When selling your home, an inspection is typically done after the buyer has made an offer and you, the seller, have accepted the offer. This is called a “Home Inspection Contingency” in Real Estate terminology, and it can be one of the biggest hurdles to getting your home sold quickly. By preparing for the Home Inspection well in advance, you are going to be saving yourself from the possibility of the buyer asking you to fix a long list of issues, or provide a credit to deal with the issues before the sale can go through.

There are several common defects that the inspector often finds that you, the homeowner, might not see if you’ve been living in your home for a long time. It is common to get used to things just being the way they are when you’ve been in one place for a long while, which is why we want you to be aware of all the aspects of Home Inspection prior to selling your home.

Step #1 – Make sure the inspector can easily do his job

To make sure the inspection goes smoothly, be sure that the inspector can easily access all areas of your home. This means that you should de-clutter all entrances and make sure that all the electrical and plumbing fixtures are approachable. This includes not only every room in your house, but also the basement, the attic and all around the exterior of your home.

Step #2 – Check for any evidence of water damage

This is a homebuyers top concern: the possibility of a water issue in their new home. Many times it is not a major issue which caused a stain on the ceiling or around the window or door, such as a toilet over-flowing, a window left open during a storm or the shower curtain being left outside the shower, but explaining that to a potential home buyer won’t be enough. You’re still going to have to prove it with a potentially time consuming and costly inspection by a licensed plumber. You will of course want to ensure that there are in fact no real issues causing the stain, and be sure that it is not visible to the buyer or the inspector prior to viewing.

Step #3 – Rule out any potential electrical violations

If there are any electrical improvements you have done on your home without an electrician, we highly suggest you have a licensed electrician check them out prior to the Home Inspection. If the work is not up to code, even on just one small renovation, the buyer may not be confident with the electrical framework for the rest of the home, which again could be a costly and time-consuming ordeal.

Another main concern is a lack of GFI outlets (Ground Fault Interrupter) in the kitchen or bathroom. These outlets are designed to prevent electrocution in areas where they could come in contact with water, and so being aware of the need for up-to-code outlets in these areas is a major plus.

Step #4 – Be sure your bathroom vent is not creating unseen mold

Building codes have changed over the years, so be prudent when checking the exhaust of your bathroom and kitchen fans. In the past, some kinds of bathroom fans just ventilated the moist air into the attic, which is a certain recipe for mold growth. Many times home inspectors find mold in the attic that the homeowner was not previously aware of. Our words of advice are to get up in the attic and check for mold before selling your home so that you can rest assured that there will be no musty surprises!

Step #5 – Check the exterior for rotted wood

Seeing as how we are living in a rather moist environment here in Canada, it is imperative to be certain that any wood outside of your home has been properly protected. If you have waited too long to paint the exterior of your home, there is a good chance that some rotting may have happened. The most common places for wood rot to occur are the external trim, window trim and areas around decks.

Step #6 – Fix any minor plumbing defects

These are the kinds of things that homeowners may just “get used to” over time, but are easily fixed if they are attended to prior to Home Inspection.  Some of the more common defects are leaky faucets, loose toilets or slow flowing drains.

Some other issues an inspector might come up upon are leaky valves on water heaters or boilers, so be sure to do a thorough inspection of all plumbing mechanics and get these simple fixes done prior to inspection.

Step # 7 – Check your window seals

The way to know if your window seals are working properly is by checking for any fogging on windows. If the thermal seal between the panes of glass is not properly sealed, there will be moisture exchanged creating the fogging effect. Again this is more common in older homes. Most new homes are built with double paned glass, which significantly reduces the possibility of a broken window seal.

Step #8 – Ensure your chimney is in tip-top shape

More often than not, a defect in the chimney will be located on the top of the house, due to being exposed to the elements. So if your home has a chimney, be sure to check the mortar for cracks. A bigger issue would be finding cracks in the bottom of the chimney that run upwards. If you do find such cracks, this may mean a structural issue, which can be unsafe. Please do hire a professional to check it out rather than just repairing the surface.

On the day of Home Inspection

It is quite common for the Home Inspector to show up earlier than the agreed upon time. This is to have a chance to survey the grounds prior to entering your home. So to put your mind at ease on the day of inspection, here are a few quick tips to help you prepare your home for ease of inspection well before the inspector shows up:

  • Make sure that all light bulbs in your home are working.
  • Thin out the clothing in your closet so the closets can be thoroughly examined
  • Remove items from the perimeter of your basement so the walls can be checked for cracks
  • Make sure the entrance to your attic is easily accessible
  • Change the filters to your furnace and leave any service tags on so the inspector can see them

Above all, be upfront about any defects you have come across in your home. Do not try to conceal them as this will throw up a major red flag. The last thing you want is for the inspector or buyer to think that you are being dishonest. If you are forthright with the buyer, you will have more clout when the Home Inspection negotiation process begins.