Inspection Routine and Agreement

Hello I am new to NACHI and to the inspection industry. Wheres the best place to start in the house? Is it best to start on the interior or exterior? And one more question do you present the inspection agreement before or after the inspection? I would really appreciate everyones opinion or ideas, it would help me out a lot.


I personally start outside after introducing myself, setting up my laptop in the kitchen and cranking the AC to COLD.
landscaping (is it touching the house)
electrical panel
water pressure and hose bibs

then inside

kitchen (enter my findings in laptop)
laundry (peak behind washer and try to see the water piping material)
garage (water heater)
attic ( if gas furnace turn it on before entering attic.)

Finish report, review with client, print report, walk around with client discussing the findings, and go home.:smiley:

If there is a pool I turn on the pump the first thing and check on it from time to time as I am doing the rest of the inspection, then take one really good look before the attic.

If the weather is good, I try and start on the outside. Then start inside. Actually, there’s no real right or wrong way to go about it.

The important things to keep in mind are to get the contract signed as soon as possible and to start the dishwasher on a short wash cycle. That way, the dishwasher has at least enough time to do it thing before you leave the property. Otherwise, you’ll sit around waiting for the dishwasher to finish.

The last items to get inspected are the attic, crawlspace and roof. Never climb on top of a roof unless you are absolutely sure the roof structure can carry your weight.

I start in the kitchen first, for a couple of reasons:

1 - I run dishwashers here, and some of the shortest cycles on dishwashers are quite long. So in a condo (where we don’t do exterior stuff), I don’t want to be sitting around waiting for the dishwasher to finish its cycle.

2 - I get my assessment agreement signed prior to the inspection, so while they are reading it at the kitchen bar/table/whatever, I’m right there in the kitchen as well where I can answer any questions they have yet still get some work done (kitchen appliances, outlets, windows, etc.) while they are reading the assessment agreement.

I always run the heater first, preferring to heat them up and then cool them down. If I run the cooler before the heater, then I might leave them all “hot at me.” If I run the heater first, then they’ll be “cool” when we leave.

After the kitchen, I do the bathrooms. I do them next so that any leaks will have time to manifest themselves while I’m doing everything else. I can’t tell you the number of times in two-story houses that first-floor ceiling moisture stains have been painted over by the seller and not disclosed, but show up a couple of hours into the inspection after I was up there earlier.

In other words, never climb on a roof until you have inspected the attic.

However, in six years and thousands of inspections, my employees and I only climbed on two roofs. One was a flat foam roof accessible via pull-down ladder from the garage, and the other one had a mountain surrounding it, so we were able to simply walk from the mountain onto the roof; pretty cool.

When your inspecting the faucets in the kitchen and all the bathrooms do you let the water run for a certain period of time?

I run first the cold, then the hot, until hot show up. If it never shows up, I go back to the cold, usually finding that the hot and cold are reversed (C is “Caliente” for many families here). Once I have the hot and cold sides determined, I’ll fill up the sinks to check the overflow drains. They usually leak. While that is occurring, I’m also running/checking hot/cold at the tubs and showers, and filling the tubs about halfway up. Then, when everything is about full, I’ll pull the stoppers and flush the toilet. That’s when the sewer will back up since it can’t handle everything all at once, which can be problematic during Super Bowl parties and the like (toilets flushing, sinks running, margaritas making, etc.).

Before you turn on that faucet, always peek underneath the sink to make sure that the plumbing is all there. Don’t ask me how I learned this…

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I try to arrive 30 mins to 1 hour early and get all the outside stuff done before anyone arrives. That way if I’m running a little late I’m still early.
Never ever (thats a long time) be late.

A couple of things here. First, for those of you who carry various types of insurance and schedule appointments, make sure that your insurance will cover you if you are on someone else’s property doing work that can cause one of the Four D’s before the scheduled appointment time. Mine does not, which is one reason why I never start work early.

Additionally, if you do start work early, and you’re the only one there, and you get injured, you’re waiting for someone to show up to help you. I personally don’t want to be in that situation.

Lastly, if you are late, make sure that you apologize. My employees or I averaged being late once a year, so I hated it when it occurred in January. That meant we really had to be careful the rest of the year. When we were late, though, (late being defined as more than ten minutes), we always provided a discount of $1 for every minute we were late, and that would include those first ten minutes.

The latest I ever was was when I didn’t show up for the inspection. I, yes me, had written the inspection time down on a piece of paper because an employee had the schedule book, and the inspection I scheduled never made it into the schedule book. I only charged them $1 for the inspection, explaining that I needed a “fee-paid” inspection in order for my insurance to be in effect. Got lots and lots of referrals from the Realtor and a few from that Client, as well.

I agree with Ray on inspecting attics before climbing on a roof. I quickly changed my patterns after a near miss. This happened early in my career after a somewhat rainy day in which I was about to climb the roof - but the rain seem to beckon otherwise. So I inspected the interior first - and low and behold in the attic was a handful of structural suprises in the sheathing and roof system.

I quickly changed my initial habit to inspect the roof before reviewing the attic. This probably saved me from a serious accident of going clear through the roof and causing personal injury and damage from falling through the roof.

I would also caution to where protective equipment such as gloves, masks and eye protection if you are inspecting a crawlspace.

In some you never can anticipate what you may encounter. It may environmental contamination, or rodents, leak, or electrical safety concerns. But I would caution - this is another area of potential for personal safety concerns.

I generally leave the faucet on in the kitchen the whole time I am in the kitchen, and will turn it back on each time I return to the kitchen. I do not like to be oit of a room while a faucet id running.

If the house is older and has iron drain lines I run the bathtubs a looooooooooong time.:smiley:

I like to start on the outside but weather helps determine that. Outside when it isn’t raining. After depositing my tool bag in the kitchen, I do a once through just to see the layout. I make sure to flush each toilet during the walk through and everytime I pass the bathroom. I start in the kitchen with the dishwasher and let the sink run the whole time. After the kitchen I flush the toilets again and start the tubs/showers/sinks. And flush again.

Rest of the house, up to the attic, down to the crawl space, up on the roof and bye bye. You can’t flush enough. Sometimes it takes a while for the insulation to start dripping in the crawl space.

Stupid low-flow toilets. :frowning:

Steven, thanks for asking the question . . . I continued to learn every time I get on this board . . .

Russel . . . I like the “cool” when we leave . . .

. . . another new idea for me, never thought of Super Bowl Sunday that way . . .

Dwight, EXPERIENCE? . . . or did you fall, no, don’t want to go there . . . hope not anyways . . .

Russel . . . I’ve always worried about not showing up for a scheduled appointment because I forgot to get it in the appointment book, now I know what to do . . .

Claude . . . and another big concern I have in my area is scorpions and black widows . . .

Steven, I think you’ll find everyone here to be most helpful, I come back to this board almost everyday . . . sometimes all I do is just read posts and have little time to reply . . . good luck and come back often.

Thank you everyone for your great ideas and opinions, it really helps especially being a beginner.

Dwight, EXPERIENCE? . . . or did you fall, no, don’t want to go there . . . hope not anyways . . .


Nope, never went through a roof. But some people and roofers can be really cheap when it comes to reroofing a house. The one house where I learned to check out the attic 1st had a new asphalt roof installed over the original skip plank shealthing. The shealthing was in horrible condition. One step in the wrong spot would have made for an interesting situation.

BTW, the new roof looked great from the ground with binoculars. However, from a ladder on the eaves, you could see that there was no flashing in several critical areas.

Our franchise training taught us to check the attic first so that we would know exactly what we were walking on (for those who walk on roofs–I don’t). One of my very first inspections confirmed that bit of advice, though, because a large chimney had been removed and the hole had simply been covered with what looked like–and felt like–aluminum foil secured by King George II’s duct tape. Sure would not have wanted to trust that to hold me up.


I always get a signed agreement and payment before I commence the inspection. Learned the hard way on that one!

I start on the outside, and have developed my own report which allows me to report on everything in the order I like inspecting it. My first mass-produced report had me flipping pages all the time or running inside, then outside over and over. If an isolated rainshower hits, I can go inside and go back outdoors once it has passed. As for running faucets, I turn them all on (ensuring the flow is such they won’t overflow) before inspecting the crawlspace/basement. Found some pretty major leaks in DWV doing it this way–plus, allows them to run long enough (without standing there waiting) to note leaks in supply/drain lines at the fixtures. I save attic inspection for last because I hate it so much and because it dehydrates me to the point I’m ready to go have a beer/soda pop.

Good luck,

Ozzy Osborne
A Better Home Inspection