No Utilities

What should the home inspector do if the utilities are currently off at the house to be inspected? Is it necessary to provide a generator to power the house in order to test electrical systems, does it not get inspected, or does the power need to be turned on for the inspection?

Power should be re-established prior to the inspection. You should NEVER hook-up a generator to a house to perform the inspection.

Nooo…as Jeff stated NEVER hook up a generator to a house that is not properly set up for one…doing so COULD harm someone if not done properly…plus that exceeds the SOP like…a MILLION %

Tell them you will be glad to check the visual portion that you can see, you will not be able to do any diagnostic tests ( suretest and what have you ) and let them know of your additional fee to come back and check the electrical properly when it is turned back on…get an additional $ 75.00 for the time atleast…its an inconvience for you so pass it on to them.

Real eastate contracts usually state that the home will be ready for inpsection - that means utilities. I tell my clients it is the responsibility of the seller / agent to inusre that they are on. If not they have two options, doing the inspecition now and me coming back for $125.00 or they can modify their contract (extend their inspection time) so the seller / realtor can have the utilities on. I also tell them that since the seller / realtor is responsible to have the home inspection ready, it is really up to them to pay my fee. It always amazes me how quickly they get tuned on or the time limit is extended when they think they have to pay.

I offer the buyer three options:

  1. I can perform the inspection, without the utility(s) in question. And I explain what they would not get in that case. Depending on the utility that is off and the components that use that utility they might choose to do the inspection anyway.

  2. They can have me perform the inspection and call me back when the utilities are turned on. I explain that this costs me time and money and as such I expect (and my service agreement states this) that one of the parties will have to pay for this return trip.

  3. They can reschedule the complete inspection. See above for the additional fees involved.

When I arrive at the house, the first thing I do is check to see that the utilities are on, and in the case of gas WH and heaters, I check to see that the pilots are on if necessary. If not, I contact the buyer’s agent with an emergency call. Everytime I’ve called one, they have made it their top priority to get the utility on, and almost every time they have gotten it connected within an hour. Which means, I’m not even ready to test the water/gas/electric until the utility is on and working.

There are positives to living in a small town :mrgreen:

When doing inspections with a utility off, it is important to actually write up the systems that need inspecting prior to closing. Just checking a box that says “not inspected” will not really help your client realize the implications and could open you up for litigation.

When a client calls me to book an inspection; at the conclusion of every phone call, I always inform my clients to notify their RE agent (or Seller if FSBO property) of the time of their appointment and to make sure all utilities are turned on.

Works quite well in most situations. Lately I’ve been having a lot of problems with foreclosure homes. The Buyers agent is told that all utilities are absolutely “ON”, but when I arrive, no utilities. So I do what I can that day, then have my clients re-schedule when utilities are turned on.

My agreement says this: " ►****IMPORTANT: The Inspector will not open gas or water valves, light pilot lights or gas appliances, activate electrical services that have been turned off, or cut locks open. The Client is solely responsible for ensuring that all utilities are turned on, that breakers are turned on, that all water and fuel valves are open, that all pilot lights are lit, that all rooms and crawl spaces are unlocked, and that components such as attics and panel boxes are accessible prior to the inspection. Return visits because utilities were off, valves were off, pilot lights were not lit, or certain areas were locked or otherwise inaccessible will be subject to an additional fee starting at $100.00/hour ($100.00 minimum and additional travel charges may apply depending on distance). ◄"

I stress all the above during the booking phone call and encourage the client to have his agent send the above information to the listing agent, and tell them that if a return visit is required, they will have to pay for it.

If the utilities are off, I proceed with the inspection. I document in the report, as Bruce said, that certain items need further evaluation prior to the close of escrow.

I never leave without doing anything nor do I give them an opportunity to reschedule. (What if they don’t call me back? Then I’m out $$ because I didn’t do anything.) I want to get paid for the time scheduled that day so I do all I can that day and charge full price. If they want me to return, I charge appropriately for it.

Thank you for your replies, you are all very helpful. I’m new to inspecting, and want to get the business started in a few weeks when I’ve learned enough, and prepared to inspect. It is great to have a group of professionals to ask questions.