12 Tips to Prepare for a Home Inspection

Having a home inspection completed may seem daunting, but a little preparation goes a long way. Here's what you need to expect and what you need to do:

1. Make Plans Elsewhere for Inspection Day

You should expect to be absent from the home when the inspection takes place. In a majority of cases the buyer accompanies the inspector at this time. If you aren't present it allows the buyer to feel more confident in the inspection. It is advisable to allot a minimum of 3-4 hours (especially if you have a larger house) to allow for the inspection to be completed. All residents of the home, including children and pets, should also be absent. Consider crating or gating your pet(s) if they can't be removed.

2. Provide Keys to Buildings & Electrical Box(es)

If your electrical box has a lock on it, have the keys at the ready for the inspector. For outbuildings and exterior structures that also lock (sheds, unattached garages, etc.), make these keys available as well. If you have several keys altogether to leave, it may be prudent to label them accordingly to avoid any confusion/delays during inspection.

3. Ensure the Garage & Basement are Accessible

If you have an attached garage with an electric/remote opener, this is one more thing the inspector will need to complete their tests. They will also need to get into your basement and/or attic if you have them. Check for signs of water, moisture, mold, or radon in the basement. Check the attic for rodent droppings. Secure valuables in all of these areas and move boxes and items from the walls by several feet.

4. Leave All Utilities Connected

Since you're leaving the premises for the inpsection, you may be tempted to unplug or disconnect things. Do not do this - leave all utilities (including your stove and dishwasher) plugged in. In addition, do not turn the power off. The inspector will be running each of these items.

5. Make Space Around the Heating/Cooling Utilities

Do everything you can to ensure all the essentials of the home are easily accessible to avoid having to reschedule another (or multiple) inspections. If your furnace, air conditioner, or water heater are blocked, you will need to free up space around them (approx. 4 ft of working space). Always place a new filter in the furnace before listing or inspecting the home.

6. Secure/Fix Stairwells & Banisters

As with the exterior, any loose steps, boards, supports, or railings will not pass inspection. The entire baluster system (spindle) will be checked and must be repaired if there is any unsturdiness observed. If you wouldn't feel secure using the banister for support in the event of a slip, you need to fix it immediately.

7. Address Plumbing & Toilet(s)

Slow draining sinks and baths, leaky faucets and showers, and abnormal flushing activity all usually signal an error with some part of the plumbing. Often times for the sink, the P-Trap (also known as an "S-Bend") simply needs to be cleaned. Check beneath the sink for any moisture or signs of leaking. Test all shower and bath heads for reduced pressure and drains for any signs of clogging. Sit on all toilets and examine how securely attached to the floor and wall they feel. Does the flush ever stick? Does it operate at a normal rate? If you run into a problem you can't seem to solve, seek the assistance or guidance of an experienced plumber before listing or inspecting the home.

8. Repair the Roof

A house is no home without a solid roof over it. If you haven’t had it inspected or maintained in the last few years you should put this high on the priority list. It’s advisable that you hire a professional roofing service to provide you with a roofing estimate or a tuneup. You can also receive a roof report from a professional service like this to provide buyers with the info they require regarding the roof’s condition.

9. Fix the Siding

Replace or repair any loose, damaged, or discoloured panels of siding. Ensure that any new panels match the colour and style of the original panels; this will keep the look attractive and uniform. In some cases, older siding can be made to appear brand new after a thorough cleaning with a pressure washer. These can be purchased from stores like Home Depot, Home Hardware, and Canadian Tire, and in some instances they can be rented. Exercise caution and precision when operating these devices.

10. Clean Eaves & Gutters

If you get to the roof, you might as well take a gander at the eavestroughs. There is always a good chance, especially in multi-level homes, that they will need to have considerable debris removed from them. Even if you have gutter guards installed (which is recommended), there is a 99% chance there will still be some debris and gunk to clean away.

11. Mend the Deck(s) & Steps

Loose railings, deteriorating support beams, and rotten steps will require repairs or replacements. If these areas present any safety hazards at all the house will not pass the inspection. If you have a very old deck it’s very likely you will need to reconstruct a large portion or all of it.

12. Test All Safety Detectors

For the average home, there are smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. One smoke detector is required on every level of the home. One is also usually required inside every bedroom, in every kitchen, and in most hallways. There are many potential causes of Carbon Monoxcide (OC) within most households; as a result, CO detectors should be installed on every floor, and within roughly 10' of every bedroom. Both of these kinds of detectors are relatively cheap and easy to procure. They are just as easy to install and test, with batteries that can be readily replaced. Do not overlook this important step in your preparations.