Reuben's Home Inspection Blog


The Buyer Should Be There

The question I get from home buyers that always makes me chuckle: "Can I be there for part of the inspection?"  

I want the buyer there for the whole thing!  Whenever possible.   It allows me to focus on their particular concerns, it lets me tailor the report to their needs, and it helps them to understand everything a little better.

Client Concerns    I encourage my clients to attend the entire inspection so we can go through everything together.  I try to give myself a quick tour of the house and inspect the roof before my clients show up.  This eliminates some  'down time' for my client.  After that, we talk about any particular concerns they have with the house, and I try to get a sense of what's important to them... the stuff they might not know to tell me.  Some clients are very concerned that the house is safe for children, some are concerned with security,  others are planning a big remodel and don't care if the windows in the back of the house are rotted. 

The Report  Having my client attend the inspection helps me to write a much more customized report.  I make suggestions about ways to fix things,  and sometimes I suggest upgrades they could do to the house.  My clients will often ask me to put those recommendations in the report, and I also include hyperlinks in my reports to web sites if I know what my clients are interested in.  For instance, just yesterday I inspected a home for a client who was thinking about replacing his entire boiler system with a forced air furnace, so I included a link in his report to my blog about furnaces vs boilers.  

When my client's don't attend the inspection, I end up having to write a report with my pickiest client in mind - you know, the person that expects every house to be perfect, and gets worried about hairline cracks in the basement floor.  I end up taking photos of a lot of things that aren't problems and I document that they aren't problems, because it saves worried phone calls later.  A good example is something call ‘checking' in old wood beams, which is something that happens to old timbers as they dry out.   If my clients aren't there to go through everything with me, they might confuse the checking with ‘cracks' in their wood beams and think it's a structural defect, when it's really just something that happens to wood over time, and has no effect on the structural integrity.

Understanding   When my clients attend the inspection, we talk about the importance of repairs.  Some problems have little impact on the home as a whole, such as a rotted storm door or a deteriorated driveway.  On the other hand, a disconnected furnace vent in the attic is a SERIOUS defect that could cause a ridiculous amount of damage over a period of just one heating season.  Without discussing these items or seeing them firsthand, it's difficult for buyers to prioritize these repairs.  

If you schedule an inspection and the inspector doesn't want you to attend, this is a big red flag.  Find another inspector.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections - Email - Detailed Buyers Inspections

RELATED POST:  Should Agents Attend The Inspection?

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections


Comment balloon 12 commentsReuben Saltzman • August 11 2009 06:18AM


It always cracks me up too. I get that from first time buyers allot and I'm sure you do too. Its your inspection and please wear old clothes.

Posted by Chip Jefferson (Gibbs Realty and Auction Company) almost 11 years ago

I don't want JUST the buyer there...we require the AGENT to be there as well...letting buyers wander thru with only an inspector and no does one begin to address an ammendment for an inspection you didn't bother to attend ?

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 11 years ago

Reuben, I also ask the client to be present. I understand that sometime s this can not happen. I have a lot of vacation property around me, so I do alot of business for out of state clients. They can not always be here. But, if my client is local, I insist on their presence on a home inspection. Like you said, it gives you a better feel for report writing time.

Posted by Ian Niquette (Square One Home Inspection) almost 11 years ago

Laura - great point about old clothes.  I try to remember to tell my clients to bring big boots in the winter, and to dress warm!

Sally and David - I wrote a blog about agents attending the inspection a few months ago.  I'm going to edit my post to include that link.

Ian - Isn't it funny how it can sometimes actually take LONGER when the client isn't there?

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 11 years ago

Reuben, I could have written what you did word for word pretty much:)  Very important.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Reuben:  Hmmm.... good inspectors want to do a better job for their clients.... that is weird.  Thanks for the post.

One thing that I have noticed it that some agents tell my clients to show up at the end of the inspection.  I guess they are used to the sub-par inspections that other, so called inspectors do around here.

Posted by Jim Allhiser, Salem, Oregon Home Inspector (Perfection Inspection, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Reuben, Good points and I always insist the client attend if at all possible. I have found not all agents attended the entire inspection. These are the agents I don't work with, but are from clients who find me on their own. Like Sally and David said the agent needs to attend to be able to best address the issues with the sellers agent.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 11 years ago

Charles - I'm glad we're on the same page!

Jim - I've had a lot of agent insist that their clients don't attend the whole thing, and we really just don't do business any more.

James - I'd say about half the agents I work with don't attend the inspection, because they don't want to somehow 'influence' my findings, or say something at the inspection that could get themselves in trouble.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 11 years ago

Hey, Reuben - I'm curious as to how you "tailor the report to their needs." I want my Clients there just so they can see how hard I work for them.

Posted by Not a real person almost 11 years ago

I like to ask the client if they have any questions before I begin. I would say that typically they have viewed the home at least twice already and may have found some areas of concern that, if I didn't ask them if they had questions, they would just wait to see it in the report. This is a great opportunity to make them feel like they are a part of the process. Not just tagging along. It's also another way to make sure you are doing a more thorough job, which is what we all strive for.

It also gives you another opportunity to manage their expectations if what they are concerned about is beyond the scope of a home inspection.

Posted by Scott Hand (Streamline Kids) almost 11 years ago

Russel - Here's one quick example of how I tailor my reports: I inspected a house for a woman who was very concerned about security.  I included comments about security in the summary of the report and I was pickier about looking at the window locks and door locks.  Normally I don't say much about that stuff in my reports.  

Don't get me wrong, I like having my customers know how hard I work for them too, but I think part of that might just be ego...

Scott - great points.  It's funny how so many customers don't really know what their concerns are until you start talking with them.  The customer I referred to above, who was concerned with security, didn't have any conderns at the beginning of the inspection.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 11 years ago

There's always a few who just can't or don't want to be there.  They don't see the importance of the knowledge and better understading of the property gained by being there.  Those are usually the trouble ones, too.

A lot of questions.

I prefer them not just to attend but to participate in looking for stuff too!


Posted by Erby Crofutt, The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY (B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing ( almost 11 years ago