A handy checklist so you don’t have to sweat the small stuff
A full home inspection is when the buyer of your house or property hires a licensed inspector to examine your property and prepare a detailed report. Many sellers assume this is an hour-long process and simply leave their home for the duration, unaware of both the importance of the inspection in the purchasing process and how to prepare for it.
Even the most well-intentioned sellers often make mistakes or forget important aspects of preparing their homes for inspection. While some of the following may seem like obvious expectations, it’s important to run through the following checklist in advance of your inspection to make sure you save yourself the time, money, and peace of mind that may be lost if things go awry.
Are the utilities on?
In some cases, a seller may have moved to another property and may be (reasonably) tired of paying utility bills for an empty house. For an inspection, however, it’s important that water, sewer, electricity, and natural gas are all paid for and functioning.
Does the inspector have access to all areas and systems?
Having the attic and crawlspace access points free of clutter and accessible is crucial. It’s a big red flag if there are boxes in front of furnaces or access covers, or if there are blocked-off areas in your home. The inspector will usually have to come back once access is possible – typically for a fee, which can be hefty. This makes for a crabby buyer and an annoyed inspector, so make sure all areas of your home are accessible!
Is the area beneath the sink clean?
Whether you keep a garbage can or cleaning products (or both) beneath your sink, it’s time to clear it out! This way the inspector can see that there are not any leaking plumbing fixtures.
Are your toilets functioning properly?
Toilets should also be working well and not constantly running. That annoying noise you might hear might be a sign that its float is set too high – adjust the float or have it repaired prior to inspection.
Do the light bulbs work?
Check all the lighting inside and outside the house, including in the garage. Otherwise, it will be called when they cannot tell if it is a switch or electrical issue. (Home inspectors should not be expected to carry around extra bulbs).
Are the pilot lights on?
It may be Summer, but inspectors will want to show the buyers that the fireplace will be working when the temperatures drop. This may seem minor, but missing this step can lead to a disgruntled inspector.
Swatted the wasps away?
It’s best if you walk around the perimeter and look for wasp nests or an overabundance of any kind of bug/pest. If you live in a region with big scary bugs or potentially dangerous pests, be sure to consult with a professional exterminator.
Are furnace filters cleaned and replaced?
It’s not the most important item on this list, but cleaning or changing your furnace filter(s) is a sign of diligent homeownership and respect for your buyers and inspector.
Do you have repair and maintenance documentation?
The inspector (and your potential buyers) will appreciate that you have documentation ready, especially if you’ve undergone any major repairs, or have service contracts for maintenance or pests.
How’s your roof? Your Gutters?
Moss is not a good thing on roofs nor are dirty gutters or roofs that are failing. It may already be a part of your negotiation but best to have roof and gutters cleaned.
Is your exterior clean?
Check siding and trim and fascia boards for signs of wear and rot and clear vegetation away from home or structures. Fresh paint is good but can be an expense some sellers may not be able to take on. At least walk towards your home like a buyer does and look at the Front door and around the entrance for issues and cleanliness.
Is your interior clean?
Treat this as a showing. The buyers will be present and in the company of an inspector, so they’re likely to view the home more critically.
Remember they loved it enough to make an offer!
So, it’s most likely all good but being unprepared for an inspection can open a can of worms that may not be in your best interest.
Do you have a place to be for 2-4 hours?
Depending on the size of the home, know that many buyers are also doing sewer scopes or septic inspections – typical if on acreage – and possibly radon tests, where the testing equipment is left on site for a few days.
If you are reading this prior to putting your home on the market, CONSIDER a pre-inspection so that there are few, if any surprises. Don’t be a seller that puts your head in the sand and crosses your fingers. Be proactive. Your Realtor should be helping you through all these different phases. Homeownership, much like good dental hygiene, requires consistent care and maintenance, to avoid taking drastic, costly measures in the future.