Preparing for Inspection

Visitors in your home: Think of a home inspection the same as a showing. The buyer and their Realtor usually accompanies the inspector through the home and the buyer is looking closer than they ever looked during a showing. Your home should be at its best for presentation. Remember that your deal has not closed yet and under the new North Carolina Offer to Purchase and Contract, during the due diligence period, the buyer can walk from the deal for any reason. That could be because they were turned off by a messy dirty home. Take pets somewhere else no mater how friendly they may be. Leave the lights on, soothing music playing and everything clean, in order and smelling marvelous. Cookies on the kitchen cabinet with a nice note to enjoy their visit with a phone number to call if there are questions is a good touch. Leave notes about anything you think the buyer might have questions about.

My most memorable inspection the seller left an apple pie cooling in the oven we smelled as we entered the door with a note for us to help ourselves and plates and utensils on the cabinet. No better way to start an inspection than on a positive note. YOU ARE STILL SELLING! You don't even care to hear about the worst inspection I experienced.  


Builders on New Construction: If this is a newly constructed home or commercial building it should be complete, clean, all systems fully functional, all utilities on and a certificate of occupancy issued. The goal of complete is that there should be no reason for anyone to return to do anything for any reason. If I arrive and find the construction incomplete I reserve the right to use my best judgment and attempt to follow the desires of the buyer to determine if the inspection should be conducted or rescheduled. If you will not be ready, it is in your best interest, and the interest of your buyer, to reschedule the inspection 48 hours prior to the date booked.

Sellers Participation in an Inspection: This inspection is a requirement of your contract for purchase and will provide valuable information for you, the buyer and real estate agents. Please be aware that the buyer(s) or their agent have the right to insist that you not be present. Your agent may even recommend that you not be present. Please allow for their wishes even though the inspector may have no problem with your participation. If you are not present I don't recommend that you return until everyone has left!

Note About Access: The inspector will not inspect any area which you specifically ask not be inspected. Be aware that this could be considered a breach of your contract with the buyer. Every effort will be made not to disturb your personal belongings and furniture during the inspection. 

Items you should specifically check out and address:
  1. Verify that the water supply is ON at the kitchen or bathroom tap by running water for one minute. The flow should be strong and steady. Also, verify that hot water is available.
  2. Verify that electric power is ON and all circuit breakers are switched to the ON position (HINT: Turn on one of the electric range's cook top elements to HIGH. If the house is fully powered, the element will get hot quickly).
  3. Verify that the heating equipment has fuel --- natural gas service ON, LP gas or oil in the tank. If it is a heat pump in cold weather, the outside unit needs power ON for 4-6 hours to warm the compressor.
  4. Remove enough stored items from the attic and crawl space entries to allow access and reasonable viewing.
  5. Replace burned out bulbs and fluorescent tubes so that the inspector won't report an electrical problem. Turn off computers because their power may be shut OFF temporarily.
  6. Ensure that all gas pilot lights for furnaces, water heaters and fireplace logs are burning.
  7. Provide clear access to electrical panels, water heater, the main water disconnect, plumbing fixtures, and furnace or air handlers. Is there a picture covering an electrical panel? Please remove it!
  8. Clear under lavatories and kitchen sinks to allow viewing of the plumbing, water, and waste lines. The inspector will open every cabinet under sinks to look for leaks and inspect the piping.
  9. Remove all obstacles to the attic access scuttle door and provide protection from falling insulation over clothes.
  10. Stack all packing boxes in the middle of the floor areas so as not to block access to windows, doors, registers, electrical outlets, and fireplaces.
  11. Remove personal items set on or hanging from window sashes to allow for window operation. The inspector will open and shut any or all windows.
  12. Remove stacked dishes and pans from kitchen sinks and clear countertops other than typical countertop appliances.
  13. Remove dogs and cats, at least those not caged, from the dwelling, including the garage and yard. Inspectors go into every room and space, including the yard, to inspect.
  14. Remove all stored and stacked items from tubs and shower stalls.
  15. Don't forget to unlock all storage closets, buildings and crawl space doors or leave keys on the kitchen countertop. The inspector will lock up when he is done.
  16. If a radon test is to be conducted, please be aware of the "closed house" conditions required for short-term testing (2-6 days):
    • no windows are to be left open.
    • exterior entry doors and garage doors can be opened for brief entry and exit as usual.
    • HVAC controls should be set for cooling or heating, depending on the weather; leave the fan control on "AUTO" (not "ON").
    • whole house fans, bath exhaust fans and clothes dryers should not to be operated. Tampering with test devices or changes in the environment may void the test, requiring a re-test, possibly at the seller's expense.
  17. It’s a good idea to assemble various records that can be used to answer questions from buyers and home inspectors. Leave the inspector an "FYI" list of any appliances not working or plumbing that should not be used at that time.
  18. Allow the inspector ample time (2-5 hours for most homes) to complete the inspection and answer questions from the buyers before returning home.
  19. It would be helpful to the buyer if the following information is provided:
    • Appliance receipts, service records and warranties.
    • Information on the age of major components, such as the heater, air conditioner and roofing.
    • Major component warranties (carpeting/flooring, siding, windows, roofing, etc.)
    • Information on retired well, septic system, oil tank and/or structural repairs
  20. Anticipate well and/or septic tank issues:
    • Leave information on where wells and septic tanks are located and the repair and maintenance history; also note whether there is a County record of the permits
    • Be sure to discuss in advance who will be responsible for returning the well and/or septic tanks (and the general area around them) to acceptable conditions (it is possible a separate contract addendum may be required)
    • Be aware the appraisal may raise further questions about the function of these components and may lead to additional inspections
After the Inspection: Please be aware that per North Carolina Regulations there are certain things an inspector is required to do which might be surprising to you on return to your home:
  1. In order to properly inspect built-in-place cabinets and closets the inspector must open the doors and drawers.
  2. The dishwasher is run through a cycle. The microwave, vent fans, range, cook tops, waste disposals and trash compactors are operated. 
  3. All windows are opened which requires blinds to be raised and window treatments pulled back. 
  4. All doors (including garage doors) are opened, closed and latching mechanisms operated. The garage door auto reversing mechanisms are tested. 
  5. All attics and crawl spaces are accessed and if large enough entered. 
  6. All plumbing fixtures are operated, drains closed and opened, water run, toilets flushed. Whirlpool tubs are filled and operated. 
  7. The heating and air conditioning systems are operated and the access panels may be removed and replaced. Thermostat settings may be changed.
  8. All accessible electrical outlets are tested. Accessible floor electrical outlet protective covers are removed and replaced. 
  9. All light switches and ceiling fans are operated.
  10. All ground fault and arc fault protected electrical outlets and breakers are tripped and reset. If an outlet is supposed to be ground fault protected it is tripped. Any appliance such as clocks, televisions, recorders, coffee makers, message machines and such may have issues from the power being turned off and back on. If the outlet is in a circuit and the inspector is unable to locate the reset button the circuit may not be reset! This could be a MAJOR issue if a refrigerator or freezer is on this circuit and the power is OFF!
  11. Smoke detectors not connected to an alarm system are tested.
  12. Electrical distribution panel covers are removed and replaced.
On your return to the home:
  1. You should check and adjust your thermostat settings which may have been changed during the inspection.
  2. Check to verify that all ground fault and arc fault circuits are properly reset and that any appliances which may be connected to those circuits are operating. This could be a MAJOR issue if a refrigerator or freezer is on this circuit and the power is OFF!
  3. As a general rule the inspector locks all exterior doors whether he found them locked or not. If there is a door you usually leave unlocked for some reason, it will be locked.
  4. Don’t be alarmed to find loose insulation at attic access panels or pull down stairs which have been opened during the inspection. 
  5. If you find anything that you are concerned about or don’t understand contact the inspector ASAP by e-mail at chris@chrisdhilton.com or phone at (336) 816-7756.
Credits: Most of this list was provided by the Home Inspection Committee of the Winston-Salem Regional Association of Realtors and may have been modified by Chris D. Hilton

Disclaimer: These are recommendations for a seller to prepare for an inspection as part of the real estate transaction. This is not a mandatory real estate form or an obligatory inspection standard of practice.