What to Look for in a Home Inspection Before Buying

There’s a lot that goes on during the closing process that both buyers and sellers need to know about and the home inspection is one of them. The home inspection is in a nutshell a way to know what kind of condition the house is in. Sellers pretty much know what is going on with their house already, but this will allow the buyers to receive information on any repairs that need to be done on the house.

The home inspection process is different for sellers and buyers. The home buyers will pay for the home inspection, so the home inspection report is only sent to the buyers. Sellers will only be notified of any repairs or further inspections that need to be done if the buyers send them an addendum for these items after the home inspection. Let’s go through the outline of a home inspection, first for the sellers, and then for the buyers, to see what it entails.

Home Inspection on the Sellers’ Side

Sellers will have a different experience with the home inspection. They can prepare for the home inspection by doing their own inspection of their home and seeing what needs to be fixed. This will limit the amount of surprises received once the home inspection has been completed and buyers come back with any repairs that need to be made.

A lot of the things on the list can be done prior to putting your house on the market; this way your home is prepped and ready. Some of the smaller things on the list below, like replacing all broken or dim bulbs, will actually help your house stand out during the showing.

The Necessities

It doesn’t happen very often, but there are some cases where the home inspection cannot be completed the first time the appointment is made. Here are a few things you can do to ensure that the home inspection gets completed on the first trip:

  • All utilities need to be turned on so that the home inspector can check the water and electrical outlets
  • Pets need to be put away
  • Lay out any remotes for the garage, lights, fans, or fireplace
  • Clear pathways to the places below so that the home inspector can easily get to these spaces:
    • Attic
    • Basement
    • Electrical Panel
    • Crawl Space (if any)
    • Water Heater
    • Furnace

List of Things for Sellers to Check in Their Home:

Sellers may not want to go through this entire list, but if they do then their home will be ready for a home inspection. Some of these items are basic things that can be done easily and others may involve some serious repairs. Discuss with your realtor any repairs that should be made prior to the home inspection. The items below are what the home inspector will be checking.

  • Check your roof and make sure there are no missing shingles
  • Remove any debris from your roof and trim any tree branches that hang over the roof
  • Clean out the gutters
  • Inspect the wood on your fence or deck for issues
  • Check for any odd sounds and smells inside your home
  • Look for mold and mildew
  • Make sure that your plumbing works
  • Check all that all light bulbs work and replace any dim or broken ones
  • Test that all fans work properly in each room
  • Make sure that the garage door open works properly
  • Check the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors
  • Look for any broken seals or cracks on your windows and make sure they can all open and stay open
  • Fix minor repairs like holes in the wall
  • Check that the laundry connection is free of leaks
  • Make sure that your appliances work (microwave, dishwasher, and fridge)
  • Check your oven and make sure all of the burners work
  • Caulk the backsplash in your kitchen if needed
  • Check the faucets in your home and make sure there is good pressure and hot and cold temperature
  • Make sure that cabinets and drawers in the kitchen and bathroom areas open and close easily
  • Check that the doors in your home open and close easily
  • If needed, recaulk areas in the bathroom
  • Make sure your doorbell works
  • Ensure that all railings are strong and note any that are loose that may need to be replaced
  • Replace any air filters if needed
  • Make sure to move any items that are stacked against your garage wall so that the home inspector can check the foundation
  • Gather any receipts or warranties for your HVAC, hot water heater, roof, chimney, appliances, or pool – all of the things that should be inspected annually so you have them on hand

Preparing for the Home Inspection Day

Sometimes the buyers will attend the home inspection, so make sure your house is clean and prepped just like you would have it for a showing: dusted, shutters open to let the light in, appliances wiped down, and no dirty dishes in the sink.

Be sure that your pets aren’t loose in the house, like we mentioned before. The home inspection usually takes between two to three hours to complete. You can read more about how to sell your home with pets in this post.

Once the home inspection report is sent to the buyers, the buyers may come back and ask for repairs to be made. You as the seller can decide whether you want to fix the repairs yourself or credit the buyers to do it themselves. All repairs are negotiable.

If you feel like something was off with the home inspection, you can always hire your own home inspector to do another walk through so you will have a comparable. However, since the buyers pay for the home inspection, you as the seller will not receive the home inspection report.

Home Inspection on the Buyers’ Side

A pre-home inspection on the buyer’s end can occur during the first walk though. There are things that you as the buyer can look for as you see the house. Anything out of order can be noted for the home inspector to examine closely. Here are a few things that you can look for when looking at houses so you will have an idea of any repairs that need to be done prior to the home inspection.

Things to Check Outside

On the outside of the house, be sure to check the roof and gutters. Make sure the shingles are in place and that the gutters look like they work properly. Also ask your realtor when the roof was installed and if the seller has an estimate on when the roof will need to be replaced.

Be sure to check for any foundation cracks outside. Note any cracks on the driveway or sidewalk. Also check the lot drainage and ask if there are any spots where water builds up.

Things to Check Inside

You also want to check for any foundation issues inside the house. Check for these in the basement. Be sure to also check for cracks on the walls or ceilings and around the windows in each room. Note any stains on the ceilings and any strange odors or sounds that you may encounter.

Check the bathroom and kitchen sink for leaks and check the water pressure and temperature (hot and cold) of the faucets. Double check cabinets and drawers to make sure they all open and close easily. Lastly, check that the light and fan switches throughout the home work properly and check that the garage doors work.

Before you leave the property, be sure to ask your realtor for the ages of the appliances (dishwasher, fridge, oven), furnace, HVAC, and hot water heater. This will give you an idea of any items that need to be replaced before you receive the home inspection report.

The Home Inspection

Once an offer has been accepted and a contract is in place, the home inspection can be ordered. For the home inspection, you can either find your own home inspector or use one that your real estate agent has in their contacts. Using a home inspector that your realtor recommends is easier since the real estate agent has worked with the home inspector before.

The buyer pays for the home inspection. A home inspection should take between 2-3 hours and once completed, a report will be sent to the buyer. At this point the buyer can discuss any repairs that need to be made with their realtor. The realtor will then write an addendum and submit it to the seller. Any addendums should be sent in promptly.

Buyers can also request any extra days deemed necessary for further inspection from the home inspection. As a buyer, it’s important to realize that no home is perfect, although there are some things that can be a deal breaker such as huge foundation issues. Common issues include lot drainages, roof replacement, gutter replacement and exterior repairs or repainting. These items can be negotiated.

That’s a Wrap!

Once the home inspection is complete, you are one step closer to your closing day! Know that once complete, sometimes a home inspection can lead to further inspections on the home based on what they find. Such as fireplace inspections, HVAC inspections, separate roof inspection, foundation and basement inspections looking for leaks, and so on. Just know that the entire closing process takes time, but in the end it will be worth the headache!

If you want to learn more about the closing process, see this post where we cover it in detail. You’ll learn everything you need to about what to know during the closing on a home. We also have a post on what home buyers need to know. Read about this here for more information about the home buying process and click on this post for information on what happens after a house closing for a new homeowners checklist.