The property inspector will need to be able to see what’s being inspected, of course, so the first and most basic thing to do is to make the home and garage accessible and visible. For people trying to move, some areas under the roof, such as the garage or a spare bedroom, may be packed full of boxes and other stuff, so this may come as a surprise. Anything inaccessible or covered up will need to be excluded from the inspection and report, often causing pest inspectors in particular to call for “an unknown further inspection” with a cost for a return visit being levied too.
Room by Room
Because most Silicon Valley homes do not have basements to serve for storage, garages tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. In some cases, the walls cannot be visible due to built in storage cabinets, work benches, etc. But for non built-in items, such as boxes, it is best to either move them out of the garage for the inspection or at the very least, place them in the center of the floor so that the inspectors can view the walls, particularly where they meet the floor. Automobiles should be moved out for the inspection too.
This same principle is also true for the outdoors with anything which might be stacked up against the house under the eaves. The walls need to be seen.
Indoors, if the property is built on a raised perimeter foundation with a crawl space (not a slab foundation), the access hatch needs to be accessible. In many homes, this square hole in the floor with a lid is found inside of a closet, and on top of it, we tend to find shoes and all kinds of items. Usually there are clothes hanging on a rod overhead. Do yourself and the inspector a favor and move all of it before the inspection even begins. The inspectors do not want to touch your shoes or other items, and they don’t want to risk items on hangers falling into the dirty, dusty crawlspace either. Please clear it out.
Likewise, most single family homes in the San Jose area have attic spaces which are similarly accessed through a square opening, most often located in a closet. (Happily, newer homes tend to place these in a hallway instead.) Please remove any boxes, linens, or any storage items directly blow this area. It’s usually challenging enough to get into that space and any stored possessions directly below it can make access impossible. Blown in insulation and dust may filter down, so it’s ideal to move anything close by as well.
In some cases, small nooks such as areas under a sink may be jammed full of soaps, detergents and other items. The inspectors will need to look under the sinks (for leaks, fungus, dry rot and other issues), so if those areas aren’t visible, they need to be made visible for the inspection.
Planning the Day of Inspection
Talk to your real estate agent about your being present for the inspection. Most of the time, if a buyer has ordered and paid for the inspection(s), it’s best if the seller is gone so that everything can be discussed freely. (I have seen home owners get very upset with anything negative turning up in inspections, some feeling “under attack” by the buyer’s inspectors.) For home buyers, it is normally preferable that you be present so that you can learn about your new home and how to best care for it. Some inspectors will not do the inspection if buyer’s aren’t present, in fact. For home sellers doing pre-sale inspections, it can be helpful to be there and both learn about the discoveries and clear up potential confusion (as in “that switch goes to that wall, but nothing is plugged in there right now”)Talk to your Realtor about it. You can also read my post Who is present at the home inspections? for more on attendance and etiquette for inspections around a sale.