Home Shopping Checklist

Walk Through Checklist 

Once you are in the market to purchase a home, you may be focused on how to use the new space, what will go where and which colors create the look you want. There are a lot of other things that should be carefully considered first before the cosmetics are planned.

How to gain the most information at first glance – It’s most helpful to bring a pen and pad when viewing homes; after walking through several homes the individual characteristics tend to start blending together. A flashlight works wonders whenever there isn't enough light to clearly see. And of course, a measuring tape can answer any questions regarding interior dimensions.

Key things to note when when checking out a home:

Foundation – Pay close attention to the foundation beneath a home. Look at the base of the walls and the ceilings in each room. Are there obvious cracks or apparent shifts in the foundation? Do the same around the outside. Are there any trees encroaching on the foundation? Be sure to open and shut all doors, as they can give insight on how much settlement has occurred. Look at the structure for any walls that may be bowed or low areas in the roof.

Grade and Drainage – Take a good look at the grading around the house and make sure drainage appears to be away from the house. There should be no areas where water can accumulate.

Insulation – Attics should have a minimum of R-19 insulation in a moderate climate, and R-38 in colder or hotter climates. Peak through the attic access and observe. As insulation gets old it will compact loosing R-Value.

Plumbing – Turn on several fixtures at once to assess the pressure. Listen for any unusual noises or malfunctions. Look for a plumbing clean-out outside (often around water meter).  This will let you know if the waste line is outdated which could be a costly repair.

Systems and Appliances – Try to find out how old and what condition the major systems are in; furnace, AC unit, water heater. Is the water heater adequate for your family’s needs? Check to see what appliances are staying and what condition they are in. Is there a dishwasher and if not is there a place to add one?

This covers some of the basics hopefully it assists you in your home search...

20 Things you can do to conserve energy


Keep more of your money in your pockets

Water heating is the third largest energy expense in your home. It typically accounts for about 15% of your utility bill. There are four ways to cut your water heating bills: use less hot water, turn down the thermostat on your water heater, insulate your water heater, and buy a new, more energy-efficient model. Look for the ENERGY STAR label.

Water Heating Tips

  • Install aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads.
  • Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time.
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater. Water heaters sometimes come from the factory pre-set at a high temperature, but setting it at 120° F provides comfortably hot water for most uses.
  • Insulate your hot-water storage tank, but be careful not to cover the water heater’s top, bottom,      thermostat, or burner compartment. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations; when in doubt, get professional help.
  • Insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater.
  • If you’re in the market for a new dishwasher or clothes washer, consider buying an efficient, water-saving ENERGY STAR model to reduce hot water use.
  • Once a year, drain a bucket of water of the bottom of the water heater tank. This gets rid of sediment, which can waste energy by “blocking” the water in the tank from the heating element.
  • Although most water heaters last 10 to 15 years, it’s best to start shopping now for a new one if yours is more than seven years old. Doing some research before your heater fails will enable you to select the best one that meets your needs.

Home appliances

  • Keep your refrigerator at 37°- 40° F and your freezer at 5°F
  • Use your microwave oven whenever possible, as it draws less than half the power of its conventional oven counterpart and cooks for a much shorter amount of time.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes – but do not overload dishwasher.
  • Consider a natural gas on-demand or tankless water heater. Research has found that savings can as high as 30% compared to a standard natural gas storage tank water heater.
  • A heat pump water heater can be very cost-effective in some areas and climates.


  • Set the washing machine temperature to cold or warm and the rinse temperature to cold as often as possible.
  • Wash only full loads of clothing- but do not overload machine.
  • Avoid over-drying. This not only wastes energy, but harms the fabric as well.


  • Sink - To conserve water, use sink stoppers instead of letting water run while shaving
  • Vanity Lights - Bathroom vanity lights are one of the most used fixtures in the average home. Use energy-efficient lighting, which can provide bright, warm light while using less energy and generating less heat than standard bulbs.
  • Toilet - A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water per day. Be sure to repair all toilet and faucet leaks promptly.


  • Humidifier - In the winter, the air is normally dry inside your house, which is a disadvantage because people typically require a higher temperature to be comfortable than they would in a humid environment. Therefore, efficient humidifiers are a good investment for energy conservation.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with energy efficient lighting.

Living room

  • Ceiling Fan - In the winter: If your ceiling fan has a switch that allows you to reverse the motor, you can operate the fan at a low speed in the opposite direction. This produces a gentle updraft, forcing warm air near the ceiling down into the living space. In the summer: Run the blades counter-clockwise (downward) to cool more efficiently. Turning up the thermostat by just two degrees and using your ceiling fan can lower AC costs by up to 4-6 percent over the course of the cooling season. Don't forget to turn the ceiling fan off when you leave the room.
  • Fireplace - Make sure your fireplace has tightly fitting dampers that can be closed when the fireplace is not in use. Seal hidden air leaks in your chimney.
  • Entertainment Center - The average homes uses 25 electronic products, accounting for up to 15 percent of household electricity use. Turn these products off when they're not being used. Better still, switching to electronic equipment with the ENERGY STAR label will help save additional energy even when the device is turned off.

Preventative Maintenance Inspections

Regularly Scheduled Preventative Maintenance Inspections Can Help You Save Thousands!

It is recommended that you receive a Home Maintenance Inspection every 2 years after the purchase of your home, or immediately following severe weather.  A Maintenance Inspection provides a detailed report about any damage or issues found to the systems or structure of the home, identifies differed maintenance, and educates the homeowner how to properly stay on top of this maintenance.

For about the cost of a basic automotive tune-up, a Home Maintenance Inspection can help identify problems and damage in a home before they become extensive.  Ironically, homes are maintained far less frequently than cars (though a house often costs ten to twenty times as much as a car). A home rarely receives a “check-up”, and problems that occur in a home are typically only addressed after something breaks or after extensive damage forces one to make repairs. Most homeowners don’t consider that, if found early on, repairs will often be less expensive.

One reason that homeowners don’t get their homes periodically inspected is because they aren’t aware that the service is available outside of the real estate transaction period. I regularly educate customers about maintenance inspections and truly believe in their benefit to a homeowner.  I am able to save customers thousands of dollars by finding issues before they become larger and more costly and also educate my customers how to perform most of their own maintenance themselves. Please feel free to call if you have more questions, and as always, protect your investment!


Michael Sterling

Owner of Sterling Home Inspections, LLC

512 – 796-8190

Sterling Home Inspections, LLC Copyright 2012