Before an inspectaion takes place, taking the time to prepare adequately can mean the difference between passing and failing. Having buyers ready to take this step only to fail the inspection can mean a lost sale. It can also discourage your own agent, whose investment in your property might not be the same as yours, but their time is still quite valuable.
Different areas of your home come under scrutiny during a home-buyers’ inspection. The inspector is generally a neutral party who wants to uncover any issues that diminish the value of the house. You can prepare more fully when you know what a home inspector examines.
When the inspector finds damaged areas, not only does the expected cost of the repairs but also the hassle of undertaking these repairs reduce the selling price. Pre-inspecting areas your home, and repairing anything that you find to be sub-par, can prevent a lot of unnecessary hardship for everyone involved.
1. Be Honest with Everyone Involved
You expect to be told about the buyers’ limitations on intended move-in dates, closing costs, bank approvals, and other details related to the sale of your house. You also want to see the inspector’s qualifications. You owe them the same honesty. When there are defects, and many houses have them, explaining the history (if known) becomes very helpful to ascertaining the possibility and necessity of repairs.
2. Spend Some Time Removing the Clutter Your Property
Boxes packed for your upcoming move, stored sports equipment, pet kennels not currently in use, and outgrown toys can seem fine when you’ve slowly gotten used to its presence. For the inspector, it can impede the view of different components of your property, and worse, it can seem as if you might be trying to hide problems with the property. Move these items into temporary storage, instead. It will help your family stay more organized when you move out, as well.
3. Don’t Forget to Clear Out Appliances
Empty appliances out and wipe them down. Pull clothing out of washers and dryers, dishes from sinks and dishwashers, and make sure you have a minimum of food containers with leftovers in the refrigerator. Even if these white goods will be leaving with you, a clean, minimalist approach makes things seem more functional and less maintenance-intensive.
4. Go Over the State of Your Garage and Shed
Make sure everything is functioning correctly. This includes doors and their hinges and locking mechanisms, windows and latches, lighting, and electrical systems. If either is heated, make sure the system generates heat.
Check the floor for cracks and other signs of deterioration. Walls and overhead structures should be cleaned of cobwebs.
Check for holes in the roofing by going in on a sunny day and looking for beams of sunlight. Do this once in the morning and once in the afternoon if the roof is peaked.
5. Check the House’s Roof and its Drainage System
Check the underside of the roof for missing or damaged insulation. Damaged insulation can indicate problems with shingles and underlay materials that you might not see as easily from the outside. A major job that your roof performs is draining rainfall properly.
You also must consider the condition of the gutters and downspouts around your property. When gutters leak or downspouts spray water, the sides of your house can become saturated. This can create the perfect environment for numerous problems. The downspouts must deposit rainwater from the roof several feet away from the base of your house. Drainage that occurs near the home can start problems below the soil.
These two components of your home protect it from the elements but are one of the most common places house inspectors locate serious problems. Making sure they are in excellent shape can take a lot of stress out of the equation.
6. Don’t Skip the Foundation
Look over the perimeter of your house to locate cracks or crumbling concrete. Bricks can become loose when mortar decays. On the inside, you should look at every basement wall. Doing so after rainfall can quickly show you where leaks exist. Instead, walls should stay completely dry.
Basement floors should also not have any large cracks, although older homes might have some here and there because of settling. You should pull the carpeting up, if your floors have them, to allow the inspector to see them more quickly.
7. Examine the House for Squareness
Cracks in the corners between two adjacent walls can lengthen as time passes. Their severity depends heavily on the stress placed on them from the movement of the framework. Cracks in these places can widen, as well, and might be accompanied by cracks between the bottoms of window frames and the floor.
Without a licensed and experienced contractor skilled in such repairs, these can reappear later, months after the work is completed. Divulging this possibility now means that future problems become much less your obligation and responsibility.
Visible defects in the floor can remain hidden when they affect the lay of an entire room or story of the house. One way to tell is to set a marble on the floor, letting it drop from a low height. Select different spots in the room and any movement of the marble or ball more than a few inches often signifies an unlevel floor. Issues with the framework might not be the culprit; however, so finding a qualified contractor can help figure out the underlying cause for you before the inspection. Give these findings to the inspector when you hand over the rest of the house’s file.
8. Take a Hard Look at the Exterior
Do more than look at the painted areas, siding, and shrubbery. Examine how the yard in front and visible areas on the side tie in together. Look at the walkway’s concrete and the sidewalk in front of your home. Check any steps for crumbling concrete or rotting wood sections. The driveway is often a spot where you might want to clean off grease and oil stains. When it shows additional wear and tear, resealing after power-washing experts clean might help make it look brand new.
Clean more than the glass windows, but also wipe down the frames and any shutters. Pay attention to the doors and entryway, also. Put out a new welcome mat. Tiny accents like a wind chime can make the place feel homey and encourage your potential buyers to feel more positive about the property.
9. Pre-Inspect the Electrical, Gas, Water, and Other Utility Systems
Just as you checked in the garage and shed for working lights, making sure that every light socket in your home has a light bulb. Every outlet in your home should also work. Check each one with a small portable appliance that does not heat up as part of its function. A small desk lamp easily suffices. Make a note of any outlets that are non-working or have a loose connection. A quick inspection by an electrician can determine if the circuit breaker setup and all wiring are up to code. Ask for written documentation for this. Add these sheets to your file.
Gas-using appliances should work without any leaks. Leaks are not only wasteful, but they also pose life-threatening risks that have no place in any home. If you smell gas, you can call your gas company’s emergency line to have someone inspect it. Otherwise, there might be a small fee placed on your bill for the service.
Water leaks can also cause the development of damaged areas in your home. These can happen anywhere along a water feed line or within the drainage system. Many restoration companies provide free inspections that can locate these for you. When you know one already exists and its location, a plumber can work more efficiently and get the entire job done much faster.
Other utilities, including cable TV and Internet service, should also work in the house. Wiring and satellite dishes should provide adequate connections. If you do not have an active subscription to these services, explain this to the inspector in a memo-type note that you place in the file.
10. Look Over the Ventilation System, Including all the Components
The comfort of occupants during all seasons means both heating and cooling systems should work flawlessly. If you use a furnace and air conditioner to accomplish a comfortable environment, both need to work efficiently. Clean each and remove any dust. Replace the filters, also. If you use an HVAC system, this should have an inspection, especially if you have noticed any issues. Regardless of the system used within your home, all air ducts and vents should be cleaned.
Some older homes still use the boiler system for heat, and these might require a specialist to ensure it is in proper working order. A note of its efficiency might also be helpful to the inspector.
11. Check Insulation and Weather Stripping
Checking to see if exterior walls contain insulation might seem difficult to do yourself. However, there are a few ways that you can find out if exterior walls contain any insulation. These do require some skill and caution, to not damage the wall.
Check for insulation by prying away a section of the baseboard. Make sure that you place a thick sponge behind the crowbar’s elbow, so it does not dent the wall. You can also ask an electrician to check for the presence of insulation and what type it is when removing an electrical outlet box. Another alternative is to use a hole-cutting drill bit to make a small hole in the back of a closet. You can use the circle made from this to patch the hole afterward.
Another part of keeping costs down for heating and cooling involves the weather stripping. Check the condition of your house’s and replace it if it looks worn or otherwise less than appealing.
12. Keep a File of Repairs and Maintenance
One way you can help recover from anything that you were either unaware of or unable to repair before the inspection is to negotiate the costs involved. Hiring someone to repair large projects leaves you with several receipts, but those you obtain when paying or other items or smaller services should also go into the file you keep for the house.
13. Vacate the House for the Inspection
After meeting the inspector and the potential buyers, give them some privacy and leave for a couple of hours. Ask them to lock up for you when they leave. Give the file to the inspector and ask for a copy of the findings at their earliest convenience.
Before the inspection, however, always have any valuables like jewelry, coin collections, or other smaller items placed in a safe and secure location. While it is doubtful that anyone might steal something, such precautions can prevent misunderstandings.
A Few Final Notes
All of these tips should help your house pass any inspection with ease. Larger repairs often need local government permits, so make sure you either obtain these yourself or that your contractors do so for each project. Estimates and recommendations from contractors should also find their way into the file.