In most ordinary consumer transactions, settling on a sale price is the last step before finalizing a transaction. In home sales, however, it is only the first step in the process. Entering into contract on a home sale usually requires sellers to satisfy a number of conditions, or contingencies, before a sale can be finalized and title transferred to a new owner. In a worst case scenario for a home seller, a buyer could disapprove of the home’s condition after they conduct their inspection, and back out of the deal without any compensation to the seller (including the return of the buyer’s earnest money deposit).
Understanding how to prepare for a home inspection can be the difference between a smooth sale process and a failed sale that ends in disappointment and wasted time for all parties.
What Does A Home Inspector Do?
A home inspector is a trained, licensed professional who has completed state-required coursework and apprenticeship-style training. The inspector performs a visual inspection of your home, including the roof, walls, foundation, HVAC system, plumbing, and electrical. The inspector will check that fixtures like garbage disposals, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and lights are working properly, and will check for signs of leaks, and water damage.
Inspectors do not cut into or otherwise inspect inside walls, so they are checking for obvious signs of damage to plumbing and electrical systems rather than performing a thorough check of the wiring or pipes that are out-of-sight. That said, inspectors are thorough – they will check attics, crawl spaces, and ensure that all of your home’s systems are in proper working order.
Items and systems usually included on an inspector’s checklist include:
- Roof: The inspector will check to ensure the roof does not have missing or damaged shingles, and will ensure that the roof and gutters are pitched properly for drainage. The inspector will also observe how many layers of shingles have been installed, and assess the roof’s general condition.
- Attic: An inspection will check for signs of leaks and rot in the attic, and will make a visual check for signs of animal infestation. Finally, the inspector will note whether the attic is properly insulated and ventilated.
- Exterior: An inspector will note the type of siding on the home and its condition, check for any broken windows, windows that are not properly sealed, or window frames that are in poor condition. The inspector will also make a visual inspection of the foundation, ensuring that the home appears to be level and there are no major cracks in the foundation or driveway.
- HVAC: The inspector will test your HVAC system to make sure that the heat and air conditioning function properly and filters are up-to-date.
- Plumbing: This is one of the harder areas for an inspector to test. Generally, the inspector will turn on all faucets and make sure that water pressure is good, toilets flush, drains drain, and that there are no obvious signs of leaks from the plumbing system.
- Electrical: Like plumbing, electrical systems can be tricky to fully inspect, but you can expect your inspector to check for signs of any old knob-and-tube wiring, ensure that your home is in compliance with any building regulations regarding GFCI outlet placement, examine visible electrical components like the fuse box or circuit breaker, and ensure that all outlets and switches work safely.
- Fixtures: The inspector will turn on all appliances that are affixed to the home, including the stove and oven, dishwasher, microwave, garbage disposal, washer and dryer, and refrigerator.
Preparing for an Inspection
Homesellers who want to mitigate issues with their home sale have the option of hiring an inspector to perform a pre-listing inspection. As its name implies, a pre-listing inspection is a full home inspection performed before you list your home for sale.
A pre-listing inspection is a great way for homeowners to prepare for the sale process. Like the inspection that will be performed once your home is under contract, a pre-listing inspection is a thorough visual assessment of your home’s condition, allowing you to correct any issues before your home even hits the market.
Preparing Your Home For Inspection
There are a few simple steps you can take to prepare for your home inspection. First, make sure that if you’re not living in the home, that all utilities are on. Ensure all access points, including to the attic and crawl space, are accessible and free of obstructions. Move any debris or stored items away from the exterior of your home so that the inspector can make a visual inspection of the foundation and siding.
In addition, take a look at areas of your home that you may not check out too often, including your attic, roof, and gutters. Making sure your attic is cleared out and gutters are clean can avoid delays in getting the inspection completed and your home sale finalized.
Make sure your home’s air filters are replaced, and that your home’s HVAC and dryer vents are cleaned. Change any burned-out light bulbs and batteries, ensure that your home’s fire extinguisher isn’t more than 10 years old. Ensure that your fuse box or circuit breaker is clearly labeled, and that all of your pilot lights are lit, and make sure your garage door opener works and all remote controls have fresh batteries.
It’s good practice to ensure that your home and garage are clean before the inspection. You don’t need to hire professional cleaners, but make sure that your oven and dishwasher are clean and empty and that the inspector can look at the walls and floor of your garage.
On the day of the inspection, plan to be out of the home, and to take your pets with you. The inspection may take a few hours. While you are out, ensure that the inspector has access to any keys or door openers that are needed to complete the inspection process.
Get Answers to Your Biggest Home Inspection Questions With Windy City Home Inspection
Curious about what goes into the home inspection process across Chicagoland? Looking for guidance or insight from an experienced home inspection team? That’s where we come in.
With Windy City Home Inspection, buyers and sellers can expect a thorough, diligent inspection that never cuts corners. When searching for the right home inspector, it’s important to find someone you can trust — and that’s why we are here for you. The inspectors at Windy City Home Inspection, Inc. are licensed by the State of Illinois, certified, and insured. Each home inspection is backed by our Warranty and Protection Plan. Furthermore, we pride ourselves on our superior customer service. If you ever have questions, even years after your home inspection, we will be here to answer them — even if it means returning to your home. Click here to learn more about how we have adapted our process to help you stay safe during COVID-19.
At Windy City Home Inspection, Inc., we perform inspections to the highest standards — yours. Backed by a consulting team with more than 60 years of experience, Windy City Home Inspection is committed to excellence. Have a question? Let us help.