As a home inspector, I often enter a house that just isn’t ready for a home inspection. There are shelves full of storage blocking the attic access hatch in the closet, appliances full of clothes and dishes, and junk, junk, and more junk everywhere, blocking access to areas and systems of the home. When we can’t see it, we can’t inspect it.
As part of our standards of practice, mainly for liability reasons, we typically don’t like to move personal effects. And you probably also wouldn’t appreciate us moving your unmentionables from the clothes dryer! As a seller, having your home ready for the buyer’s inspection can help it go faster and leave the home inspection with less limitations, in turn signalling to the buyer that you have nothing to hide.
Here are some easy things you can do to prepare:
Ensure we have access
Make sure we have easy access throughout the property. If we can’t get to an area, we can’t inspect it, and that might be a red flag for buyers. Clear away anything blocking access to areas we need to inspect, including attics (remember the garage!), basements, crawlspaces, utilities, and under sinks.
Clear around the house
In addition to checking the interior functioning of your home, we are also going to be looking at the exterior, including siding, trim, 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 we can get a good look.
Check the roof
For most people, it’s been a while since they last took a good look at the roof of their house. The roof is an important part of the home inspection so you can’t ignore it in your preparations. Get out a ladder and clean moss and debris from the gutters, check for damaged or missing shingles, and make sure downspout extensions are in their proper position. Go up the ladder against the house or onto the roof at your own risk. Don’t go up if you do not feel you can do it safely. If you do find damage on the roof, you’ll want to get it taken care of prior to the home inspection.
Keep a clean house
If you’ve already been going through the process of selling your house, you’re probably used to keeping everything clean and tidy. When you’ve accepted an offer, you’re not done yet! Maintain the same level of cleanliness for the home inspector. How clean your home is doesn’t have anything to do with the inspection itself, but a dirty or messy house may make the us suspicious that other areas of the property may not be properly maintained.
Replace any burned out lightbulbs
A light fixture not working suggests one of two things to a home inspector: either the bulb itself is out, or there’s something faulty in the fixture’s wiring or with the fixture itself. We will either have to waste time determining if the fixture is inoperable or we may simply note that there’s a possible defect without looking further into it. Avoid both of these scenarios by making sure that all of your bulbs are in working order.
Make sure your toilets are functioning properly
Your toilet running for along time after it is flushed is a common problem that gets easy to ignore when you’re living with it every day. Fixing a running toilet an easy and inexpensive repair you can take care of on your own with a simple trip to the hardware store, so take care of the problem before we find it.
Put in a fresh furnace return filter
Regularly replacing the furnace filter in your home is important for air quality and the overall well-being of your heating and ventilation system. Instead of making us 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 pay attention to.
Turn all pilot lights on
The pilot light for your water heater is probably always on (and you would have noticed already if it wasn’t), but make sure you also check the pilot light on your gas fireplace. Many people turn their fireplace off in warmer months, so it’s important to double check that the fireplace is working prior to inspection. If you’ve turned off your fireplace’s pilot light, now is the time to turn it on again.
Ensure the electrical panels are properly labeled
A confusing electrical panel is frustrating for homeowners and home inspectors alike. Double check that each switch in the panel is labeled clearly and correctly, and replace any labels that are incorrect or difficult to read. Make sure you not only address the main panel, but also any sub-panels (in the garage, etc).
Check your doors
Walk through your house and check each door and its hardware to make sure that it’s in good working order. Interior and exterior doors should close, open, and latch with no problems. Doorknobs should be securely in place, and any locks, particularly on outside doors, need to function properly. Sometimes temperature fluctuations can warp normally functional doors and lead to problems, so be sure to check all doors, including those you don’t use very often.
Repair faulty cabinet doors
It’s easy for the hinges on cabinets to get a bit loose, which results in doors that don’t close correctly or that aren’t flush with the frame. If you have a cabinet that’s looking off, you can usually fix it pretty simply just by tightening or adjusting the hinge with a screwdriver.
Take care of any insect intrusions
Most homeowners have to occasionally deal with an ant or spider in the home, 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 infestations prior to inspection. Most bug problems aren’t a huge deal, but they can turn off buyers.
Things to do the day of the inspection
By the time this day comes around, you should have done everything you can to prepare. Now it’s time to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible:
- keep all utilities on,
- double check that you’ve left clear access to areas and systems all around the house
- If any appliances are being sold with the house, make sure they are empty. Remove clothing from washers and dryers, dishes from dishwashers, and any storage inside of the oven.
- Ensure kitchen and bathroom counters are clear, as well as in and under sinks.
- unlock any gates, garages, electrical boxes, or other areas that you normally keep secure.
- prepare yourself and your family to vacate the house during the inspection
- take any pets with you, but if you can’t, make sure they’re safely crated or otherwise secured. We likely won’t inspect a room which has a barking dog in it.
If you follow these steps, you will leave your home all that much easier to inspect. We will have fewer stones unturned and leave the buyer with that much more trust and understanding of the home they are purchasing.