Get Ready for a Home Inspection
Nearly all home buyers hire a professional home inspector to take a close look at their new house before closing. You can speed things along by analyzing the condition of your home by making necessary repairs now, before the house is under contract, and to be thoroughly prepared when the home inspector shows up on your doorstep.
1. Clean the House
This sounds so simple yet home owners often overlook this tactic. Home inspectors are people first and inspectors second. As people, they carry preconceived ideas of how well a home has been maintained. Clean homes say you care and take care of the house.
2. Be On Time Because the Inspector Will Be
Sometimes home inspectors are early. If an inspector makes an appointment with you for 9:00 a.m., have the house ready for inspection at 8:30. It's also common for inspectors to start on the exterior of the home, so leave the shades down or drapes drawn until you are dressed. More than one unprepared seller has been "surprised" by a stranger stomping around in the back yard.
3. Leave the Utilities Connected
The home inspector will need to turn on the stove, run the dishwasher, test the furnace and air conditioning, so leave the utilities on, especially if the house is vacant. It's impossible to check receptacles for grounding and reverse polarity if the power is turned off. Without utilities, the inspector will have to reschedule, which could delay the closing of your transaction and the removal of the buyer's home inspection contingency.
4. Provide Workspace Around Furnace and Water Heaters
Remove boxes, bookcases, furniture and anything else blocking access to your furnace, air conditioner and water heater. The inspector will need three to four feet of working space to inspect these items.
5. Keep Pilot Lights Ignited
Most home inspectors will refuse to light pilot lights because they are not covered for that type of liability. If your pilot lights are not lit, then important items such as the water heater, gas stove or furnace will not be inspected and the buyer could delay closing until those inspections are completed.
6. Provide Access to Attic and Garage
The inspector will need to get into your basement and / or attic as well, so keep a path cleared.
7. Leave Keys for Outbuildings & Electrical Boxes
Leave the remote controls for your garage door opener or a key if the garage is unattached to the house. Unlock the covers for your sprinkler system and electrical box. Leave a key for exterior building access.
8. Prepare to be Away for Three Hours Minimum
Often the buyer will accompany the home inspector, and buyers feel uncomfortable asking questions if the owner is present. Try to schedule a time for the inspection when you can be out of the house, and take the children with you. Crate your pets if you cannot remove them from the premises.
Getting Through the Home Inspection
Whole-home inspections cover numerous systems within the house, but there are a handful of hot-spots that seem to worry buyers the most:
Mold & Mildew
Mildew stains and odors scare buyers, especially now that toxic black mold is such a hot topic, and chances are you won't even get an acceptable offer if mold and mildew are present. Even if the mold in your house is the normal variety kill it and fix the source of the problem.
Damp Basements and Crawlspaces
Mildew odors signal that a basement is too moist.
Buyers and home inspectors will look closely at the walls and floors for patches of mildew and signs of dampness. The inspector might use a meter to determine how much moisture is present in these spaces, because moisture deteriorates building materials and attracts insects.
Cover exposed earth in basements and crawl spaces with plastic to help keep moisture levels down.
Most foundation "leaks" we see are a result of poor drainage that funnels water towards the foundation.
• Make sure gutters are clean so that rainwater flows toward downspouts instead of spilling over gutter sides along the foundation.
• Point drainage downspouts away from the house.
• Check water flow through buried drainage lines by flooding them with water from a hose. If water comes back towards you the line is plugged and should be cleared.
If foundation problems do exist, and you cannot make repairs, you might need to lower the price of the house upfront, with the understanding that the price reflects the problem. Another option is to give the buyers an allowance to make repairs after closing.
Roofs and Chimneys
Deteriorated shingles or other roof coverings are one of the first things home buyers and home inspectors notice. If the elements underneath the shingles are moist or rotted, you can bet repairs will be requested.
Make sure flashing around the base of the chimney is watertight, and that mortar and bricks are in good condition.
Inspect the fireplace to make sure it is functioning properly.
Fix leaks long before the home inspection takes place. The inspector will check water pressure by turning on multiple faucets and flushing toilets at the same time. The inspector will also run the dishwasher.
The home inspector might check the septic system. One method uses dyes that are flushed down a stool. The inspector waits to see if the dye surfaces on top of the septic drainfield, which would indicate a drainage problem.
Inadequate or Inferior Electrical Systems
The electrical panel and circuit breaker configuration should be adequate for the needs of the house.
The inspector will look for receptacles with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFI) in bathrooms and kitchens. These receptacles contain mini circuit breakers that click off during a short circuit or overload. The home inspector will likely make sure the receptacles are what they appear to be, and not "dummies" that aren't wired correctly.
The inspection will test a portion of the remaining receptacles in the house.
Other Important Home Inspection Checks
The home inspector will check the heating and cooling systems, making sure they work and commenting about their efficiency.
The home inspector will take a close look at the structure and foundation.
The home inspector will check appliances that remain with the house, including smoke detectors.
Before the Home Inspection
Do everything you can to get the house in good condition before you attempt to sell it, but don't be discouraged if the inspection report contains a few negative statements. Home inspectors make note of everything they see.
Home Inspection Checklist of Items Not Inspected
A home inspectors standard practice typically does not include the following, for which a specific license to inspect and identify is required:
Mold, Mildew and Fungi Rodents