One of the questions we are asked on a regular basis by home buyers is “Should you attend the home inspection?”
For our pre-purchase home inspections, we highly recommend that all buyers attend and engage with the inspector to understand the condition of the home. There are a number of reasons this is helpful and important to do.
Understanding What You Are Investing In
This is probably the most obvious answer to the question ‘should you attend the home inspection’. The purchase of a home is most likely the largest single investment each of us will ever make.
As this article is being written, according to a report from the Colorado Association of Realtors, the average single-family residential home sale price topped $650,000 in 2021. With inventory levels remaining tight, finding the house of your dreams is getting really difficult.
There is no end in sight to the market remaining tilted in the seller’s favor. Almost every listing that comes up on the market goes under contract very quickly. In a market like this, with limited choices and high prices, and the need to move very quickly to get a home under contract, the home inspection becomes an extremely important part of the purchase process. Really knowing the condition of the home and what you are investing in is critical.
During the home inspection, the inspector will be checking all areas and systems of the home to determine the general condition and will identify areas of concern.
Our inspectors follow the American Society of Home Inspector (ASHI) Standard of Practice when evaluating a home. This set of standards guides an inspector on what systems to check, how to inspect, what areas to report on, and how to address areas of the home that were not inspected.
The results of a home inspection is a written report of findings, typically emailed electronically to the home buyer after the inspection.
When present during all or a portion of the home inspection, a home buyer will have a chance to hear first-hand from the inspector the key results and areas of concern noted.
The inspector will walk you through the home and review areas of significant concern that are recommended to be addressed. These results allow the home buyer and his/her agent to understand what you are investing in and what future investments in money or time will be needed to improve the condition of the home.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
One of the best reasons to be present for the home inspection is to see firsthand the concerns discovered by the inspector. The areas of concern identified will be noted within the inspection report, and pictures of the concern will be included in the report.
However, seeing things first hand and truly understanding the context and perspective of the concern is important. And most importantly, being able to ask questions to the inspector to fully understand the scope of the concern.
Many items noted during an inspection may be maintenance-type items, while others may represent deferred maintenance and age-related concerns. On occasion, the item discovered may represent a more significant repair item.
Seeing things in person and being able to talk through the concern can help a home buyer to really understand things for themselves. There are times when a specialist contractor may need to be brought in to provide a repair estimate or help to clarify the scope of work needed to address a concern. Being able to properly relay the concern to the contractor is possible when you have seen things first-hand.
Being present for the inspection or the inspection summary helps to put the items noted within the inspection report into proper context. When reviewing the written report later, you have a solid understanding of each concern and item noted.
The presentation of the findings within an organized and easily readable report is also important. Viewing a sample home inspection report from your inspector can be helpful to know generally how things will be presented in your report.
Knowing How to Operate Your Home
Another important item that your home inspector will review with you, is the location of all the main shut-off valves in the home. Knowing how to turn off the water supply, turn off gas valves, and where the main electrical disconnect is located is really important as a homeowner.
Our home inspectors will locate these items and add them to the inspection report, but seeing them firsthand is helpful in the event of an emergency situation in the future.
Additionally, if there is a forced-air furnace present, the inspector can show you where the furnace filter is located and how to replace the filter. Other general items such as controls for garage doors, location of thermostats, and any unique items related to controlling and operating the home can be reviewed.
When Should You Attend the Home Inspection?
Based upon our years of experience inspecting homes, in general, we recommend that a home buyer attend the last hour of the inspection. Generally, home inspections can take 2-4 hours to complete, depending on the age and size of the home.
Allowing the home inspector to do their work and inspect all the systems and areas of a home, and document the conditions, without interruption is generally the best approach. By attending in the final hour of the inspection, you have some time to look around the home while the inspector is wrapping up the last items. Then when ready, the inspector can present a summary of the findings and do a walk-around to view areas of concern.
This approach is the most successful in our experience. Naturally, some home buyers want to attend the entire inspection and walk around with the inspector while he or she is working and inspecting. This process also can work well and allows the home buyer to view the findings as the inspector does, and to discuss each item as you go through the home.
In either case, we highly recommend that the attendees of the home inspection be limited to the primary home buyers. This allows you and the inspector to view and discuss the results of the inspection in a focused manner.
As inspectors, we have seen home buyers bring along children, parents, fathers, contractors, builders, and an array of people with them to the inspection. We understand the excitement of seeing your future home and showing it off to family, or obtaining the perspective or advice of a trusted family member or contractor.
However, the more people present during the inspection process, the more the risk of distraction from your complete understanding of the home’s condition.
Buying a home can be an exciting time, yet also a stressful time for many. Aside from the investment being made, this will also be your home where you care for and raise a family. Knowing the condition of the home prior to purchasing is critical to feeling good about your decision and knowing what you are purchasing.
Take the time needed to attend the inspection and engage with the home inspector. Being an informed buyer has never been more important. Let the Team at Scott Home Inspection help guide you through this critical step in the home buying process.
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George founded Scott Home Inspection in 2006, and has grown the business into a multi-inspector firm serving the Colorado Front Range, from Fort Collins down to Colorado Springs. As an ASHI Certified Home Inspector and Certified Energy Rater, George is an excellent resource to help with inspection and energy-related requirements.