Did you know that your homeowner's insurance company has the right to inspect your property at any time? You may receive notification in the mail that an inspection has been scheduled. Most of the time, these inspections only involve the exterior of your home, and no one needs to be home to meet with the inspector. Still, if you will be away at the time of the inspection it is a good idea to let your neighbors know to expect visitors to be on the property during the day. The inspector will take photos and written notes regarding to the condition of your home and the surrounding area, and will specifically be looking for areas of increased liabilty such as broken or missing stair railings, roof damage that could cause a leak, unlocked pool gates, and piles of debris or unregistered vehicles on the lawn. They will then report their findings to your insurance company's underwriter, who will notify you and your agent of any concerns that may need to be addressed.

You can prepare for your home inspection by taking a thorough walk around your entire property, reviewing each side of your home and sections of lawn individually for anything that might raise a red flag. When viewing the exterior of your home, take note of any areas of damage to the siding, chimney, soffets, gutters and roof and make a plan to complete necessary repairs. Regarding your lawn, ensure that all yard cleanup debris and large objects that may cause a hazard and are not part of your lawn furniture have been removed. Close and lock pool and fence gates and sheds. If you're unsure if something could be considered a hazard, ask yourself "what's the worst that could happen?" if something appears out of the norm, such as a stack of old tires or cans of paint from a previously completed project, they could for example be tripped on by someone unfamiliar to your property, and cause an injury. Of course, no one wants to think something like this could happen; but that's the job of the inspector, so it's important to try to think like an inspector when reviewing your property.

Often our customers will ask us why the inspector has made a point to notice some things but not others. As we explain it, the inspector is really only looking for areas of risk on your property - they aren't there to judge the cosmetic condition. Things like peeling paint, missing shingles and busted lightbulbs are not a major cause for concern to inspectors unless the damage is more severe, but it is important to make sure you promptly address any safety concerns prior to your home inspection. If the inspector does note additional issues that are then forwarded to your insurance carrier, you may be required to make repairs to your property in order to keep your policy in good standing. You will typically be given a deadline to complete the repairs by to keep your coverage active. 

While it can sound like a big undertaking to add these items to your to do list, in the long run it pays to be proactive when it comes to maintaining the safety of your home. In most cases, you don't have to hire a professional to make the requested repairs - small adjustments to the problem areas can be enough to ensure everyone who enters your property is safe without breaking the bank.