One of the questions that I get asked a lot once a client has scheduled an inspection with me is “what do I need to do to prepare for the home inspection?” If you are reading this, I may have sent you here, or you may have scheduled with another home inspection company (Read this post about how to choose the best company), either way, the following information will help to prevent any setbacks or limitations with the inspection.
Preparing For the Home Inspection
Once your home inspection is scheduled, I recommend providing your inspector with your agent’s email address and phone number so they can be included in the future scheduling emails; this will help to coordinate the needed preparations for all parties involved, including the seller and their agent.
Gate Codes & Combination Locks
If you know that your home is located in a gated community or if there is a combination style lock on the house, it helps to let the inspector know the codes so the inspection can start and finish as scheduled. For the most part, this only causes a slight delay, but ensuring that the inspection stays within the estimated time-frame can help prevent angering the seller, should they wish to return home without any guests.
Don’t forget to ask about doors (Interior, exterior, & attic), side gates and electrical panels that may be locked. If these areas are secured, it is often the case that they go un-inspected as the sellers usually do not return in time to unlock them.
We do have a supra key so that we can let ourselves in! We do not need to wait for your Agent, which I’m sure we both appreciate.
Confirm All Utilities Are On
To prevent any limitations in the general inspection, you or your Agent need to confirm, and then re-confirm, that all of the utilities are on (Gas, Electricity, Water).
Gas: If the home you are purchasing was being rented, it is common that renter’s neglected to pay the final bill, which results in the gas company locking the meter. When this occurs, the seller, who is generally out of town in this scenario, can’t transfer the bill to his name and resolve the issue for many days. It is nice to have this sorted before you go into your option period to avoid having to re-write the contract to include an extension.
Remember, if the gas is off, your inspector will not be able to place any of the gas-fired systems into operation (Stove, oven, water heater, & Furnace)
Electricity: It is less frequent for the meter to be locked by the utility company. However; it is quite common that one or more breakers within the panel are in the “off” position. It is likely that the inspector will not reset a tripped breaker, for fear of causing an electrical hazard that the seller failed to mention. If there is not an electrical hazard with a circuit, it should be on and ready to inspect, so you’ll want to have the sellers confirm this as well.
Water: There are times when the water meter is locked by the utility company. Also, if the house has been vacant for some time, some seller’s will turn the main water shut-off valve off from fear of a water line busting when no one is home. Again, your inspector is not likely to turn either the meter or the shut-off valve back on (If the utility company locked your inspector won’t be able to) for fear of causing water damage from a rupturing pipe of a known broken water line that the seller neglected to inform anyone. Yes, this has happened.
Ensure All Gas-fired Water Heaters & Furnaces Are Lit & Operational
Your inspector can help evaluate some of the risk to purchase just from the visual inspection of the home’s mechanical system. However; if the units are not lit and in operation, your inspector may choose not to light them; this will depend on the condition of the systems, and any safety or liability concerns that are observed. It is best to ensure that each of these systems is in operation before our arrival to avoid having to re-schedule or not having a full assessment of the systems.
Access to Area’s of the Home
Sometimes a seller has an abundance of furnishings in the home. Closets, garages, and attic spaces can be packed with items, preventing visual and physical access. Also, if the electrical panel is in the garage, seller’s will sometimes block the panel with shelving or cabinets. The inspector needs to remove the cover off of the panel while the electricity is on, which is dangerous if there is inadequate access. If deemed unsafe, your inspector may choose not to open the panel, limiting your inspection.
Home Security Systems
The home security system should be deactivated for the duration of the inspection. It is recommended that the listing Agent or seller disable before arrival and then re-activated following the inspector’s departure.
Make Arrangements For Pets
Pets should be crated or removed; this is not only for physical safety, but also to prevent the pets from being accidentally let out of the house!
What to do During the Inspection?
We recommend attending the full duration of the home inspection if possible; the extra time in the home can help you gather any spatial measurements for appliances and furniture, or just evaluate your potential purchase.
If you can only spare a limited amount of time on the day of the inspection, we recommend arranging with the inspector a block of time at the close of the inspection. The summary review at the end of the inspection will help to process the findings by your inspector, as well as get an assessment on the condition of the home to help you assess the overall risk to purchase.
If you cannot be present at the inspection, that’s okay too. The best way to proceed is to wait for the completed inspection report. Once you’ve reviewed the report, if you have any questions about the content of the report, give us a phone call or send in an email. For your convenience, we try to prioritize the observed defects within the report, but only you can fully determine what the most critical and cost-effective method for negotiations is.