Home inspections have a very important part in the home buying process. For buyers, the home inspection provides an assessment of the home conducted by a trained inspector. While not required for every home sale, most lenders and cash buyers will ask for a home inspection as a contingency in the sale contract.
For sellers, a ‘pre-inspection’ can reveal important details about a home’s systems and structure, allowing the seller to fix critical items ahead of time which might cause a buyer to walk away. If you’re a seller, here are the ways you can prepare your home for an inspection.
Clean and Make Room
When it comes time for the inspection, one of the first things you should do is clean the house. A clean home makes a good first impression, and it makes it easier for the inspector to do his/her job. If there are toys everywhere, or trip hazards, your home could potentially be an unsafe place to work. Make it hospitable.
Prepare to Be Gone
A home inspection is not quick. An inspector will look at the major systems in your home, such as electrical, HVAC, plumbing, roof, floors, attic or crawlspace, and the foundation and structural components. Be prepared for you and your family (and any non-contained pets) to be away from your home for two to four hours for thorough inspection. Note: If the seller ordered a ‘pre-inspection’, that seller will want to be present, so the inspector can debrief him/her.
Have the Utilities Connected
During an inspection a home’s systems are tested, including those that require electricity and water. If the property is vacant, you’ll need to make sure you get the utilities connected so the inspector can be thorough and not require a return trip. Also remember to light the pilot lights for any appliances within the home. Many inspectors won’t do this because of liability and insurance, so ensure these are lit so the inspector can do their job the first time.
Leave Keys and Documents
It’s easily forgotten, but an inspector will likely need access to any outside systems, buildings or garages for the property, so leave any keys, openers, or other tools easily accessible to the inspector. This also includes access to a sprinkler system or electrical box. You will also want to make sure you provide all invoices and documents for any remodeling or projects that have occurred. If you’ve put in a new water heater, new HVAC, or had some electrical work done, provide the documentation for the inspector to ensure that those items are inspected as well.
Since an inspector is going to look at all the major systems of your home, make sure there is easy access throughout the house, especially to a furnace, water heater, or any other appliance that the inspector will look at. Before the inspector arrives, make sure access is not hidden or thwarted by large items - for example, if your crawlspace is accessible through the closet of a bedroom, make sure there is nothing in the room or the closet that will prevent the inspector from getting to it. Also, provide details on where the inspector can find attic and crawlspace access, and ensure those access points are ready for the inspector. Sometimes if an inspector cannot get access to something, s/he will need to reschedule and there can be additional charges for having to return.
Many sellers fear the home inspection, but they shouldn’t. While it is used as a contingency for a buyer (which is why it gets a negative reputation), knowing how your home’s systems are doing is important, regardless of whether you’re leaving or not. The inspection can be a vital tool for a buyer or seller, and it can bring peace of mind for all parties involved. If you’re selling and looking to have an inspection, just view it as an important part of the entire process and approach it with an open mind.