How do you look to help ensure no misses?

If you’re standing in a cluttered room, or at the exterior where there’s a lot of visual distractions, do you have a specific method for looking over the entire area you’re facing that helps to ensure that you won’t look right past something significant?


  • Looking section by section;
  • Looking for specific types of things
  • Left to right, top to bottom

Not sure what you mean as I look at the walls ,floor and ceiling.The objects never really distract me as I simply can not see through them.

They distract only in consumed time of getting around them.

Think of a typical kitchen which has a range but you need to see the gas line or a fridge and you want to see the waterline or a micro hood and you need to see if there is a vent and receptacle in the upper half cabinet.

Experience lets you know where things are and what you need to see according to the location and situation.

First off if it’s a really cluttered room I’ll probably shoot a picture.
Wouldn’t go in report but I’d have it for later to show I couldn’t fully inspect that area.
Particularly important in a garage or basement.

There would be a brief comment in the report about stored personal items preventing a complete inspection…

As far as not missing anything, at this point just experience and of course I have a pattern I go by that is repeated on every inspection whether the house is 1K sq. ft. or 6K sq. ft.

Do you mean like this? I just take a pic and dig around with a long thin screw driver.

Same routine every time. If there’s to many stored items to view area, take pic put in report section. I think same routine is the most important thing to limit “misses”.

I don’t really mean misses in general, I mean like in a crawlspace when you’re faced with floor sheathing, joists, girders, posts, post and exterior foundation, maybe several different plumbing supply and drain pipe materials, various plumbing connections, components, and supports, abandoned pipes, electrical (both active and improperly terminated), gas, soil cover, sump pump, radon mitigation system,etc.

So you’re looking at layers of things especially when you look up. Do you look at each entire system separately? Go section by section looking at all components in each section before moving on to the next section? Kneel there on the concrete scrap and rocks and stare, thinking about how much more you like inspecting home with slabs instead of crawlspaces?

The purpose of this post is to help newer inspectors who are confronted with all this stuff and aren’t sure how to make sense of it all and not miss anything without taking a long, long time.

I take a lot of pictures, try to move camera in 360 pattern and then sort thing out back at the office in addition to what I saw.

All depends on the type of thinker/processor you are. I generally take many pictures and look system by system breaking the area into sections. Your crawl space example… I evaluate from the opening then choose my path, break the space into sections and crawl to each selected vantage point, take many pictures and look at floor, joist, sill, any electrical, plumbing, Insullation, HVAC , then floor and covering. Move on to next spot and repeat.
When I get out I go to truck remove gear and insert comments into report while flipping through pictures.
Would guess that many apply this general methodology to all areas in some way. Whatever you do you should have a system that is repetitive and analyzes one system or section at a time and do it the same way every time. This will , over time allow you to adjust for more speed and identify things that need to be inserted into the process with more experience.
Also this consistency allows you to have the confidence needed when challenges come from clients … I know exactly what I look at and when.

Using your example - I try and do one system at a time. In tight crawls this can be difficult because you want to limit your travel in the space so in that case it’s done by sections of area. Luckily I have mostly full basements. So I typically take each system, takes a little longer I’m sure but not by much. But I would certainly recommend to anyone new to develop a routine that is done each and every inspection. Especially with the conditions you describe. Having that routine will also increase the pace of the inspection and allow you to stay in tune with things no matter how many parents, aunts, uncles are tagging along pestering you.

I generally will arrive 30 minutes to an hour before client arrives and use a routine pattern to keep me on track. I document and photo all my findings as I follow my routine pattern. Example as I’m inspecting the exterior I will generally start at one point and travel around the structure while documenting material types, defects, maintenance or other concerns as I go, such as electrical or siding issue. When I come across an area that limits my visibility and/or access to inspect I stop momentarily to take extra photos while viewing this area to the best of my ability and documenting those areas that limit my visibility and/or access. I believe it’s very important that you document those areas that do limit your visibility and/or access. Those are the areas that seem to cause a lot of problems for home inspectors. If you do not fully inspect an area such as an attic space or crawlspace, then note it in the report and explain why. If the home owner is present and there is an area I wish to inspect, but is being obstructed with personal belonging I may ask that they move so that I can further inspect that area.