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House Inspection

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When a character is applying for a building permit, participating in a homeowner's magazine contest, or trying to appraise the quality of their home so they can sell it, their home will be visited by an inspector.

To get top marks, the home owner will whip their residence into tip-top shape— usually by organizing clutter, throwing away trash, painting the walls, and/or hanging up beautiful artwork.

Unfortunately, their work is usually ruined by an unexpected incident moments before the inspector is supposed to arrive, giving them no time to fix the damage. This can come in the form of natural disasters such as earthquakes or tornadoes, or domestic pitfalls such as cooking accidents in the kitchen.

There are three common outcomes to this scenario:

  1. The inspectors are disgusted with the look of the flat, and the contestant fails the inspection or loses the contest.
  2. The inspection team loves the look of the house, believing the mess to be art.
  3. The person at the door isn't actually the inspector, but the residents are convinced he is due to the timing of his arrival.

The business variant is The Inspector Is Coming.


Fan Works

  • The MLP Loops: In the first "Daughters" loop, Twilight Sparkle is Queen of Equestria, while the Cutie Mark Crusaders are her daughters. She leaves them alone for a thousand years while she goes off doing science, and they create a utopia based largely around the Wild Teen Party. They only remember she's coming back at the last minute, and have to clean up a thousand years of parties in a day.
    Princess Diamond Tiara: In just a few hours, Queen Twilight Sparkle will return to Equestria. She is a threat to our way of life.
    Rarity: Define threat?
    Princess Nyx: She doesn't approve of noisy, fun, all-night parties.
    Pinkie: [gasps]

Films — Animation

  • Despicable Me: In the short film "Home Makeover", a social worker is coming while Gru is away, so Gru's daughter must redecorate the house (with Minions' help) to make the supervillain-lair-looking house looks safe for children or else they will be sent back to their old Orphanage of Fear.

Live-Action TV

  • The Beverly Hillbillies: In "The Social Climbers", a "rich" socialite from back home comes to visit the Clampetts, with the Hidden Agenda of trying to marry Jed for his money. She gives the place the once over.
    Adeline: I just wanted to see where some of these things is from. I see most of 'em is from France and England.
    Granny: That's good, isn't it?
    Adeline: Not to me. All my stuff comes from much further away than that. It's made in Japan.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Gone", Buffy finds herself entirely unprepared for a home inspection by a social worker who comes to check on whether it's appropriate for Dawn. She encounters a mess, Spike who does his best but doesn't exactly come across as wholesome, and Willow with a bag of "magic herbs" (actual magical herbs). To make it worse, Buffy knew the inspector was coming ahead of time but failed to realize what day it was (Buffy's life is hectic, but it's hard to explain in any meaningful way to the inspector.)
  • Holmes on Homes:
    • Every episode!
    • The spinoff Holmes: Buy It Right is nothing but home inspections. In each episode, the client provides a shortlist of three houses they're considering buying, and Mike goes through each of them pointing out what needs to be replaced/repaired immediately, what should be worked on within a few years, and what both lists would cost.
  • Home Improvement: Used for just a quick gag in "My Dinner with Wilson", as the inspector was supposed to go to their neighbor Wilson's but got the wrong house. He still showed up right when the Taylors had a dead rat in one of their walls.
    "Hi, I'm the home inspector from the bank [catches the smell of the rat for a beat] ...and right now, I'm thinking low."
  • House: In "Painless", Cuddy is very worried about a Child Services inspection that she needs to pass in order to keep her adopted daughter. Naturally, when the inspector arrives, the house is a complete mess due to her cleaning lady arriving late and the inspector arriving an hour early. The inspector finds a messy house, a dirty diaper hastily hidden in an attaché case, and ants on the floor...and passes Cuddy anyway due to her having a steady income, being apparently loving and actually worried about her messy house, all of which makes her better than most of the applicants he visits.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Inverted in "Home Wreckers". Ted goes house-hunting and hires an inspector to look at a house. The inspector gets about halfway through before telling Ted the place is a deathtrap. Too bad he's already bought it.
    Inspector: Now I could keep looking and see what else I could find, besides the black mold, the damaged retaining wall, the frayed electrical wires, the lead paint, the water damage, the fire damage, the sun damage, the broken furnace, the rotted floorboards, hey! Look at that, no termites! The cracked chimney, the bats, the rats, the spiders, the raccoons, the hobo, the detached gutter, the outdated fuse box, and the paint job in the kitchen, which is fine, but the trim really clashes with the countertops. Or I could just recommend that you do not buy this godforsaken Guantanamo Bay of a house and suggest that we all get our asses out of here before a medium-sized wind blows the whole sumbitch down.
    Ted: What, uh, what if I already bought the sumbitch?
    Inspector: [clearly stifling a laugh] ...I'll just check upstairs. [walks offscreen, laughs uproariously]
    Marshall: Did he say hobo?
  • Legends of Tomorrow: In "Tender Is the Nate", Hank makes an inspection on the Waverider due to the high expenditure. Naturally, it's a disaster.


  • The Hot L Baltimore: It's The '70s and a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits inhabit the decaying Hotel Baltimore. When said building fails the safety inspection, the tenants now run the risk of getting evicted, which prompts them to try all sorts of hijinks among the (ab)normal fare of their lives.

Video Games

  • Animal Crossing: The HRA (later HHA) are never seen actually rating your house, but leave you a message in the mail with your score. "City Folk" has an actual building for them, where you can get a more detailed score plus a view of a house/room that can currently get you more points. The trope's commonly used plot point is sometimes lampshaded by the townsfolk.
  • The Sims 2: Getting your child into a private school requires undergoing House Inspection by the headmaster. This is one of the more challenging things to do in the game; not only should your house be good-quality and clean, but the kid and all house residents need to be on their best behavior. Being rejected from a private school is the most likely outcome.

Western Animation

  • The Backyardigans: In "What's Bugging You?", Tasha's house is being inspected by Mr. Spiffy (Pablo) so she can join the Spiffy Club. When she finds out a worman is in her house, she calls Uniqua and Tyrone from Best Pest Control. Unfortunately, everything Uniqua and Tyrone do seems to attract even more wormen. Then Mr.Spiffy arrives, which means that Tasha, Uniqua, and Tyrone not only have to do their jobs quickly, but they also have to do it in secret. Thus the "Fawlty Towers" Plot.
  • King of the Hill:
    • In its pilot episode, a worker from the Department of Child Services catches wind of perceived abuse, as well as a poorly timed injury from Peggy and hearing Bobby exaggerate Hank's blustered threats to someone who had angered him and sends an investigator out. The investigator find zero evidence of abuse, and the Worker gets chewed out by his boss for jumping to conclusions and taking matters into his own hands, getting shilled off to some far off place he can't embarrass his company anymore.
    • "Six Characters in Search of a House": Hank's skills come in handy when he fakes grievous damage to his house in an attempt to discourage a very interested buyer from acquiring Hank's family house; so, invoked. The inspector fails them, but after the customer leaves, he reveals that he knows the place is in perfect shape and recognizes Hank's craftsmanship.
  • Pepper Ann: One of mom's old friends has a TV show called "This Gorgeous House", and wants to feature their home. Of course, mom goes nuts decorating and dressing up the place like a classic farmstead. But when the old friend and her film crew arrive, the friend is saddened and upset. "I've been covering unrealistic, dolled-up houses for years. Just once I wanted to do a show on a REAL, living house with a real family."
  • The Simpsons: In "Home Sweet Homediddily-Dum-Doodily", Principal Skinner is convinced that something wrong is going on at the Simpson placenote  and sends Child Services to look in. They find the house is a mess, with stacks of decades-old newspapers, Maggie drinking from the dog's water dish, and Grandpa asleep on the sofa in his own filth. Of course, the whole thing is an insane coincidence, but they still take the kids away and put them with the Flanders.
  • Spongebob Squarepants:
    • "Opposite Day": Squidward wants to move but is warned about having poor chances of selling his house if his neighbors are obnoxious. In order to keep SpongeBob out of the way, he tells him that it's "Opposite Day", assuming that will mean that SpongeBob will stay quiet and out of the way. Instead, he takes it to mean that he should act like Squidward and proceeds to do so when the realtor arrives.
    • "House Fancy": Squidward wants to show up his high school rival Squilliam by having his house on a TV show. Naturally, SpongeBob shows up to help and makes a mess of Squidward's home. Then the show host compliments him on his daring sense of style.