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How to Prepare A House for a Home Inspection

A Fundamental Primer

Realtors routinely have clients ask them how to prepare for a home inspection. These are routine steps sellers can take to ensure that the inspection goes off without a hitch. Most are regular maintenance chores and quite easy and inexpensive to do. Some of these remedies are obvious but might be overlooked by anxious sellers. Above all, sellers should not try to do quick, cheap repairs, as this could cause questions and concern to home inspectors and prospective buyers.

Exterior Preparation
  • DownspoutProvide at least 6″ of clearance between grade/ mulch and siding. Decks should be properly graded.
  • Dirty gutters and debris should be cleaned from the roof and basement entry drains should be cleaned out also.
  • The grade of the land should slope away from the home so that water is diverted away from the house.
  • Downspouts, sump pumps, condensation drains, and the like should all drain away from the home.
  • Trees, roots, and bushes should be trimmed away from the home’s foundation, roof, siding, and chimney.
  • All weathered exterior wood should be painted.
  • Caulking should be placed around the chimney, windows, and doors.
  • Rotting wood and/or firewood should not be in contact with the house.
  • If the asphalt driveway is cracking, it should be sealed.
  • Masonry chimney caps should be sealed or pointed up.
  • Install metal flue caps on chimneys.
  • Any faulty mortar joints in a home’s brick or block should be pointed up.
  • The home’s HVAC filter should be cleaned or replaced, if needed.
  • All doors and windows must be in proper working condition.
  • If window panes are cracked, sellers need to have them replaced, or repaired if possible.
Interior Preparation
  • Make sure that any burned out light bulbs are replaced.
  • Ensure that all smoke detectors are working.
  • If a home’s attic is not ventilated, it needs to be.
  • A professional should clean the chimney, fireplace or wood stove and provide the buyer with a copy of the cleaning record.
  • Plumbing fixtures, including toilet, tub, shower, and sinks, should be in proper working order. Any leaks must be fixed, and caulking should be done around plumbing fixtures if necessary.
  • The sump pump should be operating properly.
  • All GFCI receptacles need to be tested to make sure they are operating correctly. If not already in place, GFCI receptacles must be installed near all water sources.
  • Masonry walls in the basement need to be sealed. Window wells and covers need to be in place if windows are at or below grade.
  • Make sure that vapor barriers, if applicable, are installed in crawl spaces and that the crawl spaces are dry. Moisture needs to be removed, as moisture levels in wood should be below 18 percent to prevent dry rot and mildew.
  • Remove any paints, solvents, gas, and similar materials from crawl spaces, basements, attics, porches, etc. Access to the attic, crawl space, heating system, garage, and other areas the home inspector will check must be clear, with nothing blocking the way.
  • If the house is vacant, all utilities must be turned on, including water, electric, water heater, furnace, air conditioning, and breakers in the main panel.

Sellers who follow these steps should have no problem with a home inspection, making themselves, their Realtor, and their prospective buyers very happy.