Can I attend my home inspection?

Who should attend a home inspection? We are often asked whether a client can attend an inspection. Emphatically, we say yes – under certain conditions.

While there is no “best way” to inspect a home, inspectors have a set process that they like to go through at each inspection. Outside to inside, top to bottom, mechanical systems first are all viable processes for performing a home inspection. The key is that the process must be done with consistency. It is best to let the inspector do it their way without interruption.

Interruptions can be costly

We feel that the inspection is a learning process. Our inspectors like to educate our clients. The interplay between the inspector and other attendees is a valuable learning experience. One item that comes up frequently during inspections is that we are interrupted with various questions from clients, real estate agents, friends and relatives of the buyer, and sometimes homeowners. “When will you be done?” “Is that a big problem?” “Can you tell me what is going on behind the wall?” These are all legitimate questions, but some of these things cannot be determined on the spot. Often, inspectors need to dig deeper to determine how long the inspection is going to take, whether something is a big problem, or what is behind the wall.

Asking the inspector about the attic space while he has his eyes on the electric panel does not work well. When questions arise about a completely different area of the home, it throws the inspector off their game. These types of interruptions can be costly if the inspector addresses those concerns and forgets to get back into their routine.

crowded around web
Too many questions

How can you avoid these costly problems?

For many years, some inspectors have asked their clients to arrive at a specified time after the inspection is underway. Typically, this is 1-1/2 to 2 hours after the start time of the inspection. This may seem a bit extreme, but we can assure you that this process works well for everyone involved and that you will get a more thorough home inspection.

In this scenario the inspector has had an opportunity to “get the lay of the land”, and to assess various areas and systems of the home. When the questions “When will you be done?” “Is that a big problem?” “Can you tell me what is going on behind the wall?” come up, the inspector may already have the answer. More importantly, they can be assured of staying on task and not forgetting things.

Similarly, having too many people at the inspection is a major distraction. People turning lights on and off, operating various pieces of equipment, or running water during an inspection can be a distraction and can actually cause problems. We recall a situation where the mother of the home buyer flushed a toilet while our inspector had a camera in the sewer. When the water spilled out onto the basement floor guess who had to clean up the mess?

removing cleanout cap
Opening up a sewer cap

I have often told inspectors that anything that happens on inspection day is the inspector’s fault. Lights that are left on, water that is left running, or windows left open always seem to come back to the inspector. A piece of advice – take a tour through the house with Uncle Ernie at a different time from the inspection.

Who should attend?

Most important, the buyer should attend. After all, this is your time to learn about your home. In certain circumstances the occupants may need to be at the home. It’s their home, nobody can control whether they stay or go. In addition, real estate agents from both sides of the deal often attend inspections. Beyond that, the list gets small.  In our opinion, this is not the time to bring friends, relatives, contractors, or others who are not party to the transaction. If you plan on a major remodeling project, set up a separate time to visit the home. While other specialty inspectors are certainly welcome at the inspection, we have had situations where the different inspectors get in each other’s way. If you plan to have other inspections going on simultaneously, we urge you to check with everyone ahead of time to make sure it will work for them.

Am I really invited to my inspection?

YES! Inspectors are excited to show their findings. Just be sure to let the inspector do their job without unnecessary interruptions.

Have you ever had a situation where you got sidetracked and forgot to do something important?

By Jamie Dunsing- Professional Inspector since 1989

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