Who should attend a home inspection?
You should attend the home inspection, if you’re the buyer. You’ll get so much more out of the process if you attend the inspection and follow your home inspector around the entire time.
There are certainly a wide variety of opinions on this subject, but I firmly believe that you as the buyer should attend the home inspection, and follow your home inspector the entire time. The inspection is your best chance to learn about the house, which is a very big part of what the inspection should be about.
We understand an awful lot about the way people learn. Doing an online search for “modes of learning” will bring up page after page of results that describe basically four modes of learning: visual, auditory, read/write, and hands on (kinaesthetic). To maximize what they learn about the house most people will need to use as many of these modes as possible. So it’s not enough to just read the inspection report – that’s not the best way to learn. You have to see (and maybe touch and hear) the house too. That’s the benefit of participating in the home inspection.
With many of the issues that your inspector will point out there are subtleties that just can’t be expressed by a written report or even by a quick recap during the last 30 minutes of the inspection time. Can you show me the problem so that I can understand it? Is this defect common? Is it an easy fix? Who’s the best person to make repairs? Was this done wrong or is it just a case of age and deterioration? Why is this even a problem? Can you explain why it’s a problem?
Some home inspectors (and some real estate agents) don’t want their clients to participate in the inspection, but I think this is the wrong approach. The things I tell my clients during the inspection are often the most valuable part of the whole process, because I can explain things and get immediate feedback that my client understands the issue and is comfortable with what I’ve told them.
So in my opinion a home inspector who doesn’t want his or her client to participate in the inspection is depriving them of some of the best information about the house. And that’s no way to run a home inspection business.
If your inspector doesn’t want you to attend until the end of the inspection then maybe you should find another inspector – an inspector who wants you to participate. If your inspector wants to put on headphones and ignore you while he goes about his business then maybe you should find another inspector – an inspector who wants to interact with you. If your inspector thinks that you’re bothering him or her by asking questions then maybe you should find another inspector – one who is happy to teach you about the house.
Your real estate agent should attend the inspection also. Often times they’re the ones to open the lockbox and provide access to the house. But it’s also typical that you’ll want to confer with them about issues, and it’s also a good idea for them to understand any issues that you might want resolved before continuing with the purchase. And it’s good for the agent to understand the important problems also.
How about family members? Many times there are extended family members who haven’t seen the house and think that this is their chance. That’s fine, but a home purchase is a very big (maybe enormous) transaction and I urge you to not let family members interfere with you (as the buyer) participating in the inspection. So if family members attend make sure that they understand your attention will be focused elsewhere.
Your attention should be focused on the house and your home inspection. It’s the best way for you to learn about the house.