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Home Inspections vs Showing Consults: Is a Showing Consult the Answer? Not completely...

Updated: May 3, 2022

A Showing Consult is an abbreviated and limited inspection of a home during a 15-30 minute scheduled showing of a home. The buyer or the buyer's real estate agent is required to be present as the inspector does not have enough time to take photos or document for a report. This is 100% verbal.

Showing Consults are becoming more popular, but they have a place. This service is for those in a pinch when no other inspection options exist due to an extremely competitive real estate market. As Home Inspections, we can cover a lot of ground in a 30 minute showing, but we can't cover it all. A complete home inspection is still needed.

Showing Consults and Home Inspections are tools that should be used together:

Part 1: Schedule a Showing Consult prior to placing an offer.

  • Helps identify the appropriate offer to make

  • Alleviates stress by knowing more details about the home

Part 2: Book a Home Inspection once under contract, commonly on the day of closing

  • Eliminate future surprises

  • Learn, in greater detail, about the home and its systems

  • Create a punch list for work that needs to be completed for a safe and reliable home

  • Develop a maintenance plan to manage the home

Common finds during a Showing Consult:

- The Usual: Years of experience on thousands of homes helps us know where the high risk areas of the home may be. New construction risks (moisture control, ventilation, system installation) are very different from a 1920s home (electrical safety, plumbing materials, energy efficiency). Knowing where to focus what little time we have is critical. We have that experience.

- High Risk Building Materials: We quickly identify asbestos, improper building materials, failing cast iron plumbing lines, dated electrical, and untreated wood in wet conditions.

- Siding and Trim: Siding and trim are the home's first line of defense. Its job is to keep the structure dry and rot-free. We often find pest intrusion points (that also allow moisture in), rotting trim and sills around windows, and rot around door frames.

- Heating System: Identifying the age and overall condition of the heating system is vital given the expense of a replacement. Systems are typically rated to last 20-25 years. Has it been serviced? Has it been ignored? How does it sound when turned on?

- General Moisture Intrusion: We have some tricks to identify if a basement has flooded and could that present a mold issue now, or down the road. What is the overall condition of building materials and how susceptible are those materials to absorbing and holding moisture to lead to a mold issue. Prior ceiling staining/repairs, active leaks found if we can do thermal imaging, are common.


- Attic: We can usually, but not always, poke our heads into the attic for a quick view. I'm looking for signs of mold and leaks. Mold is often localized in an attic, typically over a failed bathroom vent or near a prior leak. Seeing the area immediately above the hatch will not give you a complete picture. We can't bring a ladder to enter the attic space during a showing and therefore can't inspect the entire attic. We can, and will, during a home inspection.

- Electrical Panel: We always open the panel during a home inspection to look for deficiencies such as moisture intrusion or deficient/unsafe wiring. Nearly every home inspection includes at least one electrical defect. We can't remove the panel cover or completely review the electrical system during a showing consult. We need more time.

- Heating System: One of the home's primary (and most expensive) systems is the heating system. In a 30 minute window, we can't test all registers to confirm each room is being heated (a defect we find more often than you'd expect), or thoroughly inspect plumbing lines, HVAC maintenance details, or filter/duct conditions.

- Roof: This is something we really can't see at all during a Showing Consult. Typically we are on the roof or using a drone. During a showing consult, we can look from the ground to get a general sense of the condition of the roof coverings. We can't see flashing around chimneys and vents, for example. We need to inspect up-close to confirm the condition of the entire roof.

- Moisture Intrusion: A big part of a home inspection is looking for moisture intrusion in key areas (attic, basement, windows and doors, deck connections, etc). This extensive search takes a lot of time as we can't see moisture intrusion without moving personal items and wall insulation.

- Safety: What is the status (date, condition, functionality) of smoke and CO alarms? Its common to find 20+ year old alarms (not good) that have missing batteries or disconnected all together. Is the deck safe and is it connected to the house to prevent a deck collapse? Again, an extensive search is required to confirm the home's safety.

- Education: The Home Inspection is a teaching opportunity to help the buyer understand their home. How does the heating system work? How can I reduce my energy costs? What annual maintenance is required? "What is this (points to problem) and should I be concerned?" Quite simply, we don't have time in a 30 minute showing to answer those questions while we're in the home where most of the questions pop up.

Let us help before the purchase with a Showing Consult, and after the purchase with a Home Inspection. Its worked out well for many to schedule the Home Inspection the day of or day after closing while the home is completely empty.

Thanks for reading,

Matt and Matt

Square One Inspections, LLC


Serving Maine since 2014

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