After conducting numerous home inspections I decided I needed to share this list of tips to home sellers and buyers get the most out of their home inspection and insure the process goes as smooth as possible. All of these suggestions cost the seller either no money or are very low cost. Whether you are the seller or the buyer the process can at times be very nerve wracking and frustrating. It really doesn’t need to be.
Sellers: Before the Home Inspection
1. Provide an Unobstructed View and Access: This is the most common issue I encounter during Home Inspections. For the best possible results your home inspector will need to access all areas of your home in order to complete a full inspection. If an area is not accessible due to personal property the area can’t be inspected. This will result in a “Not Inspected” status on the report which can lead to doubt in the buyers mind regarding the condition of this area of the house.
The areas that I most frequently see with restricted, limited or no access are:
A. Attic Access Hatches or Pulldowns - If located in a closet the attic access can be blocked by clothing or built in shelving. Pulldowns in garages are frequently blocked by vehicles or personal property. Please remove any items that restrict access to the attic.
B. Electrical Distribution Panels - The Inspector will need to remove the electrical distribution panel cover to inspect the wiring. This is often prevented due to shelving, clothing or stored personal property.
2. Pets: If you have Pets make every possible effort to remove them from the property during the inspection. Your Home Inspector has to inspect the entire house, including the exterior, crawlspace or basement and all rooms. Some pets are easily excitable or stressed. Additionally the Inspector doesn’t want to risk the possibility that your pet escapes the garage or back yard. At the minimum please cage or kennel your pet.
3. Computers and Electrical Devices: Turn off any computers that are plugged in. During the inspection the home electrical distribution panel cover will be removed. There is a small risk that an electrical breaker could be accidently switched off. Electrical receptacles will be tested for correct polarity and grounding. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters will be tested for proper function. We do not want to risk the possibility of you losing any unsaved projects or causing damage to your computer or electrical devices.
4. Clutter: Your inspector is required to inspect a representative number of windows and electrical outlets for each room. Try to have blinds and shades drawn and at least one accessible electrical outlet open for testing in each room
5. Under Kitchen Sinks and Bathroom Vanities: Your inspector needs to check for water leaks and electrical hazards in this area. When possible, remove items such as excessive amounts of cleaning products and property that can obstruct the view of the inspector.
6. Kitchen Sinks and Dishwashers: Remove all dishes, towels and other items from the kitchen sink. The inspector is going to fill the sink, check for function and flow. He will not remove your dishes to a safer place while this is being done.
7. Dishwasher: If you have dirty dishes go ahead and load the dishwasher if you like, it is going to be tested. If you choose to do this please preload with the correct amount of detergent. Your inspector will run a cycle but he won’t put the dishes away.
8. Bathrooms: The 3 most common issues detected here are:
A: Loose toilet bowls - This is an easy item to have fixed, usually only requiring tightening of the mounting bolts. Caution should be used here. Over tightening can damage the toilet bowl.
B: Lack of caulking - Insure you have an adequate and properly applied caulk joint in all areas of the bathroom that moisture can penetrate.
C: Non GFCI receptacles in proximity of water - It is recommended that any electrical receptacle within 6 feet of water be of the GFCI type. We recommend this replacement be done by a qualified tradesman.
Buyers: The Day of the Home Inspection
Most home buyers are anxious to find out the condition of their potential purchase. This is understandable because the home purchase is generally a person’s largest investment. Stress is normally high. The buyer, seller, realtors and yes even the Home Inspector would like to see a smooth transaction in which everyone ends up happy.
Many buyers want to be involved in some aspect of the inspection. Home Inspectors want you to understand the exact condition of your new home at the time of the inspection. While pictures in the report help, sometimes it is easier to comprehend a defect if you can physically see it. A good way to do this is to meet the Home Inspector at the home the day of the inspection. The best time to conduct this meeting is at the completion of the physical portion of the inspection.
I have had clients insist that they accompany me through the entire inspection process. While this may seem to be a great idea I discourage it. I and most other Home Inspectors have developed an inspection technique or routine that allows us to do a very thorough inspection in the least amount of time possible. This is not to suggest that we are trying to rush through the inspection. The system I use allows me to systematically move through each room, system and component of the house in a logical and thorough manner. Keep in mind, we are trying to minimize any inconvenience to the home owner or occupants. If you choose to attend the inspection it is highly recommended that you ask your realtor to accompany you. This is actually required in most cases.
The distraction of a client who frequently re-directs an inspector’s focus can add up to substantial delays in the process. Worse than prolonging the inspection is the increased probability that the inspector will miss or overlook a defect. This is the last thing anyone wants. You are paying good money for a quality inspection. This is what we want to deliver to you. Please allow us to do it. There will be plenty of time at the completion of the inspection to give you the undivided attention you deserve and to discuss any defects or concerns.
Try to maintain realistic expectations regarding your new home. For example, if the house was constructed in 1960 there are likely going to be some defects, normal wear and the possibility of evidence of lack of maintenance. Recommendations for repairs or improvements will be made in the inspection report. It is unlikely that an older home is going to be in the exact same condition as a newer home. Plan for this.
Your Realtor is a wealth of knowledge. Take advantage of that knowledge. Your Realtor is there to guide you through the buying process. I encourage you to share the entire inspection report with your Realtor. I can, with your permission issue the report to your Realtor at the same time as I send it to you. This will negate any chance of miscommunication between you and the Realtor regarding defects detected and your negotiations with the seller for repairs of defects or items of concern.