If you’re selling your home, you know that dreaded day is coming—inspection day! That’s the day when you find out just what kind of shape your home is in, and most inspectors will find at least a few things that need some repair or work.
Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to make sure your home is in tip-top shape before the inspector ever comes to your house. There are a couple of big benefits to doing so.
- The inspection report is smaller; large reports may raise red flags for buyers.
- If you do these things before the home even hits the market, it will look well-maintained to potential buyers (and of course, to the inspector).
- You have the opportunity to find and fix any serious problems before the inspector finds them.
Here are some of the things I recommend doing before the home inspector comes to your house.
Make Sure the Inspector Has Easy Access
Double check that the home inspector has easy access to all areas of the home and property. If an inspector can’t get into an area, it can’t be inspected. Make sure attics, crawlspaces, basements, and furnace rooms are free and clear of debris or furniture that would prevent them from being fully accessed.
Be sure to unlock any gates, sheds, or electrical boxes you normally keep secured. If the inspector might need any keys, be sure to leave them.
Exterior Things to Check
Caulk cracks: Caulk any cracks in your cement, sidewalk, or foundations. Caulk keeps water and debris from entering inside places that should stay dry.
Clear away vegetation and debris: Ensure that no plants, trees, or bushes are touching the house or the roof. Clear away trash or leaves that might impede the inspection.
Check the roof: The roof is a key part of the home inspection—clear away moss, debris, and leaves. Check for damaged or missing tiles and flashing, and see that downspouts are in the right position and that water can flow freely through them.
Interior Things to Check
Make sure everything is turned on and plugged in: By law, the inspector will not turn on utilities that are turned off. So, see that everything is turned on and plugged in, including appliances. Turn on all pilot lights (furnace, water heater, gas fireplace, etc.).
Check light bulbs: Check that all light bulbs are working—you don’t want to get dinged for having a non-functioning light. An inspector has no way to tell if it’s an electrical problem or a burned-out bulb.
Check smoke and CO detectors: Make sure all of your smoke and CO detectors are less than 10 years old. I recommend replacing all of the batteries in them, as well, just to be safe.
Clean and check the HVAC system: Ensure that your HVAC system is clean and fully functional. You may want to hire an HVAC technician to do a thorough inspection and cleaning of the entire system. I’d recommend replacing filters right before the inspection so that you know they’re clean.
Caulk or grout gaps in tile: Caulk or grout any gaps in floor tiles or backsplashes. Gaps can allow water to enter and cause mold problems and other damage.
Tighten handrails and hardware: Check that all hardware throughout the home is tight. Tighten any loose hinges on cabinets. Check that handrails are tight.
Check doors: See if all sliding and closet doors open smoothly. Check that doors open and close correctly. They should latch with no problem. Locks should also be fully functional, and doorknobs should be tight.
Toilets: Tighten bolts on toilets and make sure that toilets don’t run after flushing.
Check fuse box: Check that all of the switches in the fuse box are labeled clearly and correctly.
Check the chimney: Chimneys can have some serious structural problems, especially if they are older. Make sure that there is no damage to the chimney lining and that there are no problems with the masonry. If you notice any loose bricks (especially high on the chimney), call a repair person to talk about replacing some of the mortar.
If you have a vent screen, pull it out and clear out all of the dust bunnies.
You may also want to have a chimney sweep check for and clean out creosote buildup. Creosote buildup is normal, but it’s also a fire hazard, and it’s not something you want on your inspection report.
Specialty Home Inspections
There are some specialty home inspections that the buyer may choose to have done, so it’s important to know about them ahead of time.
Your buyer will likely choose to have a radon test done because around 50% of the homes in our area have radon in the basement.
A radon inspection includes a short-term test that lasts for two or three days. When the radon level in the home registers 4 pCi/L or higher, the EPA recommends that a mitigation system be put into place. A radon mitigation system is relatively inexpensive to install, if needed.
Termite and Pest Inspection
Take care of any bug problems you notice before the inspection. Buyers may opt to have a termite or pest inspection done even if there aren’t noticeable problems.
A termite or pest inspection includes an interior and exterior check of the home for signs of damage and infestation. This can include moisture readings and other signs of bugs, including damaged or moist wood and bubbling or buckled paint.
Lead-based paint is very common in homes built before 1978. Buyers may choose to have the paint in the home tested or have a separate inspection done. Lead-based paint can be encapsulated with specially formulated paint—removing lead paint is more expensive.
Last, take a deep breath! Remember that buyers aren’t expecting perfection from your home. They just want to know there are no major problems waiting for them after they move in.
A little extra care before the inspection will make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible.