Preparing for a Home Inspection
The home inspection is typically a major hurdle for most people selling their home. Everyone is usually crossing their fingers in hopes that the inspector doesn't find anything "major" that could possibly cost them a bunch of money or even cause the deal to fall through completely.
So here are 10 easy tips...from an actual home inspector...that, if followed, will usually result in less scrutiny from the home inspector during his or her inspection.
1. Make sure that all utilities are turned on!
Now, this usually applies with home inspections that I do on vacant homes, but still.....
Make sure the utilities are on! If some or all of the utilities are off, the inspector will not be able to complete a thorough inspection. They will notate in their report that certain items could not be inspected due to no electricity, no gas, or no water....additionally, this will put most inspectors in a bad mood because the drove all the way to this house and they can't inspect some of the major systems. Inspector's in a bad mood is never a good thing! AND...
Not many people are willing to buy a home if they aren't even sure the lights or shower work. So, the homeowner/listing agent get the utilities turned on and the inspector has to go back to the home and conduct a re-inspection. This all takes time and most inspectors will charge an additional fee for the re-inspection. So, save yourself, the potential buyer and the inspector some time and just make sure everything is on.
2. Replace any light bulbs that are out
This one is just too easy, but I come across it all the time. Go spend $25 on some new bulbs and make sure every bulb in every light fixture works. It's all about the little things.
3. Make sure the inspector has access to attic and crawlspace
The attic and crawlspace include major structural elements of the home and will need to be inspected for a complete home inspection. So, you need to ensure the inspector can easily access these locations. Situations that I commonly encounter include a crawlspace access hatch in a bedroom closet that is covered with boxes, luggage, toys, piles of clothes, etc. Most inspectors are not going to move these items for you due to liability reasons. Additionally, if you have a pier and beam foundation and you do not know where your crawlspace access is.....there is a good chance that it was covered up at some point during a remodel. In this case, I would recommend having a licensed contractor create a new crawlspace access point.
Same thing with the attic access....if you have an attic access ladder in your garage, make sure that the inspector has plenty of room to pull it down. I've completed dozens of inspections where the ladder could not be pulled down completely because a car, tools, or gym equipment were blocking access.
4. Make sure the inspector can access the electrical panel
Very similar to number 3. Many electrical panel are installed inside of the garage and people love to block access with gym equipment, tools, etc. I've also seen plenty of pictures/posters hanging directly in front of the panel. FYI....access to the electrical panel should never be blocked in case of an emergency.
5. Get rid of piles of junk/debris around the perimeter of the home
For a thorough inspection, the inspector will need to visual access to the entire perimeter of the exterior foundation wall. This means that it is finally time to throw away or relocate the piles of junk, extra patio pavers, extra stone or brick from your house, etc. from around your home. Any wood piles directly adjacent to your home should also be relocated as these are considered a conducive condition for termites.
6. Clean your gutters/roof
Another easy one....if you don't feel comfortable getting on your roof or a ladder; I definitely recommend spending a few bucks to hire a handyman to do this for you. When I see a whole bunch wet leaves sitting in a roof valley; I think "that's a whole lot of moisture just sitting on the roof." AND...if the gutters are clean, that is one less thing that the inspector is going to put in his/her report. Its all about perception here. Most inspectors are not going to put an exact number on how old they think the roof covering materials are....so if they roof is clean and the gutters are clean; I promise the roof is going to at least look "newer" to the inspector than if it were covered in leaves and debris.
7. Change your furnace/air handler filter
Very simple as well....hopefully you already know where your filter is and how to replace it...it's either at the air handler itself or at the return vent (larger one). A handyman can easily take care of this one as well if your filter is not easily accessible. Replacement filters start as low as $5. You don't need the nicest filter money can buy...just a clean one. Again, a clean filters helps with the overall perception of the home. If a person is too lazy to change an air filter.....what else were they too lazy to do as well?? Dirty filters heighten the home inspectors senses.
8. Make sure you electrical panel is properly labeled
You probably won't have to worry about this one if you are selling a newer home, but anything built before the 2000s...there is a good chance that the labels have worn away if they were initial put on. The easiest way to do this is with two people and two phones. One stands at the electrical panel and turns off breakers while the other person is inside the home verifying that the breaker is labeled correctly (if labeled). If they are not labeled, just write them in with a permanent marker as you go.
9. Ensure all toilets properly flush
It's pretty common to come across a toilet with a disconnect handle chain or a worn flapper (which is the likely culprit for runny toilets), most of the time it is in a bathroom that is not used on a regular basis....and that's why you should check them all. Toilet flushing components are relatively inexpensive and pretty much anyone willing should be able to swap out faulty components for new ones.
10. CLEAN YOUR HOUSE!!
I believe this one speaks for itself.
Cover photo courtesy of Kara Eads @karaeadscreates