You’re selling your home and you’ve hopefully kept up with routine maintenence and haven’t let things get too far out of control. You’ve kept up on HVAC maintenence, replaced appliances every so often, updated lighting, stained your deck occassionally, kept your driveway and brick walkway in good condition. You’ve also maintained your roof and siding.
So, your now under contract with a buyer and they’re going to do the dreaded “Home Inspection” for which they have a contingency. If they find too much wrong, they may be able to walk. They may also be “knit-pickers” and will ask for for the sun, moon and stars.
Home sellers will have an easier time by preparing for a home inspection in advance. Getting ready for a home inspection will help to prevent future problems. Here are our suggestions to help your home inspection run more smoothly.
Clean the House
This sounds so simple, yet home owners often overlook this tactic. Home inspectors are people first and inspectors. second. Clean homes say you care and take care of the house.
Be on Time Because the Inspector Will Be
Sometimes, home inspectors are early. If an inspector makes an appointment with you for 9:00 a.m., have the house ready for inspection at 8:30. It’s also common for inspectors to start on the exterior of the home, so leave the shades down or drapes drawn until you are dressed. More than one unprepared seller has been “surprised” by a stranger stomping around in the back yard.
Leave The Utilities Connected
The home inspector will need to turn on the stove, run the dishwasher, test the furnace and air conditioning, so leave the utilities on, especially if the house is vacant. It’s impossible to check receptacles for grounding and reverse polarity if the power is turned off. Without utilities, the inspector will need to reschedule, which could delay the closing of your transaction and the removal of the buyer’s home inspection contingency. Some inspectors will charge a buyer a reinspection fee to make a return trip, and that can cause ill will, too.
Provide Workspace Around Furnace and Waterheater
Remove boxes, bookcases, furniture and anything else blocking access to your furnace, air conditioner and water heater. The inspector will need three to four feet of working space to inspect these items. They often will not move anything themselves and if they don’t have access they might miss something or have to come back out to reinspect once you’ve moved the offending items. Change the HVAC filter a day or two before the inspection so it’s nice and clean
Keep Pilot Lights Ignited
Many home inspectors will refuse to light pilot lights because the inspector does not carry enough insurance to be covered for that type of liability / risk. If your pilot lights are not lit, then important items such as the water heater, gas stove, furnace, or gas fireplaces will not be inspected and the buyer could delay closing until those inspections are completed. Again, the inspector will probably charge the buyer extra to make a return trip. This could also hold up the Home Inspection Contingency deadline.
Provide Access to the Attic, Garage and Basement
The inspector will need to get into your basement, attic and garage as well, so keep a path cleared. Check for water in the basement. Move all boxes and stored items away from the walls by at least two feet. Vacuum spider webs. Look in the attic for possible rodent droppings. If you have a fan in the attic, make sure it’s working. Make sure the light in your overhead garage door opener works. Leave the remote controls for your garage door opener or a key if the garage is unattached to the house.
Leave Keys for Outbuildings and Electrical Boxes
Unlock the covers for your sprinkler system and electrical box. Leave a key for exterior building access. You can label these keys and leave them on a kitchen table.
Clear Away Brush From Exterior Inspection Points
Nobody expects you to shovel a tunnel around your home if snow drifts are blocking the foundation but, in the winter, do provide a path around the house. In the summer, cut down tree branches that brush up against the house and roof and clear brush from the foundation. Move trash cans away from the house.
Prepare to Be Away For 3 Hours Minimum
A home inspection is a thorough process and can take anywhere from 2 hours for a condo up to 6 hours for a large home. Plan to be away for about 3-4 hours. And yes, please get out of the house and stay out – this time is for the buyer and the home inspector. They do not need the home owner tagging along, and besides, you could inadvertently say something that could upset the buyer.
Set a Welcoming Atmosphere
Leaving out a few cold bottles of water (or a note telling the agent that there are waters in the fridge for them) sets a good tone for the home inspection. If you’re inclined, baking a batch of refrigerator dough cookies (no nuts please) is going a bit over the top but it never hurts! Maybe a few granola bars on the counter would also be a nice gesture.