You have made it through the listing and offer section of your home sale and now you are ready for the most invasive part of the real estate transaction, the home inspection. The home inspection is the time for the buyers due diligence period. The home inspection should be performed by a licensed home inspector. It is a visual evaluation of the home and the different systems that are present.
During the home inspection the inspector will need to have access to multiple areas and systems of the home. It is important to allow access to these areas so the buyers can understand all the aspects of the home. If areas are not accessible for evaluation this can create the need for return visits or additional specialists to come into the home. This will slow down the process, can lead to misunderstandings and create a level of distrust that can result in buyers wanting to walk away.
Therefore, it is important to prepare your home for the home inspection ahead of time. By doing so, you can help to ensure that the purchase moves forward and that all parties can be satisfied with the transfer of the property.
- Ensure that all utilities are on and functioning. (Water is on, fuel for the heating system, etc.)
- Have stored items pulled away from the foundation walls where possible
- Allow clear access to the electrical panels in the home (main panel and subpanels)
- Keep mechanical equipment clear and accessible (heating system, cooling systems, attic/basement air handlers, plumbing, etc.)
- Attic access hatches and entry ways-make accessible, have clothing removed from closets that will prevent access to the attic hatch
- Keep a clear path to the attic mechanicals (Heating systems, HVAC equipment, air handlers, radon fans, etc.)
- Allow a path in attics free from stored items so that the inspector can evaluate all areas
- If there is a crawlspace under the home, keep access hatches accessible for entry or visual access from the opening
- If possible, have stored items removed from ovens and under sinks
- Keep driveways and walkways clear of snow or leaves
- Have all remotes or controls for ceiling fans, gas logs, powered windows or treatments left in an accessible location
- Test appliances prior to the inspection
- Take laundry out of the washer and dryer
- Remove dishes from the sink and dishwasher
- Leave a sketch identifying the location of a well or septic tank
- Leave paperwork for any maintenance, repairs, or insurance claims
- Ensure that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in the appropriate locations and are functioning
- Leave gates unlocked or have keys readily accessible
Other things that are recommended to prepare the home for the home inspection:
- Have chimneys/fireplaces cleaned and evaluated by a chimney sweep prior to the home inspection.
- Ensure that storage sheds are unlocked and accessible
- Winterize exterior hose bibs and irrigation systems (seasonally)
- Have pets removed or crated for the duration of the home inspection ( Cats and dogs)
- Have valuable/fragile items stored in safe and secure location. (Preferably at and off-site location)
- Have all heating and cooling systems serviced annually
- Have new filter installed in HVAC equipment
- Check doors and windows for operation ( have any doors or windows that don’t close properly repaired)
- Look for leaks and stains prior to the inspection
- Have the home evaluated by a licensed pest company
- Have receipts for recent repairs and maintenance made accessible for the inspector and buyer
- Consider having a pre-listing inspection performed to determine issue and have any discovered defects evaluated for repairs
- Have gutters cleared of debris
If these steps are taken, it can go a long way to build trust and transparency to keep the purchase moving forward in a timely manner. Be prepared to vacate the property on the day of the inspection. The average inspection takes 2-5 hours depending on the size and condition of the home. Be prepare for the inspector to arrive early usually 30-60 minutes. Many inspectors arrive early to evaluate the roof and exterior prior to the arrival of the buyers. Take a deep breath, this can be a stressful time of the real estate transaction. A well informed buyer should anticipate finding some items during the inspection. By taking these steps the seller can help to build trust with the buyer.
Jason Horn is the owner/operator of Pondview Inspections, LLC and a certified home inspector for the American Society of Home Inspector (ASHI). Pondview Inspections, LLC is licensed and insure for home inspections in Connecticut. Pondview has been in business for over 10 years and has written many articles for local publication. The educational approach helps inform and buyers/sellers about the home and the home inspection process.