Home inspectors play an important role in the home-buying process, their reports noting repairs that need to be made or issues that need to be worked out in the contract before a sale goes through.
Since they’ve seen homes in a variety of conditions, inspectors also have good advice for homeowners on how to keep their properties in good shape to ensure the sale goes smoothly. Tim Buell, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, and local home inspectors offer their top tips.
KEEP IT DRY
Water causes 99 percent of problems for homes, Buell says. “Make sure your house is watertight,” he says.
That means making sure gutters and downspouts are free of debris and working properly, ensuring the roof is properly sealed, caulking around doors and windows and making sure the landscape is sloped away from the house. If you have a sump pump, make sure it’s working properly.
Tom D’Agostino, an ASHI certified inspector with Ronkonkoma-based Long Island Home Inspection Associates, says homeowners should have their gutters cleaned professionally, not just in the fall when they collect leaves, but also in the spring and summer when tree pollen builds up.
“I go on a roof to inspect shingles and flashing and I see gutters are neglected,” D’Agostino says.
Check regularly under kitchen and bathroom sinks for leaks and have a plumber address any right away, D’Agostino says. Homeowners also should make sure that any exposed electrical wiring is covered and that junction boxes are properly covered with a watertight seal.
GET REGULAR SERVICE
Boilers should be inspected, cleaned and serviced by a heating contractor, D’Agostino says. Fired systems should be serviced annually, while a natural gas system should be serviced every two to three years under a service contract.
“Make sure there’s a ticket on the boiler that shows it’s been serviced,” D’Agostino says.
Homeowners with cesspools should keep track of when they are due for service and keep any related paperwork so a potential buyer is aware of the system’s service history.
KEEP IT CLEAN
D’Agostino advises homeowners to not neglect bathroom showers and wall tiles.
“Grout when you need it grouted and caulk when you need to caulk,” D’Agostino says.
Keep bathrooms mold-free by cleaning regularly.
Cleaning outside is also important. Homeowners with vinyl siding should look into power washing, D’Agostino says.
Buell recommends preparing driveways and walkways for winter with concrete sealers, such as V-Seal. Homes near saltwater — common on Long Island — can look into covering paint with a product that keeps it from fading, such as Rhino Shield.
It’s also a good idea to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of a home and make sure they’re in good working order with fresh batteries, D’Agostino says.
INSPECT BEFORE LISTING
Hank Jaworowski, of Smithtown-based Precision Home Inspection of America, says the best way to avoid issues from coming up when someone is interested in buying your house is to get a pre-listing inspection.
“A lot of people don’t do that because they don’t want to spend the money,” Jaworowski says. “In my opinion, it’s a wise thing to do. The big-ticket items are normally what derails a deal. It’s usually the roof, mechanical systems or electrical system.”
If there are any issues, the owner should either fix them or disclose upfront that there are problems and note that they were taken into consideration when pricing the house.
“A house will just sell that much quicker” with a pre-inspection, Jaworowski says.