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Things to Know to Pass Your Home Inspection

Nearly all buyers will hire a professional home inspector to take a closer look at their new home before closing. In some cases, home inspections are done before the home goes under contract.

A home inspection covers several areas and systems within the house. A few tend to worry buyers the most: Is the roof likely to leak? Is the wiring safe? What about the plumbing? These and other questions are what  buyers will seek professional help to answer.

It is important not to wait until inspection day to assess the condition of your home. Necessary repairs should be made before you sell, preferably before you show the house. Small problems can turn into major items that could cost more in the end, while possibly lowering your home's value.

In most cases, you can make a reasonable pre-inspection yourself if you know what you’re looking for. Before listing your home, Natalie will offer her recommendations and, if needed, refer you to vendors who can assist you with the needed repairs.

Here are some of the most common items to consider when preparing for your home inspection:

  1. Mold and Mildew                                                      
    Mildew stains and odors scare buyers, especially now that toxic black mold has become a hot topic. If mold and/or mildew are present, chances are you may not get an acceptable offer. Even if the mold in your house is the normal variety and not stachybotrys chartarum, it is important that you take care of it immediately. Kill the mold and mildew and fix the source of the problem. You can hire a professional to determine what type of mold you are dealing with. If it is toxic, it is important to have someone who is trained in how to remove this toxic substance and the materials it is on. This is not a do-it-yourself job, nor a job for a regular contractor. You may contact Natalie if you need a recommendation for a specialist.

  2. Defective Plumbing
    Defective plumbing can manifest itself in two different ways: leaking and/or clogging. Most leaks can usually be spotted during a visual inspection. To check water pressure, the inspector will turn on several faucets and flush toilets all at the same time. Appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines may be tested too. Leaks and clogs will be apparent during these checks. When checking the faucets, see if the water appears dirty when first turned on. If so, this is a good indication that the pipes are rusting, which can cause severe water quality problems.

    The home inspector may also check the septic system. The inspector may flush dyes down the toilet, and if the dye seeps up onto the drain field, there is a drainage problem. 
  3. Damp or Wet Basement or Crawlspaces
    An inspector will check your walls for a powdery white mineral deposit a few inches up from floor and will look to see if you feel secure enough to store things right on your basement floor. A mildew odor is almost impossible to eliminate, and an inspector will certainly notice it. The inspector might use a meter to determine how much moisture is present in the basement and crawlspaces, because moisture deteriorates building materials and attracts insects.

    It could cost you a few hundred dollars or several thousand depending on the severity of the problem. You will have to weigh these figures when you calculate how much you hope to net on your home. 
  4. Inadequate Wiring and Electrical
    The electrical panel and circuit breaker configuration should be adequate for the needs of the house. A 125 amp electrical panel works for most homes. Individual circuits should not be overloaded. Wire should be copper or aluminum.

    The inspector will look for receptacles with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFI) in bathrooms and kitchens. These receptacles have little test-reset buttons on them. The home inspector will likely make sure the receptacles are what they appear to be and not "dummies" (receptacles not wired to work). Some of the grounded receptacles (for three-pronged plugs) will be checked too.
  5. Poor Heating and Cooling Systems
    Insufficient insulation and an inadequate or a poorly functioning heating system are the most common causes of poor heating. While an adequately clean furnace, without rust on the heat exchange, usually has life left in it, an inspector will be determining whether the life of your furnace has surpassed the typical 15 to 25 years. If you have a forced-air gas system, the heat exchange will come under particular scrutiny because one that is cracked can emit deadly carbon monoxide into the home. These heat exchanges must be replaced if damaged - they cannot be repaired.
  6. Roofing Problems
    Water leakage through the roof can occur for a variety of reasons: physical deterioration (e.g., curling or splitting of the asphalt shingles) or storm damage. When gutters leak and downspouts allow water to run down and/or through the exterior walls, this external problem becomes a major internal one.
  7. Damp Attic Spaces
    Aside from basement dampness, problems with ventilation, insulation, and vapor barriers can cause water, moisture, mold, and mildew to form in the attic. This can lead to premature aging of the roof, its structure, and building materials. The cost to fix this damage could easily run over $2,500.
  8. Rotting Wood
    Rotting wood can occur in many places (door and window frames, trim, siding, decks, and fences). The building inspector will sometimes probe the wood to see if dry rot is present - especially when wood has been freshly painted.
  9. Masonry Work
    Re-bricking can be costly. If left unattended, masonry repairs can cause problems with water and moisture penetrating the home, which in turn can lead to a chimney becoming clogged with fallen bricks or even a chimney collapsing onto the roof. It can be costly to rebuild and repaint a chimney.  
  10. Unsafe or Over-Fused Electrical Circuit
    Drawing more amperage from a circuit than it was designed for is a fire hazard. Fifteen amp circuits are the most common in a typical home. Larger capacities are given to large appliances, such as stoves and clothes dryers. It can cost several hundred dollars to replace your fuse panel with a circuit panel.
  11. Adequate Security Features
    Beyond a security system that you may have installed, an inspector will look for the basic safety features that will protect your home, such as proper locks on windows and patio doors, dead bolts on the doors, smoke detectors, and even carbon monoxide detectors in every bedroom and on every level of the house. Pricing will vary. Regardless, these features will add to your costs. Before installing these security features, you should check with your local experts.
  12. Structural/Foundation Problems
    An inspector is certain to investigate the underlying footing and foundation of your home, as a building's structure is fundamental to its integrity. 

When you put your home on the market, you don’t want any unpleasant surprises that might cost you a sale. With a clear understanding of these likely problem areas, you'll be able to identify what needs to be addressed prior to putting your home on the market. This will save you from many future headaches. 

Before the Inspection
Do everything you can to get the house in good condition before you attempt to sell it, but don't be discouraged if the inspection report contains negative statements. Home inspectors make note of everything they see. No home is perfect.

Your contract may also state that you are under no obligation to make any repairs at all. However, if you don't make those repairs, the buyers may withdraw from the contract. On the other hand, don't feel you must comply with unreasonable demands for repairs.

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