Home inspection checklist used by an inspector assures a high level of performance, consistency across the trade, and ethical fairness. Benefits the home inspection checklist brings range from making sure nothing is inadvertently missed to adherence to standards to legal protection to avoiding conflicts of interest. In fact, there is not just one checklist governing the inspection business, and this article explores the nature of all such lists and the benefits of each.

The first home inspection checklist we look at is the set of actions a client (or his agent) must take between scheduling the inspection and conducting it. The benefit of this list is to execute everything without a hitch, to avoid having something left out unintentionally or requiring the inspector to come back. Items on this list relate to having nothing interfere the inspecting such as pets, the owner, movers, or delivery persons; to having nothing impede access to crawl space, attic, electrical panel, or garage such as boxes or other belongings; to checking to make sure all utilities are on; and to having the building unlocked.

The rest of the checklists we will consider are all byproducts of state and professional Standards of Practice. The first of these has to do with business conduct. Its benefit is primarily a legal protection for both client and inspector. It mostly governs certain aspects of the pre-inspection agreement, such as how long the inspector must keep it and what it must contain. It also stipulates requirements about the inspector-client relationship in terms of contracts, reports, and court orders.

Next comes a checklist regarding ethics. The benefit this provides is preemption of conflicts of interest and establishing inspector performance that is nothing short of professional. Examples from this list of imperatives are: the inspector must disclose any special relationships with other parties involved in the transaction, he must not fudge his report to gain future referrals, he must not agree to report predetermined conditions, he must not advertise fraudulently, and he must not for one year afterwards provide remedial work for compensation on any home inspected.

There is also a general exclusions home inspection checklist. The benefit is a kind of protection to the inspector from potential client complaints or lawsuits arising from false expectations about what is and isn’t inspected. The home inspector usually discloses the exclusions in his contract. For instance, an inspection is not technically exhaustive, doesn’t involve moving things to gain access, is not a code compliance review, and is not an environmental or hazardous materials survey. The Standards also point out a number of things the inspector is not required to do, such as determine the cause of some deficiency or provide any kind of warranty.

Finally, we come to the real checklist, which consists of everything included. The main benefit here is for the client to be aware of how complete and extensive the inspection is. The items are too numerous to repeat here, but following is a list of categories covered, usually matched by report section titles: site, structure, exterior, roof, attic, garage, crawl space, electrical, plumbing & utility, water heater, heating & cooling, fireplace & chimney, kitchen, bathrooms, other interior rooms.