top of page

How to Prepare for a Home Inspection: The Ultimate Homeowners Guide

Selling your home and buying a new one can be one of the most stressful things you can go through in your life. At Sighthound Home Inspections, LLC we hear from so many people how stressful a home inspection can be when its YOUR home being inspected. It doesn't need to be.

We've created this guide as a tool to help ease your mind and to help you prepare your home for an inspection.

1. Consider a Pre-Listing Inspection (If its not too late)

If you've stumbled across this guide and you're in the early stages of preparing to list your home for sale, we recommend investing in a Pre-Listing inspection for your home. While many homeowners don't think about having this kind of inspection done before moving, it has numerous benefits that can make them worth their weight in gold. See our post "The Pre-Listing Inspection- A Small Investment That Could Save a Seller Thousands of Dollars" that outlines how beneficial these inspections are, and how they will give you more negotiating power with prospective buyers.

Pre-Listing inspections are a tool that homeowners can use to maintain negotiation power and to reduce the amount of stress throughout the process. Your home will essentially have a

A pre-listing inspection will uncover issues before your buyer's inspector does!

clean bill of health, which will make it attractive to buyers. Pre-listing inspections are the same kind of inspection that would normally occur during the selling process (assuming the buyer hasn't waived their right to an inspection). The only difference is that it affords you time to fix any issues located by your home inspector prior to selling your home.

2. Understand There are Few "Perfect" Homes

You might be pulling your hair out as you look around your home. We often don't realize just how much maintenance a home needs. Sometimes, these small maintenance items can compound into larger problems over the years.

Home inspectors see the worst of the worst. They also see homes that are the best of the best. However, most homes fall somewhere between those two categories. With that being said, there are no perfect homes. A home inspector rarely, if ever, can go through a house without at least finding some recommendations that need to be addressed. After all, that's what they're paid to do. Don't get caught up in stressing yourself over the fact that your home likely has deficiencies. Many of them likely exist in your home inspector's house!

With so few perfect homes, you can breathe a sigh of relief and know that even though the inspector may find numerous problems in your home, it is common and it likely won't kill your deal.

3. Make a List of Things You're Worried About

As you look around your home, you may quickly see things you've forgotten to keep up with. Now is the time to walk through your home with a pen, a piece of paper, and a critical eye to start making a list of things you are concerned about.

What repairs have you had done in your home, and how are they holding up? Were they done by a qualified contractor, by yourself, a family member, or a friend? Did the person doing the repairs really know what they were doing, or did they just whip something together that "works", but isn't necessarily the right way to do it? Did someone just do a temporary fix that's held up for years, but they haven't gotten around to doing a more permanent repair? Now is the time to write down all of those issues and start working on them, if possible.

In order to fix problems in your home, you need to define what those problems are. Making a list of things that you're worried a buyer's home inspector may find will enable you to clearly define what concerns you and will allow you

4. Make sure important components are accessible

Home inspectors conduct non-invasive inspections within a home. Home inspectors

participate in a high liability profession, so it is an industry standard for a basic home inspection to be non-invasive. Home inspectors will likely not move personal belongings out of the way to inspect a component of a home (electric panel, HVAC unit, plumbing, etc.) As a homeowner who is getting your house inspected, it is your responsibility to ensure the

inspector has access to vital areas for an inspection. Common places homeowners forget to make accessible to a home inspector include:

  • Electrical Panel- There should be an area of approximately 3 feet on either side and in front of the panel for the inspector to work.

Electric Panel clearances (Source: InterNACHI)

  • HVAC Components- Both the interior and exterior systems should be accessible. If a furnace or interior unit is in a closet, ensure the closet can be opened and the unit can be accessible to be inspected from as many sides as possible.

  • Electrical outlets- If most of your electrical outlets in common rooms or bedrooms have furniture or belongings stacked in front of them, be sure to clear room. Home inspectors typically check a representative number of outlets, if not all of them. If an inspector can't get to these outlets, they'll likely request to come back after you've cleaned things up.

  • Attic access- If the access port to your attic is in a ceiling, make sure the inspector can get to it. Sometimes, these are located in tight spaces such as bedroom closets where shelving might obstruct the proper opening to the access panel. Attic access hatches are often found to be sealed shut by pieces of trim or sprayed insulation. Ensure the access can actually be opened and safely entered.

  • Plumbing- areas where visible plumbing are (basement ceilings, underneath sinks, etc.) should be cleared of clutter so the inspector can see drains, supply lines, and valves. You don't have to remove everything from underneath sinks- just be sure there is a clear view of all plumbing components in these areas.

  • Crawlspace access- Crawlspace access panels can be almost anywhere. They can be on the exterior perimeter walls of the home or in the floor of a closet. Make sure the access to the crawlspace is visible and can actually be opened.

  • Windows- Most windows are checked for functionality and to make sure their seals aren't broken. Furniture and piled up belongings in front of windows can limit how well each window can be inspected. Try to make sure all windows in the home are accessible.

Taking 15-20 minutes a day or two before the scheduled home inspection to make sure these areas can be properly inspected will result in a faster, more complete inspection.

5. Make sure utilities are turned on

As previously mentioned, home inspectors conduct non-invasive inspections. This also includes not flipping breakers, turning on the valve for a water main, or turning off the gas supply to the home or individual appliances.

If you want to make sure a complete inspection of electrical, plumbing, and gas appliances is conducted, make sure you still have utilities on.

Sometimes there are reasons why this may be difficult- you might have already moved out of your home and no longer live close by. There also may be significant electrical or plumbing issues that require the services to be shut off prior to a repair.

If either of these conditions exist, see what you can do to remediate them. If you have a trusted friend or family member that can turn on the services prior to the inspection, it is a great way to make sure your buyer can get peace of mind with a thorough home inspection.

If there is a significant problem with a utility in the home, be sure to tell your real estate agent. You may be required to report the problem to the buyer, or at least give notice to their agent so the home inspector knows prior to beginning the inspection.

If you have these services off or disconnected without communicating it to your buyer or your agent, you may end up with unhappy potential buyers who might have to foot the bill to have the home reinspected after the issues are fixed. Remember- a home inspector will likely not be willing to take on the additional liability of turning on the utility main (gas, electric, water, etc.)- and for good reason. If your home inspector were to turn on the water main to the home and the valve malfunctions or there is a leak somewhere- guess who is responsible for the water damage?

6. Fix the "little things"

Remember that list you worked on earlier? Now is the time to see what you feel comfortable doing and get started on simple fixes.

Nobody expects the average homeowner to be able to repair a major electrical concern in a panel or a leak in the foundation. However, you can score some major brownie points during your home inspection by reducing the number of "little things" that are in the report.

If your buyer sees pages upon pages of minor repairs, it may cause them to wonder what bigger things there are. Cleaning up the minor items of concern goes a long way in giving your buyer peace of mind and contributes to a more streamlined selling process.

Here is a small list of common minor deficiencies that home inspectors often find that you may be able to fix yourself. Disclaimer: if you don't feel comfortable or safe doing a repair, it is often better to leave it to a professional, qualified contractor or handyman.

  • Replacing lightbulbs that don't work

  • Replace furnace filter (with the properly sized one)

  • Ensure you have new or working smoke/carbon monoxide detectors

  • Make sure sink/bathtub stoppers work- this can be a slightly more complicated repair but will certainly be checked during an inspection

  • Make sure all vegetation around the perimeter is cut back at least 12 inches from the side of your home. No plants should be making contact with the exterior of your home.

  • Ensure gutters are clear of debris (leaves, sticks, etc.)

  • Make sure gutter downspouts direct water AWAY from the home- downspouts should not discharge directly at the base of the home

  • If you have a wooden deck, replace any rotting deck boards with the appropriate pressure treated board and ensure all deck nails/screws are firmly set.

  • Consider installing an anti-tip bracket for your kitchen oven

  • Test GFCI outlets in the kitchen, laundry room, bathrooms, and the garage. If they don't trip and reset properly using the buttons on the outlet, its time to call an electrician to replace them.

This is certainly not a comprehensive list, but its a good starting point. Again, if you don't feel comfortable with any repairs, it is best to contact a qualified person you can trust. If you do have a contractor perform repairs- save any paperwork and documentation of the repair.

7. Gather Documentation If you have had any major repairs on your home over the years by various contractors (roofing, electrical, plumbing, etc.) now is the time to work on getting your documentation together. Any copies of building permits/applications, roofing permits, hot water heater installation, and contracts from contractors outlining work to be completed should be maintained by you as a homeowner.

If the home inspector has a question about a repair and if it was done properly, you may be asked by the inspector or the buyer's agent to provide the buyer with documentation of major repairs.

If you live in Florida or a state where various insurance inspections are often requested (such as 4-Point and Wind Mitigation Inspections), try to get a copy of the most recent inspection in the event there are any questions about how old your roof is and what the life expectancy of the roofing material is.

The idea is to be as prepared as possible. If you're asked for any documentation of repairs, its better to know what you have and don't have so you can save yourself stress and time.

8. Make sure pets are confined On the day of your inspection, it is often best to either remove your pets from the house or ensure they are properly confined.

A home inspector will be in every room of your home and will be outside checking the entire exterior of your home. The last thing an inspector wants to worry about while trying to do their job is a pet being aggressive, overly playful near the inspectors ladder, or escaping your fenced yard or front door while the inspector is going in and out of the home.

If you can't coordinate getting your animals out of the home for the duration of the inspection, clearly communicate with the inspector about where your pets are.

A home inspection can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be. If you take the time to prepare your home properly, you set your home up for success. Even if the home inspector finds issues, understand that a home inspection isn't pass or fail and that there are no perfect homes. The inspection report is not a personal attack against you and your skills of keeping up with home maintenance. It is simply a report for the prospective buyer to use as a reference when they move into the home, and a bargaining tool for repairs or a reduced price you're selling for.

We highly encourage home sellers to consider a pre-listing inspection before putting their home on the market. It is advantageous to both you as the seller and for your prospective buyers.

Call us today at (850) 296-8329 or email to schedule an inspection or to get more information about services we offer at Sighthound Home Inspections, LLC.



bottom of page