Home inspections are a key part of the real estate buying and selling process, often making or breaking a transaction. Have you ever wondered what the most common issues are that come up during a home inspection? We talked to our friend Rex Kulla from Custom Home Inspections, LLC on what he sees as the top inspection issues and how sellers can prepare for them.
Be Prepared - Inside & Out
It's the simple things in life really. Rex's number 1 tip - clean up your dog droppings! He mentioned that often inspectors are not looking at the ground when walking around the house, rather they are looking at the house itself. On more occasions than he would like, he's stepped in dog droppings and it always makes his day a little less fun. He mentioned that it really helps to clean up all dog droppings outside and animal toys, etc. inside of the house, so there is hassle-free access to the house inside & out.
One of the most common things that he sees on home inspections are faulty smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. He recommends that sellers check to make sure they are working ahead of time to ensure this isn't called on an inspection. Rex mentioned that even a 7-year-old smoke detector can be too old. A smoke detector is needed in each bedroom and a carbon monoxide detector is needed within 10 feet of the bedrooms. He suggested keeping the receipt and leaving it for the inspector. This shows the inspector and buyer that the home has been maintained and the seller is prepared.
Additional items that a seller should address ahead of time include replacing lightbulbs, changing the furnace filter & humidifier pad, and hosing off the A/C unit so it performs more efficiently.
When sellers list their home, they are required to provide a copy of Seller Disclosures to a prospective buyer. This lists what the seller is aware of about the house including things like age of the roof, any insurance claims, items that are not working on the property, and any work that was done without pulling a permit. Rex said he likes to see this ahead of time or left at the house because it helps him understand the house better. Most often, sellers do not leave these out for the inspector. He suggested leaving it on the kitchen table or anywhere highly visible, along with any notes that are important for the inspector to know about the home (including recent upgrades, dates of furnace cleanings, etc.)
One item that is very important for a seller to address is any work done without a permit. He said this is a big deal and a seller should always try to address this BEFORE a home inspection. He typically sees this with electrical, plumbing and basement remodels. He recommends that a seller contact a licensed professional to review the work and provide documentation for the new buyer. In some cases, the seller will need to contact the city because each city does have different requirements for work done and permitting.
Water, Water, Water...
A major issue on any home inspection and for a new buyer is water or moisture intrusion. Rex sees the most common issues coming from poor grading around the house, gutters not cleaned, downspouts not properly attached, and lack of caulking. He recommends that a seller be prepared by fixing the caulking before the inspection, always making sure the downspouts and extensions are properly attached, cleaning out gutters regularly and adding dirt/grass seed/sod if necessary to fix grading. He said these are important items that should be properly maintained during the life of the home and hopefully not just before the home inspection.
What is Deferred Maintenance?
Rex sees a lot in his business, but often, the most inspection issues come up at homes that have deferred maintenance. This is when a homeowner has postponed maintaining the property and as a result some items have fallen into disrepair. For example, that tree that was not trimmed long ago that is now routinely brushing the roof. Well, that can end up being a costly fix if it caused enough damage over time. He recommends trimming branches so they are not touching the home at all. Also, windows are a big deal and often come up on home inspection punch lists. Rex recommends one way of staying on top of this is to sand and seal window sills that have begun to show wear and in some cases bleaching if necessary (this one may be a task for your handyman or licensed contractor.)
Home inspections can be scary for the seller of a home, but they do not have to be. Sellers should always do their best to stay on top of routine maintenance and prepare the house before the inspection takes place. For more information or questions on home inspections, contact Rex Kulla @ 612-799-3093 or CustomHomeInspections@comcast.net.