Updated: Mar 9, 2022
Should a prospective home buyer attend the home inspection? Let me make it clear that as a home inspector I want my clients to be a part of the inspection process. I think its critical that they have the opportunity to see the property's deficiencies first-hand and to learn about how to maintain their new home. But, should the buyers attend the entire inspection from start to finish and shadow the inspector? I feel there are several reasons this is not a good process, and I can suggest a better way.
First, take a minute to understand what is being asked of a home inspector. The expectation is that the inspector will evaluate an entire home and all of its systems in a very short period of time, 2-4 hours in most cases. To do this, the inspector must take scrupulous notes and numerous pictures in order to properly document these conditions and make appropriate recommendations for repairs. In order to accomplish this task an inspector needs to be efficient and focused.
Here are several reason I feel that it is not in the client's best interest to attend the entire inspection:
Clients, real estate agents, family, friends, contractors, and whoever else attends the inspection can be a major distraction to the inspector. They tend to
divert the attention of the inspector away from their primary task - inspecting the home. The primary goal of the inspector is to identify any major conditions with a building. These distractions increase the likelihood that a major defect will be missed.
Most inspectors have developed a "flow". This is a process they have developed that allows them to efficiently move through a home and conduct a thorough inspection in a timely manner. The clients' excitement (or nervousness) has a tendency to be distracting. This leads to more starting and stopping, and usually results in a longer and less productive inspection.
3. It Creates More Buyer Stress
As an inspector, I can tell you the inspection process is mentally and physically tiring, if its done correctly. In my experience, buyers who attend the entire home inspection tend to feel more overwhelmed by the condition of the property. I think this is because there is a cumulative affect on their mood after seeing 30-50 issues with their new home. Despite the fact that only a few of these issues are typically considered "major", buyers are trying to retain and interpret a ton of information in a short period of time. It's stressful.
I feel there is a better way to conduct the home inspection that will benefit the inspector, the client, and the realtor. I believe the best process is to provide a dedicated inspection time and a dedicated consultation time. On a typical inspection lasting three hours, this would allow the inspector two hours to perform the inspection. This would give the inspector the ability to devote 100% of their attention to the home, resulting in a more efficient and thorough inspection. The client and their agent would be scheduled to arrive at the beginning of the third hour. This final hour is devoted solely to walking through the home, discussing any major concerns, talking about maintenance, and answering any questions.
I think this process results in a more thorough inspection, because the inspector is provided adequate time to perform his/her duties without distractions. I believe it is a more efficient process for all parties, as it takes less time out of the clients' and realtors' schedule. They are able to absorb the same amount of useful information in a shorter period of time. The inspector is better equipped to handle questions and concerns, because they have had sufficient time to evaluate the conditions, and are not attempting to address questions on the fly. Lastly, I believe the process is less stressful and tiring for clients and realtors for several reasons. The inspection takes less time out of busy schedules. There is a more focused attention on the truly major issues, and less cumulative affect from the inspection process. I believe this will create a better all-around experience for all parties.
Author: Ernest Homer, Homer Inspection Services