10 easy DIY projects to get your house ready for a home inspection
Every home from brand new to 100 years old will have items called out in a home inspection report. I often note many of the same common issues in reports, many of which are easy to fix, but whose maintenance has often been neglected or it’s an issue that most people aren’t aware of. Many of these items are relatively minor and can be fixed for less than $20 — and you can do them yourself. Below is a list of 10 common items that will help you get ahead of the buyers and save you time, money, and headache when listing your home.
This is a common issue in the Vancouver, WA area and is often neglected by homeowners. And while this may seem like a minor issue, moss left to grow on roofs can prop up shingles and allow water to sneak underneath, leading to leaks. This is an easy fix — moss-killing products are available at any hardware store — and will save you from having to do it in the last minutes of a home closing. Here’s a quick guide on how to treat moss on your roof.
With how often it rains in Vancouver, WA, having your downspouts properly installed and functioning is extremely important to the health of your home. More often than not, downspouts on homes drain too close to the foundation. During the rainy season — most of the year around here — downspouts draining too close to the home can put thousands of gallons of water into the soil, resulting in tremendous water pressure that can eventually weaken your foundation and allow water into the crawlspace. To correct this, attach a downspout extension and make sure it drains at least 6 feet away from the foundation. You can find these for less than $10. If you want to do something with a better aesthetic, consider installing some decorative and practical landscaping:
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters help keep electricity within the confines of the wiring of an appliance. If your house was built before 1971 and has not been updated with GFCI outlets, consider installing them in the appropriate areas around your home — kitchens, bathrooms, and exteriors. While not a requirement for older homes, this is a safety feature that can help sell your home. You can find GFCI outlets for about $10. Here’s more information on how GFCIs keep you safe.
This is usually a project that gets put off year after year, so now’s the perfect time to do it. Most home inspectors will call this out and you’ll likely either have to fit it in during the chaos that can be a home sale or pay someone to do it. Save yourself time and money by sealing your deck ahead of the home inspection. A standard gallon of deck sealant will set you back about $40.
Clean out your gutters. In the Northwest, it’s highly likely that you will have trees on or near your property. Whether it’s pine needles or leaves, tree debris will clog your gutters up and cause the stormwater to drain improperly. This can lead to foundation issues and damage to your siding.
These vents are often blocked by well-meaning homeowners in the winter time to help keep pipes in the crawlspace from freezing. The usually Styrofoam blocks get forgotten about and left in place, sometimes for years. The best practice is to not use them at all — just make sure your pipes are insulated and your crawlspace will stay drier, actually benefiting from the increased ventilation all year round. Additionally, foundation vents can be blocked by debris or have landscaping graded improperly, allowing water to get into the crawlspace. So, remove the blocks, clear out any debris, and possibly install foundation vent wells where they are needed.
Smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide detector:
These alarms are defective all too often in homes I inspect. When listing your home, make sure you have updated alarms — many don’t last more than 10 years — and that you have replaced the batteries in alarms that need new ones. Smoke and CO alarms are required in specific locations in Washington state, and are not only called out in home inspection reports, but also by the appraiser, so make sure to get these up to date and in the proper locations. Here are guides for smoke alarms and CO detectors.
These will leak if give enough time. When a toilet is loose, every time someone uses it, it gets moved and can eventually damage the wax ring, which provides the seal to the drain. So go through your house and put light pressure on each toilet with you leg to see if it moves at all. If it does, tighten down the bolts at the base. Additionally, consider replacing the wax ring if you know it hasn’t been replace in the last decade. Wax rings cost less than $10.
Declutter and remove debris:
One of the things that adds time to a closing is when the inspector has to come back to a house to gain access to an area because personal items were blocking access. It’s not uncommon to find the crawlspace in a closet blocked with piles of boxes or the attic access in a closet blocked with fragile decorations. Having these areas inaccessible will add time to your sale. On the exterior, it’s a good idea to clean up any wood debris, like old fire wood or scrap wood, from the property. These can be inviting for wood-destroying insects that can start a colony outside and potentially move into the home.
Anytime vegetation is touching the siding, you’re inviting moisture and wood-destroying insects and organisms into the structure. Trim back all the vegetation around the home so there’s a visible gap between the plant and the siding.