Tips for sellers on what to fix before a home inspection

Tips for sellers on what to fix before a home inspection

When selling your home, it is strongly advised to have  an inspection before there is an exchange of property ownership. This is to ensure that the home is safe to live in and that buyers are protected from buying houses with problems that they are not aware of.

A standard home inspection usually takes between two and four hours depending on the size of the home and after the inspection the inspector will send the client a report with photographs of problem areas.

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) a home inspection ‘is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation’. 

Based on the home inspector’s report, the buyer may want to renegotiate the original sales price or the buyer may insist that certain action be taken by the seller to fix any problems that the inspector has listed, before the sale closes escrow. 

Here are some things that you as a seller can do to facilitate a smooth home inspection.

1. Check your roof
It may have been a while since you’ve checked your roof, yet it forms a key part of the home inspection. Unless you have a leak, you wouldn’t necessarily be aware of cracked roof tiles or other problems. It’s a good idea to check for damaged or missing tiles and to clean debris from your gutters prior to the inspection. If you find any damage to the roof or to the gutters, get these fixed before the home inspector is due to visit.
2. Replace all bulbs that are not working

Besides being a good tip for staging your home, replacing all light bulbs inside and outside your house will make the home inspector’s job easier and it will alert you to any potential problems with your wiring. If a new bulb doesn’t work, test it in another fitting. If it works in the second fitting but not the first, there may be an electrical problem that will need to be fixed by a qualified electrician.

3. Look for leaks and water damage

A home inspector will check for leaks or signs of water damage, so it makes sense to get these issues repaired before the inspection. When looking for water damage, check for signs of warping, buckling or sagging on the walls, floors and ceilings and remember to check the outside of the house too.
The typical spots to detect a leak would be under sinks, at the base of toilets, bathtubs and showers and around faucets (both inside and outside). You can also check behind or under appliances that use water like dishwashers, washing machines and refrigerators.

4. Check for mold

Mold can be a recurring problem in bathrooms that are not well ventilated or in rooms on the shady side of the house. Mold can be a health hazard and not only could your home inspector refer you to a mold specialist but it may be off-putting to buyers too.

According to the California Department of Health, ‘The presence of visible mold, visible moisture, water-damaged materials, or mold odor in a building is clearly linked to increased risk of various respiratory health effects. These health effects include asthma development, asthma exacerbation, allergies, respiratory infections, and a variety of upper and lower respiratory symptoms.’ (If you have mold, consult a specialist on how best to remove it or download the fact sheet on what to do when you find mold in your home on the California Department of Health’s website).

5. Get rid of pests

If you have a problem with cockroaches, rats, termites, ants or other household pests it’s advisable to get this taken care of   before the home inspection. Besides being potential health hazards, some of these creatures can cause structural damage to a home.
A pest control inspector  will check for pest problems and if detected, the buyer will want these areas repaired.
Although California law doesn’t require a seller to provide a specific pest control inspection and certification report, buyers are advised to insist on a termite inspection. If there is a problem with termites, it is customary for the seller to pay for Section 1 infestations.

Here is a list of criterion that a general home  inspector will review, according to the ASHI
  1. Heating system
  2. Central air conditioning system (temperature permitting)
  3. Interior plumbing 
  4. Electrical systems
  5. Roof
  6. Attic, including visible insulation
  7. Walls
  8. Ceilings
  9. Floors
  10. Windows and doors
  11. Foundation
  12. Basement (if any)
  13. Structural components

If the home has a swimming pool or spa the home inspector will also check for leaks or damage and note the age of the system.

Home inspectors in California are not currently required to obtain a home inspector license, however they are regulated by a trade practice act. A good realtor should be able to recommend a trustworthy, qualified home inspector in your area.

The ASHI publishes a Standard of Practice and Code of Ethics that outlines what to expect to be covered in the home inspection report. 

Besides the standard home inspection buyers can request a number of other inspections such as a sewer line inspection by a licensed plumber, a chimney inspector, or soil technician.