First lets exam what a home inspection is. InterNACHI defines a home inspection as:
“A home inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of the accessible areas of a residential property (as delineated below), performed for a fee, which is designed to identify defects within specific systems and components defined by these Standards that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector. The scope of work may be modified by the Client and Inspector before the inspection process.
I. The home inspection is based on the observations made on the date of the home inspection, and not a prediction of future conditions.
II. The home inspection will not reveal every issue that exists or ever could exist, but only those material defects observed on the date of the inspection.”( https://www.nachi.org/sop.htm, 2020)
Home Inspectors in the field like to describe themselves as a general practitioner/family doctor. Home Inspectors are NOT specialists in plumbing, electrical, heating, cooling, framing, etc. rather Home Inspectors are generalists. Home Inspectors can visually examine components of a household and tell whether something is right or wrong or suspicious in nature. From there the Home Inspector would write their report and refer you to a specialist much like the family doctor would if you were to need a subject matter expert in a specific field of study.
Do I Need To Be There For a Home Inspection?
So do the prospective homeowners need to be on-site during a home inspection? Well, this depends on the inspector and the prospective homeowner. Personally, as a Home Inspector, I do encourage prospective homeowners to attend I however do not recommend the prospective homeowner to be there from the beginning of a home inspection but instead come at the end. I’ll discuss why, I as a Home Inspector, prefer that approach below.
First, let’s talk about time. On average, a home inspection takes anywhere between 2.5 hours to 4 hrs for a house that is a 3 bed 2 bath home with approximately 2000 square feet to inspect. The time can differ depending on the condition of the house, whose accompanying you and if it is vacant or occupied. Because of the length of a home inspection, I don’t recommend prospective buyers meeting me at the beginning of the inspection.
Next, generally, the Home Inspector begins their inspection with the roof. While the home inspection standards of practice do not require getting up on the roof many do if it’s not too steep and is safe. If a Home Inspector does not get on a roof, they are likely still to observe the roof from a ladder, the ground with binoculars, or a camera that can zoom and or even a drone.
If the prospective buyer shows up at the beginning of a home inspection and the inspector does get on the roof, they are likely going to be up there depending on what they find from anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes all the while leaving the buyer on the ground.
Most Home Inspectors’ insurance policies do not cover the Home Inspector should a person, who is not on their payroll falls off the ladder. Because of this many Home Inspectors will not let the home buyer join them on the roof. I try to save the home buyer time and advise them to not show up early as I’ll be on the roof.
Remember earlier when I alluded to it depends on the Home Inspector and the perspective homeowner on whether to be there for a home inspection the entire time. I said that because some Home Inspectors and buyers are just friendly people and want to chat. While there is nothing wrong with that under normal circumstances it can be distracting and that is not ideal when inspecting the most expensive purchase a person makes.
When conducting a home inspection, most inspectors are simultaneously writing their reports along with taking photos and videos. When the Home Inspector is complete their report is mostly done minus some editing and proofreading that they’ll do once back at the office. As a Home Inspector and while still on-site, I like to take the last 30 minutes to an hour of a home inspection and walk around the house pointing out all the major defects in addition to identifying where water cutoffs are and the electrical panel.
At the end of the day, in my opinion, I want my buyers on site but I don’t recommend they attend until the last 30 minutes to an hour of a home inspection which gives me time to do what I do best, inspections.