The basic reason for a home inspection is learn about the condition of the home and if the heater, dishwasher and other things are working properly. When the electric, gas or water is not on, then the question comes up, as to what is the best thing to do.
When possible – have the utilities turned on before the inspection
Without the utilities on it is difficult for the home inspector to operate the dishwasher, check for plumbing leaks, or operate the heaters. However, the inspector will still be able to look over the heater for signs of problems or look for what may be stains or other evidence of water leaks. Basically you could say that it is a partial inspection which is better than no inspection.
Can an inspector do an inspection if the utilities are not on?
The short answer is yes. What inspectors usually do is to put a special note into the report noting the appliance or items requiring gas, electric or water could not be fully operated or inspected.
Inspector may come back after the utilities are turned on
Under some circumstances, say if the gas is not on, then the inspector may comeback after the gas is on by the local gas company and operate the heater, check the gas hot water heater or gas stove if one. If the inspector does this he may have a charge for this, because it requires an extra trip out to the home on his part.
Will the utility company come out and check your appliances or check for leaks?
In some areas the gas company will come out and light pilot lights on furnaces, stoves and water heater. When they do this they may check for gas leaks, unsafe gas lines or unsafe vents. Other areas may not do this or charge; a call to the gas company will quickly answer what they will do. Most utility companies do not do inspections of the entire system or make repairs.
- Ask for an extension. Request that the seller give you extra time in the transaction so that the utilities can be turned on. In most areas they can be turned on in a few days, or some utility companies will turn them on for a few short days to accommodate you.. A quick call to the utility company will tell you what their policies are. Remember, it doesn’t hurt to ask for them to make you an exception if they say no.
- Check the purchase agreement that you signed. In the fine print, for some agreements have a clause in them that requires the sellers to have all utilities on for the home inspection.
- Assume the risk. Buyers can waive their right to having a home inspection done. Doing so may result in undisclosed or unknown issues coming to light later after taking title or possession. As a last resort, at least have a partial home inspection without the utilities on.
Tip For Buyers
When you first get an acceptance of your offer ask that the utilities be left on (if they are already on) and if one or more is not on, then ask that they be turned on right-away so that they will be on for your home inspection. At times your agent will recommend this or take care of it for you.
We all agree that a good home inspection is beneficial for the buyer, seller and the agents. It helps provide meaningful information about the home and makes buyers feel more comfortable with their decision.
Having the utilities on and all operable pilot lights lit is a good idea whenever possible.
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