How can I prep my house to get a better home inspection?

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Everyone who has ever sold their home has one focus after they have a signed sales contract: get to the closing table quickly and pack up and move. The home inspection is usually just a speed bump on the road to closing with, at most, a couple of repairs to be done or a small price concession to the buyer. But, if you are not prepared, problems you are unaware of can postpone or even  jeopardize your sale. 

   There are some defects that a home inspector may find that you could not possibly be aware of—since most homeowners do not crawl aross their attic or climb onto their roof. Also, every home, even a brand new one, has a few defects that need repair. So you should expect that the inspector will find a few things.

   But you can reduce the list of defects, and shorten the time required for the inspection, by doing a little prep work beforehand. Here’s our 10-item checklist:

  1. Make sure that the electric, gas, and water utilities are on, and gas pilot lights are lit. This may seem obvious, but is sometimes overlooked if you have already moved, and the home is not occupied. If even one of the utilities is off, it means a rescheduled inspection and an aggravated buyer.
  2. Clean or replace the HVAC (air conditioning) filter if it is dirty. Make sure the filter is secured in place (not loose).
  3. Test the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Replace any dead batteries.
  4. Check for burned-out or missing bulbs in light fixtures and ceiling fans. Replace missing or cracked globes. Inspectors do not trouble-shoot lights that don’t work, and simply call them out as non-functional.
  5. Move any furniture or stored items that block access to the electric panel(s), HVAC equipment, water heater(s), attics and crawl spaces. If extensive stored items around the attic hatch opening prevent access to the rest of the attic, clear an area for access. Also, remove any cars from the garage for the duration of the inspection if the home has an automatic garage door operator. The inspector cannot test the pressure-activated garage door stop with a car in the garage.
  6. Unlock any areas the inspector must access: storage closets, attic hatches, fence gates, and crawl space access panels.
  7. Arrange for your pets to be secured or removed from the premises during the inspection.
  8. Trim bushes away from the walls of the house and tree limbs away from the roof.
  9. Removed stored items from the foundation walls or base of exterior walls of home.
  10.  Catch up on any minor repairs needed for doorknobs and locks, damaged windowpanes, missing or damaged screens, and clogged gutters and downspouts.

   When you’re all done getting ready for the inspector, you will be justifiably proud of your home. And probably also curious, and a little nervous, about what the buyer’s inspector might find. If you are tempted to stick around for the inspection, please try to stifle that urge. 

   You will only end up aggravated, and possibly make it difficult for the buyers and their inspector to have a frank, open conversation about the condition of your home. But, if you can’t resist sticking around, remember never to say this to the inspector: “I don’t think you’ll find anything wrong with this house!”

   It’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull. 

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

  To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection? 

How thorough is a home inspector required to be when inspecting a house?

Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement?

Can I do my own home inspection?

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole? 

The seller gave me a report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector? 

If we already looked at the house very carefully, do we still need a home inspection?

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1940s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s house?

• What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property? 

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been moved?

What do I need to know about buying a foreclosure? 

What should I look for when buying a former rental house?  

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

What should I look for when buying a house that is being "flipped" by an investor seller? 

What do I need to know about a condo inspection?

What are the "Aging In Place" features to look for when buying a retirement home?

   Visit our HOME INSPECTION page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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