When purchasing a home an inspection is typically part of the process which is done after a contract is signed. There are however, some items home buyers can do prior to the inspection that can be part of contract negotiations. One of these things would be to go through a buyer’s pre-inspection check list.
A home buyer’s check list would be similar to the home inspector’s but not as in depth or detailed. Items on this list could include but would not be limited to: Grading around the house, does it slope toward or away from the house? Does the siding look well maintained, is the paint peeling? Are there shingles missing from the roof? On the interior are the walls and ceilings in good condition, are there cracks around doors or windows? Is the basement moist or has obviously been wet? Electrically, are there enough outlets in each room and do all rooms have a switched light or outlet? Plumbing, do all drains run freely and is there adequate water pressure in all areas of the house? Appliances, are they newer Energy Star or over 20 years old? Does the home have a radon mitigation system?
There are several reasons for doing a pre-inspection. One, it protects you as a buyer from putting an offer on a house that could have a lot of repairs needed and might be something you don’t want to move forward with. It also gives you an option to compete with all the other buyers that are going to be submitting offers making your offer stands out that much more because you’re not going to be submitting your offer with an inspection contingency. If you find numerous issues during your pre-inspection you will have to discuss with your real estate agent just how you wish to proceed. You may need to adjust the offer price based on what you’ve found. The other option is just to simply walk away and not pursue it any further.
As a buyer, you can conduct a check list such as this during your viewing of a property with your realtor. Items on the list can then be included in contract negotiations. A formal inspection will also need to be completed after a contract has been signed but post contract inspections should be simpler if a buyers check list is used. You can find free home buyer inspection check lists at many online locations.
In addition to the pre-inspection check list make a list of all improvement or additions you might be considering for your inspector to review. Also, if you are considering buying a home with a little more character have your inspector go through the house keeping in mind any possible renovations or restoration you may be thinking about. In some cases, it may be prudent to have an older home inspected prior to making an offer. By doing this you can include the cost of necessary repairs in the price negotiations with the seller.
There are also several things sellers can do to make the inspection process run smoothly. Be sure all utilities are on. Ignite all pilot lights that must be manually lit. All electrical breakers should be in the “ON” position unless there is a safety reason that requires them to be de- energized. Provide clear access to the electrical panel. Have remote controls readily available if they are required to operate an appliance or fixture. (Fireplaces, ceiling fans, garage doors etc. Clear possessions from all sinks/tubs and have drain stoppers readily available. Provide clear access to the main water shut-off valve. Provide all keys for areas where keys are not provided to the inspector. (Crawl space access, locked interior and exterior storage closets, keyed window locks, etc.) Provide clear access to attic furnaces. Remove stored items in crawl spaces that would impede access especially at the entry door.