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Welcome to our blog on topics of relevant to everyone interested in home ownership, maintenance, renovation, buying, and selling. RJ Miller Building Professionals provides home inspections, commercial property condition assessments, building code assessments, custom home design, and project management.

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How Should Sellers (Vendors) Prepare for Home Inspections

Blog Issue #: 

1

#1. Get a Pre-sale Inspection

Although it may be beneficial to distinguish a property that is in very good condition from the marketplace, the greatest advantage to a pre-sale inspection is the additional time available to address a deficiency. This is especially important when dealing with contractors.

Contractors have to consider a number of factors when pricing a job: labour, freight, cost of materials, and even current demand, are all significant. When work must be performed in a rush, just before closing, prices are likely to go up. Good contractors are usually booked well in advance, so urgent jobs will require working overtime, including evenings, and weekends, in order to squeeze them into a full schedule. Similarly, obtaining materials may be more expensive due in part to the reliance on faster shipping methods, but also because of missed opportunities with price shopping and the occasional sale. Of course, when the urgency to complete the work rises, so does the willingness to pay higher prices. Contractors know this and price accordingly.

Whereas a pre-purchase inspection is conducted just days or weeks before closing, a pre-sale inspection may be performed long before an offer is even presented. This time affords owners an opportunity to avoid last minute work, shop around for pricing, and control costs.

#2. Avoid Limitations

Uninspected components lead to uncertainty, anxiety, and changes to purchase decisions. When an inspector does not have readily available access to building components or spaces, those portions do not simply go unreported: the inspector has a professional duty of care to identify limitations in their reports. Buyers may interpret limitations as an unsatisfactory condition of a home inspection.

Seller Inspection Checklist:

  • Turn the water on and verify at every fixture.
  • Turn the water heater on. Caution: Follow the manufacturer's directions for turning a water heater back on, including verifying that it is completely full before switching on. Re-starting an empty tank will damage the unit.
  • Replace worn bulbs in all light fixtures.
  • Remove personal property, and any obstructions such as shelving, under attic hatches.
  • Remove personal property, and any obstructions, over crawlspace hatches.
  • Remove personal property blocking access to:
    • electrical panels;
    • furnaces;
    • hot water heaters;
    • heat recovery ventilators;
    • and other equipment.
  • Turn all breakers for safe and complete circuits to the on position (most commonly found for outside receptacles, hot water tanks, heat recovery ventilators, and space heaters).
  • Provide keys and combinations to any locks, including detached sheds or garages. Note: Inspectors insured and bonded by the NLAR can open lock boxes.
  • Clear gates of snow and ice.
  • Ensure all pets are safely secured or cared for at another location.
  • Check any requests provided by the inspector.

#3. Anticipate Re-inspections

When an inspection uncovered a deficiency that is to be corrected, the buyer may request it to be re-inspected. Sometimes these re-inspections do not go smoothly because contractors were forced to cut corners due to deadlines or material availability. They are also more likely to skip necessary permits, which means their work was not uninspected by the local authority. While it is better to avoid rush jobs entirely by using a pre-purchase inspection, if corrections must be performed, be diligent and follow all steps necessary to have good word performed, including:

  • Choose a qualified contractor for the work to be performed.
  • Get a suitable contract in writing.
  • Obtain all necessary permits.

#4. Accept Qualified Inspectors

Home inspectors come from a variety of backgrounds and have a wide range of qualifications. Some have no training; are not members of a reputable home inspection association; and are not insured. Others posses degrees or diplomas as technologists or engineers, and are members of reputable associations like the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI), which requires all practicing members to carry Errors and Omissions insurance. Unqualified inspectors are as likely to misreport a deficiency by exaggerating the significance as they are to miss them entirely.

Ensure your property is inspected by a qualified home inspector when accepting offers subject to a satisfactory home inspection.

#5. Eliminate Nuisance Deficiencies

Some deficiencies are inexpensive and easy to correct however their presence may lead to reporting a limitation or reporting the increased risk of a more costly repair. For example, a wood window that is painted shut is also a possible sign a faulty window. Check the following list of easy to fix items and have them corrected before the inspection:

  • Missing cover plates on receptacles, switches, and junction boxes.
  • Worn out bulbs in light fixtures.
  • Painted shut wood windows.
  • Poorly adjusted or malfunctioning bi-fold and swing doors.
  • Poorly adjusted or malfunctioning cupboard doors and drawers.
  • Window screens placed in storage.
  • Loose handrails.
  • Worn batteries in system remotes (e.g. propane fireplaces and mini-split heaters)

#6. Consult With Your Real Estate Professional

A good real estate agent or salesperson is knowledgeable about developments in real estate, including new developments in home inspections. They may help you anticipate deficiencies that are common for buildings of the same era, locality, or price range, and differentiate those from unexpected findings that are more likely to be pressing concerns for a buyer.

When choosing a professional, remember that not every licensed real estate agent or salesperson is a REALTOR®. To be a REALTOR®, the person must be a member of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) which requires members to follow their code of conduct, be up to date, and participate in continuing education. Only a REALTOR® has access to the multiple listing service (MLS).

#7. Mind Your Privacy

While home inspections are not obtrusive by definition, they certainly require inspectors to thoroughly examine a property. This includes opening all cupboard doors and drawers, opening closets, photographing rooms from multiple angles, looking behind and under furnishings, and entering every room. If you have privacy concerns, disclose them in advance of the inspection.

A case in point: Before performing an inspection, a seller notified the inspector through their agent that a seriously ill family member was confined to a bedroom and that the family strongly preferred they were not disturbed. The inspector proposed that the drapes be closed, the window open and inspected from the exterior, other components be inspected from adjacent spaces, and that the remainder of the room reported as a limitation unless other causes warranted the room be inspected. The buyer was agreeable to the arrangement and the inspection was conducted without further cause for concern.

#8. Give Notice of Any Malfunctioning Equipment or Components

This may seem contrary to your hopes of a problem free inspection, however it is unlikely that the inspector will miss the issues. It is more likely that the inspector will perform a test and potentially cause further damage. For example, a garage door counter balance spring may not be noticeably broken, but when an inspector operates the door, the increased resistance could damage the drive motor. The cost of repair would increase.A case in point: Homeowners know a second floor hot tub is leaking when the jets are operating, but decide not to disclose the problem. Another inspector fills the tub, operates the pump, and later drains the system. After inspecting the remainder of the second floor, they return to the kitchen to find a serious leak that had ruptured the ceiling drywall, ran over a new center island, and flooded new hardwood laid in the open concept kitchen / dining room. The total cost of repairs increased from a minor plumbing job to ceiling refinishing, some new mill work pieces, and some superficial damage to the flooring that was tolerated as a visual defect. Plus the original plumbing repair.

#9. Promote a Safe Working Environment

Inspectors work around hazardous equipment including energized electrical components, ladders, unsound structures, slippery surfaces, and even aggressive animals. Please alert the inspector to any known hazards and safely secure animals. Thank you!

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