As part of the home selling process, a home inspector is hired by the buyer, an individual that will check various areas of the home to determine its condition. The inspector follows up his inspection with a detailed report, listing items that should be tended to by the seller.
Home inspectors can be used by sellers too, with that inspection conducted before the home is put on the market. A detailed report will reveal the items that need to be addressed and, when handled by the owner, can yield a higher asking price for the home. With an inspector’s report in hand, any homeowner can ready his or her home for the market, setting the right price to reflect market conditions and the condition of the home.
The following items are what the inspection will reveal about your home:
1. Roofing — Your home inspector will review the condition of your roof, inspecting shingles to ensure that there is no curling, cupping or loss of granulation apparent. Missing, damaged or broken shingles will need to be replaced. Roof flashing must be secure and caulking, vents and gutters must be in good condition. The chimney and exhaust vents will be examined as well.
Your inspector will check that the roof has no more than two layers of shingles on it. If there are three or more layers present, you’ll need to redo the roof to comply with local building code requirements. This is an expense you’ll have to handle before your home can be listed for sale.
2. Siding — Your home’s inspection will include a check of the siding, to ensure that no damage or bowing is present. For other surfaces including masonry, stucco and paint, your inspector will look for signs of chipping, cracking, flaking and staining. Expect to touch up areas needing to be tended to.
An inspector will view your home’s exterior to gauge whether the sides of house stand straight and that windows and doors are square. Structural problems must be addressed before the home is ready to marketed.
3. Windows and doors — Broken or cracked glass, damaged screens and missing caulk are among the items your inspector will look for when examining each window and door. Frames and trim must be in good condition with no signs of cracking, rotting or damage apparent.
If your home has storm windows, your inspector will check these as well. Bring the inspector to the area of your home where the windows are stored for the summer.
4. Property — Evidence of standing water on your property must be addressed. Your home must be properly graded to drain water away from the house. Obstructing bushes and branches that hang over the roof are items your inspector will recommend you handle before listing your home for sale.
Exterior structures such as a shed, deck, detached garage, gazebo and fencing will be inspected. All railways, stairs and walkways must be secure.
5. Interior — Your home inspector will go through every room in your house checking that floors, walls and ceilings are level. Torn carpeting, broken floor pieces, chipped paint and stained ceilings are matters that must be addressed.
All doors and windows must open and close without obstruction, latching and locking as required. Each room’s lighting fixtures will be inspected, with switches and outlets tested for operation. If you have a fireplace, that will be inspected for cracks or damage to the masonry with flue checked for cleanliness and lineage.
Your home’s heating and cooling system will be checked with the inspector determining whether heating and cooling is even throughout the house. Ceiling fans may be inspected as well.
6. Kitchen — One of the most important rooms in the house is your kitchen. Expect your inspector to test every appliance to ensure that your microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher and stove are in good working order. Electrical and plumbing connections will be examined; an exhaust fan will need to be connected and operating properly.
Every cabinet door and drawer may be examined to ensure that they open and close properly. Counters must be clean and in good condition. Your flooring must be level and not cracked, stained or chipped.
7. Bathrooms — Each bathroom will be inspected to ensure that toilets flush, faucets work and the shower and tub provide adequate water and drainage. Pipes and electrical connections will be tested for proper working order.
Toilets must be securely fastened to the floor, caulking in good condition and no signs of leakage present anywhere. An exhaust fan must be in working order with its exit to the outside of the house. Flooring must be secure and straight.
8. Attics and basements — If your home has an attic or a basement, or crawl spaces, your home inspector will access both areas to observe that insulation is in place, no signs of leakage present and ventilation is working.
Signs of problems that must be addressed include moisture build up, an exposed foundation, wood damage, insufficient insulation and animal penetration.
9. Other matters — Home inspectors may check your home’s alarm system, inspect smoke alarms and inspect your garage. An automatic garage door must open and close properly without obstructions present.
When your home inspector issues his final report, he can go over with you those items he believes takes priority and should be addressed. A home inspection will cost you time and money, but it can point out problem areas that should be fixed before you list your home for sale. You may need to get a separate report for your septic tank and a termite inspection.
You are not required to show the home inspection report you order to your buyer. That individual will order and pay for his own inspection, which may reveal far fewer items for you to handle because you addressed these problems before listing your home for sale.
Work with your real estate agent to price your home to reflect its good condition and market valuation.
Stacey Edwards writes for Environmental Data Resources, an environmental issues company that provides information to consumers about Vapor Intrusion, Chain of Title and Phase I Assessments.