So you have a contract on your home! That's good news! But before you celebrate, you need to prepare your home for the home inspection.
How should you prepare? Below, I've listed some Do's and Dont's when preparing for the home inspection.
-Make every area of your home readily accessible. What's readily accessible? All the inspector should have to do is operate the component or open the area of the home being inspected. The inspector should not need to move shoes, clothes, move furniture, unlock or cut padlocks, or remove wall panels to access any area of the home. Remember, you are selling the home. The inspector will get paid whether the home sells or not. Wouldn't it be easier for you, and for the real estate transaction if you had the home ready for inspection? You might think, "So it can't be inspected, so what?". The answer to this question is simple: I have seen dozens of real estate transactions fall through because I was not able to properly inspect an item.
Electrical panels - is access obstructed? Nine square feet of access is customary to properly inspect an electrical panel. Anything obstructing access could be risking the inspectors safety, and he may not be able to inspect.
Heating/Air conditioning unit(s) - all areas should be readily accessible. And yes, the heater and air conditioner will be operated to test temps, so the interior temp will vary from your ideal temperature during inspection.
Water heater(s) - again, all areas of this component should be readily accessible. Lots of water will be used. Prepare yourself for that fact.
Plumbing fixtures - should be easily operable, and areas in cabinets under sinks should be cleared to inspect as well. Tubs and sinks should be empty, including removing bath mats. Also remember, an experienced inspector will not operate shut off valves to supply fixtures. Again, this is the seller's responsibility to prepare as needed. Lots of water will be used to test fixtures. Prepare yourself for that fact.
Electrical fixtures - this includes outlets, switches, and all light fixtures. Have a light switch that doesn't operate anything? Label the switch so the inspector will be aware and save yourself some headaches later on. Remember, an experienced inspector will not operate breakers for their own, and everyone else's safety. Extra electricity will be used during an inspection. Prepare yourself for that fact.
Appliances - Clear out the oven, clear off the range, feel free to load the dishwasher, empty out the kitchen and laundry room sinks. All of these components will be operated, so make them ready.
Attic &/or crawlspace access - clear the areas below the attic access. If your attic is accessible in a closet, remove or relocate personal items to allow ease of access. Remember, the attic is dusty and dirty in West Texas; if you might be concerned about insulation or other debris falling on personal belongings in the closet, it's your duty to remove or protect these items. The crawlspace access (if you have one) is always fun to locate. Save yourself some time and headaches, label it's location on the closet door or exterior. Again, make the area readily accessible - remove personal belongings from the closet or area in question, and if flooring should be replaced in a specific or delicate manner, remove it yourself beforehand so you are sure to be able to replace it like you want it.
Garage door openers - Make sure the door is not manually locked, clear the areas near the door so the opener can be operated.
Fireplace - another area that will need to be inspected, and if it has a gas log starter or gas logs installed, the fireplace will also be operated. Make sure to remove personal belongings from the area.
Doorways - as hard as it may be to believe, I see doorways obstructed on a weekly basis. Obviously, these will need to be inspected.
Dogs or other pets: I personally love all animals. Maybe you do too. However, that doesn't mean everyone else does.
If you're doggie could be a safety hazard to the inspector, the buyer, or other parties present, have the dog secured to prevent a possible liability issue for you. Most experienced inspectors have been bit at least once. Remember, the inspector is legally authorized to access your home for the inspection.
Also, if there's a risk your pet could escape, or enter the home when you don't want them to, prepare now to prevent such an occurrence. The inspector, buyer, or other guests are not responsible for care of your pet(s).
Utilities: after 1000+ inspections, I am still astounded that some sellers think (or hope) a home can be properly inspected with one or all utilities off at the meter. And just to be clear, if it's off at the meter, it's off. Any experienced inspector will not operate shut offs due to the inherent risk of damage to the property.
Last: Don't be present.
I would never tell a seller or occupant to leave once I've arrived. I am a guest at the home after all. But since we are talking preparation for the home inspection, every experienced home inspector, and every savvy realtor would recommend that you not be present for the inspection. I know, your special thing or doo-dad is the most specialest, and you need to stay home to protect it at all costs. However, you should know that Texas real estate inspectors go through a rigorous background check, and are held to a very high ethical standard. And truthfully, any experienced inspector could care less what personal belongings they see along the way during the inspection.
Many sellers believe they are helping by staying home.
"I'll help the inspector find such and such". If the item is hard to find, you're already behind. An experienced home inspector will have no problem locating any item they need to inspect.
"I'll be there to explain why such and such is in the condition that it is". Doesn't matter. The facts will be reported, and nothing more.
The short answer; you being present will make the inspection much more tense than is necessary. Your unease and nervousness will show, whether you believe it will or not. An experienced home inspector has heard most everything, and seen most everything. Save yourself frustration and help the real estate transaction proceed smoothly - go see a movie, visit a friend or family member, go out to eat, take a nap at the park, whatever. Just let the inspector do their job.
Finally - never try to hide anything. For an experienced home inspector like me, this is the most frustrating possible outcome. If there's a problem with an item or component in the home, don't try to outsmart the inspector. It won't work, and I've probably seen it before, and finding a problem someone attempts to hide makes me wonder what else is being concealed.
In conclusion, make the most of the time prior to the inspection. Be ready. I hope the inspection proceeds smoothly for you!