Jot down your impressions of the exterior of the home, noting the lot size and shape, position of the house on the lot (facing north or south, east or west), and whether it has a private or shared driveway. Also note whether it has a large front, side, and backyard and what condition the landscaping is in and whether there are many mature trees and shrubs.
What type of siding does the home have and what kind of shape is it in? Is it a detached home or half of a duplex? How many stories does it have? Don’t forget to jot down whether it has an attached or detached garage and whether it can accommodate one or two cars.
Also note whether there is a porch or verandah, storage shed and whether the yard is fenced. How private is the home?
While still outside, take a good look at the roof and note its general condition and age. Check to see if any roof repairs were made recently. As well, check eavestroughs and down spouts for signs of deterioration and look at the type of foundation the home has. Are there any visible cracks or holes or signs of seepage? You might consider hiring a certified house inspector for a thorough, professional survey — outside and inside — of any home you’re serious about purchasing.
The kitchen is an essential part of any home, so note its general size and colours, whether it has an eat-in area and sufficient cupboard space. Is there a pantry or food preparation island? What condition are the countertops and sink in? Are the cupboards old or new? What shape is the floor in and what is it made of? Is the existing lighting adequate for carrying out kitchen tasks, as well as dining?
Also make sure there are enough outlets to run your appliances. Are the fridge, stove, and dishwasher included with the sale? Are they all operational? Note how many burners the stove has and whether it’s gas or electric. Is the oven self-cleaning?
Once you’ve completed your kitchen checklist, move to the dining room and note its size, whether it’s separate from the kitchen and the condition of the floors and walls. Are there any built-in cupboards? Is the chandelier being sold with the house? Take similar notes for the living room. Is there a fireplace? How many windows are there and what are their sizes? Do the window coverings stay when the house is sold?
If the home has a family room, note whether it’s closer or adjacent to the kitchen, if it has access to outdoors and if it has a fireplace or wood stove. Is the stove CSA approved? Again, check the condition of the floor or carpet – and look for cracks and other potential problems.
Move on to the bedrooms and note their size and closet space and whether there are any window coverings or adjoining bathrooms. Also note the type of flooring in each bedroom and the colors the rooms are painted.
Make notes on the number and size of bathrooms and the condition of the fixtures. Check all faucets and flush toilets to make sure they are in good working order and to see if there is adequate water pressure. Look for signs of mould and deterioration – sometimes these are warning signs of inadequate ventilation.
Next, move to the basement. Note whether it is full or partially finished or unfinished. Is there adequate headroom for moving about? Is there a fireplace or wood-burning stove? Also look for signs of moisture – such as watermarks and peeling paint.
Note whether there is a utility area and whether the washer and dryer are being sold with the house. Again, look for signs of water damage.
Find out if any recent renovations have been made to the home. It’s also very important to ask about the type of heating, water service, plumbing (copper or other) and electrical amperage. Is the hot water heater owned or rented? Is it gas or electric and what is its capacity? What type of insulation is in the house?
YOUR CHECKLIST SHOULD INCLUDE:
- What size and shape is the lot? Is it fully serviced with sewage, water, gas and electrical lines?
- How many square feet of living space are there? How many rooms?
- What is the condition and age of the roof and are there any leaks or recent repairs?
- Are there proper roof gutters and adequate downspouts which are properly connected to storm drains?
- Are the interior walls and ceilings solid? Is there any evidence of leaks or cracks? Is there any evidence of dry rot or termites?
- Are floors firm and level? What type of floors are beneath the carpeting?
- Are the room sizes adequate for your needs, including storage areas and closet space?
- Is ventilating equipment satisfactory? Are there exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms?
- What kind of heat system is it? What kind of fuel is used? How much does it cost to heat the house year-round?
- Is there sufficient electrical wiring? Are there adequate outlets in the home?
- What is the condition of the basement and foundation? Are there severe cracks in or excessive or uneven settlement of the foundation? Is the basement floor dry?
- What about the attic or crawl space? Is there evidence of leaks? Is there proper insulation/ventilation?
- What is the condition of caulking on windows and doors? Do they open and close easily?
- Is the kitchen suitable? Are there enough outlets and space for appliances?
- What is included in the sale – appliances, etc.?
- Is there sufficient parking? How large is the garage?
- Is a property disclosure statement available? This form provides information about the state of the property to all potential buyers.
- Are there any restrictive covenants, i.e., specific limitations on such things as use, occupancy, exterior finish?
- What is the zoning on the property, and on surrounding properties? What changes to the immediate vicinity can be expected? Are there any easements, i.e., rights or privileges one party may have to use the land for a special purpose?