How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

Should a homebuyer be there for the inspection?

Sunday, October 21, 2018

If you can, it’s well worth the time, because we can talk with you about both the problems and the good points of the home you’re buying. In the final report, we only review the defects. And, while we also include plenty of photos in your report, there’s nothing that makes things quite as clear as actually examining problem areas with a professional inspector.

   Unfortunately, a real-life home inspection is not as exciting as the shows on HGTV, where the host immediately sees, understands, and explains amazing things about the house as he saunters from room-to-room, then reaches for a Sawz-All to slice away a chunk of wall and show you what’s inside. 

   We can’t cut any holes, pull up flooring, or disassemble anything without incurring the wrath of the seller. Also, tagging along with us at the beginning of the inspection is usually counter-productive: we need to spend some time alone examining the whole house before we can talk to you intelligently about it. That stain in the bedroom ceiling, for example, will typically require a look in the attic and up on the roof before we can understand what’s going on. 

   Plus, house defects are often interconnected. One defect can cause a second defect, which will then create a third problem. A concealed water intrusion area inside a wall, for example, can cause corrosion in an electric receptacle, which makes the receptacle short-out, which causes a circuit-breaker in the panel to trip repeatedly. Investigating the tripped breaker leads us backwards to the concealed water intrusion, one step at a time.

    So please don’t be offended if we ask you to let us have a little time alone with the house (typically about half an hour) before we can begin to talking with you, answering your questions, and walking around and showing you our findings. Some realtors suggest that their customers arrive about a half hour to an hour after the beginning of the inspection, so that the inspectors will be well-oriented to the home and ready to talk with you--and we think that’s a great idea. Of course, if you are planning on doing some measurements for your furniture placement while at the inspection, the first half-hour is a good time to do that, too.

     If your work or travel schedule makes it impossible to be at the inspection, be sure to let us know, because then we want to talk with you beforehand about any special concerns you have, things you saw that we should investigate further, photos you want us to send you, your remodeling ideas, and anything else you want us to know about the house. 

    Also, see our blog post How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection?

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  To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

How thorough is a home inspector required to be when inspecting a house?

Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement?

Can I do my own home inspection?

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole? 

The seller gave me a report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector? 

If we already looked at the house very carefully, do we still need a home inspection?

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1940s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s house?

• What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property? 

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been moved?

What do I need to know about buying a foreclosure? 

What should I look for when buying a former rental house?  

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

What should I look for when buying a house that is being "flipped" by an investor seller? 

What do I need to know about a condo inspection?

What are the "Aging In Place" features to look for when buying a retirement home?

   Visit our HOME INSPECTION page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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