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Tips for preparing your house for a Home Inspection

Written By Tom

Published on 05/12/2016 9:00 AM


colonoscopySeeing as how most people will come in contact with a professional home inspector only a handful of times in their lives, it is not surprising that we work in an oftentimes misunderstood occupation; even maligned on occasion I might add. When someone is selling their house, the inspection part of the process may feel akin to a colonoscopy, sans the anesthesia. Here you have some stranger wandering around your house, looking through cracks and crevices and crawl spaces and closets, etc. Places even you’ve never been into over the 20 years since you purchased the house. To be honest, here’s what it feels like to a home inspector. Your furnace is just another furnace to us. Your roof is just another roof to us. Our seeming lack of excitability should not be confused with disinterest, boredom or anything else. After all, we do this every day and we’re the non-emotional party in the process. Throughout the course of our inspection, all we are trying to do is determine this:
a) is the (fill-in-the-blank) installed properly?
b) is it operating or functioning as intended?
c) is it within its useful service life?
d) is it aging commensurate with it’s disclosed or determined age?
e) is there anything that can or should be done to improve the current condition or situation of the (fill-in-the-blank)?
That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say if you are not purchasing or selling that particular house, the associated inspection report is a real snoozer to read.

Franklin stoveIt’s pretty obvious that people have some emotion attached to their house and other “stuff” and of course, everything has a back-story. For instance, maybe your oldest bought you the Franklin Stove that’s sitting in the living room as a way of saying thanks for helping pay his way through college. That’s a great story, but to us, it’s just another wood-burning stove, and as long as it meets a, b, c, d and e above, we’re good. Here are some other things you, as a seller, should know about the home inspection process:

  1. Let me start by putting this out there. This is not a personal attack on your house;
    1. We do understand that this is your home, and we do our best to treat it as if it were our own. We appreciate you allowing us in to do our job, but for us, it’s sticks-and-stones which we see every day and we have no personal interest in the transaction.
    2. We’re not there to build your house up or to tear it down; simply to find the condition of the components within and without, so we can provide that information to our clients.
  2. We are not permitted to share information about the inspection with any other parties, including you, the seller;
    1. As I said, we understand that it’s your home and we are there as a guest (sort of) in order to perform a task for another party who is paying us for this information. They’re paying for the cheeseburger…they are the ones that get to eat it.
    2. It’s not that we’re trying to be rude or uncommunicative. (We’re quite friendly, actually). Please understand that we have a signed confidentiality agreement with our client which forbids us from discussing the findings without their express permission.
    3. Our lack of discussing these findings shouldn’t be viewed as a negative or a positive. It has no bearing on the inspection at all…we simply are not allowed to do so.
    4. It’s usually more comfortable for the buyers if the seller is not present during an inspection. This allows buyers the freedom to spend time looking over things more closely, take measurements, start mentally “moving their furniture’ in, and discuss things among themselves more openly.
  3. HummelsWe will need to get into a lot of places…some of which, as I mentioned earlier, you yourself may have never been in during your tenure in the house;
    1. To be honest, fighting our way into a tiny closet to access the attic crawl space hatch doesn’t rise to the level of #1 on our “Favorite Things to Do” list, though areas such as this are a very important part of a home inspectors job and we will make every attempt to get there, hopefully not damaging your Hummel collection along the way.
    2. Removing your belongings ahead of time not only makes our job easier, it also safeguards your belongings from damage.
  4. Snarling dogRover the dog and Fluffy the cat are members of your family. We get that and totally respect it. We like pets too;
    1. However, please bear in mind that we are strangers in their space, so no matter how friendly they are when you’re around, there’s no telling how they will react when a stranger (inspector) comes wandering through the door.
    2. It’s best to either crate or remove them during the course of an inspection or when an inspector may be placing or retrieving a radon test. This not only keeps everyone safe, but also helps them to not have to deal with the stress that comes with trying to determine whether we are a friend or they should be going all “Chuck Norris” on us.
  5. Alarms- Please make sure they are left OFF when the home will be accessed for an inspection and/or radon test.
  6. Utilities and fixtures should be ON;
    1. Inspectors are not permitted to light pilots, turn on any valves or operate circuit breakers. Best to be sure they are all on and functioning prior to an inspection, or leave a note telling us why something is off. Applicable remote control devices (gas fireplaces, ceiling fans, etc.) should be left in plain sight.
  7. Clients usually attend the inspection. This gives them a better understanding of the conditions found, and allows them an opportunity to discuss any such concerns in depth with the inspector. As a seller, you should be aware of and prepared for this.
  8. An average house takes somewhere around 3 to 3 1/2 hours to inspect;
    1. Larger houses take longer
    2. Smaller houses take about the same time as an average house, as the same components need to be evaluated.

So, if you are in the process of selling your house, following these simple suggestions can make the process smoother for everyone. Feel free to forward this along to friends or family who are, or will be, in the market to sell their house.

That’s all for now! Stay safe,

Tom Sherman