When you’re selling a home, it’s hard to relax until the home inspection is done and you know what the buyers think about it. That’s when many sellers feel a big sense of relief.
But did you know there are some things you can do that will make your home inspection go more smoothly for everybody? There are a couple of big benefits to fixing a few things in advance:
- The inspection report is smaller, which is good because large reports with many items may raise red flags for buyers.
- If you fix these things before the home even hits the market, buyers will see a well-maintained home.
I talked with Gordon Tolbert, a home inspector here in Portland at AmeriSpec Inspection Services, to get his take on must-fix items. Take an afternoon and check on these things before your home gets inspected (and preferably before it ever hits the market).
On the Exterior
Caulk any cracks in the sidewalk, cement, or foundations. Cracks allow water to get into places where it shouldn’t go, and these cracks are very likely to get worse over time.
Make sure that no plants or vegetation are touching the side of the house or the roof. Any limbs hanging on the roof should be cut back because they will damage your roof over time.
Many Portland homes have moss on the roof, particularly if you’re on the west side of the mountains. To get rid of it, you’ll need to kill the moss and gently remove it. Moss holds onto moisture and can go up underneath the shingles and cause mold and early deterioration.
Check Water Drainage
Make sure water drains away from the house (at least six feet away, to be safe) and that you have a negative slope. Otherwise, water can flow back towards your house and start seeping inside. This is especially important with all the rain we get in Portland.
Check the Roof
Make sure the roof doesn’t have any missing or damaged shingles. If it does, you can get just the damaged shingles replaced. Otherwise, you risk water coming inside and causing more problems. You should also check for loose plumbing vents and metal flashing around your chimneys, which are also common causes of roof leaks.
Fireplace and Chimney
Have your chimney inspected and cleaned out by a chimney sweep. Creosote buildup is normal, but it also poses a fire hazard. If you have creosote buildup, the inspector has to say that it’s a fire risk, which raises all kinds of red flags. That’s unfortunate, since a good cleaning is a simple solution.
Clean out the interior of the fireplace. Many have a little vent screen at the bottom that you should pull open and clear out the dust bunnies (you guessed it—they’re also a fire hazard).
If you have a gas fireplace, make sure the pilot light is lit. Inspectors won’t do that for you. If there’s a reason it’s not lit, just leave a note for the inspector to tell them why it’s not.
Check that all of your smoke alarms are less than 10 years old. They should all have fresh batteries. If you have hardwired smoke alarms that need replacing, you must replace them with another hardwired system (not battery-operated alarms).
Carbon monoxide detectors must be in any Oregon home that uses natural gas—this includes furnaces, pellet stoves, gas ovens and stovetops, gas fireplace, and attached garages. Basically, if carbon monoxide is being produced, you must have an alarm. Make sure that the alarm hasn’t expired and that it has fresh batteries.
Make sure the furnace is clean. You may want to hire an HVAC technician to do a thorough cleaning and inspection.
Also, make sure your filters are clean (they usually need to be replaced every three months).
Kitchen and Bathrooms
Caulk or Grout Gaps in Tiles
Caulk or grout any gaps in the floor tiles or backsplash. Water will get in those cracks and potentially cause mold problems.
If your toilets are loose, tighten the nuts on the sides to solve the problem.
Check Dishwasher Line
Check to make sure that your dishwasher line that goes the sewer system, called the high loop, is present. If it’s not, it can back up into your once-clean dishes and spread germs and bacteria.
Other Interior Items
Replace Light Bulbs
Double check to make sure that all the light bulbs inside and outside the house are working. If a light doesn’t turn on because of a burned-out bulb, the inspector has no way to know if it’s that or an electrical problem. They don’t want to tell people to have a licensed electrician come look at a burned-out bulb.
Tighten Closet Doors, Handrails, and Doorknobs
Check that all sliding closet doors slide smoothly on the tracks.
Make sure that handrails going up and down stairs are tight.
Check all your doorknobs and make sure they’re screwed on tightly.
If you have a crawl space in your house, sometimes the vent screens can get rusted and break. Make sure that screens are in place. Without screens, you may get small animals under your house.
You also want to make sure the dirt is covered with a vapor barrier. Otherwise, moisture can get up underneath the joists in the floor and can cause dry rot.
I hope this helps you feel better about your upcoming home inspection! If you have any questions this or anything else related to selling your home, I’ll be happy to answer them for you.