If you’re a buyer, there’s not much you can do to prepare for a home inspection; after all, it’s not your home yet.
If you are trying to sell your home, you may also be wondering how to prepare for a home inspection. Since you will have interested buyers going through your home with a knowledgeable inspector, you’ll want to adequately prepare your home, and be sure that appliances are functioning properly, as a gesture of good faith. Or perhaps you want a pre-listing seller’s inspection to identify major issues before they come up.
During a buyer/seller inspection, the home inspector will be performing a visual, non-invasive, non-technically exhaustive inspection. This means that s/he will not be looking inside walls, pulling up floorboards, or digging up plumbing. They will, however, need easy access to the areas of the home they are inspecting. Preparing your home for inspection is all about providing that access where you can.
So what is the best way to prepare for an inspection?
Leave Utilities On
Even in a vacant home, power, water, and gas will need to be turned on during the inspection.
Your inspector will be making sure that everything is functioning properly. They will check appliances, HVAC systems, plumbing, crawl spaces, electrical panels, and any other relevant systems. If any of these are not in operation, the inspection cannot be completed.
If you are getting a 4-point inspection, three of the four points—electrical system, plumbing, and HVAC—rely on having your utilities turned on. And because these types of inspection are usually at the request of an insurance provider, you won’t be able to opt out.
Check that things are functioning properly
While a home inspection requires lots of education and specialized knowledge, there are some things that you, as a homeowner, can make sure are functioning properly. Here is a good DIY (not a replacement) home inspection checklist.
- Flush toilets and run all faucets to check for leaks.
- Check doors and windows to make sure they open, close, lock, and seal correctly.
- Test light switches and ceiling fans.
- Test garage doors (manually and with the remote).
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries, if necessary.
- Exterminate any pest infestations.
- Replace burned-out light bulbs.
- Unclog drains.
- Replace missing shingles and torn window screens.
- Clean out gutters.
- Remove debris and overgrowth from roof line, downspouts, and A/C units.
By taking care of these minor repairs now, you will avoid having them put on the inspection report, which could leave the buyers with a bad impression.
Easy Access Areas
Obviously, the home inspector needs to be able to inspect your home. If there are moving boxes, furniture, or delicate looking items in their way, they won’t be able to do their job.
These things all fall under the umbrella of “limitations to the inspection.” Your home inspector will not remove any limitations to the inspection, even if they are blocking the way to an access point inside the home. (They will simply note on their report that they were unable to inspect the water heater because there were boxes stacked in front of it.)
This is why inspections are easiest in a vacant home, but since you can’t clear out your house completely, do your best to put moving boxes, furniture, and other items where they won’t get in anyone’s way. In the middle of the room is usually best.
You love your pet, but they can make an inspection problematic.
The home inspector will need to open and close doors to inspect both the inside and outside of your property; you wouldn’t want your beloved pet to make a break for it. Have your pet spend the day at another location (a petsitter’s or a doggy day care) so they don’t inhibit the inspection.
Closing them up in another room is not an adequate substitute, as the inspector won’t be able to inspect that room (especially if they suspect that your pet is aggressive).
Leave Before the Buyers Arrive
In most cases, the seller will not be present during a buyer inspection unless they have cleared it with the realtor first.
Make plans to go to work, run errands, or hang out at a coffee shop while the inspection is going on. Most full-home inspections only take about 2-3 hours, so you won’t be inconvenienced for long.
Of course, if the seller is the one obtaining the inspection, feel free to stay home the entire time.
Let the Inspector Work
If you will be remaining in your home during the inspection, this does not mean you should follow the inspector around, providing commentary on the house. This will only prolong the inspection and distract the inspector.
Remain close by in case there is a question or an item that needs to be moved out of the way, but allow the inspector to perform the inspection the way they are accustomed.
After the Inspection
After the inspection is finished, pay close attention to the way the inspector left your house.
At EDC, I always make sure the thermostat is turned back to normal and the oven turned off, but I always inform the realtor of this as well, as an additional check. I also make sure to lock all doors and windows, so if you prefer that they remain unlocked, check them afterwards.
Sometimes, things will come up during the inspection that I am unable to correct. If, during the course of an inspection, a GFCI outlet will not reset (part of the electrical system), this may effect any appliances that run out of that outlet (a definite problem if that appliance is a fridge).
Knowing how to prepare for a home inspection can not only ease the inspection process, it can make the process of selling your home easier as well.
By making the inspector’s job easier, you are demonstrating to the buyers that you are confident in the home’s condition and are willing to address any potential issues that may arise. It also helps you to get a more thorough inspection, so that there are no unpleasant surprises later on.
Whether you are selling or buying, having an accurate, comprehensive home inspection is crucial. EDC Professional Home Inspections is owned and operated by a Master Inspector (one of only 10 in the state) with more than 1,000 home inspections to our name. Contact us today to schedule your full-home, 4-point, or wind mitigation inspection today.