The question I get from home buyers that always makes me chuckle: “Can I be there for part of the inspection?” I want the buyer there for the whole thing. Whenever possible. It allows me to focus on their particular concerns, it lets me tailor the report to their needs, and it helps them to understand everything a little better.
I encourage my clients to attend the entire inspection so we can go through everything together. I try to give myself a quick tour of the house and inspect the roof before my clients show up. This eliminates some ‘down time’ for my client. After that, we talk about any particular concerns they have with the house, and I try to get a sense of what’s important to them… the stuff they might not know to tell me. Some clients are very concerned that the house is safe for children, some are concerned with security, others are planning a big remodel and don’t care if the windows in the back of the house are rotted.
Having my client attend the inspection helps me to write a much more customized report. I make suggestions about ways to fix things, and sometimes I suggest upgrades they could do to the house. My clients will often ask me to put those recommendations in the report, and I also include hyperlinks in my reports to web sites if I know what my clients are interested in. For instance, just yesterday I inspected a home for a client who was thinking about replacing his entire boiler system with a forced air furnace, so I included a link in his report to my blog about furnaces vs boilers.
When my clients don’t attend the inspection, I end up having to write a report with my pickiest client in mind – you know, the person that expects every house to be perfect, and gets worried about hairline cracks in the basement floor. I end up taking photos of a lot of things that aren’t problems and I document that they aren’t problems, because it saves worried phone calls later. A good example is something call ‘checking’ in old wood beams, which is something that happens to old timbers as they dry out. If my clients aren’t there to go through everything with me, they might confuse the checking with ‘cracks’ in their wood beams and think it’s a structural defect, when it’s really just something that happens to wood over time, and has no effect on the structural integrity.
When my clients attend the inspection, we talk about the importance of repairs. Some problems have little impact on the home as a whole, such as a rotted storm door or a deteriorated driveway. On the other hand, a disconnected furnace vent in the attic is a serious defect that could cause a ridiculous amount of damage over a period of just one heating season. Without discussing these items or seeing them firsthand, it’s difficult for buyers to prioritize these repairs.
If you schedule an inspection and the inspector doesn’t want you to attend, this is a big red flag. Find another inspector.