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How to Prepare Your Home for a Buyer’s Inspection

May 2, 2012

The purpose of a home inspection is to document the overall condition of the property at the time of the inspection, and to ensure that its major systems and components (water heater, heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical, etc.) are installed and working properly.  Informed sellers can make the home inspection process easier and faster.  Preparing for a home inspection not only presents the property in the best condition, but it also helps prevent closing delays due to incomplete or repeated inspections.  If sellers know what to look for, they can resolve any minor issues before the buyer’s home inspection.  Completing repairs beforehand helps ensure that escrow progresses more smoothly.  Even minor blunders can present your home in a less favorable light.  The following are some helpful suggestions to help you prepare for your home inspection.

 Exterior Areas to Check and Fix before an Inspection

  • Remove soil or mulch from contact with siding so that there are six or more inches of clearance.
  • Clean out dirty gutters and any debris from the roof.
  • Trim trees, roots, and bushes back from foundation, roof, siding, and chimney.  Then, check the siding and trim for damages and repair as needed.
  • Paint weathered exterior wood and caulk around trim, chimney, windows, and doors.
  • Remove wood/firewood and other objects from any contact with the house.
  • Caulk all exterior wall penetrations.
  • Ensure that all doors and windows are in proper operating condition, including repairing or replacing any cracked windowpanes.
  • Repair major defects (like roofs) or be straight forward about them and adjust the asking price.
  • Remove trash cans, trim branches and brush, dispose of dead limbs, and clear accessible path around the home.  This helps with the appearance of the house and makes inspecting the foundation, outside electrical outlets, and faucets easier.

Interior Areas to Check and Fix before an Inspection

  • CLEAN!  An unkempt house gives the impression of uncaring owners and neglected regular maintenance.
  • Leave keys to all locked utility boxes and doors.  Inaccessible systems are cause for incomplete inspections and delays.
  • Clean or replace heating and cooling features.  Clean dirty air returns and plenum.
  • Test all smoke detectors to ensure they are working.
  • Have the chimney, fireplace, or woodstove serviced and provide the buyer with a copy of the cleaning record.
  • Replace burned out light bulbs.
  • Have a clear access to the attic, crawl space, the heating system, garage, and other areas that need to be inspected.
  • Make sure all utilities are turned on, including: water, electricity, furnace, air conditioning, and water heater.
  • Ensure access to all rooms and crawl spaces.  There will need to be adequate room to access appliances, electrical panels, and heating/cooling units.
  • Check that all fixtures, fans, and appliances are working properly.

Basement, Crawl Spaces, Attic, and Garage Preparations before an Inspection

  • Check to ensure crawl space is dry, and install proper vapor barrier if necessary.
  • Remove paints, solvents, gas, wood, and other materials from crawl space, basement, attic, or porch.
  • Update attic ventilation if none if present.
  • If windows are at or below grade, install window wells and covers.
  • Ensure that all doors and windows are in proper operating condition.
  • Make sure the garage door is operating properly and repair as needed.

Bathroom Preparations before an Inspection

  • Ensure plumbing fixtures such as toilet, tub, shower, and sinks are in proper working condition.  Fix any leaks and caulk around fixtures if necessary.
  • Ensure GFCL receptacles are functional.
  • Check bath vents to see if they are properly vented and in working condition.
  • Clean out areas under sinks so they can be inspected.
  • Look for floor damage around toilets, tubs, and showers.
  • Make sure all grout and caulking is in good repair.

Following the checklist should help you avoid any unforeseen complications of your home inspection.  However, it is also important that you are ready at least 30 minutes before the appointment, and plan to leave your home for at least three hours.  Inspectors are often accompanied by buyers, and both parties will want uninhibited, free access to ask questions and explore the home.  It is also in the seller’s best interest to secure animals in crates, kennels, or far away from any area where the inspector will be.  This will alleviate any issues with nervous pets that will prevent the inspector from viewing certain areas that would result in an incomplete home inspection.

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