Let’s face it, inspections would be shorter and less stressful for all parties if the home was truly ready for the inspector. Homes that are well prepared end up with fewer write-ups, a shorter negotiation and buyers that are less worried about surprises.
I have been providing agent the following Seller’s Home Inspection Preparation Checklist for a number of years. I am a Texan, so those of you that deal with snow and basements may have a slightly different list, but this should still be of some help.
First things first. Get your attitude right. An inspector need not be an impediment to a transaction. Good inspectors can inform a buyer without threatening your sale. Treat the inspector with respect and the event will move along far more efficiently. If you are a defensive, or worse, openly hostile, the home inspector will wonder why and work his hardest to try to figure out what you have to be so defensive about. It does not mater if you are an unknown employee of an unknown small company or the nationally recognized founder of a Fortune 500 company, your fate is beyond your control once the inspector steps foot in your home. Plan and prepare for success. It is in your direct best interest for the inspector to be comfortable and to have as positive an inspection as possible.
Most state real estate statutes hold that it is the duty of the seller to have a home prepared for an inspection. Most also formalize that it is the right of a buyer to inspect real property before purchase. Additionally, disclosure of known faults and issues is more common that not. Mandatory disclosure states require sellers to disclose the age of the roof, significant repairs, unsafe conditions, certain special events and the presence of specific systems. Recent inspection reports are also disclosable in some states. Talk to your agent about this.
- Clean your house.
- Mow the yard.
- Pick up dog mess from the yard.
- It’s best that pets be removed from the premises during the inspection. Keep in mind that the inspector needs access to the entire home, so confining pets in the garage or the backyard will not work! An inspector must inspect the entire property.
- All utilities must be on (Electricity, Gas, Waste) and all the pilots lit, so the inspector can do his job. Inspectors are generally not expected to return non-operational equipment to operational status, so they cannot light pilots. Most inspectors charge for a re-inspection to come back and complete an unfinished inspection due to utilities.
- All exterior doors should be accessible
- All door locks should be operable
- Remove debris from gutters/downspouts
- Trim trees from within 4 feet of the roof slope
- Trim shrubs at least 12 inches away from the foundation
- Lower soil, where possible, to reveal the top 4 inches of foundation
- Insure that the interior of the garage is accessible and that the door and/or opener functions.
- Confirm that gates are not locked.
- All interior areas should be generally accessible
- If present, Crawl Space access should be clear and access marked if it is normally hidden.
- Remove clutter from utility rooms used for storage
- Attic should be accessible. Make sure the stairs can be pulled down without endangering belongings/people below
- Remove clutter in closets
- Electrical Panel needs to be accessible to the inspector. Remove anything blocking the entire panel cover for easier access. Home inspectors will remove the panel cover to evaluate the wiring.
- To avoid unnecessary write-ups, replace all burned out bulbs.
- Remove “creative wiring” such as extension cords used in attic, interior and exterior.
- Remove overloading from outlets where possible.
- Test and reset all GFCI type outlets. If they will not cycle replace them. The special circuit tester to test a GFCI cost less than $10 at most home stores.
- Fix any leaks before the inspector arrives or let the inspector know. Otherwise, testing the plumbing could result in a wet mess.
- Correct any plumbing “alignment” issues, hot should be left or up on all controls.
- Run your master bathtub whirlpool if you have one. If the water does not run clear, in other words, if it kicks out mold flakes, clean it. Fill the tub at least two inches over the jets with the hottest water you can stand. Aim the jets down. Add ½ Cup of Chlorine bleach to the water and run for five minutes. Drain the tub and run at least three rinse cycles (fill over the jets with hot, run for 5 and drain). Locate and cycle the whirlpool GFCI (required after 1989). If it is hidden, leave the home inspector a note.
Heating and Air Conditioning
- Install a clean filter
- Trim vegetation from around the AC compressor
- Clear storage from obstructing access to the furnace and evaporator coils
- Consider having the unit cleaned and serviced especially if it’s been a while
- Maintain all repair invoices
- Especially if has been a while, clean the firebox before the inspection. If you have anything in the firebox that would prevent lighting the fireplace, remove it.
- If you have a modern pilot ignited gas log fireplace, insure that the pilot is lit and place the remote on the mantel.
- Remove wood, debris or stored items away from the foundation.
- Clear access to window wells and clean them out if needed.
- Where possible, provide access to basement walls, floor and ceilings.
- Clear basement sump access
Appliances & Systems
- Any appliance or system that is going to stay with the house should be operational or disclosed to the buyer as not operational. This includes all kitchen, bath, yard and garage mechanical systems.
- Remove any pots and pans stored in the oven or microwave.
- Check and clean range vent grease filters as needed.
- The control panels for the sprinkler, pools and any other devices must be accessible.