Home Inspections are not multiple choice!

Remember back in school when you were relieved that the upcoming test was multiple choice? Unlike the comforting predictability of multiple-choice tests in school, where strategic guessing could boost your odds of success, home inspections play by a whole different set of rules. While a test might offer a chance to score with educated guesses, professional home inspectors are under the pressure to identify 100% of a property’s issues, often under tight constraints and without the luxury of review.

You Passed!

The reality hits hard with the fact that the pass rate for home inspectors’ state licensing exams stands at 70%. This means an inspector certified with the minimum passing grade could potentially miss out on identifying 30% of the major defects during an inspection. It begs the question of how comfortable homeowners are with this margin of error, especially when the expectation for a home inspection is that an inspector will find 100% of the defects.

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Help your inspector help you

To bridge this gap, home buyers have a role to play in ensuring their inspector has the best shot at a thorough evaluation. Opting for experienced inspectors, minimizing distractions, and ensuring clear access to critical inspection areas are key steps homeowners can take. It’s about creating the ideal conditions for inspectors to deliver their best work, aiming closer to that 100% mark, despite the inherent challenges of the job.

Home buyers can do several things to “run interference” for their inspector. After all, you want them to score 100% right?

Suggestions:

  • Select an experienced inspector or inspection team. We believe that 2 sets of eyes are better than 1. In many cases, we send multiple inspectors to a property.
  • Ask your inspector about their process. Every inspector has their own process. If they don’t explain it to you, feel free to ask what their process is. If an inspector deviates from their standard routine, they may miss something.
  • Give your inspector space. An inspector who is expected to concentrate on the inspection and answer questions at the same time may miss some significant problems. We are believers in letting the inspector do their thing and check in periodically with updates.
  • Ask questions specific to your property. Too often, people like to tell stories about their existing home and ask questions about problems with that property. Stop! Your inspector has enough on their plate with the inspection of your new property.
  • Keep the visitors to a minimum. Ask an inspector what is the biggest distraction that they have at inspections and you will probably hear, “the father-in-law”. This can extend to friends and other relatives who like to show off their knowledge about the home. If you feel that you must bring a trusted advisor, please ask them to follow the same guidelines about asking questions. Let the inspector come to you with updates and ask questions then.
  • Ask that there be no obstructions to the various areas. This is sometimes difficult for a home buyer. If you notice that a property is very cluttered or that access to various areas will be difficult, understand that your inspector is not a furniture mover. In a perfect world, you would ask the owner/occupant to provide access, but we understand that this may not be an option. Specific areas needing access are:
    • Mechanical equipment including furnaces, water heaters and electrical distribution panels
    • Crawlspace and attic entries
    • garages
  • Ask that you have privacy. If a seller is present, this may limit the conversations that you can have at the property. If you are working with a real estate they may be of some assistance with providing space for a private discussion.

Wow, that’s a lot of plates to keep spinning!

Inspectors need to be good at multi-tasking. Keeping track of hundreds of items that are inspected can be daunting work. Nobody will score 100% on their inspection. However, it is reasonable to expect that an inspector will find the major problems, or will recommend that a specialist review certain components.

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In essence, the journey of a building inspection is one that demands meticulousness, not only from the inspectors but also from home buyers, to ensure the safety and integrity of their investment.

How did you score?

Understand that if your inspector misses something there may be a good reason. Would you rather have an inspector who scores 70% or 90%?

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