Buyers present during inspection

In the past I have always encouraged the buyers to be present, however, lately they have been slowing me down and breaking my thought process.

Seems like when I am on the 2nd floor, they immediately want me to come down to the basement to look at something - or vice-versa.


A 2.5 to 3.0 hour inspection is turning into 4 to 4.5 hour inspection because they follow me everywhere and ask a million questions.

I explain to them when I am talking with them on the phone prior to the inspection that the inspection is going to run every bit of 3 hours (I generate a report on-site) and encourge them to show up in the last 20 minutes so I can walk them through the house and show them any problems.
Most say yes, but the ones who say they want to be present are slowing me down - and I feel I should be compensated for the extra time.
Do I need to address this in the pre-inspection agreement?

Patrick C. Girten
Lynchburg Home Inspections
Lynchburg, Virginia

I inform them that I follow a certain logical path so as not to miss anything. I tell them to hold off on their questions until we get to that part of the inspection. Seems to work for me.

You need to take control of your inspections. Have your clients write down any concerns they have and address them at the end of the inspection.

I encourage all of my clients to be there for the entire inspection. When I speak at the first time home buyers seminarrs, I tell all the students to be on the inspection. Too many inspectors cut corners if the client is not there. If they understand what is supposed to take place, they can watch and make sure that the inspector goes into the attic, under the crawl space, and removes electrica panels.

If you feel your insepctions are taking longer, maybe you need to be charging more. Its hard to believe that you spend between one to two hours explaining everything to your clients.

Give them a pad of paper and pen, and ask them to write down all of their questions so that you can answer them at the end of the inspection.

Or give them the Inspection Binder Kit at the beginning of the inspection, with some paper in it and a pen. They can look at the binder and take notes during the inspection. At the end of the inspection, print the report and put it in the binder. They will love it.

Take control of the inspection, be incharge! Explain we are following a path thru the home so we don’t miss anything, if you have questions we’ll address them at the end. Be up front and in control,“we do it this way so we dont miss anything”, use -you want me to be thourough right?. and to agree I did have a couple who thought they could stay all night,( i let everyone in w/my KIM key)sorry folks i’ve got to go!

Prior to you starting your inspection explain your process to your customers. I tell mine that they are free to accompany me along on the inspection or if they prefer we can go over things at the end of the inspection. And giving them a pad of paper for questions and some post it notes is great and also give them a tape measure in case they want to measure windows, rooms or what ever.

Just a note to remember also…

A Client who feels a bonding with you and appreciates
your help will be less likely to sue you later.

People are less likely to sue someone they like and
have a good relationship with.

You are in control. Take control!

You don’t have to be an a$$ about it, just tell them that you will give them all the time they need after your are done.

That you can not make a determination about anything until you finish up, down, inside and out.

Tell them that interference will reduce the quality of the inspection.

I tell them that they are welcome to come at any time and snoop around, but that I will be ignore them till I get done with my work. I tell them they don’t have to come until 2-3 hrs after the start time. Let them know up front, lay down the rules.

I give each client a mini inspection report and pen for them to fill out/write notes in.

Once I am on site I let them know my plan of attack and I will stop to answer any pertinent questions they may have regarding the area of the home I an inspecting at the time.

Any other questions should be written down for when I get to that specific area.
I’ve found this method cuts an hour out of the inspection. May not be ideal for everyone but it’s working for me.

I actually encourage my clients to be there, when they call I interview them on the phone using my inspection intake form and I go over what is to be expected during the inspection, be polite and as others said stay in control. Remember, set the tone for the inspection when you book it so your client knows what to expect.

Good post Peter,

I normally will not perform an inspection without the client being present. I’ve learned over the years that building a relationship with the client during the inspection, prevents an abnormal amount of call backs, explination about the report after the fact and or course most importantly, reduces the chance of an attorney calling me up with bad news. My inspections take longer now days as well. I’ve increased my prices as a result. Todays 1923, 1200’sf single story residence in San Pedro, CA took 3.25 hours to complete and was billed at $395.00…

I agree with Will!!!

I have discussed this with my lawyer and he says that if the client can not attend a post walk through, I should charge a hefty premium!

99% of all potential complaints I have received are from clients that were not there or obviously did not read the damn inspection!

I have the following clause in my inspection agreement. Like I said earlier, I also send them a check list for the pre settlement walk through.

I have been encouraged to participate in the inspection and accept responsibility for incomplete information should I not participate in the inspection. My participation shall be at my own risk for falls, injures, property damage, etc.

I accept that this work is no substitute for a pre-settlement inspection for which I am responsible since damages, mechanical failures, and symptoms, cures, etc, may appear after this work and before my legal acceptance of the property. I wave all claims against the Florida Home Inspection Team Inc. in the absence of diligently performing my pre-settlement inspection and for lack of more extensive investigation and follow through with a specialist on any problems noted including conformation of any cost approximations.

I like having them with me…some more than others of course. I like to think I’m funny, some will disagree, but I think I am. I use this to my advantage, getting my point across w/ humor eases the pain a bit.

I start my inspection by giving the binder and all the materials within, some paper, a pen, and a tape measure. I then tell them, they are welcome to follow me around but they do so at their own risk as I am clumsy and quite likely to step on their toes, hit them w/ doors, and even run them over coming down the stairs as I talk to myself out loud with my eyes closed.

I also mention to them that if they have concerns, wait until we make eye contact and then ask about them. I tell them not to be offended or have their feelings hurt if I tell them we’ll look at that later…most of them just quietly make their list, get bored, and go off by themselves.

I also mention to them that they will get their best inspection if they let me do my job FIRST and then bug the heck out of me because I cannot do 2 things at once…because I have OCD.

These things get chuckles out of most everyone and lightens the mood.

I allow clients to interrupt me at ANY time with ANY question - and I tell them to do so.

It is not MY inspection, it is THEIR inspection - I am just the inspector they chose to do the job.

Nothing I am doing is too complicated that I cannot be interrupted to answer a question and return to what I was doing.

On the phone, I often warn potential clients about inspectors that will give them a tape measure or some other tool/toy to keep them busy so that they don’t ask questions (not a shot at anyone here, just a marketing angle). I tell them that they - and anyone they want to bring - are welcome to attend and ask questions. I am there to provide as much information as I can, so they can make an informed decision. And I make sure to say that I get paid at the end of the inspection, “so you can be sure I will stay with you until your last question - no matter how small - is answered to your satisfaction.”

People appreciate being reminded that this is FOR THEM, and that this is about educating THEM and answering THEIR questions. They feel appreciated, valued, and cared for - and they should.

Does it get me out of rhythm? Occasionally. Does it take longer - oh yeah. But it is THEIR inspection, and I am there at THEIR invitation. I never forget that the client is the most important person at the inspection.

If you are on a clock, maybe it would help to allow more time between inspections, or reconsider on-site reports, or find another time management tool, if it is taking considerable time away from answering client questions.

I have never charged a premium, and I am not sure that it is completely justified.

I have had clients in Berlin, Bejing, and India (also California) all of whom have bought homes virtually sight unseen except for my report. So, for clients who are not present, I take extra photos and arrange for a 1 hour online communication session 2 days after posting the report, at a time and format of their choosing (IM, email, phone, etc) so I can be sure that the get the report, read it, and ask questions if there are any.

Zero complaints from remote clients this way.

I agree with this statement, it is their inspection, however, I ask my clients to reserve questions to the end of each section. For example, After I finish the exterior, we hold a question/answer session. After the roof the same, etc.

This seems to work for me.


Joseph, yes it’s their inspection however if there inability to wait until the end of the inspection where you can make an educated assessment of the property, you are providing more of a disservice to them by allowing them to interrupt you and affect the outcome of the inspection report.

Have you had someone try to sue you yet?
I don’t charge a premium but that’s what my lawyer recommended after we discussed home inspection industry and the obvious observation that when a client does not attend a home inspection they are more apt to file a complaint because they don’t come to know and trust you. The written report, regardless of its length, can never do what a physical walk-through can accomplish. It takes longer to have the client present to the tune of two to three hours in some instances, however it is worth it when you cash out at the end of your career.

Don’t you feel that this extra time warrants an increase in premium?
Time is money. Do you charge the same amount for every inspection regardless of size? Why not?
The increase in premium is not a penalty charge, it’s to cover the inevitable increase in expenses and increase in liability to you.

I see two different lines of thought here.

“My job is to inspect the house.”

My job is to educate the client about the house they are buying."

Ain’t it nice that we can each do it “my” way and market the difference between inspectors and educators.

In short, my lawyer also would like me to use a 25 page contract with hundreds of disclaimers, but we both realize the practical limitations of such, and have agreed to keep it to one page.

Providing the additional service does not add any time, as I would have spent that time on-site answering the same questions (as you indicate). By doing so, I engender the same level of trust, and clients do get to know me, just as if they were at an inspection. No increased time, no increased liability for those reasons - no need for a surcharge.

If I have not had a chance to evaluate an item yet, I say so when asked. If I have, I don’t mind taking a minute to back over and answer what was asked.

I always ask after completing each floor if there are any questions about whatever was on that floor that we covered. But generally they have asked them as they occur, so there are few questions at that time. However, occasionally, someone will think of something out of the blue, and it really takes very little time to go back and answer the question, then continue on.

For the extra 15-20 minutes this can possibly take (almost never takes this much time), I have created an atmosphere where clients know I care about them, want to answer their questions, and they feel encouraged to be active participants.

In the end, it is my goal to make clients feel comfortable using me as a resource - not creating some professional distance so that they feel like they have to raise their hand to ask a question, or wait until I say so.

Everyone handles it differently, of course. Personally, I am pretty relaxed and informal. As an inspector, I am not very rigid, I make the client comfortable and encourage their questions, and I market to this point.

Incidentally, it also tends to takes the “scare factor” out of the inspection process and humanize it, which impresses Realtors, and relaxes clients somewhat so that they listen and understand the information.