You are getting your house ready to list or your house is under contract to sell and the buyers have requested a home inspection! How to prepare and what to expect. This is always probably the scariest part of selling your home. Unless you want to consider the appraisal as the scariest. But here is a rough rundown of what the home inspectors are looking for and at the end my general rule to you as a seller of how to deal with the information you learn about your home.
The First Thing a Buyer will usually arrange is a Standard Home Inspection: Really more about the bones of a home rather than the superficial.
For one of those inspections, the inspector usually starts outside and works in.
They will check the roof usually looking for leaks, loose shingles, missing rain gutters etc. They will look at the condition of siding, where your water flows when it rains and I see this a lot how much of your vegetation is touching your siding. Basically looking for ways that the home can be damaged by the environment. They will also usually note the condition of the sidewalk, fencing, paint or condition of logs if you have a log home and basically anything else that is out there. Things you can do to ease this part as much as possible. If you have moss on the roof spray it before you list the house, missing shingles, or roof damage if its repairable should do that prior to listing. Plants touching or crawling into the siding needs to be pruned, extensions on rain gutters so they are not dumping on the foundation of your home. Anything else that is special to your home that would affect the condition of the outside of the home. Call Me I am happy to look at it prior to listing it and share my experience with you.
This will happen both inside and outside. They will check for any water intrusion, cracks, crumbling, damage and other issues.
Inside the Home
Electrical boxes: If you have any knockouts in the box that are missing they will be called. Certain older boxes may also get recalled. You may check out your specific box and see if it has recalls or safety issues. Doesn’t mean you have to change it but good to know if you think its a possibility. And good for you to know anyway just for a safety issue for you and your family. Another thing that gets called often on boxes is if they are not labeled and if there is more than 1 wire on each breaker.
Inside they will always check all the electrical outlets (make sure they have covers). Covers missing can affect a home loan also so very cheap fix. Inspector will usually find sloppy switches and any switches that shock you or misc problems. If you have anything funky about any switches etc nice idea to leave a note explaining. They will also check all fans and any other devices in this section.
They will want to get under all sinks. They are looking for leaks you will want to make sure they can access all of the sinks. Any fixtures that leak has excessive build upon them or do not function is usually going to get called. Another thing to watch is toilets that the seal is broken or have a loose connection to the floor. Slow drains also sometimes get called. And of course, make sure the water is on.
Crawl Space Area
Your Crawl Space access is usually in one of your closets. You are going to want to make sure if you store stuff on the lid that its pulled out of the way and is accessible. You certainly don’t want to have the inspector out twice. Going into the crawl they will be looking for water intrusion, leaking pipes, vermin and anything else that is unusual down there. I suggest to you as a homeowner that you pop that lid a few times a year anyway just so you know what is going on in your home. A few years ago I had an inspectors open a crawl space in the spring on a home in Rathdrum that had about 3 feet of standing water in its crawl space. That is not the time you want to find out you have a problem. So open it every once in a while and make sure you do not have any obvious issues under there. Much easier to solve prior to listing or selling the home than during the home inspection process. That homes water issue, by the way, was a very wet spring with rain gutters that dumped by the foundation. It was seeping/pouring in.
Attic access they will want to look in the attic also so that also needs to be accessible. They will be looking for roof leaks, insulation and anything out of the ordinary. If your attic has never been opened you will need to trim the tape from the construction to access it. I suggest that you do that. The appraiser will definitely open it on you and I have seen some pretty ugly cut jobs to access the attic. Usually much better-taken care of by someone who loves the home. An Exacto knife will get the job done.
Windows will get checked. You might want to make sure that they are clean and sliding nicely. A little pledge all-purpose or a light lubricant keeps them opening nice. Any that the seals are broken on will probably get called out. How to tell if you have broken seals. The easiest way here is on these days that its cold if the window fogs up or gets moisture inside between the 2 windows the seal is broken. You usually can’t miss them on a cold day.
Home Inspectors have been going crazy lately on calling any of them out that have not been serviced lately. Technically a well cared for furnace gets serviced every year. This is kind of the trap that most really nice houses get called on. So if you are servicing it make sure they are putting a tag on it and save the receipt. Other things to expect is to make sure your air exchange is clean and make sure the filter is clean. Dirty filters are a dead giveaway that no one takes care of it. If its a tricky system make sure you leave directions for how to run it. The home inspector will turn it up or on to make sure it works.
Fireplaces / Gas Inserts or Gas Stoves
Fireplaces have the gas on to them if they are gas. Inspector will not light pilot lights or turn on the gas so you’re going to want to make sure that inspecting your fireplace is easy. You may want to pull the front off it and make sure its clean inside. They usually take the front off it and if its full of dust bunnies will probably get called. Just FYI A general home inspector is probably a lot kinder to you than an actual fireplace service person. So have it prepared batteries in the remote also if its ran by remote. If it doesn’t run or no gas to it you can about bank they are going to ask you to service it.
Everything in the kitchen that stays with the home will get ran. Dishwasher/ Oven/ Stove burners etc. One of the things I see often is we all usually only use 1 or 2 burners regularly. Make sure that you make sure all of yours are working and try to use them the day before a home inspection makes sure there is nothing on them that is going to make them smoke etc. Another thing I see called often is the filter on the oven hood. Most of them are metal and they run thru your dishwasher really easily. So take a few and send them thru the washer occasionally. Cupboards and drawers will also be opened to make sure they function.
They will quite often make notes of the rest of the home. Holes in sheetrock, Anything that is trip hazards, loose rails on staircases. Anything that could be potential hazards. Older homes will be checked for asbestos.
These are usually the basics of a Standard Home Inspection. Quite often if they find something major they will recommend to the buyer that they do some specific inspections. One I see often would be an example a roof inspection or if something doesn’t make sense in one of those categories they may suggest something else.
Other inspections that could happen.
Yes, we have Radon in our area. I have seen it in single level homes with crawl spaces not as common as a home with a basement but certainly, something to be aware of.
Usually, they check functionality, including pump, pressure tank and any other systems you have attached. gallons per minute and water quality. Some home loans require a water quality test even if they don’t do a well inspection. So don’t let that surprise you if you have a well.
Septic or Sewer line inspection:
Pretty common on older homes in town to have the sewer line inspected especially if there is a lot of large trees with a lot of roots in the area. Rural properties you are usually expected to have your septic pumped prior to close and you will quite often have the pumping company inspect what they can see of the septic system. If the seller wants an additional septic inspection they may request that to be done when it is pumped.
Usually, if a home inspector sees signs of mold or signs of water damage in a home they will suggest a mold test. Quite often we see that in the attics. Check yours every once in a while. This is a tough one to not have to repair if it shows up in your home.
How to deal with the Results of the Home Inspection
Should you worry if you have a ton of inspections scheduled on your home?
Probably not. There are some buyers out there that are so concerned with making sure that they know everything there is to know about a property that they have everything checked. Doesn’t mean they are going to request anything. Yes, you do sometimes get the buyer that has a laundry list 5 miles long and on those, you just have to weigh what makes sense to fix and what doesn’t.
Your attitude and your agents’ attitude will quite often have a lot to do with how the inspection process is handled. I have seen over the years that the friendly professional agent and seller that are here to answer questions and create goodwill have an easier time getting thru the home inspection process than the ones that are defensive and presenting an unyielding demeanor. That actually goes for the whole process.
My general rule to sellers on what to fix and what not to fix is this:
If its a safety hazard fix it. If it is something that is going to damage your home over time fix it – I consider that something along the lines of a leaking pipe that you didn’t know you had you are not going to live like that so you may as well fix it.
Some things you just can’t get around its a house it is in need of constant maintenance and repair!
We open your crawl space and find out you could be swimming down there your stuck. You really have no choice but to Fix it!
One other tidbit that I have on that is if it is something that is going to affect the buyers’ loan to purchase the property fix it. No point in killing your deal for something that may be a simple fix. And very well may come back and haunt you on the next transaction anyway. Plus material defect once known needs disclosed on your property condition report for your next transaction if you kill this one so you may as well fix it. Bird in the hand versus 2 in the bush!
Home Inspectors and Specialty Inspectors in the Coeur d Alene Area: