Q. Selling my house, how do I prepare for an inspection?

Q. Hey Mark,

I’m selling my house and have to have a home inspection this week. Should I do anything in particular to prepare?

Thanks for your help,

Lorene

A. Lorene,

Hey… Can I please come inspect your home? You sound like the perfect home owner. To answer your question in a word, absolutely, and thank you so much for asking.

Since the inspection is this week, you don’t have time to do much, but the first thing I would say to do is, relax. While the inspector is going to be looking for defects, whatever he finds will help you in the long run. If your buyers did not have an inspection, and they later found a defect that wasn’t properly disclosed, it could come back to haunt you. Therefore, finding defects before you close is the best scenario for both sides of the transaction.

Now that you’ve relaxed a little, prepare with this short to-do list…

  • Make sure the inspector can obtain access to all rooms of the home.
  • Move things away from the garage walls.
  • If there is a vehicle in the garage, move it to the street.
  • If your garage is more of a storage area, make sure the inspector can get around and physically see all the walls, and as much of the floor as possible.
  • Move anything blocking your windows, doors, attic hatch, crawlspace entrance, water heater, furnace, AC, or electrical panel.
  • Replace all the burned out light bulbs in the home.
  • Unplug all unnecessary electrical appliances so the inspector can access and test the outlets.
  • If you have small children, and have safety plugs in your outlets, remove them.
  • Remove stored items from inside the oven and on top of the stove. (The inspector may turn it on.)
  • Make sure none of grandma’s silverware has slipped into the garbage disposal.
  • Load some dishes in your dishwasher. (The inspector will likely want to run it, might as well wash the dishes while we’re at it.)
  • Remove any belongings from under the sinks, for easy access to the pipes.
  • If there are any special instructions for operating appliances, garage doors, lighting, fireplaces etc, leave a note in an obvious location.
  • If there is anything that the inspector needs to know about (i.e. specialized medical equipment in the house that should not be turned off), let the inspector know about it.
  • If there are any unsafe conditions that you are aware of, let the inspector know. (i.e. slippery stairs, loose handrails, open wiring, etc.)
  • Most importantly, if you are there during the inspection, try to accommodate the inspector as much as possible. He is not your enemy. The inspector is probably the only person in the entire transaction who has no personal interest in the outcome of the transaction. He is, by definition, an unbiased party. Attempts to hide defects, or to intimidate the inspector will cause distrust and only cause the inspector to feel he needs to be more cautious and nit-picky in his report. In actuality, it is good to go ahead and show the inspector your disclosure statement. Point out things you are concerned with, and feel free to ask questions.
  • Also remember, if your inspector is very thorough, you may have just found the inspector you will want to hire for your own inspection when you purchase your next home. If he did a good job for this client, you can expect he’ll do a good job for you, too.

Anyone who has more than a couple of days to prepare for an inspection will want to download our FREE, printable Preparing for a Buyer’s Inspection Checklist. This pdf can also be found in the download box, located in the sidebar, along with other useful pdf files.

Mark Nahrgang is the owner of Kingdom Inspection Network Group – St. Louis and is a professional NACHI certified building inspector in the St. Louis metro area. Mark performs home inspections as well as commercial inspections throughout St. Louis and St. Charles County.

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