How to prepare for a home inspection

The sale of your house is almost a done deal;  you still need a home inspection.

Typically a real estate transaction occurs after the buyer has signed a purchase agreement but before the closing date.  The buyers usually choose to make the closing contingent on the results of the inspection.  The buyer is able to back out of the sale if the inspection results in negative outcomes.  As a seller, you'll want the inspection to go as smoothly as possible, with few if any major issues detected.

What does a home inspector do? During the inspection, properties are examined roof to basement, with primary concern on the roof, walls, foundation, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC.  They will closely look for leaks, mold, mildew, and other signs of water damage.

There are some things you can do to prepare for the inspection.

Provide open access

Be sure the home inspector has access throughout the property. If they can’t get to an area, they can’t inspect it, and that will be a red flag for buyers. Clear away any clutter that limits access.

Clear the perimeter

In addition to checking the interior functioning of your home, the inspector is also going to be looking at the exterior, including siding, trims, and caulking around windows and doors. You’ll want to leave areas around your home clear of plant growth, trash cans, and stored items so they can get an unimpeded look.

Check the roof

The roof is an important part of the home inspection, so you shouldn't ignore it when preparing. Clean moss and debris from the gutters, check for damaged or missing tiles, and ensure downspouts are clear.  Take care of any damage prior to the home inspection.

Clean Up

How clean your home is doesn’t affect the inspection itself, but a dirty or messy house may make the inspector suspicious that other areas.

Replace any burnt out bulbs

A blown bulb suggests two things to a home inspector: either the bulb itself is out, or there’s something faulty in the fixture’s wiring.

Make sure your toilets work

Fixing a running toilet is an easy and inexpensive repair you can take care of on your own with a simple trip to the hardware store.  Take care of any toilet problems before the inspection.

Replace your furnace filter

The inspector may get concerned that you haven’t been taking good care of your home’s heating and air, clean or replace the existing filter and show that it’s something you monitor.

Turn on pilot lights

Is the pilot light in your gas fireplace on?  Homeowners turn their fireplace off in warmer months, so it’s important to double check that the pilot light is on.

Be sure the fuse box is properly labeled

A confusing fuse box is frustrating for homeowners and home inspectors alike. Double check that each switch in the box is labeled clearly and correctly, and replace any labels that are incorrect or difficult to read.

Check the doors

Walk-through of your house and check each door to make sure that it’s in working condition. Interior and exterior doors should be latching into the frame with no problem, doorknobs should be securely in place, particularly on doors that lead outside, need to be functioning properly as well. Be sure to check all doors, including those you don’t use often.

Repair faulty cabinets

It’s easy for the hinges on cabinets to get a bit loose. If you have a cabinet that’s looking off, you can usually fix it pretty simply just by tightening the hinge with a screwdriver.

Look for water damage and leaks

The home inspector is going to be looking for signs of leaks or water damage, so it’s better to get it repaired prior to the inspection. Be sure to check under sinks, around faucets, around the base of your toilets and bathtubs and/or showers, and under any appliances that may leak, such as dishwashers and refrigerators.  For water damage, examine walls, ceilings, and floors, looking for signs of warping, or sagging.  Remember to check the exterior of your house for signs of leaks or water damage as well.

Fix any bug problems

Most of us have to occasionally deal with an errant ant or spider in the home, especially in warmer temperatures. But if you’ve got a wasp nest in the backyard or are regularly seeing lines of ants in your kitchen or other interior areas, you’ll want to take care of these problems prior to inspection. Most bug problems aren’t a huge deal, but they can turn off buyers.

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