Whether you’re buying or selling a house, the buyer’s home inspection tends to be the white knuckle part of the transaction. Before the home inspection buyers don’t have much control over the process, except for hiring a good Realtor and inspector. However, sellers often have a slew of options to make the home inspection go smoother.
In my experience the sheer number of items found on inspection reports can be overwhelming for potential buyers. A laundry list of defects and safety issues can give the impression that the house is either falling down or is a death trap. Preemptively knocking a few things off the buyer’s inspection report can be highly advantageous. Here are some insider’s tips from a professional home inspector on a few inexpensive things you can do to minimize the impact of the buyer’s inspection report.
1. GFCI Electrical Outlets
Be sure that all electrical outlets that require GFCI protection actually have protection. This is a safety concern that is always pointed out in inspection reports. Locations that should have functional GFCI outlets include: all outlets serving kitchen counter tops, bathrooms and wet bars. In addition outlets that are outside and in the garage should be GFCI protected.
2. Smoke Detectors
Another safety issue that is relatively inexpensive to fix is properly located and functional smoke detectors. According to International Residential Code smoke detectors are required in each sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms (usually an adjoining hallway), and on each additional story of the dwelling.
3. Seal Roof Fasteners
Unsealed roof fasteners (nails or staples) on asphalt roofing can sound like a problem to a buyer. Sealing these fasteners is something that roofers have historically neglected to do when installing a roof. Solving this is amazingly easy and simple. All it requires is applying a dab of approved roofing sealant over the fasteners with a caulking gun.
4. Seal Exterior
Spending about 1-2 hours walking around the exterior of your house with a tube of caulking can go a long way. Common areas that home inspectors point out as needing caulking include around windows, light fixtures, plumbing pipes and electrical panels.
5. Plumbing Leaks
A plumbing leak can sound dramatic to a buyer. Dripping faucets and drain pipe leaks under sinks can be inexpensive and easy to fix. Before the home inspection I recommend inspecting all plumbing fixtures and valves to ensure there are no plumbing leaks. This includes laundry connections, kitchen and bathroom fixtures and drain waste piping under sinks, and plumbing connections at toilets.
6. Anti-Siphon on Exterior Fixtures
Most home inspectors identify exterior hose bibs that don’t have anti-siphon or backflow prevention devices. This is a $5 valve that threads on to an exterior hose bib (plumbing fixture). The device prevents water from garden hoses from back flowing into the water supply.
7. Paint Plumbing Vent Pipes
All plumbing vent pipes that are PVC (white plastic) should be painted. Applying a coat of latex paint will protect the pipes from deteriorating due to UV exposure and will impress home inspectors.
8. Cages on Light Bulbs
Home inspectors are required to identify light fixtures with light bulbs that aren’t protected. Locations where light bulbs must be protected include closets, attics, pantries, and in the garage. To eliminate this from the inspection report you can buy a $5 plastic or metal cage that attaches to the bulb.
9. Divert Downspouts
Home inspectors are geeks when it comes to drainage and water control around foundations. Any downspout that terminates at the foundation will appear on most inspection reports. Properly diverting water at least 3 feet away from the foundation is optimal. Those plastic or concrete slash blocks generally aren’t adequate.
10. Have HVAC Cleaned and Serviced
There can be a litany of HVAC (heating, ventilation & air conditioning) related comments on inspection reports that are easy to remedy. To get the HVAC market ready, I recommend having a licensed HVAC contractor address the following: cleaning out and insulating the condensate drain line, sealing the return plenum, insulate the refrigerant line at the AC, clean the outdoor AC coils/fins, protecting the gas line at the furnace and seal any obvious ducting leaks.
The above list is based on the common items that surface on home inspection reports. Most are relatively inexpensive and easy to address. After completing some or all of these recommendations the last recommendation would be to call a qualified home inspector to perform a pre-listing inspection. Pre-listing inspections coupled with the above improvements are a great way to minimize and even eliminate the white knuckle part of selling your house.