First, let’s start by defining a home inspection. By definition, it is a visual examination of the readily accessible systems and components of a home. The key word here is accessible. The national standards specify that a home inspector cannot move the current homeowners’ personal property during the inspection. This implies that some things won’t get inspected because they are under and/or behind someone’s personal property. That being the case, I always advise my clients, if they get the opportunity, to do a final walk through before they close on the property after the current homeowner have removed their belongings just to reduce the chance of surprises such as holes in the wall behind a picture or major stains on the carpet under a bed or sofa. While these are technically not considered defects in terms of code or safety violations, it is nonetheless annoying to discover these while you are moving in.
Before the inspection, the client should receive a copy of the home inspector’s pre-inspection agreement. This is basically the home inspection contract that confirms cost of services as well as explains in detail the scope, limitations and exclusions of the home inspection.
Most inspections take around 2 to 4 hours to complete depending on the size and condition of the property. The client is encouraged to attend the home inspection as it is a great opportunity to spend some quality time in the house that you and your family are about to call home. There is no hard fast rule here, some clients prefer to attend the entire time and follow the inspector around which is completely acceptable or just show up at the end so that the inspector can go over their findings with the buyer personally and answer any questions.
Typically, payment is expected at time of the inspection. However, payment can be delayed and included as part of the closing costs for a small fee. In this case, the closing attorney pays the home inspector.
At the conclusion of the home inspection, the inspector will go over what he/she found and answer any questions. The client can expect within a day or two to receive the full detailed report with many digital photos, line drawings, and maintenance advice. The report should contain a summary page detailing any repair or replace items and safety issues that need to be addressed immediately.