Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


Should the Inspector move anything?

     Most inspectors will tell you “no” and yet I Got Soap?would be willing to bet that most inspectors do.  No inspection is ever truly just a visual inspection, even though most Standards of Practice say that it is.  Most Standards of Practice even give guidelines for moving certain things----like opening readily accessible electrical panel covers and access hatch covers etc.  Few inspectors however would move a refrigerator.  Most I would be willing to bet will move a garbage can out from under a sink, but probably would not move a heavy sofa to check electrical outlets.

     Every day inspectors must make judgment calls as to where the boundaries are of what they will move and not move.

     A fairly simple item I moved the other day gave me the idea for this post and how important it is for inspectors to be able to move things as they deem necessary and safe to do so.  While this item is purely “symbolic” of the point I am trying to make, finding similar and actually consequential defects are just as possible.

Hidden cracks

     I like for my buyer’s to be as informed as possible about the property.  Whether it is missing tiles behind a towel on a towel bar, or missing/damaged tiles under a soap bottle, seemingly “cosmetic” conditions can take their toll on a buyer when they start to move in. 

     While it is not possible to discover “everything” about a home at the time of inspection----it is always nice to do what I can.

Charles Buell


Seattle Home Inspectors, ASHI Home Inspector, Licensed Home Inspector, Structural Pest Inspector, Charles Buell Inspections Inc, Seattle, WA



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Comment balloon 22 commentsCharles Buell • September 21 2009 02:37PM


I tend to move things out of my way unless doing so may damage the item being moved. Couches and armchairs are regularly moved out of the way and then put back if they interfere with an outlet or a window.

Posted by Suesan Jenifer Therriault, "Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own". (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team) over 9 years ago

My...My...My...what a cleverly placed bottle of suds?!?!?

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate) over 9 years ago

When I first got into this profession at one of my inspections I noticed a pretty good size picture hanging lower then what you normally see. Curiosity got the best of me and I looked behind it and found a huge hole.

Posted by Dan Callahan (Callahan's Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

Suesan, I know inspectors that would never move a couch or a chair.

Russell, did the trick:)

I like the fist holes behind the bathrobe on the bedroom door:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Good your clients have such a thorough inspector -- it would never have occurred to me that the owners would put that bottle just so (!).

Posted by Shoshana Shay (St. Pete Realty) over 9 years ago

Unfortunately, I think this type of thing--that is, sellers trying to hide "defects"--happens more than we would like to think. I'm with you, Charles, in that I try my best to provide my clients with as much information about the house as I can. If I feel I can move an item or two without causing damage to anything, I will. Especially if my gut is telling me something isn't quite right. It hasn't let me down yet.

Posted by Jason Aldrich, Sequim, WA Home Inspector (Aldrich's Home Inspections, Inc.) over 9 years ago

I knew someone whose hallway was rimmed with decorative plaques a few inches off the floor. (she admitted kicking the wall was her pressure valve) I wonder what happened when she eventually sold her house, would have made for an interesting inspection.

Posted by Kate Kate over 9 years ago

I move stuff when I have to or ask the agent or buyer to lend a hand if there is a lot of stuff like in a closet. You move what ever is necessary within your own boundries.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

Great post.  I as a Stager am extremely nosey when I do my consultations.  I have heard on more than one occasion..."what's that got to do with selling my house?" I am constantly beating the drum to realtors and homeowners that Staging is NOT for covering flaws and defects.

Keep fighting the good fight Charles

Posted by Ana Hitzel, Professional Home Stager Inland Empire ( AccentPositives Home Staging ) over 9 years ago

Shoshana in this case it is such a logical place to have a soap bottle that I could see it either being intentional or not.

Jason, very good point----there has to be some sort of path of other information for my "radar" to go off.

Kate, I have heard of lots of people having some sort of inanimate object that they can beat the feathers out of as opposed to something that might bruise:)

There are some things like clothes in closets that have to be moved because someone wasn't on the ball enough to tell the sellers to make the attic access or the crawl space access accessible.

Ana, I could see where it would be very tempting to cover things up---I would have to say it is pretty rare for a stager to hide anything except the electrical panel cover----and that is not really "hiding" in the same sense we are talking about:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

I have a carved nickel hanging on my wall right now with a hole behind it.  It covers up the spot where we moved the thermostat from one room which had a fireplace and naturally got hotter to the room behind it.  Someday someone will accuse us of trying to hide something.  Which is true.  We were and are!!  Wonder if a home inspector will find it?  LOL

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) over 9 years ago

Barbara, to take this to a whole different level----most people will paint the entire interior of their home to hide things:)  Some "hiding" is normal.


Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Hey Charles,

oh, those sneaky homeowners!! I'm not surprised.

Good post!

Posted by Tony Orefice, Realtor/Harrisburg NC,Concord NC (Wilkinson ERA/ over 9 years ago

Hello Charles, I'd like my Inspectors to also tell me they found such camouflage taking place.  I tend to subscribe to the "tip of the iceberg" theory -- if you've found one of these, there will likely be more.  Thanks! John

PS - one of the worst we had, the seller used little throw rugs to cover up the pet-pee spots in the carpets, and they also used black marker to "re-grout" the shower tile to make it look like it had black grout -- what a mess with the first shower by the new owner!

Posted by Alexander- Slocum, Realty Team- Vancouver WA Real Estate (Premiere Property Group, LLC - Vancouver Washington) over 9 years ago

Tony, it takes all kinds to make the world go round I guess

John, I see lots of different versions of this

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

The black marker grouting system cracks me up. Not so funny if I were the homeowner seeing my "grout" running down the drain and worse, staining my tile.

Posted by Kate Kate over 9 years ago

Good post Charles.  I would think the home inspector would be negligent if he or she didn't move things.  I can tell you my inspector moves refrigerators, stoves, whatever to get to where the action is.   What is the value of an inspection if the inspector is just looking at things any buyer can see for himself? 

Posted by Brian Griffis (Realty Choice) over 9 years ago

Kate, you mean you don't like the dripping mascara look?:)

Brian, just to play devil's advocate, what happens when the inspector moves the refrigerator or stove and tears the vinyl flooring?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

You mean THIS look?

Posted by Kate Kate over 9 years ago

I'm with you.  I'll move a lot of stuff to get at something I want to see, and if the agent is at the inspection, I always ask them to help if it's a big task.

I might have missed that soap bottle though.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

By the way, I almost moved the storage shelves shown below to get at a crawl space, but I changed my mind when I saw the contents.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

Kate, exactly

Reuben, like you I often enlist the agent to move stuff---especially clothes.  I am right there with you on NOT moving the cyrstal:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago