The following is a reprint of my article published in the “Sarasota/Manatee Realtor” magazine for October 2015.
The pre-purchase, general home inspection is a visual examination of the components and systems of a house, and is an important part of the home buying and selling process.
All parties involved want the inspection to go well. To ensure the process goes smoothly and efficiently, it is important that the seller prepare the property for the inspection. Be sure everyone involved is aware how long the inspection will take, typically 2 to 4 hours.
Your Home Inspector will need access to all components and systems, in all areas of the house to inspect properly. We need to gain access to all attic entry points, the pull-down stairs and scuttle hatches; same goes for the access to the crawlspace under the floor. Have available all keys needed for all the doors and various other locks in the house.
Allow as much visibility as possible for garage walls, crawlspaces, storage areas and attics.
We will open “readily openable access panels” of heating/cooling systems, water heaters and electric panels. Be sure there are no obstructions to these. In most cases all of these items (as well as the attic access) are located in the Garage, so it is usually best to park the vehicles elsewhere, and also arrange to have any other heavy items relocated, if necessary.
Allow access to water and gas meters, shut-off valves, and electric panels; remove appliances, pictures, wall hangings, etc., which may block access.
Clean up the yard and inside the house; remove any clutter that might get in the way. We will look under the sinks to observe plumbing materials, possible leaks and fixtures, so remove the excessive clutter.
Remove clothes from washer and dryer; remove dishes from dishwasher and sink; remove pots and pans from cooking appliances; remove dishes and clutter from kitchen countertops and sinks.
Few Inspectors are actually clumsy, but we are not all as agile as a cat. Put away those valuable-yet-very-breakable art objects, family heirlooms, notions and potions. Trying to avoid breaking delicate items delays and disrupts the inspection process.
Be sure all the utilities are on during the inspection, because multiple notes of “unable to test or inspect” does not look good in an inspection report. An inspection without the water, gas and electric on is comparable to a car salesman allowing a test drive without providing a battery or gasoline.
Make sure all plumbing fixtures are “on.” If any of these are not on, be sure you know why, because the Inspector will need to know why.
Make certain all pilot lights are lit; heating/cooling systems are operable, water heaters are operable, appliances are connected.
Make certain fuses and circuit breakers are operable. If any breakers are off be sure to find out why, and if it is safe to turn on the breakers; your inspector will ask!
Replace defective light bulbs…this is so important and so easy. All lights working will look so much better in the Inspection Report.
Control pets and children. Chasing a runaway cat can delay the inspection process, as can inquisitive children, barking and/or jumping dogs.
Avoid running water during the inspection. Running a dishwasher, doing laundry, showering, car-washing, etc., are disruptive to the inspector’s testing procedures.
Disarm alarm systems; alarm monitoring companies may charge for false alarms.
Wind Mitigation Report
Although not required, every Home Inspection should include a Wind Mitigation inspection for home owner’s insurance discount; this will require access to the attic, including areas where the roof meets the bearing walls. Remove excessive storage items from the attic to allow easy access for the Inspector.
This report requires as much information about the roof and opening protection items as possible. Provide documents (invoices, permits, summaries, etc.) for major work recently done on the roof, and for hurricane shutters or impact glass windows recently installed.
Additionally, you should include all relative documentation for work recently done on the house in general, for the general inspection. Include engineering reports, disclosure forms, and any other pertinent documentation regarding the property being inspected.
A smooth, efficient inspection is for the benefit of us all. This will have the least impact and the least disruption on the current occupant and/or home owner. The agents and inspector will appear to be the professionals we already know we are. Our client receives the best possible service. And this will cost us all the least amount of our very valuable time.