The Home Seller’s Guide to Professional Home Inspection
Bob Vaught (602) 290-5904
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
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
adversely affecting or that have the potential to adversely affect
the normally intended function or operation of those systems and
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
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’ll 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’ll examine the eave gutters, downspouts, chimneys,
grading, drainage, driveways, walkways, porches, decks, balconies,
patios, exterior wall claddings, and other exterior components.
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, in some instances, removal of heating and
cooling equipment access panels to permit closer examination of
interior components. They’ll
inspect solid-fuel heating appliances such as wood stoves and
may enter under-building crawl spaces and attic spaces; open
closets, cabinets, and cupboards; and enter and inspect every room
of the home including garages and the function of automatic garage
professional home inspection of a typical home may take from two to
four hours and it’s customary for the buyer to accompany the
inspector for part, if not all, of the inspection.
Will I receive a copy of the
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’s their report.
Unless they authorize release of the report to other parties,
only customers are provided with the report.
Can my home “fail” the
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 some others.
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
Should I be present during the
While it may not
always be practical, it’s 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’re 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’s 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
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?
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
Ground fault interrupter type electrical receptacle
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.)
Take measures to kennel, cage, or otherwise remove pets that cannot be let out, that may harm the inspector or others present at the inspection, or that may be harmed by the inspection.
All space heating
and water heating equipment should be operational (this means that
standing pilot lights must be lit and fuel gas valving must be on)
and all systems (water, gas, and electrical) should be on. If the inspector finds electrical circuit breakers in the off
position, standing pilot lights unlit, gas valves, water stops, or
main water supply valves shut off or other essential or major
component controls disabled, the inspector will assume that they are
in such condition for a reason and the written report will state
that they are inoperable.
If the inspector
operates a light switch for a permanently installed light fixture
and the fixture has a burned out light bulb or no light bulb at all,
the inspection report will state that the light was inoperable and
will recommend further evaluation by a qualified electrician.
To avoid this, replace burned out light bulbs or missing
light bulbs in permanent light fixtures before the inspection.
Clean eave gutters
and properly extended downspouts, a roof that’s in good repair, a
clean furnace/air-conditioning system filter, proper labeling of all
of the circuits in the electrical panel, and having intact cover
plates on all electrical switches and receptacle outlets are among
the things that reduce the number of conditions an inspector will
have to include in the report.
drill sergeants and, while they’re not there to perform a military
“white glove” inspection, an environment that’s neat and easy
to move about in will present your home’s “best face” to the
buyer and will make the entire inspection process more enjoyable for
What about after the inspection?
Sit back and relax.
Your agent or representative will assist you in the process
after the inspection. Remember,
competent professional home inspectors provide their customers with
unbiased and clear information.
They put the conditions noted in the course of their
inspections in perspective. This
allows buyers to make calm and informed decisions about the
information in the inspection report.
Experience has shown that most buyers aren’t obsessive
there are significant conditions which require immediate
modifications or corrective measures, they typically understand that
your home is where people just like them live and they anticipate a
reasonable amount “normal wear and tear” and minor deferred
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