How to Get Ready for a Home Inspection

Home sellers will have an easier time by preparing for a home inspection in advance. Getting ready for a home inspection will help to prevent future problems. Prevention can stop surprises. The last thing a seller needs is for a home inspector to break a fixture or cause damage because the seller was ill-prepared.

Some local governments require that the seller provides the buyer with a detailed home inspection while giving the buyer the option to obtain her own inspection. In other parts of the country, the seller provides only disclosures and the buyer pays for her own home inspection. Whether you're producing a seller's home inspection for the buyer or expecting the buyer's home inspector to show up on your doorsteps, it's best to be thoroughly prepared.

1
Clean the House

Girl preparing to spring clean
Peter Dazeley/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

This sounds so simple, yet home owners often overlook this tactic. Home inspectors are people first and inspectors second. As people, they carry preconceived ideas of how well a home has been maintained. Clean homes say you care and take care of the house. It's a good idea to make a good impression. Don't make the mistake of thinking they can see past stuff; they can't.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

2
Be on Time Because the Inspector Will Be

man checking wristwatch
Aluma Images/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Sometimes, home inspectors are early. If an inspector makes an appointment with you for 9:00 a.m., have the house ready for inspection at 8:30. It's also common for inspectors to start on the exterior of the home, so leave the shades down or drapes drawn until you are dressed. More than one unprepared seller has been "surprised" by a stranger stomping around in the back yard.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

3
Leave the Utilities Connected

woman flipping light switch
JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty Images

The home inspector will need to turn on the stove, run the dishwasher, test the furnace and air conditioning, so leave the utilities on, especially if the house is vacant. It's impossible to check receptacles for grounding and reverse polarity if the power is turned off. Without utilities, the inspector will need to reschedule, which could delay the closing of your transaction and the removal of the buyer's home inspection contingency.​ Some inspectors will charge a buyer a reinspection fee to make a return trip, and that can cause ill will, too.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

4
Provide Workspace Around Furnace and Water Heaters

man looking in water heater closet
Monty Rakusen/Cultura/Getty Images

Remove boxes, bookcases, furniture and anything else blocking access to your furnace, air conditioner and water heater. The inspector will need three to four feet of working space to inspect these items.

They often will not move anything themselves but if they don't have access, an inspector might suggest a specialist to the buyer. Buyers, not understanding why, might then hire a specialist who will undoubtedly find more things wrong. Why? Because a specialist has a lot more knowledge than a general inspector.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

5
Keep Pilot Lights Ignited

man turning water heater temperature knob
BanksPhotos/E+/Getty Images

Many home inspectors will refuse to light pilot lights because the inspector does not carry enough insurance to be covered for that type of liability / risk. If your pilot lights are not lit, then important items such as the water heater, gas stove or furnace will not be inspected and the buyer could delay closing until those inspections are completed.

Again, the inspector will probably charge the buyer extra to make a return trip.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

6
Provide Access to Attic and Garage

man standing in empty attic
David Sacks/Photodisc/Getty Images

The inspector will need to get into your basement and/or attic as well, so keep a path cleared. Check for water in the basement. Move all boxes and stored items away from the walls by at least two feet. Vacuum spider webs. Look in the attic for possible rodent droppings. Secure valuables, if any. 

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

7
Leave Keys for Outbuildings and Electrical Boxes

locked electrical box
Laara Cerman/Leigh Righton/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Leave the remote controls for your garage door opener or a key if the garage is unattached to the house. Unlock the covers for your sprinkler system and electrical box. Leave a key for exterior building access. You can label these keys and leave them on a kitchen table.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

8
Clear Away Brush From Exterior Inspection Points

woman raking leaves in front of house
Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Getty Images

Nobody expects you to shovel a tunnel around your home if snow drifts are blocking the foundation but, in the winter, do provide a path around the house. In the summer, cut down dead tree branches and clear brush from the foundation. Move trash cans away from the house.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

9
Provide Repair Documents

filing cabinet full of files
stephanie phillips/E+/Getty Images

Make available to the home inspector all invoices and documents regarding remodeling projects or new items such as a roof or furnace. If you've upgraded the electrical from ungrounded to grounded, installed a new dishwasher or repaired a leaky faucet, find the paperwork. It will give the buyer peace of mind to know those items were reinspected.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

10
Prepare to Be Away for Three Hours Minimum

Boston Terrier dog in crate
Katsuya Nishiyama/EyeEm/Getty Images

Often the buyer will accompany the home inspector, and buyers feel uncomfortable asking questions if the owner is present. Try to schedule a time for the inspection when you can be out of the house, and take the children with you. Crate your pets if you cannot remove them from the premises.

Many inspections can take up to 3 hours to complete.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.