A new year often means it’s time to organize your life in order to be most successful in the next 12 months. While most of the country is still contending with winter, we here in Southern California enjoy milder weather. What does this mean for setting up your new year? Most people overlook it, but this is the perfect time to do a DIY home inspection. This way, you may be able to catch any issues before they become major problems – and very expensive repairs. 

Are you unsure of where to start or even what to inspect? We’ve created an easy-to-follow New Year home inspection checklist to make it easier for you to complete this important task.

The Exterior of Your Home

  • Asphalt and concrete can easily crack, causing a tripping hazard. Make sure to inspect all of the driveways, sidewalks, and paths on your property.
  • If you have retaining walls, you’ll want to check for any bulges or loose areas as these can lead to mudslides with one good rainstorm. It’s important to check that the weep holes that are built into the wall are clear of debris.
  • If you have a porch or a deck, you’ll want to inspect it for sagging ceilings, loose rails or boards, and damaged steps, and check the posts – they’ll need to be firmly in the ground, not loose, and check for any signs of rotting.
  • If you have a fence of any kind, including stone walls and gates, look for any loose parts that could blow off during a storm.
  • Check your outside walls for any signs of staining as this can indicate a water or roof problem.
  • You’ll want to check for any signs of insects or bird nests. They can hide in soffits, eaves, or even attic vents. A clue is animal waste – if you see it in a specific place, check around that area for a nest or other culprit.
  • Is there paint peeling, brick or mortar missing, stucco cracking, etc?
  • The foundation of your home needs to be examined for any cracks and/or bulges.
  • The gutters and downspouts will need to be checked for debris, etc, and cleaned out if there is an obstruction. If there are stains on the soffit, this could indicate a leak. While you’re up there, remove any moss or debris from your roof.
  • Speaking of roofing, you’ll want to check for any cracks, missing shingles, crumbling pieces, etc.
    • Check asphalt for any dry, blistering, alligatoring, or curling shingles
    • Check Wood for rot and splits
    • Check slate/tile for broken pieces
    • Check flat roofs for any holes
    • Common areas where damage is found on roofing are under any trees, where animals or branches could have affected your roof.


  • If you have trees around your house, make sure to check and see if they’re going to affect any wires.
  • Open your panel to inspect for any scorch marks around the breakers or fuses. The same goes for all outlets, as scorch marks can be a sign of loose/sparking wires.
  • If anything is loose, like outlet covers, receptacles, boxes, etc, they will need to be refastened to the studs. Make sure the power is turned OFF first!
  • Test the outlets by plugging in something you can easily visually see, like a lamp, and pushing the test and reset buttons. If it’s working, the light should turn off and on again. 

Doors and Windows

  • Check the weatherstripping around exterior doors and windows for any gaps and tears. This can be easier to see in the mornings, when your home can be darker and light can easily be seen streaming in from around the door if there are gaps.
  • Are there any cracks in your window glass or glazing around the panes?
  • How are the windows – do they open, close, and lock with ease, or are there sticking points?
  • Is there any peeling paint or other signs of wear on the frames? Look at the weep holes on the sill outside to ensure they haven’t been caulked over as this can inhibit drainage.


  • How does your sink drain? When you turn it on, are there any leaks around the faucet or underneath the sink?
  • If you have a garbage disposal, you’ll want to turn it on to listen for any signs of obstructions or issues. Is it draining well? Are there any smells? 
  • Open and close all of your cabinets and drawers to ensure they’re moving properly. Make sure to check for any loose hinges or sticky drawers.
  • Check your stove – do all of the burners turn on quickly and properly? 
  • If you have a gas stove, you’ll want to make sure it gives off an even blue flame and that it lights properly. Also, test the gas shutoff valve – it should be able to turn perpendicular to the pipe.
  • Take a look at the oven door gasket for any signs of wear and tear.
  • If you have a dishwasher, check the washer arm by opening the dishwasher and spinning and lifting the washer arm. Also, the drain hose should arc up to prevent backwash from the drain to the dishwasher, so make sure nothing has dislodged it.
  • Are there any signs of leaking around or under the dishwasher?
  • Don’t forget to change any water filters!

Plumbing in All Rooms

  • Look for signs of leaks. This can be in all exposed pipes but also in areas where pipes run through the walls or foundation.
  • Are there any signs of corrosion? This could indicate a problem with the water or the pipe. Are there green stains around any brass or copper fittings and on shutoff valves? This can be a sign of corrosion or electrolysis caused by mismatched metals, which can lead to leaks and bad connections. You’ll want to get this fixed!
  • How is your water pressure? If it’s low, this could indicate a problem with the line. Double-check for sediment buildup in the faucet aerator or showerheads.
  • Are your drains doing their job? If you notice any drains moving slowly, this could indicate a clog or a blocked vent pipe. If the drain bubbles, this is also an issue!
  • Don’t forget the toilets! Flush them to ensure they’re running properly. Open the tank and look for any missing, worn parts, or cracks anywhere on the toilet. If your toilet runs again after a moment, this can indicate a slow leak somewhere. Also, move the base to make sure it doesn’t rock.
  • If you have tile in your shower or around sinks, you’ll want to look for cracks. Tapping on the tiles helps you locate any loose or hollow ones, which may be hiding rotted backboard.
  • How is the caulking in the tub and shower? Is it time to replace it?
  • If there are areas where water can stand for long periods of time, make sure to check for mildew.
  • If you have a sliding shower door, check it for sticking, rust, etc. Don’t forget the gaskets around the glass for any wear and tear.
  • In your washing machine, check the hoses for signs or aging or leaks.
  • Check dryer vents for tears. You can get an attachment for your vacuum (or some already have one) to vacuum or brush out lint in the hose and around the lint screen inside the dryer. If there’s any lint around the floor or on the wall, this could indicate a clog in the vent hose.
  • Water heater – look inside the burner chamber for rust flakes. The flame should be an even blue with no yellow (yellow could indicate the need for cleaning).
  • You can also drain the water heater to remove any sediment that may have settled to the bottom.

Water and Septic

  • If you have well water, collect a sample and send it to your county cooperative to test it for any chemicals or bacteria.
  • The well cover should be tightly sealed but still have access to the pump.
  • Easily check the sump pump by pouring water on it to see if it turns on automatically.
  • How is the ground around your septic tank/field? Is it soggy or does it have overly lush vegetation? These can indicate the tank is full or possibly failing.


  • You’ll want to check your doors for swollen spots or sticking. Don’t forget to inspect for any loose hinges or doorknobs.
  • Look at the floor for any popped nails, loose boards/tiles, or springy spots. These can indicate joist trouble.
  • If there are stains on the ceiling, this can indicate a roof or plumbing problem. You’ll also want to check that your ceiling and floors don’t have any new sagging or cracks. This can indicate a shift in the house. Don’t forget to check above the doors for cracks as well!
  • If you have ceiling fans, look around them to ensure they are well secured to the ceiling.
  • If you have stairs, shake the stair balustrade to test for sturdiness and any looseness.
  • It’s very important to test all of your smoke and CO detectors. If something doesn’t work, replace your batteries immediately and retest to make sure the device itself is working.


  • While inspecting, keep an eye out for any signs of animals or any palace where they could get in.
  • During daylight hours, look around your attic with the lights turned off to check for any holes in the roofing that will let light in.
  • Look around the vents for any gaps and check fan motors for frayed wiring, loose screws, etc.
  • You’ll want to look for damp spots around any insulation. Feeling around the insulation can help you find any spots where there may be leaks. Also check for torn or missing insulation, as animals often love to make nests out of it.
  • Joists and rafters need to be checked for any structural damage.


  • Test your garage door to make sure it’s operating properly. Are there any dents in the tracks or cracks in the door? Do all of your garage remotes work?
  • If you have any tools or storage in the garage, make sure to check anything hanging is properly secured.


Most people overlook simple home inspections every year and can get surprised when a major problem occurs. If you add this annual inspection to your new year’s to-do list, you may be able to catch any little problems before they turn into bigger ones!

Preparing to buy and negotiate a good price for your property is easier with professional help. At the Zion Group, our team of experienced professionals will make the time to listen, plan, and execute your vision for your real estate goals. Schedule a free consultation with us today.