Is there any good reason to do your own home inspection? How about to get a better deal. Every flaw you can find is a negotiating point. You don't have to learn building codes, and you probably should use a professional inspector in any case. The point of learning what to look for is to protect yourself and get a better deal.
Home Inspection - Use A Checklist
A good home inspection checklist, keeps you from forgetting things. I have more than a hundred items on my own list. Think you could keep all these items in mind as you walk through a property? For tht matter, did you remember to look for water stains on the basement walls the last time you looked at a house? Bring a list!
Good lists are organized by area of the house, usually starting outside. Walk around and then through the home, checking each item on the list. Take notes. If a gutter is coming loose on the side of the house, write it down, along with notes about rotting wood or anything else you notice.
It doesn't matter if you don't know the difference between 12-gauge and 14-gauge wiring. You don't have to become an expert on all the building trades, as useful as this would be. You just have to use what you do know. Make a note if something looks "odd" or "smells funny." Afterwards, you can have a professional inspector take a closer look.
Home Inspection As A Negotiating Tool
many buyers make an offer on a home with an inspection contingency clause. After an inspector goes in, the buyer can re-negotiate the price based on his findings, or at least know that nothing is wrong. This isn't a bad way to go, but lowering your offer too much can often offend a seller, and blow the deal. How would you feel if somebody dropped their offer by ,000 after they already put it in writing?
A better way is to find as many problems with the property as you can, BEFORE making the offer. A list of these problems presented with an offer is a good impersonal (therefore non-offensive) way to present a low first offer. It's a good idea to keep the inspection contingency in the offer, but you probably won't have to lower your offer this way.
There is no need to be a carpenter to note that a railing is loose. Most of us can see if a home needs new paint. Home inspection can start with simple things like these, and end with a better price for you.
About the Author: Steve Gillman has invested in real estate for years. For a complete home inspection checklist, and to see a photo of a beautiful house he and his wife bought for ,500, visit http://www.HousesUnderFiftyThousand.com