How to Prepare for a Home Inspection

Get ready for a Home Inspection

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So, you have a contract on your home.  The sale of your house is almost a done deal, but you still have to make it through the home inspection. Do you you know how to prepare for a home inspection?

In a typical real estate transaction, there is a period known as “the Option Period.”  This period is after the buyer has signed a purchase agreement and before the final closing date. This option makes the sale contingent on the results of the home inspection.  As the seller, you’re going to want the home inspection to go as smoothly as possible, with little to no major issues detected.

What does a home inspector do?

During the inspection, properties are examined top to bottom, with emphasis placed on evaluating the roof, walls, foundation, plumbing system, electrical system, and HVAC system. Inspectors will also check for the operational ability of installed systems and signs of water damage.

As a seller, it’s common to get nervous during the home inspection process. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prepare for the inspection.

Keep the House Clean

You are probably already adept at keeping everything clean and tidy: the house sold – didn’t it. Resist the urge to let things build up after an accepted offer and maintain the same level of cleanliness for the home inspector. The inspector is not going to judge you on how clean the house is, but a dirty or messy house may make the inspector suspicious that other areas of the property aren’t properly taken care of either.

Provide Access

Make sure that the home inspector has easy access throughout the property. If they can’t get to an area, they can’t inspect it.  That will be a red flag for buyers. Clear away any clutter impeding access to areas or systems that the inspector needs to look at, including attics, water heaters, air conditioners, and under sinks.

Clear the Perimeter

The inspector is also going to be looking at the exterior, including siding, trims, and caulking around windows and doors. You will want to leave areas around your home clear of plant growth, trash cans, and stored items so they can get a good look.  The inspector will not move anything out of the way.  He will just record that access was impeded and leave an unknown for the buyer to worry about.

Replace Burned Out Bulbs

A non-working bulb suggests two things to a home inspector: either the bulb itself is burned out, or there’s something faulty in the fixture’s wiring. The inspector will either waste time determining whether a fixture is inoperable, or they’ll simply note that there’s a possible defect without looking further into it. Avoid both scenarios by making sure that all of your bulbs are in working order.

Make Sure Your Toilets Work

Does your toilet run for a long time after you flush? It’s a common problem that is easy to ignore when you’re living with it every day, but it’s not something you want your home inspector to catch. Fixing a running toilet is an easy and inexpensive repair you can take care of on your own, so take care of the problem before the inspection.

Replace the Air Conditioner Return Filter

Regularly replacing the furnace filter in your home is important for air quality and the overall functioning of your heating and cooling system. Instead of making the inspector concerned that you haven’t been taking good care of your home’s heating and air, clean or replace the existing filter and show that it’s something you do pay attention to.

Turn on Pilot Lights

Pilot Lights are on many gas fueled systems.  If you have pilot lights, they need to be on for the inspection.  The pilot light in your water heater is probably always on, but what about the pilot light in your gas fireplace? Many homeowners turn their fireplace off in warmer months, so it’s important to double check that the pilot light – and the fireplace itself – is working prior to inspection. If you’ve turned off your fireplace’s pilot light, now is the time to get it going again.  Home Inspectors will not light them:  they have no idea if they were turned off for safety reasons.

Ensure the Circuit Panel is Labeled

A confusing circuit panel is frustrating for homeowners and home inspectors alike. Double check that each switch in the box is labeled clearly and correctly.   Replace any labels that are incorrect or difficult to read.  If you have a label maker you can use, this will be a simple task that will get rid of an automatic deficiency.

Check All Doors

Take a walk-through of your house and check each door to make sure that it’s in working condition. Interior and exterior doors should be latching into the strike plate.  Doorknobs should be securely in place, and any locks need to be functioning properly as well. Check to make sure that the doors, even ones you never use, close properly and stay open when not left that way.  At least one door must have the ability to open from the inside without the use of a key.  If you do not have one, it is easy to replace the deadbolt or lock.

Repair Faulty Cabinets

It’s easy for the hinges on cabinets to get a bit loose, which results in doors that don’t close correctly. If you have a cabinet that’s looking off, you can usually fix it.  It is simple, just by tighten the hinge with a screwdriver.  Also look for loose knobs and handles, tighten them while you have the screwdriver.

Look for Leaks and Water Damage

The home inspector will be looking for signs of leaks and water damage, so it’s better you beat them to it and get any water-related issues repaired prior to the inspection. When looking for leaks, be sure to check under sinks, around faucets, around the base of your toilets, bathtubs, showers, and under any appliances that may leak, such as dishwashers and refrigerators. In terms of water damage, examine walls, ceilings, and floors, looking for signs of staining, warping, sagging, or buckling. Don’t forget to check the exterior of your house for signs of leaks or water damage as well. If you see water pooling near the base of your house, that should be a cause for concern.

Check the roof

When’s the last time you took a good look at the roof of your house? For most sellers, it’s been a while. The roof is a key part of the home inspection though, so you can’t ignore it in your preparations. Get out a ladder and clean moss and debris from the gutters, check for damaged or missing shingles, clean the gutters and make sure downspouts are in their proper position. If you do find damage to the roof, you’ll want to get it taken care of prior to the home inspection.

Treat Bug Problems

We all deal with an errant ant or spider in the home, especially in warmer temperatures. But if you’ve got a wasp nest in the backyard or are regularly seeing lines of ants in your kitchen, you will want to take care of these problems prior to inspection. Most bug problems aren’t a huge deal, but they can turn off buyers.  Termites or other wood destroying insects are a deal killer.  They are a reasonably easy to take care of problem.  Call an exterminator and a general contractor.  The exterminator will get rid of the nasty bugs and the contractor can easily repair any damage.

Be Prepared – Inspection Day

It is inspection day.  As a seller it’s just about making sure it goes as smoothly as possible. To do that:

  • Keep all utilities on
  • Double check that you’ve left clear access to areas and systems all around the house
  •  Unlock any gates, electrical boxes, or other areas that you normally keep secure. 
  • Be ready at least two hours before the inspector is set to arrive (they’re known for being early) 
  • Vacate the house during the inspection. It’s best to take any pets with you, but if you can’t, make sure they’re safely crated or otherwise secured.

Whew! You did it!

At this point, take a deep breath. Most buyers aren’t expecting complete perfection; they just want to know that there are no heavy burdens waiting for them. It’s common for the home inspector to note a few minor issues.  Remember their job is to find issues.  But most of the time, if there’s something serious to detect you’ve already figured it out on your own. 

Pre-Sale Inspections

If you are reading this before you have a sale, we have a deal for you.  Stellar Inspectors does pre-sale inspections.  We can find issues for you so you can have them fixed prior to the buyer’s home inspection.  This will allow you to address the issues while you have control over the cost of repair.  This will save you money in the long run.


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At Stellar Inspectors PLLC, our job isn’t complete until you feel comfortable and all of your questions and concerns are answered.