When ordering a home inspection, it’s essential to understand whether or not are home inspectors allowed to move things during a home inspection. Often, in a home inspection, we find things that need to be moved to inspect areas of the home.
A home inspector is not required to move things during a home inspection. However, most home inspectors will move certain items when it’s safe and won’t damage the home or personal property. Moving items is left to the discretion of the home inspector.
Sometimes a home inspector will move things on a case-by-case basis, provided the homeowner is present and gives permission to move the items. In our home inspection business, it’s company policy not to move things without the homeowner’s consent and, if possible, have them volunteer to move things.
Home inspectors should act with objectivity, integrity, and competence in accordance with the applicable state or industry standards of practice. Here’s a brief list of what are home inspectors not allowed to do:
- Provide legal advice or opinions
- Perform engineering assessments
- Diagnose the cause of structural problems
- Provide cost estimates for repairs
- Guarantee the condition of any systems or components
- Recommend specific contractors or brands of products
Home inspectors must remember that while they provide a valuable service for their clients, they are still guests in this person’s home and should treat their property with the utmost respect. A home inspector could be liable if they moved a homeowner’s belongings and damaged something.
Many homeowners, particularly wealthy clientele, have valuable art pieces such as sculptures, paintings, rugs, etc. While inspectors have the best intentions, moving an item could lead to an accident that damages a homeowner’s personal property.
You can determine read more on inspection limitations in the InterNACHI Standards of Practice.
Are Home Inspectors Allowed to Move Things
If you’re nervous about a home inspection, we’ve compiled an in-depth article containing 35 Seller Tips to Pass a Home Inspection.
You can also find a complete account of what a home inspection does and does not include and the things that fail a home inspection.
Often the most significant obstruction a home inspector sees is furniture. Furniture such as couches, chairs, tables, and beds are not moved during an inspection. If you’ve got an area in question that you need your home inspector to look at, you need to have your agent ask the homeowner to make this area accessible during the inspection.
Moving heavy furniture could cause damage to the flooring or damage to the table itself. Some furniture pieces are also hefty and could cause injury to the inspector or an attending party.
Personal Storage, Boxes, or Totes
When sellers put their houses up for sale, they often pack their valuables in boxes and totes. Sometimes these items are stored in the garage or inside individual rooms. Sellers must leave a walkway around boxes and totes so the home inspector can visually inspect the walls, windows, doors, and electrical outlets.
If critical areas we need to access are blocked, we will ask the homeowner to move the boxes or totes. If a homeowner is not present, with permission, we will move them on a case-by-case basis.
Items Inside Closets
Do home inspectors look in closets? Yes, but they are often inaccessible for inspection. People love to store things in closets. Closets are places homeowners will keep things they use frequently and infrequently. These items can include coats, vacuums, and other items.
The problem is many closets contain essential items the home inspector needs access to, such as attic hatches, water heaters, and electrical panel boxes.
Items Inside Cabinetry
This is similar to items in closets. Cabinetry can store everything from dry food goods, pots and pans, and personal hygiene items. Sometimes these personal hygiene items can be very emotional. If the house is old enough, these items can obstruct the view of plumbing pipes, electrical wiring, and even panel boxes.
Home inspectors should not move stoves, refrigerators, freezers, or large appliances. Countertop appliances like coffee makers, microwaves, etc., should not be moved unless they block an electrical outlet.
We often move countertop appliances to access electrical outlets to test for GFCI protection in the kitchen.
I was wondering how home inspectors inspect appliances. We’ve written a comprehensive article on Do Home Inspectors Check Appliances.
Large Area Rugs
This mainly refers to large-area rugs. However, it can also include small bathroom throw rugs. Most home inspectors will move small area rugs, especially in bathrooms or at exterior doors, as they could hide damage to the floor. It’s important to remember that they are not required to do so.
Clients often like to know what is under carpeting. This is generally because they want to know if hardwood flooring is under the carpet. This was a common occurrence and older houses where hardwood flooring was installed throughout the house, but later someone installed carpeting over the hardwood.
Unfortunately, home inspectors can’t pull carpeting back just for kicks. However, if the carpeting is loose from the floor, we will return it to its last attachment point.
Commonly found in older homes, you’ll see drop ceiling tiles or decorative ceiling tiles. It would be virtually impossible for a home inspector to remove ceiling tiles for inspection. If drop ceiling tiles are present, they may move a representative sample to attempt a visual inspection. Keep in mind they aren’t required to.
We often only move ceiling tiles where we suspect a leak exists or has leaked in the past. This is done on a case-by-case basis.
Wallpaper and Wall Coverings
Wallpaper and other wall coverings are not peeled back or removed for home inspections. If material like wallpaper is peeling off the walls, your inspector may mention it as a cosmetic defect in the home inspection report. However, inspectors are not required to note cosmetic blemishes.
Suppose your inspector suspects an underlying issue, such as a water leak around a window or a roof leak. In that case, the inspector will likely note the condition and recommend an examination by a licensed contractor. This way, the homeowner is aware that destructive testing is taking place, and the licensed contractor can either repair the damage or professionally close the area in question.
Pictures Hanging on Walls
Pictures, paintings, and wall decor are not removed during a home inspection. The one exception may be if the homeowner has hung a view to cover the electrical panel box.
Many people will cover electrical panel boxes with pictures if they are in clear-view areas such as a bedroom or hallway. Even then, the inspector should ask the homeowner first for the location of the electrical panel box and permission to remove the picture for access.
Most homes will have window treatments like blinds, plantation shutters, or curtains at the windows. The extent of movement of window treatments is limited to the regular operation of the blinds, opening and closing plantation shutters, or sliding curtains on the rod. Window treatments are never removed from windows.
Vehicles & Mechanical Equipment
Vehicles, golf carts, ATVs, lawnmowers, trimmers, tools, generators, and other equipment are often stored inside a garage. These things could hinder access to some garage areas during a home inspection.
Suppose small equipment, such as walk-behind lawnmowers, weed trimmers, etc., block mechanical access (such as a water heater). In that case, the inspector may, at his discretion, move the equipment if he can not contact the homeowner for permission and can do so without harming the equipment or themselves.
A home inspector in our company should never move any vehicles or motorized equipment like golf carts, ATVs, riding lawnmowers, etc., under any circumstances.
If something prohibits a line-of-sight inspection or access to an area like a room, door, window, attic, etc., these items should be noted as a limitation in the inspection report.
House plants are a popular way of cleaning indoor air by removing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Some house plants can grow to be very large. Generally, house plants are not a problem themselves. However, overwatering can cause water damage to hardwood flooring and along baseboards and drywall.
Home inspectors are not required to move house plants to look for such damage. Most will move branches aside to visually see around the plant without actually moving the plant.
Home inspectors can inspect a roof from the ground, eaves, roof surface, or drone. It is common to find organic debris on roofs when trees overhang the roof. Home inspectors are not required to move organic waste such as straw and leaves but to document the material’s presence.
Moving organic debris from a roof could trigger a roof leak. This action needs to be reserved for a contractor if a roof leak or damage is present; it can be repaired appropriately.
Snow accumulation on roofs is typical during winter months in northern states. Snow accumulation on the roof restricts the inspector’s ability to access the top for inspection.
Where snow is concerned, the best practice is to inspect the underside roof sheathing in the attic. This method can go a long way in determining if there is evidence of damage to the roof coverings or active roof leaks caused by snow accumulation.
Home Inspector FAQs
Should I be nervous about my home inspection?
No, you should not be nervous about your home inspection. The inspector will thoroughly assess the property’s condition and any potential areas for improvement or repair. They will also provide helpful information to help you make an informed decision about purchasing the property. Be sure to ask questions if there is anything you don’t understand or are unsure of during the inspection process.
Can a home inspector remove screws?
A home inspector typically removes screws to access certain mechanical or electrical systems. Home inspectors are trained to inspect and evaluate the condition of a home and its components. This often involves removing covers, panels, and other items that require unscrewing.
What Happens When a Home Inspector Finds Something Wrong?
When a home inspector finds something wrong, they will inform the buyer of the issue and recommend fixing or replacing it. Depending on the severity of the issue, the buyer may decide to negotiate with the seller for a discount on the home price or ask that repairs be made before closing on the sale.
Some buyers may also choose to walk away from the deal altogether. The inspector may also advise further investigation by a professional contractor if necessary. Ultimately, it is up to the buyer and seller to agree on how they want to move forward.
What should I be worried about during a home inspection?
During a home inspection, you should be worried about structural integrity, safety hazards, pest infestations, plumbing issues, roof conditions, insulation capabilities, HVAC systems, and electrical systems. Additionally, any other major issues, such as water damage or mold, can be of concern.
Do I have to fix everything on a home inspection?
No, you do not have to fix everything on a home inspection. A home inspection is simply an evaluation of the condition of the home and any potential issues that may need to be addressed. The goal of a home inspector is to provide an informed opinion about the home’s condition. Still, it is ultimately up to the buyer or seller to decide what, if any, repairs are necessary.
There you have it. These are the top 15 things home inspectors won’t move during a home inspection. This is not an exhaustive list; I’m sure some outlying items exist. Consult your home inspector if you have questions about whether or not a thing was moved during a home inspection.