Beginning The Home Inspection
Some areas of the country, like Florida, don't have basements. As you move from the lower level through the interior and up to the attic, move in a clockwise direction. This will help prevent you from bouncing around from room to room which may cause you to skip a room by accident. I'll always start the home inspection in the lower level because this is usually where the operating systems are located. I usually spend at least one hour in the lower level of a house inspecting the operating systems and for structural, water and termite problems. I start the inspection with the heating system in the winter or the air-conditioning in the summer. If it's late in the afternoon, I'll start with the exterior before it gets dark. Then I can take my time on the interior.
You can modify the home inspection process to meet your own needs or desires. You'll be nervous for the first ten or so home inspections. This is normal. Just remember that you need to learn this material well enough, and keep up to date with all the new construction trends. If you do then you will earn the respect of the buyer and all third parties to the transaction by being so knowledgeable.
If you're young, sometimes people will get a little worried when they first meet you at the job site. I have no idea, but for some strange reason some people seem worried about a home inspector who's young. That is, until they see that you know what you're talking about. I guess some people are convinced that wisdom only comes with old age. I remember in my beginning years as a home inspector I was in my mid-late 20's. When I arrived at the site, some of my clients had a surprised look on their faces when they saw how young I was. In a way, their concern was justified since they were going to be trusting me to give them advice on the biggest financial decision they will make in their lives. However, after only about 10 minutes into the home inspection they were well aware that my youth was not a problem and did not limit my knowledge and advice that would benefit them. This is why you have to learn this material thoroughly to be a competent and knowledgeable home inspector. That's how you gain instant credibility with your clients.
If you're young, sometimes people will get a little worried when they first meet you at the job site. I have no idea, but for some strange reason some people seem worried about a home inspector who's young. That is, until they see that you know what you're talking about.
When driving up to the house or condo you should take note of the condition of it, the terrain, if there are any ponds or streams, etc. Mark down the time the inspection begins and ends. Mark down the weather conditions. Any snow covered areas will not be visible for inspection. If it is/was raining there may be signs, or lack of signs, of water in the lower level and any roof leaks.
Greet the owner and Realtor and just tell them you have to ask some questions about the house or condo to get some background. You need this info to help you with the report and the home inspection. There are some aspects of the house that you can't always detect or verify without some additional information from the seller or Realtor. Often you'll find that you can't get all the information you need from the questions you ask the owner or Realtor. Just get whatever information you can and keep a record of it. Make sure that you put their answers in the written report to CYA, which stands for Cover Your Assets (or Cover Your Ass). This will help in the event that you find out later that someone misrepresented the house or condo. You'll be able to show proof about what was stated and represented to you and your client at the time of the inspection. This is why you want to stress to the client to arrange the inspection at a time when the owner of the house is home. It's important to tell your client this when you're booking the inspection. This way they'll have time to notify the owner to arrange the appointment. You should also get a copy of any real estate listing sheets, surveys, etc. that the third parties might have. See if there's anything important in these documents to help you or your client.
You have to be very gentle when you ask the seller of the house the items listed in the Questions To Ask The Home Seller section. Sometimes they get very upset and worried about all these questions. Just tell them that it's nothing personal or that you don't trust them, you just need this information to assist you with the inspection. There are many aspects about a house that only the owner may know about and that's what you're trying to find out. If they (the seller) were buying the house, they would want you to find out the same information from the seller as well. Just remember that you're a guest in someone else's house! So don't be rude or get into an argument with anyone at the inspection. You must be diplomatic and professional in this or any other business to be successful.