*Ding!* 📱 Your phone buzzes with a new email.
It’s from your licensor. She says your background check came back — you’re all set! Now it’s time to schedule your home inspection. How about two weeks from today?
You reply to tell her that that works, and then you sit down and take a look around. This home inspection is the final hurdle to opening your home daycare, so you want to ace it the first time. And of course you want to make a good first impression with your licensor.
Sure, you have a lot to do in the next two weeks, but remember, there’s no need to stress out. Every Provider has been in your shoes before, and fortunately, some of them have been generous enough to share some advice with you here.
So here are the personal stories of 4 Providers who recently aced their home inspections. In fact, two of them were so well prepared that their licensors emailed us to tell us how impressed they were. Follow their lead and you’ll be in great shape too!
7 Tips to Prepare for Your Home Inspection
1. Get the Checklist
The most important thing is to have a checklist! Sounds simple, but just knowing what you need to do is half the battle. You know you’ll need furniture and toys, and unobstructed exits, and a changing station, but it’s important to have one clear, comprehensive list that you can literally check off as you go.
Take it from Ashley, now a licensed Provider in Spencer, MA. “Because I had a detailed checklist, I knew where I was in the process,” Ashley says. “It made me feel prepared going into the situation.”
Ashley says she must’ve gone over her checklist a hundred times before her inspection. She had it printed out, and she had it on her phone and computer.
When the time came for her inspection, Ashley felt empowered because she was so prepared.“I was able to answer every question and locate every item without hesitation,” she explains. “All of this helped me build a lot of trust with my licensor, and because of that, it all went smoothly.”
2. Be Prepared for Your Licensor to Find Something
Nobody has a “perfect” initial home inspection. In all likelihood, your licensor will find at least a couple of things you will need to fix or change before you can open, and that’s OK! Working with your licensor to make small changes like this, and communicating well with them is a big part of being a licensed FCC provider.
For example, when Ronique’s licensor showed up at her Mattapan, MA home for her inspection, she thought she had everything squared away.
“But then my licensor checked my first aid kit, which I thought was all set,” Ronique explains. “She took out the thermometer in the kit to test it and—wouldn’t you know it—I forgot to put batteries in! Lesson learned—make sure everything that needs batteries, actually has batteries.”
3. Clear Clutter and Personal Items
Make sure you clear program space and evacuation routes of any personal items. On the day of your inspection, your home should look like you want it to look like on your opening day! That’s what the licensor wants to see – if you’re not ready in certain areas, that’s OK, just communicate that, and they might ask you to take a picture and send it to them after the inspection as proof you’ve addressed the mess.
But don’t worry too much about it. It’s a common thing that happens, mostly because it’s your home, and there’s bound to be some personal items hanging around. For example, after doing some last-minute cleaning before her inspection, Ashley left her vacuum in the kitchen. When the licensor saw it, they noted it and asked Ashley to send a picture afterward to show that the vacuum was out of the program space.
4. Display All Your Important Documents in the Entryway
You must have all the required documents ready to go before your inspection. Your Licensor will want to see that you have all the necessary paperwork for enrollment and record-keeping in your program. Make sure you’ve printed all the following forms:
- Parent Handbook
- Enrollment Packet
- Attendance Tracking Sheet
- Record of Observation
- Evacuation & Smoke Detector Log
- Progress Report
- Field Trip Permission Slip
- Incident Report
- Emergency Contacts & Evacuation Plan
- Child Emergency Cards
- Visitor Log
They may also ask to see your CPR & First Aid certificates, so just be sure to have all your licensing requirements posted on a bulletin board or in one easy-to-access folder, like Ronique.
“I printed all my forms, put them into a folder, and placed it on a table right in my entryway,” Ronique explains. “When my licensor came, everything was right there, and that helped me make a good impression right from the start.”
5. Make a Plan for Missing Items
If there are any things that you know are just not ready, make a list of everything that’s missing and be prepared to give it to your licensor. For instance, if you ordered a port-a-crib and it has not arrived yet, just write it down and tell your licensor upfront, so they know you have a plan. And Providers like Ashley agree, having a plan and explaining it to the licensor is great!
“Know what you’re missing and be ready to tell your licensor right away,” says Ashley. “By not being upfront about it, you risk coming across as unprepared or like you’re hiding something.
6. Do a Run-Through With a Friend
One of the best ways to get rid of pre-inspection jitters is to do a mock inspection with a colleague or friend beforehand. That way, when the day comes, you’ll already know what to expect!
Take Gwen, a Provider in Dudley, MA, for example. Before her home inspection, she did a mock inspection with Megan, her NeighborSchools Success Coordinator. Megan’s helped dozens of Providers, including Ashley and Ronique, with their home inspections, so with her insight, she was able to coach Gwen on what to expect and pointed out things around the home that were missing or needed to be adjusted.
“Working with Megan and using the NeighborSchools checklist was a lifesaver,” Gwen says. “It helped me feel less nervous for the home inspection, and it ended up being easier than I thought it would be!”
7. Give Tours Before Your Home Inspection
Giving tours before your home inspection is a little like practicing before the big game. When you start to show your home to prospective parents, you’ll start noticing small details that you can improve or things you might be missing. Plus, it’s a great wait to start building your waitlist early, so come opening day, you’re ready to go.
Erica, an FCC Provider from Clinton, MA, gave tours before completing her inspection.
“I gave a tour before my home visit, and I’m glad I did! All I had to do was tell them I was still waiting for my license but would let them know when I would be able to open,” Erica says. “It was a good opportunity to take a close look at my space.”
Ready to Ace Your Home Inspection?
Each of these four Providers had an excellent home inspection. Still, we should note that every licensor and home inspection is different, so someone else’s experience might not be identical to your own.
But by knowing the regulations, marking off our checklist, and following these 7 tips, we think you’ll be in good shape. So take a deep breath, relax, and start getting your home ready. You got this!