Preparing a Home for the Inspection
Pre-Inspection Checklist and Preparing For the Inspection: For Typical Transactions
NOTE: Please read! This document is for all parties involved, especially when the inspection is part of a real estate transaction. If applicable, this should be forwarded to all members of the selling party as they have a significant role to play in the preparation of the home inspection.
For an accompanying video, CLICK HERE.
We Need Everyone’s Help!
Wishing that the home inspection process be a good experience for all involved, NHI kindly requests that the information here be read by all associated parties, including the seller/owner/occupant of properties and their representatives if applicable. Where the material is not applicable, please ignore. Where applicable, we kindly request implementation before the scheduled start time. When we step onto the property, we assume that this document, and all other documents provided by NHI, have been read and understood, and, where necessary, implemented.
Definition of a Property Inspection
In brief, the property inspection is a visually-based, non-invasive, examination of the exposed and readily-accessible areas, systems, and components of the property required to be inspected by the Standards of Practice. The property inspection comments on the home as it exists on the date and time of the inspection. As such, if “Problem X” wasn’t clearly manifesting at the time of the inspection, it is beyond the scope of the inspection, and if “Item Y” (say the water heater) is blocked at the time of the inspection, the inspector will document things as they are, and the process is deemed completed at this point. If the inspector is asked to return to the property for any reason, there are, of course, additional charges as it is a separate service. We don’t wish to hold up transactions or to charge people more to return to the property. This document is intended to avoid such things! For more detail about what a home inspection is, please review this document (click here).
Clients/Occupants/Selling Parties: Please Be Prepared
With that in mind, it is critical that all parties involved be on board and ensure that the home is truly prepared for the inspection. Below is a list of what needs to be accomplished before the inspector arrives on site:
- Electrical Panel(s): We will need to remove the entire cover of the panel. Proper clearances for the panel are defined as having unimpeded access to the panel cover and the screws holding it in place, which includes having a clearance directly below the panel so that the inspector can approach it unimpeded (3 feet is required), along with a minimum of 15 inches to each side of the middle of the panel, and a minimum of 6 feet head clearance. If there is caulking or paint holding the cover and screws in place, the caulking and paint will need to be removed before the inspection.
- Water Heater & Furnace: These items need to be accessible with at least several feet of maneuverable-room around them. Insulation blankets or anything wrapped around water heaters should be fully removed—beyond impeding an inspection, insulation blankets almost always void the manufacturer’s warranty!
- Garages: The most common area in a home to receive a significantly limited inspection is in the garage, as people will sometimes fill it to the brim with items. At the very least, electrical panels, water heaters, furnaces, attic accesses, doors, sinks, GFCI outlets and the like should be fully cleared. We will need to operate each garage door and inspect them. Please ensure that each door is fully clear so that the inspector can stand on the inside of the door while it closes.
- GFCI Outlets: Our SOPs ask that we test all readily-accessible GFCI outlets and test circuits for protection where modern requirements would have such protection (e.g., bathrooms, kitchens, garages, laundry rooms, exteriors, etc.). GFCI outlets are those outlets you see in properties that have a test and reset button. Sometimes the GFCI outlet associated with a standard outlet is elsewhere (e.g., when testing the outside outlets, they are often downstream from a GFCI outlet in the garage). It is very common to have GFCI outlets blocked and when tested, the circuit may not be reset if we can’t get to the GFCI outlets without moving personal belongings—leaving the entire circuit without power! As such, we kindly request that all GFCI outlets in the home be fully unblocked. Failure to do this may leave some GFCI outlets tripped and not reset, which are sometimes connected to things like freezers or fridges. We have seen freezers full of meat spoiled because GFCI outlets were not accessible. If the GFCI outlets are blocked and subsequently not reset, the inspection firm will assume no liability. All parties should take this seriously. Please unblock ALL GFCI outlets in the home!
- Substructural Crawl Spaces: All crawl space accesses should be completely unblocked prior to the arrival of the inspector. Common locations of accesses: bedroom closets, closets under stairs, outside of the home, etc. The inspector must be able to approach the hatch and easily open and close it without having to move any item. If the cover is screwed or bolted in place, it is asked that it be removed prior to the inspection by the occupant/owner/seller.
- Overhead Attic Spaces: It is very common for attic accesses to look unblocked, yet people forget that we have to get our ladders in and set up to get into the attic, and the area around the access and on the floor below are full of items that make it difficult to set up a ladder. The entire space below the access must be cleared. This may include shoes, boxes, storage, shelving, clothing, vehicles and the like. Error on the side of caution: if you question whether “X Item” needs to be moved, just go ahead and move it. Further, and this should be keenly understood: if an occupant/owner/seller leaves items like clothing below an access, assuming the inspector can get over such things and into the attic, the inspection firm will assume zero liability for damages to personal items (i.e., insulation getting on clothing and the like). People are asked to move such items and, where appropriate, cover the items with drop cloths or sheets. If the access is screwed or bolted in place, it is asked that it be removed prior to the inspection by the occupant/owner/seller.
- Appliances, Tubs, Showers: During the inspection we operate the range, burners, oven, dishwasher, built-in microwaves, and the like. All of these areas should be fully cleared, inside and out, for the inspection. Tubs, showers and sinks should be cleared of personal or stored items.
- Under Sinks: It is very common to have the underside of sinks stuffed to the brim with storage, cleaning products and the like, limiting our ability to look at drain lines and plumbing. Please ensure that the underside of sinks are fully cleared so that they can be appropriately inspected.
- Utilities: If utilities are off to specific items or areas we assume that they are off for a reason. As stated, the property inspection comments on the property as it exists on the day of the inspection. It is not the responsibility of the inspector to de-winterize the home, ignite water heaters, gas fireplaces, and the like. Please ensure that all utilities are on throughout the home and at each associated system or component.
- Documents: Sellers of properties should have receipts, warranty documents, permit paperwork and the like ready beforehand. Was electrical work done on the home that needed permits and the like? Such should be ready for review. Was the roof replaced? Receipts, warranty information and the like should be ready for review.
Again Nickelsen Home Inspections, LLC wishes that the inspection be a good experience for all involved. We want this process to be efficient and effective for the clients and associated persons and parties. We appreciate the cooperation of all persons and entities involved who help make this good experience possible.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask us!
- What is a Home Inspection: Detailed Document
- Oregon Standards of Practice
- Washington Standards of Practice
- Meet Your Inspectors
- Typical Inspection: What To Expect from NHI
- Video: Preparing a Home for an Inspection