This guide will help make the process of having your home inspected as easy and smooth as possible by answering the most commonly asked questions about home inspection and by providing helpful information on how to prepare your home to be inspected.
What is a professional home inspection?
A professional home inspection is a primarily visual examination of the visible, safely accessible and readily accessible components of the interior, exterior, structural, roof, electrical, heating, cooling, and plumbing systems of a home for conditions that are currently affecting the normally intended function or operation of those systems and their components. The information that’s developed from the inspection is documented in a written report along with recommendations for appropriate actions to address the conditions noted in the report and the report presented to the inspector’s customer. The written report will also describe locations of main water, gas, and electrical shut- offs as well as certain materials and methods of installation and construction used in the home. In the course of performing the inspection the inspector will typically give the home buyer maintenance information to assist them in caring for and getting the most out of, what will soon be, their new home. Some professional home inspectors also include the kitchen appliances in their inspections and some provide other services such as testing for radon gas, swimming pool inspection, and mold testing.
What does an inspector do?
While each inspector will bring a unique point of view to an inspection, all professional home inspectors cover the same areas. They will inspect the exterior including walking the roof to inspect the roof covering materials and the other components above the roof line when it’s safe to do so. They will examine the eave gutters, downspouts, chimneys, grading, drainage, driveways, walkways, porches, decks, balconies, patios, exterior wall claddings, and other exterior components.
They will inspect the plumbing, electrical, heating, and cooling systems including the operation of plumbing fixtures and water heaters. Inspectors examine the interiors of electrical system main and sub distribution panels and the operation of heating and cooling equipment including, removal of heating and cooling equipment access panels to permit closer examination of interior components. They will inspect solid-fuel heating appliances such as wood stoves and fireplaces. Inspectors may enter under-building crawl spaces and attic spaces, open closets, cabinets, and cupboards. Also enter and inspect every room of the home including garages and the function of automatic garage door openers.
Will I receive a copy of the inspection report?
Typically the home seller will not get a copy of the report. The inspection and report are the property of the party paying for the inspection. If this is the buyer, then it is their report. Unless they authorize release of the report to other parties, only customers are provided with the report by the inspection company.
Can my home “fail” the inspection?
Homes don’t “pass” or fail” inspections. Homes speak for themselves and a good inspector knows how to listen and what to listen for. The inspection report simply documents the conditions noted in the course of the inspection and provides recommendations for appropriate actions to address those conditions. Depending on what the inspector finds, the inspector’s recommendations may range from simply monitoring some conditions to addressing others as normal maintenance items to recommending immediate attention for other items. However, a professional home inspector is a disinterested third party and does not get involved in any negotiations between buyers and sellers and does not assign responsibility to either buyers or sellers regarding who is responsible for any recommended corrective measures.
Should I be present during the inspection?
It is better for sellers and occupants to be away during the inspection and, in most cases, sellers or occupants are not present during the inspection. The inspection is the buyer’s time to really become familiar with the home under the guidance of the inspector. Buyers typically feel more at ease when they are free to ask the inspector questions or to make comments and observations in an uninhibited atmosphere. If you need to leave special instructions for the inspector, they are best communicated through your agent or you can leave written instructions for the inspector.
If you must be home during the inspection, keep in mind that the buyer is paying for the inspector’s time and expertise. Following along or “chatting” with the inspector or the buyer consumes their time and it may make the buyer uncomfortable. It is always best if you go about your normal daily routine and allow the inspector and the buyer to proceed through the house unaccompanied and uninterrupted from start to finish.
Can I get my home ready for an inspection?
By all means! Not only can a home be prepared for an inspection, it should be prepared for an inspection. When your home is properly prepared for an inspection, everyone benefits. It makes it easier for the inspector, reduces the time required to conduct the inspection, and shows consideration for the buyer’s time as well. The results are not only fewer headaches for the inspector but also fewer disruptions and less inconvenience for you.
What should I do to prepare my home for an inspection?
Remove obstacles that may block the inspector’s access to the following:
-Heating and cooling equipment
-Under-building crawl space access
-Attic space access (this includes removing clothing and other personal property which may impede access through a closet or garage)
-Ground fault interrupter type electrical receptacle outlets
-Ranges and ovens
-Interior areas including garages and basements
-Any locked item or area (remove locks, unlock doors and gates, or provide keys or other means of access so that the inspector can have access to yards and can open electrical panels, storage rooms, etc.)