Does a home inspector move things during an inspection?

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Standards of Practice of the two national home inspector associations and the State of Florida give an inspector plenty of leeway as to what they are willing to move or leave alone during an inspection. The key phrase is “readily accessible.” Anything that is not, in the inspector’s opinion, readily accessible can be disclaimed. Here’s the definition used by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).

    The State of Florida’s standards of practice are the most specific about what is not required to be move. It says that “the inspector is not required to move furniture, appliances, lawn and garden equipment, tools, stored items, wall decorations, floor covering, clothing or any items that block the view and access to components or structures."

A Home Inspector’s Predicament And Limitations

    To understand the situation a home inspector faces when deciding whether to move things in a home to get access to the electric panel, for example, picture him standing standing between a buyer who wants the carpet pulled up and the all paintings off the wall so every surface can be examined, and sellers who have their collection of tiny crystal figurines lined up shoulder-to-shoulder on the window sills and the garage piled to the ceiling with packed boxes ready for moving day. 

    Every inspector has their own limit of how much they will move. Things that will take too much time to move and put back, are too heavy, or fragile, stay where they are. Also, the inspector’s previous experience with complaints about items that were, or were not, moved frame their attitude. Ironically, it is in houses where the interior looks like the photo at the top of the page that home inspectors have the most complaints above moving and/or damaging belongings while trying to examine the house. Go figure.

    If an inspector can’t get to a component, or get the seller to move things for access, then it gets disclaimed. We also take photos of disclaimed areas for clarity if there is a dispute about what we should have seen. Because things left uninspected make buyers unhappy, some realtors try to head off the problem by giving the seller a list of key areas that must be clear and ready for the inspector, such as the attic access hatch, doors and windows, plus a working space in the front of the electric panel, water heater, and HVAC system.

    While the Standards of Practice set minimum standards, a home inspector may choose to exceed them, or the inspection may be limited to less than what is outlined in the standards when agreed to by the homebuyer and specified in an inspection agreement. A four-point insurance inspection would be example of a limited inspection. 

    Click on any of the links below to read other articles about what is required to be included, or not, in a home inspection:

AFCI •• Air conditioner •• Ants •• Appliance recalls •• Appliance testing •• Attic •• Awnings •• Barns and ag blgs. •• Bathroom exhaust fan •• Bonding •• Carpet •• Ceiling fans •• Central vacuum •• Chimneys •• Chinese drywall •• Clothes dryer •• Dryer exhaust •• CO alarms •• Code violations •• Condemn a house •• Crawl space •• Detached carport •• Detached garage •• Dishwasher •• Docks •• Doors •• Electrical •• Electrical panel •• Electromagnetic radiation •• Fences •• Fireplaces  Furnace •• Garbage disposal •• Generator •• GFCIs •• Gutters •• Ice maker •• Inspect in the rain •• Insulation •• Insurance •• Interior Finishes •• Grading & drainage •• Lead paint •• Level of thoroughness •• Lift carpet •• Low voltage wiring •• Microwave •• Mold •• Move things •• Help negotiate •• Not allowed •• Outbuildings •• Paint •• Permits •• Pilot lights •• Plumbing •• Plumbing under slab •• Pools •• Questions won't answer •• Radon •• Range/cooktop •• Receptacle outlet •• Refrigerator •• Reinspection •• Remove panel cover •• Repairs •• Repair estimates •• Retaining walls •• Roaches •• Rodents •• Roof •• Screens •• Seawalls •• Septic loading dye test •• Septic tank •• Sewer lines •• Shower pan leak test •• Shutters •• Sinkholes •• Smoke alarms •• Solar panels •• Specify repairs •• Sprinklers •• Termites •• Toilets •• Trees •• Troubleshooting •• Wall air conditioners •• Walk roof •• Washing machine •• Water heater •• Water pressure •• Water shut-offs •• Main water shut-off •• Water softener •• Water treatment systems •• Well •• Windows •• Window/wall air conditioners •• Window blinds •• Wiring 

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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

The home inspector says I have construction defects. How did my home pass inspection by the building department? 

Does the seller have to make a repair requested by the homebuyer, even if the home inspector did not call it out as a defect?

Why do home inspectors sometimes specify "further evaluation and possible repair" instead of a specific repair or replacement?

Does  a homebuyer need to ask the seller's permission to do additional inspections after the initial one?

What is the difference between a structural defect and a cosmetic defect?

Are there any minimum inspection standards that a Florida licensed home inspector must meet?

How can I make sure my house doesn't fail the home inspection? 

Does a home inspector give cost estimates for repairs?

How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection? 

Can you do a home inspection in the rain?

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

Who should pay for the home inspection?

Do I need a home inspection to get insurance?

I can't find a local home inspector. What should I do? 

Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement? 

Should I follow the inspector around during the inspection?

What is a "cosmetic" defect in a home inspection?

What makes a house fail the home inspection?

Should I get a home inspection before signing a contract to buy the house? 

Should I use a contractor or a home inspector to inspect a house I'm buying?

Can a home inspector do repairs to a house after doing the inspection? 

Should I use my realtor's home inspector or choose one myself?

How do devious sellers try to fool the home inspector? 

Do home inspectors go on the roof? Do they get in the attic?

Is it still possible to do a home inspection if there's no electricity or water? 

What is the difference between a building inspector and a home inspector? 

What are the questions a home inspector won't (or shouldn't) answer?

What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?

Should a home inspection scare you? 

What is the best way to negotiate repairs after the home inspection?

Do we really need a home inspection?

What questions should I ask the home inspector during the inspection?

What should I bring to the home inspection? 

Does my home inspection report give me everything I need to evaluate the price of a house?

How can I check to be sure a home inspector is licensed? 

Should I hire an engineer to inspect the house?

What questions should you always ask before hiring a home inspector? 

How can I find out if all the home improvements had a building permit? 

Does a home inspector make sure the house is up to code?

Does the seller have to fix all defects found by a home inspector to sell the house? 

Should a homebuyer be there for the inspection?

Will the home inspector help a homebuyer get the seller to reduce the price of the house? 

Can I do my own home inspection?

Who can do a home inspection in the State of Florida?

What tips do first-time homebuyers need to know to get a better home inspection? 

How can I reduce the risk of an expensive surprise when buying a house sight unseen?

What should I wear to a home inspection? 

What happens at a home inspection?

• What different types of specialized home inspections can I get?

• Is it common for an insurance company to require an inspection? 

• How do I get insurance if my home can't pass a 4-point inspection?

• A neighbor told me that the house I want to buy once had a bad mold problem. It was not in the seller's disclosure. What should I do? 

What repairs are required to be made after a home inspection?

    Visit our HOME INSPECTION and "DOES A HOME INSPECTOR…” pages for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

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