Things Sellers Should Fix Before a Home Inspection


home inspection

As the old saying goes, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This cliche has never been more true than when talking about getting ready for a home inspection. If you have finally found a buyer for your home, you will want to make sure that the sale process goes as smoothly as possible from this point forward.

Home sellers can reduce buyer repair requests by fixing the following items before putting their home up for sale. These repair items include electrical problems, plumbing leaks, exterior wood rot, heating, and cooling maintenance, roof and gutter maintenance, and check all smoke detectors are functional.

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As a seller, it’s important to prepare your home before home inspection day. Most repairs that arise in a home inspection involve a lack of home maintenance. Having a professional home inspector examine the home before it hits the market can reduce buyer repair requests and yield a higher sales price.

That means no unpleasant surprises for either you or the buyer when the inspection day comes around. It’s important to make sure that your home is in tiptop shape so that you can impress the buyer and hopefully pass the home inspectors report with flying colors. We recommended that you have a home inspected once a year.

However, you don’t need to go around fixing every problem that you stumble across in your home. No home is perfect, and buyers understand that, so if there are any cosmetic issues that you feel comfortable leaving, you should do just that.

Home inspectors are not there to comment on the property’s aesthetic and should not pass comment on superficial issues. Their main role is to conduct a non-invasive examination of the home and describe the condition of the property’s main features and structure.

Home inspectors in the USA usually conduct inspections as per the ASHI or NACHI standards of practice, depending on which they are affiliated with. If you want to take a read of the full scope of what the inspection covers, then you can do so here:

ASHI Standards Of Practice

NACHI Standards Of Practice

With that said, let’s take a look at some of the main things you need to fix and prepare before the inspection. If you’re handy around the house, we’ve provided a DIY home inspection checklist to help do your inspection.

Clean out the gutters and conduct roof maintenance

Problems with the roof are one of the biggest deal killers in the homebuying process. Everybody knows, fixing the roof is one of the most costly repairs that you can conduct. In the full roof replacement and sometimes cost more than a hundred thousand dollars. 

What buyers may have considered being a sound investment for the future family home could completely flip on its head if they receive an adverse report about the roof’s condition.

To minimize the chances of this happening, you should take some time to conduct proper roof maintenance to give yourself the best chance of passing with flying colors. Here’s a quick checklist of what you need to cover:

  • Make sure the gutter and downspouts aren’t blocked
  • Clear leaves, broken branches, and anything else on the roof
  • Replace missing or damaged shingles
  • Trim the nearby trees that overhang onto the property
  • Clear moss and mildew from the roof
  • Re-caulk the roof if you need to
  • Ensure the chimney is safe, unblocked, and has a flue cap if necessary

Check the electrical system.

Before we get started here, it’s important to remember the golden rule when doing any kind of electric work in your home. Safety first! Let’s look at some of the main things to get up to standard before the inspection.

  • Make sure the fuse box is correctly labeled
  • Fix any exposed wires
  • Repair sockets that have reversed polarity
  • Upgrade ungrounded receptacles to GFCIs
  • Replace any lightbulbs that don’t work
  • Make sure you don’t have double-tapped circuit breakers
  • Replace missing outlet and switch cover plates

You can fix some of these issues yourself. It’s much easier and safer if you have an electrician come round to do it for you.

It’s important to be forthcoming about any instances of your DIY electric work. While you may think it’s correct and doesn’t pose a safety threat, it’s important to consult an electrician if possible.

Make sure the plumbing is leak free.

Plumbing is another one of the major systems in the home; thus, the home inspector will spend some time assessing it. Unfortunately, if you’re living in an old house, there’s a chance you might have some substandard plumbing that will need relacing.

In the past, it was common to use piping materials that have now been rendered unsafe or obsolete by today’s standards. Of course, you’re not going to reinstall an entire plumbing system in your house for the sake of a home inspection, but it’s something to keep in mind if you do live in an old property.

On the bright side, here’s a checklist of some things you need to fix before the inspection:

  • High/low water pressure
  • Dripping faucets and showerheads
  • Unclog slow drains
  • Unblock toilets
  • Repair constantly running toilets
  • Drain your water heater and remove the sediment
  • Inspect your septic tank

Check for leaks and water damage.

Water damage is a home inspection nightmare. It’s usually a sign that there are far worse problems around the house, and there could be serious structural issues afoot. The average cost of repair water damage is around $3000, but this number can be higher if the foundation is compromised or the building structure is damaged.

Before the inspection, you should take some time to go around the house to fix any leaks that you come across. The tell-tale signs of a leak include a musty smell throughout the house, mold and mildew buildup, dark stains on the walls and ceiling, dripping sound, and the flaking of paint on the walls.

One way to find out if you have a water leak into your home is the switch off every fixture in the house that uses water and then watch a water meter to see if it continues running. If it does, you can bet that there is a leak somewhere.

Sometimes, a leak can be particularly hard to find, so here a few of the most common places to look:

  • Underneath the floorboards where the pipework runs
  • Hot water tanks
  • Water heater
  • Underneath the sink
  • Toilets and bathrooms
  • Gutters and downspouts
  • Attic and the roof

Make sure the smoke detectors are working.

Ensure that all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working as they should be as this is a routine part of the home inspection. Replace dead batteries and replace any missing smoke or carbon monoxide detectors.

Make sure all lights are working.

Make sure you replace any blown light bulbs before your home inspection. Simple items such as blown and missing light bulbs can demonstrate a level of neglect with the home.

Have your HVAC system serviced

The HVAC system is one of the most important parts of the house as it actively cleans and filters the air that we breathe. It also acts as a great source of ventilation, preventing condensation and secondary water damage to the building. However, these units can easily fall into disrepair if they are left neglected for some time. 

You should change your HVAC filters monthly or quarterly, depending on the type of air filters used. Nevertheless, before the home inspection, make sure you have a brand-new filter fitted in your main system, as well as the individual indoor units in each room.

If you haven’t already, go ahead and clean the evaporator and condenser coils before the inspection too.

Repair cabinets and doors

When the home inspector and the buyers arrive, it important to give them the feeling that everything in the house is working as it should be. To avoid the appearance of neglect, repair loose cabinet door hardware, doors that don’t close correctly, and windows don’t operate as intended. 

Conduit routine pest control

If one thing is for sure, if the buyer turns up to the property and it’s ridden with pests, they will most likely turn right around and walk straight back out the door. While the odd bug here and there isn’t much of a problem if your home has a full-blown infestation, you need to deal with it ASAP.

Pests are usually a sign of poor hygiene and lack of overall cleaning and maintenance around the house. While it is not strictly on the home inspector standards of practice to point out any instances of pest infestations, it certainly will go in your favor during the negotiation process. Here are a few of the main pests that most would consider being unacceptable during a home inspection:

  • Termites

Termites cause billions of dollars of damage the property in the USA each year. These tiny insects spend their lives eating away at important support structures in the house, causing serious safety concerns if left unchecked. The problem with termites is that they are notaries the quiet, making them extremely difficult to identify before it’s too late. 

The home inspector will take their time to inspect support structures, visiting your foundations, basement, crawlspace, and attic, so make sure you go to these areas yourself to ensure there are no infestations before they arrive.

  • Cockroaches

Cockroaches are considered filthy pests due to their habits and general bad smell. They are extremely unsettling to most people and pose a health risk as they carry diseases that can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid fever, and cholera.

  • Rodents

Rodents are another type of pest that is synonymous with dirty homes and an overall lack of cleaning. Rodents can cause all sorts of problems around the house, including contaminating food supplies, chewing through electrical wires, causing fire hazards, and spreading diseases.

  • Ants

Most ant species aren’t ongoing to cause any damage to your house once they are in there; however, they can be a very big nuisance. However, carpenter ants eat wood, which may pose a risk to the building’s structure.

Make sure all remote controls working.

Ensure all remote controls are accessible and working in the house so that the home inspector can check that the appliances are functioning as they should be. This includes remotes for your ductless HVAC systems, ceiling fans, garage door openers, gas fireplace inserts, etc.

Clean the house & get ready for the inspection

Make sure the house is thoroughly cleaned and ready to undergo inspection. The home inspector will need access to the basement, crawlspaces, and attic, so ensure that all of the furniture and clutter are blocking their access.

If the home inspector cannot get access to the area, they can’t inspect the home properly, and it may go down as a failure. At the very least, it will be a major red flag to the buyer.

Are there any major safety concerns?

One of the main reasons for a home inspection is to ensure that the building is safe for human occupation, and there are no safety hazards hidden from plain sight. Safety concerns are high on a home inspector checklist. Check for anything that might pose a safety risk to the people that live there. Even if it seems completely harmless to you, it could still fail on a home inspection, so it’s important to amend the issue before the inspection occurs. 

Here are a few major safety concerns that you will likely have to remedy before a buyer can finalize the home sale. At the very least, you have to disclose them to the home inspector and the buyer during the process:

  • Any surface around the property where lead-based paint is present
  • Any history or inclination that radon gases are present
  • The presence of asbestos in the building
  • Dangerous trip or falling hazards
  • Faulty appliances
  • Serious electrical faults
  • Any potential fire hazards that are around the home
  • The presence of mold
  • History of gas leaks around the house

Don’t try to hide any known issues.

Selling a home is a difficult process, and it can be extremely frustrating at times. On average, it takes around three months to complete the entire process, but occasionally it can be much longer than this. When you finally find a buyer who’s ready to place an offer, the last thing you want is for the home inspection to go wrong and the whole deal to be off the table.

However, that is not an excuse to hide any known issues with the home to try and deceive the buyer into thinking they are getting a better home than they are. There’s a clear difference between deceptively covering up an issue and genuinely attempting to repair the problem. 

Consider a pre-inspection

If you’re concerned that your home may not pass a general home inspection, or if you’re just not sure whether certain things in your house may be an issue, you should have a home inspector conduct a pre-listing inspection. 

If you decide to skip this and we for the buyer’s inspection, you will be putting all the power and leverage into their hands if issues do come up on the report. If the home inspector reports multiple problems, the buyer can enter a renegotiation phase and knock you down on your asking price. As with anything in the business arrangement, it always pays to be the person in the position of strength.

Conducting your own pre-inspection will give you full peace of mind that your property is up to scratch when it’s time for the inspection. You can also take your time to prepare the necessary issues that arise in the report and listen to the home inspector’s advice.

The average cost of a pre-home inspection is between $300-$500.

For a more in-depth look at preparing for home inspection day, see our article 35 Seller Tips to Pass a Home Inspection.

Final word

When you finally get an offer on your house, and the new buyer has conducted a home inspection, the inspection report will likely list multiple items that are not up to standard that may need repair or replacement. The inspection report can cause a variety of issues and can heavily delay the sale process. In certain situations, you may even need to make repairs before the sale goes through.

For the most part, it’s almost always better to be proactive in these situations, making sure that your home is in as good a condition as possible before the inspection takes place. This means fixing and repairing as many of the issues that we have listed above in this article. 

Home inspectors are not interested in any issues around the home that are purely cosmetic, so you don’t need to spend your time fixing these issues in preparation for the inspection. Focus on anything that may be considered a safety hazard or affect the working functionality of your home.

Thanks for reading.

HomeInspectionInsider.com is owned and operated by Hubert Miles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. HomeInspectionInsider.com also participates in affiliate programs with other affiliate sites. Hubert Miles is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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