Featuring America's Home Inspector: Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Barry Stone

The House Detective:  by Barry Stone, Certified Home Inspector

Dear Barry:  Our home inspection is scheduled for next week. This is the first time we’ve bought a home, and we’re not sure what to do and what not to do. Our agent says it’s not important for us to attend the inspection, that we should just wait for the report. But we’re uncomfortable with that advice. There are so many things we want to ask the inspector. What do you recommend?  Annamarie

Dear Annamarie: Your agent is not giving you good advice. The importance of attending your home inspection cannot be emphasized too strongly.

Too many homebuyers miss a great opportunity by being present at their home inspection.  Sometimes this is unavoidable, due to geographical distance.  But whenever possible, buyers are strongly urged to participate in the inspection process.  Being on site during the inspection, viewing specific conditions in person, consulting with the inspector, asking questions, and obtaining advice greatly magnify the benefits to you, the buyer.

A home inspection is a fact-finding mission in which the inspector is your hired advocate. You and the inspector should jointly engage in the discovery process.  Both of you are there for the same reason – to learn as much as possible about the condition of the property.

Prior to the inspection, most buyers make a purchase offer based upon a 15-minute walk-through or run-through.  At that point, they know very little about a very expensive commodity.  The home inspection provides buyers their only opportunity to slowly and methodically view and consider the object of their investment.  During the inspection, they have hours to voice questions and concerns as they evaluate their prospective purchase.  Buyers have even been known to discover defects the inspector might otherwise have missed.

Buyer attendance also enables the inspector to explain the meaning and importance of each condition noted in the inspection report.  When buyers are not present at the inspection, conditions noted in the report must be read and interpreted without explanation.  Lacking a verbal review of the findings, a buyer may over-react to minor disclosures, while failing to appreciate the importance of more serious ones.  The on-site review provided by your inspector may be the most informative aspect of the entire home inspection process.  When circumstances prevent buyers from attending the inspection, a telephone conference with the inspector is strongly advised.