Information for
-Home Buyers
-Sellers
-Home Inspectors
 
 
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How to Prepare
for a Home Inspection

 
There are a number of things that can be done to prepare for a
home inspection.
The buyer or real estate agent should work with the seller to
ensure that: 

1.  The utilities are turned on.
      

      Electric, gas and all other utilities should be working so that
your inspector can properly test and operate all the systems and
components in the home. Some home inspectors may charge a
fee to return to the home and inspect anything that they could not
properly inspect or test the first time, so don't overlook this!

2.  Pilot lights are lit for any heating or cooking appliances
that will be 
inspected.

    
Home inspectors will NOT light pilot lights for stoves or heating 
units. These units need to be operational at the time of inspection.
Put yourself in the inspector's shoes for this one: would you want to
walk into an unfamiliar home and ignite an appliance that may not
have been properly maintained or repaired? For an inspector, it's an
invitation to a disaster or a lawsuit, and a home inspector WILL NOT
take that chance. 

3.  Heating units are accessible.

    This means that the area around the furnace, boiler or other 
heating appliance is free of stored items and clutter. Your home
inspector is not required to (and in most cases WILL NOT) move
items away from the heating unit in order to do his or her job.   

4.  Electrical panels are accessible and unlocked.

    All electrical panels and sub-panels should be readily accessible
so that the inspector can remove the panel cover and inspect the
wiring within. Also, be aware that a home inspector may refuse to
inspect an electrical panel if part or all of the panel or distribution
box is wet, or shows signs of fire damage or short-circuiting.

5.  The attic area is accessible and cleared of stored items.

     The attic of a home is a very important area. By inspecting the
attic, a home inspector can diagnose the causes of roof damage or
premature roof failure, mold, ice dams, and many other problems
with the home. This area should be readily accessible. Your home
inspector needs to be able to get into the attic, first of all.
Scuttle holes, walk-up accesses and pull-down stairs should be 
unobstructed and free of stored items so that an adult male can enter
freely. If access to the attic is gained through a closet ceiling, then the
closet area should be free of clothing and other stored items in order
to allow the inspector to place his ladder there and climb into the attic. 

    In the attic area, be sure that all areas of the attic are visible and
accessible.
Remember - a home inspection is a visible evaluation of the home....
if it is not visible, it cannot be properly inspected.  

6.  Crawl space entrances are accessible and unlocked, and that
they are 
not screwed or nailed shut.
 
    Another important area of the home is the crawl space. Let's face it-
nobody likes to go down there. Crawl spaces hold all kinds of unsavory
things: rodents, snakes and spiders, not to mention  plumbing, electrical
and structural components that are rarely seen. So it stands to reason
that the crawl space is one of the least maintained areas of a home, but
one of the most important.  Be sure that your inspector can gain access
to the crawl space to view the floor structure, wall structure and any
plumbing or electrical components in that area of the home.
If you contact a home inspector and they state that they do not inspect
crawl spaces, look for another home inspector. But be aware that your
inspector is within his rights to refuse to enter a crawl space if the area
presents an obvious health hazard such as standing water, leaking
sewage, evidence of rodent activity, evidence of snakes or other life or
health-threatening situations. 

7.  Showers and bathtubs are free of stored or personal items.

    One aspect of the plumbing inspection is running water into tubs, 
showers and sinks in order to look for leaks and obstructions, and to
ascertain that the plumbing fixtures are in good working order. Obviously,
if the tub is full of clothes or is being used as a makeshift aquarium for the
goldfish while the tank is being cleaned (yes this happened to me), your
inspector will not run water into it and will not be able to properly inspect
the plumbing components.    

8.  Sinks and dishwashers are cleared of dishes, and the area
beneath all 
sinks should be free of stored items.

    A home inspector needs to be able to see and freely inspect the plumbing 
and drainage components for sinks, dishwashers and garbage disposals. Be
sure that the inspector is able to access these areas so that YOU can be sure
that everything is in good working order. 

9.  Any pets are secured for the inspector's safety.

     Even chihuahuas can turn into Cujo when a new person shows up in
their home. You, or the home seller, may think that the dog is not a threat,
but bear in mind that the dog doesn't know the home inspector, and the
home inspector doesn't know the dog. Unfamiliarity can sometimes breed
contempt: the dog has never seen the inspector and may view him or her
as a threat. Your inspector is there to sniff out problems in the home, and
may not have an extra half-hour to gain Fido's trust. It is always best to tie
or otherwise secure any pets during a home inspection.     

10.  All items and areas to be inspected are readily accessible. 

    This may seem redundant, after discussion about crawl space 
accessibility, attic accessibility, etc. But it bears repeating. 

    Home inspectors will not normally move items out of the way to inspect
systems or components, and most inspectors will take pictures of obstructed
areas to document that there were items in the way at the time of inspect-
ion in order to absolve themselves from litigation issues. So if an area is not
accessible and visible, the home buyer is ultimately the person who is short-
changed after paying several hundred dollars for an inspection.  In my exper-
ience, home inspectors are very qualified in general...rarely have I encount-
ered a home inspector who doesn't take their task seriously. But a home
inspector is only as good as their accessibility. 

 
  
 
 
 


 

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