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Don't Let Clutter Ruin Your Home Inspection

You have decided to get a home inspection. This is a smart decision. Now you will want to get the most out of your inspection. Home inspectors everywhere often come across limiting conditions that interfere with a complete report for the client. After paying for a professional home inspection, you do not want to see these words on your report “Inspection limited due to the excess possessions blocking access and view.”
The American Society of Home Inspectors ASHI ®, Standards of Professional Practice, reads in part, Inspectors are NOT to report on: any component or system which was not observed . Further, Inspectors are NOT required to: disturb insulation, move personal items, furniture, equipment, plant life, soil, snow and ice, debris which obstructs access or visibility.
It is most regrettable to me when a major component of the home such as the water heater, electrical panels, heating and cooling systems, and the attic are not accessible because the current homeowner’s personal belongings are in the way. Unfortunately, you will not be getting your money’s worth and will not have a full understanding of all the components in the house that you wish to buy.

Don't Let the Clutter Ruin your Home Inspection

For example, water heaters are often found in utility closets and garages in the southwest. Pictured right, somewhere under all of that stuff, is an electric water heater. What will be reported during the home inspection is that the armor flex restraining clamp is damaged and the wires are exposed, the hot and cold pipes are not visible, the cold water valve is not accessible, the temperature relief valve and pipe are not visible. If this was a gas heater it would be a fire hazard along with other complications such as inadequate combustion air and the possibility of exposure to carbon monoxide. Within this same utility closet is an electrical sub-panel improperly installed (per code) for the obvious reason of accessibility. It is completely hidden from view and will not get inspected.

What can you do to get the most out of your home inspection dollars?

If you see conditions during a walk-thru of the home where components are not readily accessible for the inspector you should suggest that stored items be cleared from that area. Your agent or broker, on your behalf, should reiterate your concern on this matter. If the home is vacant make sure that the power, water and gas remain on so that all systems are operable and inspected.
If there are items on your report that were not inspected because of its accessibility, you may want to request a contingency and have the home seller pay for a re-inspection after the areas have been cleared. Or, you can request that the seller pay for a warranty if the component is not inspected.
If the home is occupied, it is expected that there will be areas of the home that are not completely accessible. But reasonable effort should be taken to allow the Home Inspector to perform a complete inspection for his or her client.
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