When you're ready to sell your home, you'll need to have it inspected by a professional home inspector. He'll give you a thorough report on your home's condition, so you'll know what needs to be done to get it ready for the market.
Before your inspector comes, why not do your own pre-inspection? Have a notebook in hand and write down anything you notice that's out of the ordinary or needs attention. Make a list of questions to ask your inspector or other professional service people who may need to be called in.
For now we'll focus on the inside of your home, particularly the kitchen. Then we'll look at the attic and garage.
* Test the drain of the kitchen sink. Look for signs of faucet leaks.
* Do all the cabinet doors and drawers open and close properly? Check for loose hinges. Are there any sticking drawer slides?
* Turn on the disposer. Listen for signs of obstructions or problems with the motor.
* Try all the stove burners to be sure they turn on quickly and properly. Watch for unwanted sparking or bursts of flame. Gas stoves should give off an even blue flame.
* Check the oven door gasket for signs of wear and tear.
* If you have a gas broiler, turn it on to be sure it lights properly.
* Make sure the gas shutoff valve is working properly. It should be able to turn until its completely perpendicular to the pipe.
* Open the dishwasher. Spin and lift the washer arm by hand to make sure it is not stuck. Be sure nothing has dislodged the drain hose. It should arc up to prevent backwash from the drain into the dishwasher.
* Look for signs of any leaking under and around the dishwasher.
* Be sure water filters have been changed recently.
* Through the rest of the house, check the doors for swollen spots and sticking. Results will be more reliable when humidity is low.
* Look for any loose hinges and doorknobs.
* Check the floor for popped nails, loose boards, loose tiles, and springy spots. These could be a sign of joist trouble.
* Look at ceilings for stains, which could indicate a roof or plumbing leak.
* Make sure ceilings and floors are not sagging or cracked in new places. This could point to a larger problem which may be causing a shift in the house. Also look above doors for cracks.
* Check walls for popped screws and nails on drywall. Are there new cracks in plaster?
* Point a flashlight into the fireplace and up the chimney. Check for loose bricks. Are there any cracks or signs of animal nests? Excess soot could spark a chimney fire.
* Be sure the damper operates properly.
* Check around ceiling fans to be sure they're well secured to the ceiling. They could be working their way way loose with all the use they get during the summer months.
* Jiggle the stair balustrade to test its sturdiness. Take note where balusters and banisters have come loose.
* Test all smoke and CO2 detectors. Replace batteries immediately if something does not work.
* Look around the attic space during daylight hours with the lights turned off. Are there any holes in the roofing that let light in?
* Keep an eye out for signs of animal activity or entry points for animals.
* Check around vents for gaps. Look at fan motors for frayed wiring or loose screws.
* Feel around insulation for damp spots where leaks might be occurring. Look for missing or torn insulation. This could be a sign of animal activity.
* Examine the joists and rafters for any structural damage.
* In the garage, check the action of the garage door. Are there dents in the tracks or cracks in the door?
* Make sure tool storage and hanging rakes and shovels do not pose a hazard by falling on someone or causing them to trip.
Being familiar with your home inside and out will give you an advantage when dealing with your home inspector and those prospective buyers.