This article is designed to help you prepare your home to be inspected. By following these guidelines, you can make the whole “inspection process” go quicker and smoother for everyone involved.
First of all, you need to know what a Home Inspection is, and what it is intended for. The inspection is limited to a non-invasive, visual, physical examination of the general systems and components of your property. The typical inspection takes approximately three to four hours.
The inspection begins on the outside of the dwelling with the roof, the exterior, garage, and the grounds of the property. The inspection then proceeds to the inside of the house, where the major systems of the house (visible: structure, heating/air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, basement, etc.) are examined. The inspection continues through the house as the Inspector operates light switches, receptacles, doors, windows. The Inspector looks under sinks and inside vanities, runs water in sinks, tubs, showers, flushes toilets, observes inside closets and cabinetry, and checks the attic. The Inspector will operate all the fixtures and components of the house with their normal operating controls. No destructive testing or dismantling is done during the inspection.
The purpose of the inspection is to fairly and accurately report on the visually discernible condition of the property. The intent of the Inspection Report is to keep the findings in perspective for the clients, relative to the conditions noted. If a recommendation is made, that is typical for homes of that age, or for homes in the area, the client will be told that.
Alright, now you know what to expect… the Inspector is going to look at, and operate everything. What should you do or not do? Well, some of what comes next is common sense. However, real estate transactions can be charged with emotions and fear of the unknown, which can sometimes let common sense take a back seat to normal good judgement.
Let’s take a step back to the beginning. If you are the owner/seller of the property, you have (for your own reasons) decided to put the property up for sale. Therefore you must want this property to be sold. So you should do things that will help the sale of the property. Equally important, you should not do things that may hinder the sale of the property.
If you are a tenant in a property that has been put up for sale, you are possibly facing a move that you had not planned on. You should keep in mind that many rental properties are sold to other people who intend to keep the property as a rental. Therefore you should do everything in your power to demonstrate that you are an ideal tenant, so that the new owner sees no reason to search for a new occupant for the property. Even if you do have to move, you should want a favourable letter of recommendation from your landlord, to show to any future landlords. This will help you to secure a new place to rent.
Owner/seller and tenant should both follow the advice on the DO’s and DON’Ts List. You should want to give the Inspector the impression that the property is ‘cared for’. Remember that the people who ordered the Home Inspection will usually accompany the Inspector during the Inspection. You will also want to convey a ‘cared for’ impression to the people that have hired the Inspector to report on the condition of the property.
The DO’s and DON’Ts List
- Make the property presentable; this means tidy up. Take out the trash and put the garbage in the bins, Put away all laundry, Store excess footwear, Clean up after your pets, Remove dirty dishes from the sink, Clean up toys, vacuum, dust, etc.
- Replace all burned out light bulbs, clean out the clutter from cabinets under sinks so that the Inspector has access to the plumbing in these locations, in winter, sweep all of the walkways, patio, and deck before the Inspector arrives.
- Make everything accessible. This means that you must allow access to all areas of the property including: furnace, water heater, water shut off valves, electrical panel, attic access, crawlspace, basement, and garage.
- If you have started packing, stack the boxes in the center of the room where they are stored, so that the Inspector has access to the walls, receptacles, switches, windows, registers, etc.
- If you are the Seller or Tenant of the property you should leave while the Inspector and the people (Buyers) who have ordered the Inspection, go through the Inspection process. Staying only makes you and the Buyers uncomfortable, and the Inspector is not going to tell you anything that goes into the Inspection Report anyway. If you are the Seller of the property, and have ordered the Inspection (Pre-listing Inspection), you should stay so that the Inspector can go over the findings in the Inspection Report with you.
- Do not try to hide any deficiencies or problems with the property. Remember, that the Inspector is trained to look for things like this, and will usually find the issues anyway. If an area or item is not accessible, the Inspector will advise the people who ordered the Inspection of this fact. This may cause the people who ordered the Inspection to not waive the condition of Home Inspection, and possibly terminate the transaction. Or, they may insist that the inaccessible area or item be made accessible for re-inspection. This means that The Inspector may have to come back just to inspect that area or that item. There is usually a fee charged for this, and this fee typically ends up coming from the pocket of the seller, or party that blocked access. This also prolongs the transaction which can have added costs too.
- Do not let the “utilities” for the property become disconnected (Electricity, Natural Gas, Water). If the “utilities” are not hooked up, the Inspector cannot inspect the systems connected to them. This will result in an incomplete inspection, and the Inspector may have to come back. As previously stated, there is usually a fee charged for this, and this fee typically ends up coming from the pocket of the seller. Again, prolonging the transaction can have added costs. Also ensure that any pilot lights are on, as typically, the Inspector WILL NOT relight pilot lights.
- Do not leave pets roaming throughout the property. Take them with you, have them stay somewhere for the few hours of the inspection, or, if you must, keep them in their cages.
- Do not pile personal items up against the side of the house or garage, as the Inspector needs to see these areas too.
All of these things make it quicker and easier for the Inspector to perform the Inspection and subsequently speeds up the inspection process. This in turn gets the Inspector in-and-out of your house sooner, with a more favorable view of the property.