The purpose of your personal inspection is only to eliminate those properties from consideration that have too many obvious deficiencies. It is not designed to take the place of a professional house inspection. If a house passes your initial “tests” (location, wants and needs, etc.) you will probably want to schedule a second showing where you can spend an hour or so doing an inspection of the house.
What to look for:
Foundation – Are there obvious cracks? Any apparent shifts in the foundation?
Roof – Does it appear new, old, or of an indeterminate age? What is the overall condition?
Evidence of leaks – Check inside as well as outside. Check all ceilings and areas around windows.
Basement or crawlspace – Is there dampness? Is there adequate insulation?
Attic – How does the interior of the roof structure look?
Quality and workmanship – In general and in any additions
Apparent energy efficiency – Does the house appear tightly sealed?
Electrical – Any obvious malfunctions?
Plumbing – Any unusual noises or malfunctions?
Appliance condition – What is the age and condition of the stove, dishwasher, refrigerator (if included), etc.?
Heating/cooling system – Does it seem to do the job heating or cooling?
Exterior – Is the house going to need repairs or paint soon?
Lot – Does the drainage appear good—and away from the house?
Lot – Are there any trees encroaching on the roof or foundation?
This article courtesy of The Home Buyer’s Information Center, a complete guide to buying a home. 2002