The home inspection process sounds simple on paper but can be a huge deal in the process of buying a house . . . between scheduling within the contingency period, dealing with the issues on the report, what (if any) issues will hinder the sale of the house, and of course our ongoing COVID-19 visitor. On top of all this, there are the long inspection sessions and long reports that follow suit. You can expect an average inspection to last around 3.0 to 3.5 hours in length depending on the size of the house, age of the home, conditions, etc. The reports that are produced can be 40 pages or more as well. Sounds pretty standard, right? BUT there are things during the actual inspection process that can slow things down and lead to a delay that the process can ill afford. Let’s visit some common issues that I have experienced in my journey through the real estate galaxy.
Issue 1: Attic Access
As a home inspector, I inspect many features of the home. One of the more important things I invest my time in is the attic. This lets me view the underside of the roof, insulation, plumbing, electric items and such. The attic is a valuable area to see possible leaks from the roof and any other issues that can be devastating if not taken care of or prevented. The issue I face is access into the attic. Here are a few things that will help an inspector proceed with ease into the attic:
- Pathway. When I look around and see the access in a closet, personal items like clothes make it difficult to get into. Inspectors rely on personal belongings being cleared away for us to inspect the home. This alleviates any liability of us damaging/hurting your items. It can also be time consuming to move items back and forth.
- Insulation. When I open the access panel into the attic, I swear that at least 90 percent of the time a little amount of insulation falls down. This isn’t a big deal for me as I can brush myself off, but the issue can be a problem if it gets on clothes. Attic insulation is made of fiberglass and can be itchy and accumulate dust. Yes, we put down drop cloths to protect things as much as possible, but it can still get everywhere regardless.
Please make sure all items are moved away from the attic access.
Issue 2: Utilities and Access
I know the moving process can be quite a triumph, but another part of the inspection that is quite important is the inspection of utilities. The rule of thumb is to have about 30 inches of clearance around any utilities (water heater, heating/AC, electric panel). Not only is it the ease of inspecting, but it can also be a safety hazard (tripping, proper movement, etc.).
Issue 3: Vacant Houses and Shut Off Valves
Vacant houses can have things shut off at times — toilets, sinks, water heaters and even the whole house. I understand why you want to make sure things aren’t running up the electric/gas bill, and you want to prevent a toilet from running constantly when nobody is in the home. Does the following line used quite frequently by an inspector sound familiar and annoying . . . “I can’t turn that valve on due to safety/liability reasons”. Believe it or not, there IS a good reason for that statement, and it happens more often than you think . . . leaks. Yes, it happens. I used to do plumbing work as a licensed contractor, and valves/pipes are very finicky at times. Sometimes when plumbing items like valves, pipes and fittings do not get used normally and sit for long periods of time, that can contribute to leaks. This includes gas as well.
Please make sure all utilities are on and hooked up as much as possible so there won’t need to be a reinspection if they are off.
Issue 4: Locks Being Locked
Locks being locked can interrupt the inspection process and cause the inspector and respective party to wait or even have to come back during another visit . . . and that could cost a reinsepction fee. If this happens it can add time and more work needed to the inspection process.
Please make sure all locks are unlocked for the inspector during the inspection time.
Issue 5: Pets
I understand that moving can be a trial, and sometimes it’s best to keep pets in the home I’ll be inspecting. However, please keep any animals away as much as possible. I know cats are pretty self-sustaining when it comes to being in you home; however, letting them out is a liability even if they’re “outside cats”. I try to be as conscious as I can to keep doors closed behind me when I inspect, but there’s always a risk of cats or other animals leaving the home.
These are the major issues that I think if addressed can make the inspection process easier, quicker and less of a hassle. This is especially important for our listing agents and the sellers.
Thanks for listening, and stay safe my friends.
Zach DeAugustine, Mirkwood Home Inspections, LLC
Facts, opinions and information expressed in the Closing Comments Blog represent the work of the author and are believed to be accurate, but are not guaranteed. The Lancaster County Association of Realtors® is not liable for any potential errors, omissions or outdated information. If errors are noted within a post, please notify the Association. Posts represent the author’s opinion and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association.