and partition walls (usually caused by excessive shrinkage).
  • Note floors that have wall-to-wall carpeting. Do not assume that there is a hardwood floor beneath the carpeting. Request that owner make this representation in writing.
  • Inspect concrete floor slabs for cracked and settled areas. Note areas that have large open joints between the floor slab and the walls.
  • Check raised wood floors over concrete slabs for soft, spongy, and delaminated sections. Often these conditions are a result of water seepage with associated rot in wood framing.


  • Check interior rooms for missing radiators or heat registers.
  • If rooms are heated by other means (radiant panels), verify this with the owner.
  • Are radiators and heat-supply registers efficiently located (preferably on an exterior wall and below a window)?


  • Check windows for ease of operation.
  • Inspect for cracked and broken panes; chipped, cracked, and missing putty.
  • Check exterior sills for cracked and rotting sections.
  • Inspect double-hung windows for broken or missing sash cords, loose or binding sashes, and missing hardware.
  • Inspect steel-casement windows for cracked panes, rusting and sprung frames, loose, missing, or inoperative hardware.
  • Check thermal-pane windows for faulty seals (water droplets or cloudy areas between the glass panes).
  • Check casement and awning windows for interior storm windows and screens.
  • Note all rooms in which there are insufficient outlets and outlets that are loose or have missing cover plates.
  • Check whether outlets are electrically “hot” and properly grounded (particularly those in the kitchen and bathrooms).


  • Inspect brick or stone firebox lining for cracked, chipped, broken, or deteriorating sections.
  • Check for cracked, loose, or disintegrating mortar joints.
  • Check top of firebox for an operational damper.
  • Is there a chimney top damper?
  • Inspect area for obstructions.
  • Is the chimney flue lined?
  • Check for heavy layers of soot and creosote (heavy layers indicate the need for chimney cleaning).


    • Check that all bedrooms have at least one openable window with the following criteria:
      • sill height not more than 44 inches above the floor;
      • minimum openable area of 5.7 square feet with no dimension less than 20 inches.
  • Do all bedrooms have entry doors and closets?
  • Is there a smoke detector on the wall or ceiling?
  • If a portion of the attic or basement has been converted to a bedroom, is there a certificate of occupancy for the room?

Electrical outlets Bathrooms

❍ Inspect rooms, stairways, and hallways for ❍ Check bathrooms for adequate ventilation. electrical hazards and violations (see chap-❍ If there is an exhaust fan ter 12 summary). - is it operational?

does it have a separate on-off switch?
can you determine where the fan exhaust discharges?
  • Inspect tiled areas, particularly around the tub or shower, for open joints, cracked, loose, and missing tiles.
  • Note wall areas in the tub or shower that show evidence of deterioration (spongy or loose sections).
  • Check shower doors for cracked panes (should be safety glass) and ease of operation.
  • Check sinks, bowl, and tub or shower for cracked, chipped, and stained areas. Check that sinks and bowls are properly secured.
  • Inspect sink and tub faucets for proper air gap (potential back siphonage).
  • Check fixtures for individual shutoff valves.
  • Inspect fixture plumbing for leaks, kinked lines, patched and makeshift corrections (taped joints and rubber-hose connections).
  • Inspect sink drain lines for improper venting (S-type traps).
  • Does shower diverter valve in the tub leak?
  • Check operation of whirlpool bath.
  • Is there an access hatch for the pump motor for the whirlpool bath?

Water pressure, flow

  • Check cold-water flow by simultaneously turning on the faucets in the sink and tub or shower and flushing the bowl.
  • Perform a similar check for hot-water flow.
  • Check for water hammer when faucets are opened and closed rapidly.


❍ Check sink for low water flow and proper drainage.

  • If there is an island sink, is the drain vented properly?
  • If sink contains a sprayer, check operation (often this unit is disconnected).
    • If sink drain contains a garbage-disposal unit and house has a septic tank, you should determine the following:
      • Was disposal unit added after the house was constructed? (Septic tank might be undersized.)
      • When was septic tank last cleaned? (If over three years, the tank should be cleaned.)
  • Inspect cabinets for missing, cracked, or loose-fitting doors and drawers.
  • Check for missing hardware on cabinet doors and drawers.
  • Check shelving for adequate support, cracked, warped, or missing sections.
  • Inspect counter and countertops for cracked, burned, blistered, or loose sections.
  • Check all appliances for operational integrity on the day of, but prior to, contract closing.

Hallway and staircase

  • Check for properly located smoke detectors in hallway areas leading to the bedrooms.
  • Check hallways and staircases for adequate lighting. Are three-way switches located at both ends of the hallway?
  • Check walls, floor, ceiling, trim, and so on as you would for interior rooms.
  • Inspect stairways for uneven risers, loose treads, missing handrails, and handrails with tight finger room.
  • If there is a window at the base of the stairway or landing, is the sill less than 36 inches above the floor? (If this condition exists, you should install a window guard.)
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