Preparing for a Home Inspection
The perfect home simply does not exist. Why? Well, in a brand new home, the contractor often is not aware of shortcuts taken by his subcontractors, and government building and code inspectors do not have the time or the budget to inspect everything in every home, so most government inspectors simply do a spot-check of homes in new subdivisions. A home that has been lived in usually has damage that occurred from simply living in it, or additions or remodeling that were not permitted. That is why buyers need a professional home inspection.
The purpose of a home inspection is to document the overall condition of the property at the time of the inspection and to ensure that its major systems and components (water heater, heating and cooling, plumbing, electrical, etc.) are installed properly and working properly. The home inspection is not a warranty since the home inspector is only there for a couple of hours and never saw the home or its systems being built, so he has no idea about any quality control processes. While some items identified during the course of a home inspection might seem like minor items individually, collectively they could add up to major headaches involving both time and money. If sellers know what to look for, they can resolve many minor items before the buyer's home inspection.
Below is a "check" list of items often found during the course of a home inspection. Completing repairs before the buyer's home inspection helps ensure that escrow progresses more smoothly. If you have a pre-listing inspection, some, but not all, of these concerns might show up in that inspection report. A pre-listing inspection usually is shorter than a standard buyer's inspection simply because descriptions of the house you've been living in are not necessary, and noting things like a hole in a screen window, or a small crack in a window corner, or a loose door hinge are not major items, all things considered, but collectively they can cause a prospective buyer to say, "No, thanks. Too many problems."
BEFORE THE INSPECTION
- Make sure all the dirt and landscaping material is away from the siding of the house. There should be 4-6 inches of clearance beneath the siding of the house.
- Plant growth should be cut back away from the house at least 10-12 inches.
- Any stored items should be moved as far away from the structure; stored firewood should be moved as far away from the house as is reasonable.
- Check the siding and trim for any damages and repair as needed.
- Repair any missing caulking around doors, windows and over nail heads.
- Make sure all exterior doors and doorknobs/deadbolts are operating properly. You may wish to repair any damaged weather stripping.
ROOFING & GUTTERS:
- Clean all moss and debris off the roof. Use a pressure washer only if necessary. A broom or blower is preferred.
- Repair any damaged or missing roofing. Avoid using mastic or caulking as a repair as it is considered a temporary repair only and may be called out by the inspector.
- Clean out gutters and repair any damages to the gutters such as rust through or sagging.
- Make sure all downspouts are properly diverted away from the house, either with elbows and splash blocks or drain lies.
- Check the garage door opener and adjust it as needed so it properly reverses against pressure.
- Make sure the garage door itself is operating properly and repair as needed.
- If the home is newer with solid core, self-closing door to the interior, make sure the door closes and seals properly by itself, with the weather stripping intact.
KITCHEN, UTILITY, & BATHROOMS:
- Check for leaks under the sinks and around the faucets, repairing as needed.
- Look for possible floor damage around toilets and adjacent to tubs and showers. If found, damages may need further evaluation by a contractor.
- Make sure that all grout and caulking is in good repair. This includes tub and shower surrounds along the floor in front of tubs and showers.
- Check to be sure all fixtures, fans and appliances are working properly.
INTERIOR & ATTIC:
- Check interior doors and windows to make sure they are operating properly. This is particularly important for bedroom windows.
- Make sure smoke detectors are in place and functional.
- Remove any stored items from the attic space. Check to be sure all fan ducts are properly connected and venting outside the attic space. Repair if not.
- Make sure all light switches are functional and any burned out lights are replaced.
- Check your water heater for any leaking or damage. If present, repair or replacement may be needed.
- If missing, install proper rated earthquake strapping to water heater.
- Make sure the water heater pilot light is on.
- Repair any plumbing leaks found in the crawl space.
HEATING & COOLING:
- Inspect your furnace filter and change, or clean, if dirty.
- Regarding air conditioning, make sure all debris is cleaned away from the exterior compressor.
- Regarding a gas-fired appliance, which utilizes a pilot light, such as a gas log fireplace or older furnace, make sure the pilot light is on. The pilot light may have been turned off for the summer or if the house has been vacant.
- Remove any wood, concrete, form wood and cardboard debris.
- Remove or replace any damaged, fallen floor insulation.
- Make sure crawl space is fully covered with plastic. Only use 6 mil black plastic, if adding more.
- Reconnect any disconnected heat ducts.
- Repair any damaged foundation vent screens and make sure all foundation vents are clear. Use only 1/4-inch galvanized hardware cloth for repair. Do not use any louvered type vents.
ON THE DAY OF THE INSPECTION:
- Make sure all animals are secured.
- Make sure all utilities are on.
- Remove any locks on outside gates, which prevent full access to the exterior.
- Be sure there is total and complete access to the following areas:
- Electrical Pane. (Panel cover will need to be removed)
- Furnace. (Furnace cover will also need to be removed)
- Water Heater.
- Attic Space. (Inspector will need to access inside attic space)
- Crawl Space. (Especially if it is inside a closet full of stored items)
- All bedrooms and living areas.
- All exterior surfaces, siding, decks, etc...