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Selling 101: The Inspection

What Is An Inspection For?

01front2When purchasing a home it is always recommended to buyers to perform a variety of inspections to satisfy the buyer. The buyer can opt to perform a range of inspections to make sure that they are well informed about what they are buying based on the condition of the home. They can perform as many or as few inspections as they want within the inspection time period specified on the purchase agreement. I have had buyers bring their construction buddy over to the home to take a look, or their handy father (or mother). But the most common method is for a buyer to hire a home inspector. These inspectors will go through the majority of the house, looking for defects. Their purpose is to find defects, and believe me, they will! They will generate a report detailing what they find. This report is usually many pages long, some reaching 20 - 30 pages or more. They usually know more than a handy uncle because they inspect hundreds of houses every year.

The main reason for an inspection though is to make sure there is a balance with the sales price, and the condition of the home itself. It is to know the home's defects are accounted for within the pricing of the home itself.  So there a dozen of items to fix that total $300, that may be just fine. But if the inspection turns up a $6000 sewer line problem, that may not be accounted for in the sales price of the home. One could reasonably expect a properly working sewer line for the price of the home.

Besides the general inspection, there are also specialized inspections. The main one or two that I usually recommend is the sewer line inspection and/or a fireplace inspection and/or radon. Other types of inspections include structural, or environmental hazard (radon, lead, arsenic, etc.) electric or plumbing (as separate from the general inspection), pool or hot tub, among several other types of inspections.

Radon Testing

Sewer Line Scope Inspection

Fireplace Chimney Inspections

The General Inspection

Here is where the general inspection has its value. Most general inspections cost around $400-450 and gives them a 20-40 page report on the house. They detail as much as they can find, from outlets, to the furnace, to the roof. Although they don't specialize in every single area, they know quite a bit about houses and can validate all the major systems in the house. This inspection usually takes between 2 and 3 hours to complete.

Preparing for the General Inspector

Before the general inspector comes to your home, be sure to make your home accessible. This includes:

  • Routine Maintenance just before the inspection happens, and to fix all the little things like broken outlet covers. I covered this in the Basic Repairs and Maintenance page.
  • Making sure the inspector can get to the water heater, furnace water main, electrical panel, boiler, appliances, laundry tub.
  • The inspector will normally run the dishwasher, washer and dryer, furnace, a/c (if weather permits), and other mechanicals and appliances.
  • Make sure the inspector can access all faucets, bath tubs, toilets, washer, dryer.
  • Make sure the inspector can access the attic hatch. This may mean emptying a closet if the access is in one, or moving some boxes or furniture out of the way from wherever attic hatches are.
  • If you have access panels for knee-walls that have screws in them, please unscrew the screws so that the inspector can gain access.
  • If you have any outlets that act funny, or any switches that don't have any apparent function, please label them.
  • Leave the garage door remote in an easy to find location
  • Replace furnace filters as this will be looked at as part of the condition of the furnace and a/c.
  • Clean the a/c fins (carefully!) so that there isn't buildup of cottonwood or dirt or anything else.
  • If a light doesn't work, the inspector will note it in the report. So be sure to replace any light bulbs that are burnt out.
  • Tighten any loose hinges or knobs.
  • Be sure that all doors operate properly and latch to the strike plates.
  • Make sure that smoke detectors work, and that there is enough to meet code. Easiest to get $5 detectors and put them in each bedroom, plus 1 per floor.
  • Make sure that the CO detector works, and that they are within 10 feet from each bedroom. This may mean more than 1 if the bedrooms are far apart or on different floors.
  • Provide a way for the inspector to access the garage, as well as any sheds or other out-buildings.

The rest of it is just keeping a clean house. Appearances of tidiness help make the home feel well taken care of.

Radon Testing

If the buyer is doing a radon test, please be sure to try to follow the instructions left by the inspector. This is to ensure an accurate test. and usually includes leaving all windows shut, and minimally opening doors. Don't disturb the radon test unit or they may need to restart the test. The unit will measure radon levels over a 48 hour period and the EPA has guidelines as to how to interpret the results.

Sewer Line Scope

Make sure the inspectors can gain access to the sewer clean-out in case the buyers hire a sewer line company to "scope" the main drain. If it is difficult to find, put post-it notes up so that they know where it is. The sewer clean-out is usually located at or near the water meter. If you can't find one, then they may be able to do the inspection from the main stack, which is usually near the laundry or other mechanicals.

Additional Resources:

How to resolve inspection issues.
Radon Testing
Sewer Line Scope Inspection
Fireplace Chimney Inspections

Steven Hong - RE/MAX Results 
REALTOR, e-PRO, GREEN, Old Home Certified 
7700 France Ave S #230, Edina, MN, 55435 
612-990-9009 (cell) 
952-915-2252 (office)
Licensed in Minnesota. Disclaimer: Each office independently owned and operated. Privacy Policy
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