Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
Usually, before a buyer closes on a home, they will send a home inspector to look at it. Even if they already signed the agreement, the closing will usually depend on whether the home inspector finds the house satisfactory. Preparing for a home inspection can be a nerve-racking experience, but by following the tips in this article, you will sail through it easily.
Before your home inspection, clean your home and fix anything that is broken. Fix broken doors, cabinets, windows, porch floorboards, roof tiles, siding shingles, toilets, etc. Look for leaks, recaulk your bathtubs, check for insect or rodent infestation, and replace your HVAC filters.
In this article, I will discuss how to prepare for a home inspection. I will also explain what a home inspector usually looks for and what you need to fix before the inspector checks your home.
What Is a Home Inspection?
The home inspection is usually the last step of the home purchasing process. A buyer usually will not close on the purchase agreement until a professional home inspector looks at the home. Even if they sign the agreement, the closing will often be contingent on the home inspector’s approval.
So, what does a home inspector look for? The home inspector is trained to look for faults in your home that may not be obvious to the buyer, who is just a layman. There are a lot of faults that might not be obvious to the untrained eye.
For example, the inspector will look at the foundation, walls, structure, HVAC system, plumbing system, and electrical system. They will make sure everything is working properly, was maintained well, is in top shape, and does not have any safety issues.
They may also look at things like your light fixtures, your electrical outlets, your oven and gas system, your garage door system, and your carbon monoxide detectors. If you are selling your home with appliances, such as a fridge, they may check those appliances. They may look for leaks, problems with the insulation, or plumbing problems. They will check your attic and basement if you have them.
The home inspector is making sure that you are not hiding any faults and that the buyer is getting their money’s worth. The buyer will need to know that they will not have to pay for expensive repairs after the purchase.
What a Seller Needs to Do Before a Home Inspection
In this section, I will go over the things you need to do before a home inspection if you are selling your house. Following these tips will help the inspection go over smoothly.
1. Get a Pre-Inspection
That’s right – it is entirely worth it to invest in a pre-inspection. If you are serious about selling your home to the buyer you are about to close a deal with, you should be willing to invest some money in hiring your home inspector. By hiring your home inspector, you will be able to discover any faults before the buyer does. Don’t wait until the buyer’s home inspector shows up and points out what is wrong with your house – at that point; you might lose the deal.
It is even better if you can hire an inspector to conduct a pre-inspection as soon as you list your home on the market, even before you enter any serious agreement with a particular buyer. This way, you will be able to show buyers that your home was inspected. Your house will be more likely to sell.
Of course, the buyer may later choose to hire their home inspector, who they trust, before closing the deal. They may not, but the point is to show them that you are honest and upfront about any problems and are not trying to hide anything.
Another benefit of having a pre-inspection is that the buyer will not be able to twist your arm during negotiations. If the buyer notices any problem during the inspection, they may decide to negotiate a better price instead of canceling the deal altogether.
That’s perfectly fair – after all, they will have to pay money later for the repairs that they will have to do on the house. However, the amount they are trying to negotiate may cause you to lose more than you would if you would have just repaired the problem yourself.
2. Clean the Home
The home inspector is not checking whether you are a clean person and how well you can broom and mop your floor. Cleanliness is not one of the things home inspectors look for, but first impressions matter a lot. That is why it is important to keep your home clean and tidy. Home inspectors will look beyond that, but a perfectly tidy home will leave a great first impression.
3. Make Everything Accessible
You want to declutter your home so the home inspector can access all the areas they need to inspect without any problems. If something is blocking the gas heater, for example, make sure to remove it. If you have not entered the attic for a long time, make sure the trap door is working properly and not broken. If you use your basement for storage, clear it up so they can do an inspection.
Make sure nothing is stopping them from doing a complete inspection. Again, this boils down to creating a great first impression and showing the inspector that you are as honest as possible. If they can’t access certain areas or appliances, they may think you are trying to hide something.
In addition to making everything inside your home accessible, make sure any areas outside your home that need to be inspected are accessible as well. For example, the inspector might want to take a look at the caulking at your foundation. Make sure to trim any bushes or trees outside your home that are blocking access. Certainly, don’t leave garbage and discarded materials piled up outside your home.
One thing that many homeowners and sellers forget about is the fuse box. If the fuse box is not accessible, the home inspector will not be able to check it. You should also make sure the fuses are properly labeled. If they aren’t and the home inspector is confused, precious time will be wasted.
4. Fix Up the Outside of the Home
In addition to cleaning up inside your home and making sure your home is accessible, clean up the outside of your home. Trim any trees and bushes on your front lawn. Clean out your gutters – make sure they are not clogged. If you have trash lying around, clean it up. Consider power washing your siding, driveway, and front stairs if they have not been cleaned in a while and look dirty.
5. Check the Roof
The roof is an oft-forgotten part of your home. However, the home inspector will almost certainly take a look at it, so it is important to prepare it before the inspector comes around. Clean off any leaves, soil, and other debris from your home. You may find that some shingles or tiles are missing; if so, replace them. Make sure the downspout is not clogged and that nothing is blocking it. If there is moss growing on your roof, have it removed.
6. Fix the Light Fixtures
If there are any bulbs in your home that are burnt out, replace them. Having lights that do not work will not only create a bad first impression, but they may also force the home inspector to check if there is a problem with the electrical wiring in your house. Checking this will waste your and their time. Instead, make sure all the lights in your home are working properly. Even if the home inspector comes during the day, they will most likely check the lighting.
7. Check the Windows and Doors
Inspect all of your windows and doors, both from the inside and the outside. Some windows may appear cracked on the outside. Others might not be sealed properly, allowing rain to come in. Make sure that the windows all close and lock properly.
Also, check the doors. Make sure the doors close properly and are firmly attached to the hinges. Ensure that the doorknobs are firmly attached and that you can lock each door.
8. Get an HVAC Inspection
If you have not had your HVAC system inspected in a while, get a professional to inspect it. Dirt and dust can build up in your HVAC system, reducing its effectiveness. If your system is old, it may no longer meet industry quality standards, and you might want to have it replaced before selling your home.
The thermometer should be accurate, and your system should be able to heat up or cool down your entire home without working overtime. If you have any portable units in your house, they should not be leaking too much water.
If it has been a while since you replaced your filters, replace them before the inspection. Ideally, you should replace the filters every three months while in use, so if it’s been a few months, get new ones.
9. Repaint the Walls and Cabinets
If you have walls in dire need of painting, repaint them before the inspector comes around. That’s if you have not yet repainted them when you first started selling your home. A well-painted home that looks great will have a higher value than a home with dirty streaks on the walls from kids.
You might also want to look at your cabinets and touch up any cabinets with paint peeling off. In addition to repainting your cabinets and drawers, consider fixing them as well, as needed. Cabinet doors can come off the hinges, and some might not be closing properly. The same applies to drawers. Handles may be loose or falling off as well.
10. Check the Pipes, Showers, and Toilets
It is also important to make sure your plumbing system is working properly. To start, look for leaks around pipes, especially under your kitchen and bathroom sinks. You should also look for puddles in your basement, near where the pipes run through the walls.
Check your toilets and make sure they are all flushing properly, are not clogged, and there is no water leaking out (of course, make sure your bathrooms are super clean and have an air freshener to make them smell nice). Make sure your sinks and bathtubs don’t fill up when the water is running.
Check the caulk in your bathtubs and around your sinks to ensure they are complete and not missing areas or broken. If they are, apply a new caulk. Ensure the water pressure in your home is good; if the water pressure is low, there might be something blocking the pipes.
You should also check for puddles of water that are gathering outside your home. A front lawn that is very wet and mushy can also point to a broken pipe.
11. Fix Up the Porch
Make sure your porch does not have loose floorboards or tiles. If it is dirty, powerwash it. If the support columns are weak or infested, replace them. You may need to refinish your entire porch if it has been a while since you have done so.
12. Make Sure the Stove and Fireplace Are Working
Make sure the gas in your home is working properly. Check your stove and ensure that all of the flames turn on without any trouble. If you own a fireplace and do not use it often, expect the home inspector to check it. Therefore, make sure the pilot light is on and that it can be turned on easily.
13. Get a Home Infestation Inspection
If you suspect that your home might be infested with bugs, make sure to get your home inspected for bug or rodent infestation before the home inspector comes around. If you already see signs of rodent or bug infestation, it is important to call a professional and exterminate bugs.
You may also need to make some repairs to your home – for example, if rodents made a hole in your attic roof and got into your house that way, you will need to fix the hole so no more rodents come in.
Here are some of the common signs of rodent or bug infestation:
- Streaks of urine on the floor or walls
- Rodent droppings around your attic or basement
- Chewed wires
- A lot of bugs in your basement (more than usual)
- Squeaking or scratching noises coming from your attic or inside your walls.
Professional home inspectors are experts at noticing these kinds of things.
14. Get Yourself and Your Pets Out of the Way
On the day of the inspection (or a day before), get your pets out of the way. Having pets around the day of the inspection can lead to some problems. They may mess or urinate on the floor right before the inspector is scheduled to show up.
It is also important to get out of the way yourself. You don’t want it to seem like you are breathing down the inspector’s neck. Allow them to do their thing without being interrupted or followed by you. Give them full access to your home, and don’t try to tell them what to do or where to go.
The exception is if something is not so obvious and must be pointed out. For example, if you have a sunroof that opens uniquely, make sure to tell the inspector how to open it so they can ensure it is working properly.
15. Collect Maintenance Receipts
If you have any maintenance records or receipts from home inspections in the past, gather them. You can present them to the home inspector as proof that you have been taking care of your home. Having records of annual or bi-annual plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and other inspections will show the inspector everything is in order.
Things to Fix Before a Home Inspection
This section will provide a checklist of things you should fix before a home inspection (if they are broken, of course). It is essential to fix all of them before the inspector comes around.
- Leaking toilets, sinks, or pipes
- An HVAC system that does not heat or cool your home
- Broken doors or windows that do not close or lock
- Broken cabinets
- Toilets or sinks that are clogged
- Light fixtures that are burnt out
- Broken roof
- Broken siding with missing shingles
- Broken floor with loose tiles
- Missing caulk around your sink or bathtub
- Garage door opener that does not work
- Broken stairs
- Broken or loose porch boards
Here is a checklist of 10 things you need to do before a home inspection as a seller:
It’s normal to be nervous before a home inspection. However, if you follow the tips and checklist in this article and make sure everything is ready before the home inspector visits you, you should have nothing to worry about. It is those who do not prepare who have something to be worried about. If you get a pre-inspection, you certainly have nothing to worry about.
- Zillow: How to Prepare for a Home Inspection
- Moving.com: How to Prepare for a Home Inspection
- Life Storage Blog: Home Inspection Checklist to Prepare for an Easy Sale
- Preparing for a Home Inspection | 10 Things Every Seller Needs to Do
- Realtor: Selling Your House? Better Prepare for the Home Inspection
Share this Post