Here are a few tips to help you, or your listing clients prepare for a home inspection.
The majority of home inspection preparation rests on the property seller. This is by no means a must, but it may help the smoothness of the home inspection. The more time it takes home inspector to figure out tricks, obstructions, etc. the longer we’ll be at the house.
– Make repairs ahead of time. Even minor blunders can present your home in a less favorable light. Fix the little things like handles, knobs and faucets. Repair major defects (like roofs), or be straightforward about them and adjust the asking price accordingly.
– Thoroughly clean the house. It may seem obvious, but cleaning is often overlooked before an inspection. Inspectors are always looking beyond the mess to the real issues within the home. But an unkempt house gives the impression of uncaring owners and neglected regular maintenance. Additionally, new buyers are likely to accompany the inspector and will feel the same way.
– Have the home ready on time. A home inspection can take several hours, depending on condition. With busy schedules to keep and reports to prepare, home inspectors try their hardest to be on time. Often, inspectors are early. A good rule of thumb is to be ready an hour before the appointment time.
– Leave keys. Leave keys to all locked utility boxes and doors. Inaccessible systems are cause for incomplete inspections and delays. Arrange a place for the inspector to find the keys, or provide them ahead of time. Very common in bank owned properties are the garage door padlocked, check to see prior if you can retrieve the padlock keys.
– Keep utilities connected. If the property is unoccupied, be sure all utilities–electricity, gas, and water are connected and filled enough for appliances to run. The home inspector will need to test heating and cooling systems, plumbing, appliances, faucets, electrical systems and more. Without utilities, required testing cannot be done. The result is an incomplete inspection. Incomplete inspections will delay the release of the home inspection contingency clause, which, in turn, will delay closing. Check with the applicable utility company and make sure the water is turned on in the street prior to having a de-winterization contractor show up to turn the water on in the home.
– Keep pilot lights lit. For liability reasons, home inspectors will not light pilot lights on stoves, furnaces and water heaters. When pilot lights are not lit, inspections are rendered incomplete. Delays ensue.
– Clear workspace around systems. Home inspectors need adequate room to access appliances, electrical panels and heating and cooling units. Remove boxes, stored items and debris from these areas; at least three feet of workspace is recommended. Also, leave applicable remote controls available for testing. I run into this all the time and it causes delays.
– Provide access to additional spaces. Attics, garages, sheds, basements and crawlspaces need to be accessible to the home inspector. Clear away any blockages and make sure doors can be opened (unlock if necessary). This includes accessing inspection hatches for bathtubs, water meters and shutoff valves.
– Remove appliance contents. Dishwashers are subject to the home inspection and will be run. Even if an appliance is not included in the sale, inspectors will run your machine to ensure that the plumbing, venting and electrical supplies are in working order. Also, replace any burnt out lightbulbs throughout the house. Make sure all refrigerators and freezers in your garage are not plugged into a GFCI outlet.
– Clear exterior clutter and debris. Foundations, outside electrical outlets and faucets are a few of the items inspectors will want to see outside. Remove trash cans, trim branches and brush, dispose of dead limbs and clear an accessible path around the home, especially in winter. Again, the inspection will be easier, but the appearance of your house will improve as well. This just adds to the disclaimers in your inspection report.
– Collect receipts for repairs for your new buyer. Leave receipts and repair invoices for anything you have had fixed in the home. This shows proof of upkeep and answers to many questions a buyer may have.
– Remove pets. If possible, take your pets with you or have them boarded elsewhere for the day. At the very least, secure animals in crates, kennels or leads far away from any area where the inspector will be. Avoid an incomplete inspection, pet loss or liability resulting from nervous pets.
And last but not least, please don’t go behind us turning off water and lights. These are turned on for a reason and will be turned back off when the inspection process is complete.