How to Get Ready for a Home Inspection

Give the house a deep clean and declutter every space. Replace old or broken door handles, faucets, light fixtures and cabinet pulls. Repaint the exterior and interior of the home, including the garage door. Give the front yard and backyard a facelift. Decide on the list price and set up a meeting with the estate agent. List the home and wait for buyers to call.

This sounds like the typical checklist for a homeowner preparing to sell their home. But one vital thing is missing from this 'to do' list is getting the house ready for the home inspection. The majority of owners who put their homes on sale do not do enough to make sure the property passes the buyer's home inspection, says Alltrade Property Management. Maybe that’s because most sellers are fairly confident about the condition of their home.

Or perhaps they assume that whatever steps they take to get the home ready for sale is the same as preparing it for inspection. But unfortunately, improving the façade and curb appeal of a house is not nearly enough preparation for a home inspection. That is because while buyers may be impressed by the cosmetic changes an owner makes to a property, home inspectors look much deeper.

The home inspection could be the most vital part of the home buying process because it has the power to determine how much an owner eventually gets for their home. When their home fails the inspection, it can be so discouraging to sellers that they may give in to the buyer's offer of a lower sales price. That is why doing your best to avoid this scenario by preparing for the inspection is critical.

How to prepare for the home inspection

Before you can prepare for a home inspection, you have to know what the inspection is about. If you don’t know what you are up against, how can you tell if you have done enough to protect yourself?

The home inspection is a grueling examination of the structures and systems of your home. The inspection is so detailed that it follows a checklist of over 1600 items and can take as much as three hours.

Here is a brief sample of what you can expect the home inspector to look at:

  • Basement and crawlspace: patches of mildew, signs of dampness, foundation leaks, pest infestation

  • Roof and chimney: damaged shingles, moist or rotted structures, leaks, loose bricks or mortar, damaged gutters and downspouts

  • Plumbing: high or low water pressure, leaks, clogged drain, burst pipes, septic tank issues, outdated plumbing

  • Electrical systems: outdated wiring, broken circuit boxes, ground fault circuit interrupters

  • HVAC systems: water heater, furnace, insulation, air quality issues

  • Other: home's exterior, appliances

Steps to prepare for the home inspection

  • Get with the listing agent and have them help you prepare for the inspection. Proper preparation will allow thorough inspection of the home and prevent a re-inspection, which the seller might have to pay for.

  • Deep clean the house and exterminate bugs or rodents throughout the premises.

  • Remove laundry from the washer and dryer. Take the dishes out of dishwasher and sink.

  • Clean furnace filter, stove, and oven. Clean up the attic and tidy up closets that serve as access to attic or crawl space.

  • Replace missing shingles, inspect gutters, and check the attic insulation.

  • Inspect downspouts and ensure they are not discharging water on home's structures.

  • Trim overhanging tree branches and remove all debris from the roof. Power wash if there is evidence of organic growth.

  • Ensure clear access to all areas, systems, and appliances.

  • Provide access to attic; sometimes inspectors cannot get into the attic because the owner's stuffs are in the way or the hatch is sealed. Ensure clear access and move stored items two feet away from the walls.

  • Ensure heating ducts are properly connected and fan ducts are venting out of the attic.

  • Clear brush or snowdrifts from the foundation. Open a clear path around the home's perimeter.

  • Create 3-4 feet of working space around the furnace and water heater.

  • Slope the soil away from the home's exterior to prevent water pooling.

  • Keep all utilities connected.

  • Leave water heater, gas stove, or furnace pilot lights on.

  • Test the functionality of windows (open and close), locks, and weather stripping. Replace cracked windows and torn screens.

  • Test toilets (flush), run faucets, check for drain clogs.

  • Test ceiling and bathroom fans.

  • Test light switches and replace burnt-out bulbs.

  • Test garage doors manually and with the remote. Test reverse safety mechanism.

  • Check and test smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detector, and fire extinguisher.

  • Inspect the bathroom for water damage, re-caulk around bathtubs and sinks, and regrout.

  • Inspect crawl space and cover it with 6 mm plastic sheeting.

  • Provide all repair documents and invoices and include documents for remodeling projects and new installations (appliances, roof, etc).

  • Label and leave keys to outbuildings and electrical boxes.

  • Leave garage door opener remote control and keys.

  • Leave a sketch of the property showing the location of well, septic tank, etc.

  • Have everything ready and waiting on inspection day before the buyer and the inspector arrive.

  • Have your estate agent be present for the inspection.

After you have welcomed the buyer and inspector to your home and handed them the keys and documents, get ready to leave. Take your pets, leave the home, and find something to keep you busy for the next three hours.

Hopefully, you have done enough for the home to pass inspection and you should have nothing to worry about. Good luck!

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