How to Prepare for an Inspection

Home Buyers: An inspection will give you the opportunity to ask the seller to make needed repairs before you buy, or to back out of the contract.  So be sure to ask for the “inspection contingency” when you begin to enter negotiations with the seller.  This allows you to set a limit on the cost of repairs to the home.  It is a good way to protect yourself from ending up with a home that requires repairs that you are unable or unwilling to pay for.

Before the inspector arrives, there are a few things you should know. There are no federal regulations governing inspectors or inspections; the laws vary from state to state.  Since Georgia does not have a state licensing requirement for home inspectors, make sure your home inspector is certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).  This means that the inspector has received a required level of training, has passed the comprehensive National Home Inspector exam, has completed the required number of inspections as well as peer review and education hours, to be certified by ASHI. ASHI members are required to abide by a Standards of Practice and a Code of Ethics. 

Once your inspector has arrived, it is recommended that you accompany him or her on the inspection of the property.  This is so you can become familiar with the home and its systems as well as exactly what repairs the inspector recommends and why.  You might also want to prepare a list of items that you’ve seen in the home that you feel are cause for concern as well as any questions you may have.  The inspection is a great time to find out where the home’s water and gas shutoffs are and where the main breaker is. If you are unable to attend the full inspection, at least try to show up towards the end and talk with the inspector.

Home Sellers: there are some things you can do prior to the inspection to help make the process easier and less time consuming.  Before the inspector arrives:

The seller or listing agent should verify that:

  • All utilities are turned on; this includes water, electricity, and gas if applicable
  • All pilot lights are lit (gas service provider will sometimes do this at no cost)
  • Attic access is clear of clothing and stored items
  • Crawl space and attic accesses are accessible, doors not locked or nailed
  • Sinks, showers and bathtubs are free of dishes and stored items
  • Vehicles are removed from the garage and all doors are accessible
  • Pets are secured or removed from premises
  • Heating/cooling units and water heaters are accessible
  • Built-in appliances are free of stored items and can be operated
  • Electrical service panels are accessible and not locked  (Covers on electrical panels inside the home are sometimes painted to the wall, so removing could mar the finish. The seller’s agent should ask the seller to grant permission to the inspector to remove the cover to look for safety issues.)

For a smoother inspection, the seller should also consider the following:

  • Repair leaks in faucets and drains below sinks
  • Replace missing downspouts/splash plates
  • Clean gutters and roof debris
  • Replace missing screens or broken glass
  • Replace all missing or burnt out light bulbs
  • Replace missing and damaged light switch and outlet covers
  • Secure loose light switches and outlet covers
  • Remove kiddie-proof covers from outlets
  • Plan to be somewhere else during the inspection
  • Trim trees and shrubs away from exterior of house