What To Do Before a Home Inspection
What Is A Home Inspection?
When people want to know what to do before a home inspection in the new home they are about to buy, we first must look to the industry leader, InterNACHI® for the formal definition of what a home inspection really is. According to InterNACHI® a home inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of the accessible areas of a residential property based on a standardized certified process.
This process is followed by all vetted and certified associate Home Inspector members. The most trusted home inspection associations are ASHI® The American Society of Home Inspectors and InterNACHI® The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.
What Is A Certified Home Inspection?
A certified home inspection is generally performed by an InterNACHI® or ASHI® Certified Professional Home Inspector. To become certified, Home Inspectors are rigorously trained in the latest building codes and follow a strict code of ethics. A modern Home Inspector uses state-of-the-art inspection technology. But most importantly, they use the latest in innovative mobile reporting software. Imagine a home inspection report so visually rich and interactive, that it makes your father’s old school checklist report look like a relic from another century in comparison.
What Is A Modern Home Inspector?
Throw away that stereotypical stock photo image of the old school home inspector that everyone seems to use online. You know the one if you have been searching for "what is a home inspection?". The photo always shows a young couple looking at a guy in a polo shirt and khakis with a clipboard, checklist and a pen. Nope! Today's modern inspector tosses out that paper checklist and gives your home a highly personalized and detailed 3-4 hour inspection. A modern Home Inspector is also a home buyer's unbiased consultant working exclusively for you and who pays special attention to your personal concerns or needs. Those old checklist style reports were great in the 1970's for your grandparents, but are no longer relevant for today's, always online and on the go, home buyers.
CAN I SEE MY REPORT ON MY SMART PHONE?
Yes! By comparison, modern Home Inspectors today use a smart phone and advanced home inspection software licensed by companies like Spectora. This way the Home Inspector always follows the same well defined inspection pattern that not only saves time, but ultimately catches more defects than if the inspector just rushed through the home in no organized repeatable pattern. The results are all easily viewed from any screen size from mobile to the desktop.
HOW DO I KNOW THE REPORT IS ACCURATE?
This Certified Process by InterNACHI® ensures that each inspection is performed exactly the same. With repeatable precision. Not just for your own home’s inspection, but for each and every time a home is inspected. This allows the Home Inspector to give you the full picture of the home's condition as it was at the time of the inspection. Today’s modern Home Inspector creates a mobile-friendly, web-based report with your home's inspection results that always live on the web. At Home Inspection Time we use the latest web based home inspection reporting software available. We include HD video, helpful and informative illustrations of how things work and hundreds of HD photos. Once these details are combined, they provide an interactive document of your home’s condition at the time of the inspection.
WHAT DOES A HOME INSPECTION LOOK FOR?
Think of a Home Inspector as your home’s doctor who makes house calls. Like any doctor would, the Home Inspector will look for the home's symptoms and make recommendations for how to remedy it. A Home Inspector is a well trained and experienced home generalist, able to identify your home's current physical condition. Through experience and training, they have learned the ability to read your home's condition and observe signs of wear and tear that they have been trained to recognize. Based on their findings, Home Inspectors then make the appropriate recommendations for a trained professional to make the repairs.
WHAT IF MY HOME INSPECTOR SAYS HE CAN FIX IT?
Beware of the inspector who says he can fix it for you. This is a conflict of interest. Not all Home Inspectors are the same or created equally. But the wise choice would be to select a modern Certified Professional Inspector® trained by InterNACHI®. Why? Because all Certified Home Inspectors adhere to a comprehensive Residential Standards of Practice.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN AN EXTERIOR INSPECTION?
- Inspect The Roof - The inspector shall inspect from ground level or the eaves:
- the roof-covering materials;
- the gutters;
- the downspouts;
- the vents, flashing, skylights, chimney, and other roof penetrations; and
- the general structure of the roof from the readily accessible panels, doors or stairs.
- Inspect The Exterior -The inspector shall inspect:
- the exterior wall-covering materials;
- the eaves, soffits and fascia;
- a representative number of windows;
- all exterior doors;
- flashing and trim;
- adjacent walkways and driveways;
- stairs, steps, stoops, stairways and ramps;
- porches, patios, decks, balconies and carports;
- railings, guards and handrails; and
- vegetation, surface drainage, retaining walls and grading of the property, where they may adversely affect the structure due to moisture intrusion.
- Inspect Basement, Foundation, Crawlspace & Structure - The inspector shall inspect:
- the foundation;
- the basement;
- the crawlspace; and
- structural components
- Inspect Heating - The inspector shall inspect:
- the heating system, using normal operating controls.
II. The inspector shall describe:
- the location of the thermostat for the heating system;
- the energy source; and
- the heating method.
III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:
- any heating system that did not operate; and
- if the heating system was deemed inaccessible.
- Inspect Cooling - The inspector shall inspect:
- the cooling system, using normal operating controls.
II. The inspector shall describe:
- the location of the thermostat for the cooling system; and
- the cooling method.
III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:
- any cooling system that did not operate; and
- if the cooling system was deemed inaccessible.
- Inspect Plumbing - The inspector shall inspect:
- the main water supply shut-off valve;
- the main fuel supply shut-off valve;
- the water heating equipment, including the energy source, venting connections, temperature/pressure-relief (TPR) valves, Watts 210 valves, and seismic bracing;
- interior water supply, including all fixtures and faucets, by running the water;
- all toilets for proper operation by flushing;
- all sinks, tubs and showers for functional drainage;
- the drain, waste and vent system; and
- drainage sump pumps with accessible floats.
- Inspect Electrical -The inspector shall inspect:
- the service drop;
- the overhead service conductors and attachment point;
- the service head, gooseneck and drip loops;
- the service mast, service conduit and raceway;
- the electric meter and base;
- service-entrance conductors;
- the main service disconnect;
- panelboards and over-current protection devices (circuit breakers and fuses);
- service grounding and bonding;
- a representative number of switches, lighting fixtures and receptacles, including receptacles observed and deemed to be arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI)-protected using the AFCI test button, where possible;
- all ground-fault circuit interrupter receptacles and circuit breakers observed and deemed to be GFCIs using a GFCI tester, where possible; and
- for the presence of smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors.
- Fireplace - The inspector shall inspect:
- readily accessible and visible portions of the fireplaces and chimneys;
- lintels above the fireplace openings;
- damper doors by opening and closing them, if readily accessible and manually operable; and
- clean-out doors and frames.
- Attic, Insulation & Ventilation - The inspector shall inspect:
- insulation in unfinished spaces, including attics, crawlspaces and foundation areas;
- ventilation of unfinished spaces, including attics, crawlspaces and foundation areas; and
- mechanical exhaust systems in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry area.
- Doors, Windows & Interior - The inspector shall inspect:
- a representative number of doors and windows by opening and closing them;
- floors, walls and ceilings;
- stairs, steps, landings, stairways and ramps;
- railings, guards and handrails; and
- garage vehicle doors and the operation of garage vehicle door openers, using normal operating controls.
What To do Before a Home Inspection?
Congratulations! You have a buyer for your home. But do you know what to do before a home inspection?
Do you know what secrets are lurking within your walls? Are you concerned what a home buyer's inspection may find? If you are a home seller, just knowing that your home buyer will want a home inspection contingency sends shivers down your spine. That's why home seller’s often get a seller’s pre-listing inspection for their home so they can stop worrying about what the buyer’s Home Inspector may find. Don’t be caught off guard and find out that your home won’t sell because of a few minor repairs that are easily fixed but can still cause your buyer to get cold feet and back-out of the deal.
So rather than get all worked up and stressed out about what a Home Inspector may find, here are some helpful things you can do to prepare ahead of the Home Inspector visit.
Download the Home Inspection Checklist
Use this handy home inspection checklist so you know what to do before a home inspection and be ready for when your home inspection time arrives.
HOW DO I GET READY FOR A HOME INSPECTION?
Home Inspectors need visible access to all areas that need to be inspected
Clear some space. The biggest problems with getting an accurate home inspection is that the Home Inspector is not allowed to move things like personal items and heavy furniture to get a better look at what’s under it or behind furniture. Inspectors will note inspection limitations in the report for all areas that they are unable to see or inspect if inaccessible or deemed too unsafe to inspect or enter. If your Home Inspector can’t get to an area for the inspection, it’s obvious that they can’t inspect it, and that probably will come across as a red flag for your home buyers.
To get the best inspection possible, It’s recommended that you make clear paths for the Home Inspector. Clear rooms of any clutter impeding access. Look around your basement for blocked access to crawlspace areas or systems that the inspector needs to take a look at. Make sure you remember areas including attics, furnace rooms, and under the sinks. The inspector will want to inspect and photograph it all. If you think all this sounds like you're the one doing the home inspection, well you absolutely are!
Clear the perimeter around your home’s property from clutter
In addition to checking the interior functioning of your home, the Home Inspector is also going to be looking at the exterior of the home. The Home Inspector inspects the siding, trims, flashing, and caulking around windows and doors. You’ll want to leave areas around your home clear of excessive overgrown plant growth. Look at trash cans, and stored items, are they blocking areas the inspector needs to look? It's important the Home Inspector can get an unimpeded look at the home. Clearing the perimeter allows for better visibility for inspection photographs and video that document the homes current condition.
Check your home's roof safely from the ground or use a ladder from the eaves
The first thing the Home Inspector will look at is your roof. But when was the last time you took a good look at the roof of your house? Be honest, if you are like most sellers, it’s probably been awhile. We tend to take the roof for granted, but year after year your home's roof takes a beating and actually can begin to leak anytime without warning. Did you know that even roofs on brand new construction homes can leak? They can and do! Any Home Inspector will tell you that if the roof fails, then the whole house will suffer. Water always wants in and generally finds it. Your roof is a key part of the home inspection though, so you can’t ignore it in your preparations. You now have to do what a Home Inspector would do.
Get out a ladder and safely observe that you need to clean moss and debris from the gutters. How do the gutters look? Are downspouts missing? Are gutters loose or rusted? A Home Inspector will catch this. Make an inspection note to get that repaired or replaced before your sell. While you are still on the ladder, be sure to check for any damaged or missing roofing tiles. Also make sure downspouts are in their proper position and have a water diverter that extends 6 feet down and away from your home's foundation for each one. If you do find damage on the roof from hail, discover broken or cracked tiles or see loose granules from your asphalt roof, you’ll want to get it taken care of prior to the home inspection by a certified professional roofer. Your Home Inspector will note other roofing defect details such as missing flashing and improperly installed vent pipes that vent through the roof and chimney.
Keep a clean house for the Home Inspector to see everything
Wake-up it’s time to clean, yes again! You know the routine by now. If you’ve already been going through the process of selling your house, you’re probably already pretty well versed and trained at this point at keeping everything clean and tidy. Make sure that you keep this level of cleanliness for the Home Inspector. If they can't see it, they can't inspect it.
Home Inspectors check the electric so replace any bulbs that are out
A blown bulb suggests two things to a Home Inspector: 1) either the bulb itself is out, or 2) there’s something faulty in the fixture’s wiring. It will be noted in the report that the Home Inspector was unable to fully test the electrical due to non-functioning bulb. The inspector will either have to waste time determining whether a fixture is inoperable or they’ll simply document with photography and video that there’s a possible defect without looking further into it. You can avoid both of these scenarios by making sure that all of your bulbs are in working order. Missing outlet covers count too!
Home Inspectors will flush your toilets and make sure they are functioning properly
Does your toilet wobble when you lean against it? Make note that it may need a new wax gasket ring. Does your toilet run for a long time after you flush? Do you have to jiggle the handle until it stops? It’s a common problem that you don’t even notice, but it’s not something you want your Home Inspector to come upon. Fixing a running toilet is an easy and inexpensive do-it-yourself home repair item that any homeowner can easily do. A simple trip to the hardware store for a new part is all it needs. Little things like this is what makes a potential home buyer nervous even though they are easy fixes. Because it's such an easy fix, why not take care of the problem before the the Home Inspector observes it and adds it to the report as a toilet defect repair recommendation. We probably don't need to mention that you should make sure the bathroom is clean to avoid any embarrassments.
Home Inspectors check for clean furnace filters
This is one regular maintenance item that every homeowner should really replace monthly to keep the furnace running at top efficiency. A filter is not a buy it once and forget it proposition. Part of the privilege of homeownership is to be regularly replacing the furnace and other filters in the home. A clean filter in your home is important for maintaining the home's air quality and the overall functioning of your heating system. Show that you take care of your home’s heating and air systems, clean or replace the existing filter and show that it’s something you do pay attention to.
The Home Inspector will test the oven and stove
Your Home Inspector is not allowed to turn on a pilot light. If it is off, it will go down in the report as a minor defect and that it needs to be turned-on to be inspected. This is noted in the report as an inspection limitation. Before your home inspection, turn on all your pilot lights. The pilot light in your water heater is probably always on (if you had experienced a cold shower this morning, you would already know if it wasn’t), but what about the pilot light in your gas fireplace? Is it working? If not, now is the time to get it going again.
Home Inspectors look for properly labeled circuit breakers
Your Home Inspector will want to see that there are properly marked labels for all the electrical outlets and appliances. A confusing electrical/fuse box is frustrating for homeowners and Home Inspectors alike. Anyone ever experience the “what does this switch do?” and then turn off the wrong breaker? You should double check that each switch in the breaker box is labeled clearly and correctly. After testing, replace any labels that are incorrect or difficult to read.
The Home Inspector will check exterior and interior doors
Walk-through your home like a Home Inspector would. Check each door to make sure that it’s in working condition. Does it squeak? Use some WD-40 to quiet those noisy hinges. Does the door close properly? Interior and exterior doors should be latching into the frame with no problem, doorknobs should be securely in place, and any locks, particularly on doors that lead outside, need to be functioning properly as well. If you have a basement, the Home Inspector will check the window wells for proper egress, that each well has a safety ladder and that there is a safety cover over the well.
Home Inspectors main job is to find leaks and water damage
One of the big things Home Inspectors generally look for are signs of leaks or water damage in the bathrooms under the sinks and around the shower. We also are checking the tiles by tapping on them to see if water is getting behind the wall or caulking is deficient. I like to use a moisture meter to determine if water is present. Some Home Inspectors may use infrared photography to show what is hidden behind the wall. Unfortunately, infrared photography is a special skill and is often misread and misdiagnosed. Therefore, infrared while very cool to look at, also has the potential to scare off a home buyer when in-fact it's just a temperature change and not a water leak. Too bad you already opened up that wall. We check the sink and the laundry room. At Home Inspection Time, we save the kitchen inspection for last. Why? That area has the most integrated systems in the entire home and is at the hub of the home. Check these zones and get any water-related issues repaired prior to the inspection by a qualified plumber.
What plumbing leaks do I look for?
When looking for plumbing leaks, be sure to check under sinks, around faucets and around the base of your toilets. Check the bathtubs and/or showers, and under any appliances that may leak, such as dishwashers, washing machines and refrigerators. In terms of water damage, examine the walls, scan the ceilings for evidence of staining, and the floors. You are mostly looking for signs of warping, sagging, or buckling. Water intrusion is the enemy of your home. Water always wants in and if left unchecked, can cause $1,000’s of dollars in damage. Most importantly, you need to check the exterior of your house for signs of cracks, missing mortar joints, leaks or water erosion damage, as well. If you see water puddles accumulating in some areas around your home, the Home Inspector will note that grading may be a concern and should be looked at by a foundation repair specialist to determine the correct solution.
The Home Inspector will spot inspects, better call pest control
Most homeowners have to occasionally deal with a rogue ant or sneaky spider in the home, especially in warmer temperatures. But if you’ve got a wasp nest in the backyard or are regularly seeing lines of ants in your kitchen or other interior areas, you’ll want to take care of these problems prior to your home inspection. Most bug problems aren’t a huge deal, but they can turn off your home buyer and if observed by the Home Inspector, we will definitely put it in the report. Call any pest professional to handle any suspected pest issues.
Getting ready for the Home Inspector on the day of the inspection
Do you have any pets? Not all Home Inspectors are Pet Friendly like Home Inspection Time. Even then, pets can still get hurt or injure the inspector by causing an accidental trip or fall while carrying a ladder or other inspection activity. Some Home Inspectors have been attacked by dogs and others won't even inspect your home if one is present. For everyone’s safety, you may want to keep your pets clear of the Home Inspector during your home's inspection time. If you have small children, they should be watched so the inspector doesn’t accidentally hurt the little ones while going about doing the inspection.
Now you are ready to inspect
That was a lot of work, but you're ready for when the Home Inspector arrives. You are way ahead and have already found quite a few defective things and took care of them ahead of time. You also made sure all the utilities are left on so the Home Inspector can check all the systems. You walked around your property to double check that you’ve left clear access to areas and systems all around the house. Gates are all unlocked, the electrical boxes clear. Most Home Inspectors like to walk the home with you to share their observations as they inspect your home. Not many people can dedicate 3-4 hours to a home inspection, but you do want to be there at the beginning and at the end of the inspection. It is a good idea to be present for some of the inspection to learn about your home's condition. Being present also allows the inspector to show you what was observed as a defect and the recommended fix for it.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A HOME INSPECTION
All this sounds like a lot to think about. But you can relax, most home buyers are realistic and aren’t expecting 100% complete perfection; they just want to know that in the home they are buying, there aren’t any hidden surprise expenses waiting for them like a new roof, electrical repairs or the need for new plumbing. There is truly no such thing as a pass or fail in a home inspection. A home inspection report is just a list of things the house will need to have maintained or repaired. Some items will be mandatory for safety reasons or code, but most items Home Inspectors find are merely observations and may be optional or put on a home maintenance schedule to repair a a later date.
WHAT IF MY HOME FAILS THE HOME INSPECTION?
The good news is, a home inspection is not a pass-fail test. That task would generally be performed by the city's building code inspector. Remember, Home Inspectors may look for building code compliance, but we are not code inspectors. We have to understand as home buyers that no home is ever going to be perfect. Virtually every home will have a number of flaws or defects. But a home that has a few flaws does not mean the home fails. As soon as a Home Inspector drives up to your home, the inspection begins.
When you hire Home Inspection Time to inspect a home, there is a huge punch-list of items that Home Inspector's must go through. With so many inspection touch points, you shouldn’t be too surprised if the inspection uncovers as many as 50 to 100 observed defects. Before you panic and think the home is a money pit, the Home Inspector will put your mind at ease and add some perspective to your report.
The report will contain recommendations for you on how to get them all replaced or repaired without further worry. The good news is that many of these defects may be relatively minor. Homeowners may choose to fix it themselves to save money on repairs. If you are buying the home, you have the option to ask the seller if they can remedy them or use the home inspection information to negotiate a fair price to purchase the home as is. As the seller, you could also fix these items before you even put your home on the market.
WHO NEEDS A HOME INSPECTION?
If you are a home buyer, buying a home is probably the singularly most stressful purchase of your life. Remember, your Home Inspector works exclusively for you on your behalf. They help prepare and protect you from buying a home that may be a money pit. Smart home buyer’s want to know what secrets may be lurking in that home they are about to buy. Knowledge is power. Home buyer’s often wonder when they buy their dream home if it’s safe? Is it energy efficient? Does the roof leak? The list goes on but it just makes sense that before you spend $400k-$500k on a new home that you hire a Home Inspector now to check it out before you close escrow.
WHAT IF I DON’T PLAN ON MOVING?
Homeowners not planning on moving need a home inspection because over time your Denver home takes a beating. Your home will deteriorate, leak, and major systems will simply stop working. If you have lived in your home for 8 years or more, now may be the perfect time for a home inspection. Get a jump on home repairs now to keep your home in top shape for many years to come. Your home is like a living thing. And like all living things, your house ages as the Colorado extreme weather conditions take their toll. Your home is under constant attack from intense sun, high winds, freezing snow, hailstorms and heavy rains 365 days a year, year after year. Check out Home Inspection Time’s Anytime Home Inspection service and learn exactly what your home needs now to keep your family protected.
WHAT TO DO DURING A HOME INSPECTION?
Your Home Inspector should always welcome you to walk your home inspection along with them. At Home Inspection Time, we welcome you to tour the property along with us. During your inspection, I'll explain everything about how your home works in easy-to-understand terms. If you find a term that you don't understand, no problem! I have also created a Home Inspection Glossary to help you. It's a consultation we will have about your home. How it all works together to keep your family's home safe and secure for many years to come. We’ll talk calmly to you about your concerns, take notes, shoot HD video and over 300 HD photos. At the end of the home inspection you have a complete historical document of your home as it was the day it was inspected.
HOW LONG IS A HOME INSPECTION?
A good home inspection takes time. Most home inspections we perform at Home Inspection Time require 3-4 hours at minimum to complete. More time is required to completely inspect larger properties and older homes. These inspections will cost you more because they are simply more complex to inspect and require more time to be properly inspected.
WHO ATTENDS A HOME INSPECTION?
Home Inspectors generally like the client and their Realtor® to be present at the property the day of the home inspection. At least at the beginning and at the end to hear first hand the results in the inspection summary. The Home Inspector can become distracted and take much longer if too many people attend and everyone has questions.
WHAT ABOUT A HOME INSPECTION WARRANTY?
When you hire a participating InterNACHI® Certified Home Inspector, they can offer you a 90 Days Buy-Back Guarantee. For example, when you book any of Home Inspection Time's Certified Home Inspection Services, I include a FREE 90 Days Buy-Back Guarantee provided by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. If Home Inspection Time misses anything, they'll buy your home back. Guaranteed. For InterNACHI® fine print details, visit nachi.org/buy.
IS A HOME INSPECTION REQUIRED?
According to Investopedia, home inspections are used to provide an opportunity for a buyer to identify any major issues with a home prior to closing. Your first clue that a home inspection is important is that it can be used as a contingency in your contract with the seller. This contingency provides that if significant defects are revealed by a home inspection, you can back out of your purchase offer, free of penalty, within a certain timeframe.
At Home Inspection Time, we try to put your mind at ease when reviewing the inspection summary. The list may look like a deal breaker, but it’s really just the normal stuff any house will need at sometime in its ownership. Better to buy the home you love with a few fixable flaws than miss out on the opportunity because it needs a new roof. All roofs will eventually need to be repaired or replaced. That being said, If I or any Certified Home Inspector observes at the time of the inspection something of serious concern, it is still up to you whether you go through with the purchase. A major issue, if discovered, could allow you to walk away from such a significant contract.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A HOME INSPECTION?
You made it through the home inspection. Now that you have the results in hand, you have a few options available to you. I generally set expectations with my home buyers that all homes will have flaws. Since no home is ever perfect, as long as you are aware of what is needed for the home repairs, the decision is yours. To buy or not to buy.
- If the problems are too significant or too expensive to fix, you can choose to walk away from the purchase, as long as the purchase contract has an inspection contingency.
- As a negotiation tactic, you can ask the seller to fix the issues that were observed by the Home Inspector. You can ask the seller to reduce the purchase price, or to give you a cash credit at closing and then fix problems yourself after you move in.
- Never let the home's condition get in the way. You can get always get your own estimates to fix the problems yourself. Once you know the cost, you can then come up with a financial plan and maintenance calendar for making the repairs, prioritized by need and affordability once you own the property.
NOT ALL HOME INSPECTORS ARE CREATED EQUALLY
When it comes to shopping for your Home Inspector just based on the cheapest pricing, make sure you know what you are getting. Ask your home inspector if they are ASHI® or InterNACHI® Certified and if the reports they provide include hundreds of photos and HD video. Is the report mobile-friendly and easy to read? If they are not a modern Home Inspector, your cheap home inspection report might just be a checklist of needed repairs and providing you with no context on what is really important in a home inspection.
HIRE A MODERN HOME INSPECTOR LIKE NO OTHER
Why choose Home Inspection Time? I'm not like any other Home Inspector. I was also a Licensed Southern California Realtor® dedicated to helping hundreds of first-time home buyers. For Olson Homes, an affordable home builder in California, I spent 10 years as their chief home buyer's advocate on over 1,000 homes.Today I'm also an InterNACHI® Certified Home Inspector with 11 home inspection certifications and counting.
Time To Inspect?
Now that you know what to do before a home inspection, let's explore your home together and put your mind at ease.
Don't worry, we've done this hundreds of times and now it's your turn.