What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation.
What does a home inspection include?
The standard home inspector’s report will cover the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components.
Why do I need a home inspection?
Buying a home could be the largest single investment you will ever make. To minimize unpleasant surprises and unexpected difficulties, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about the newly constructed or existing house before you buy it. A home inspection may identify the need for major repairs or builder oversights, as well as the need for maintenance to keep it in good shape. After the inspection, you will know more about the house, which will allow you to make decisions with confidence.
If you already are a homeowner, a home inspection can identify problems in the making and suggest preventive measures that might help you avoid costly future repairs.
If you are planning to sell your home, a home inspection can give you the opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition.
What will it cost?
The inspection fee for a typical one-family house varies geographically, as does the cost of housing. Similarly, within a given area, the inspection fee may vary depending on a number of factors such as the size of the house, its age and possible optional services such as septic, well or radon testing.
Do not let cost be a factor in deciding whether or not to have a home inspection or in the selection of your home inspector. The sense of security and knowledge gained from an inspection is well worth the cost, and the lowest-priced inspection is not necessarily a bargain. Use the inspector’s qualifications, including experience, training, compliance with your state’s regulations, if any, and professional affiliations as a guide.
Why can’t I do it myself?
Even the most experienced homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional home inspector. An inspector is familiar with the elements of home construction, proper installation, maintenance and home safety. He or she knows how the home’s systems and components are intended to function together, as well as why they fail.
Above all, most buyers find it difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about the house they really want, and this may have an effect on their judgment. For accurate information, it is best to obtain an impartial, third-party opinion by a professional in the field of home inspection.
Can a house fail a home inspection?
No. A professional home inspection is an examination of the current condition of a house. It is not an appraisal, which determines market value. It is not a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. A home inspector, therefore, will not pass or fail a house, but rather describe its physical condition and indicate what components and systems may need major repair or replacement.
What is ASHI?
Since 1976, ASHI has worked to build consumer awareness of home inspection and to enhance the professionalism of its membership. The ASHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics serves as a performance guideline for home inspectors, and is universally recognized and accepted by many professional and governmental bodies.
Who belongs to ASHI?
ASHI is an organization of independent, professional home inspectors who are required to make a commitment, from the day they join as ASHI Associates, to conduct inspections in accordance with the ASHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, which prohibits engaging in conflict-of-interest activities that might compromise their objectivity. ASHI Associates work their way to ASHI Certified Inspector status as they meet rigorous requirements, including passing a comprehensive, written technical exam and performing a minimum of 250 professional, fee-paid home inspections conducted in accordance with the ASHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. Mandatory continuing education helps the membership stay current with the latest in technology, materials and professional skills.
When do I call a home inspector?
Typically, a home inspector is contacted immediately after the contract or purchase agreement has been signed. Before you sign, be sure there is an inspection clause in the sales contract, making your final purchase obligation contingent on the findings of a professional home inspection. This clause should specify the terms and conditions to which both the buyer and seller are obligated.
Do I have to be there?
While it’s not required that you be present for the inspection, it is highly recommended. You will be able to observe the inspector and ask questions as you learn about the condition of the home and how to maintain it.
What if the report reveals problems?
No house is perfect. If the inspector identifies problems, it doesn’t mean you should or shouldn’t buy the house, only that you will know in advance what to expect. If your budget is tight, or if you don’t want to become involved in future repair work, this information will be important to you. If major problems are found, a seller may agree to make repairs.
If the house proves to be in good condition, did I really need an inspection?
Definitely. Now you can complete your home purchase with confidence. You’ll have learned many things about your new home from the inspector’s written report, and will have that information for future reference.
Why do you have a written contract to cover your inspection services?
The inspection, testing, and consulting services that we provide are the best available in our area, and are of professional caliber. Nevertheless, we, just like any other professional, must operate within certain legal, ethical, environmental, and logistical parameters. We have a written contract in order to spell out those parameters for the benefit of our clients so that our performance and that of our clients will be defined in a clear manner. This way, we can plan and schedule our resources most efficiently to serve you, our client, and you can formulate reasonable expectations as to the extent and nature of our services.
Isn’t your Contract just a poorly disguised list of “disclaimers” designed to “get the Inspector off the hook?”
Not hardly! Read the Limited Warranty presented in Paragraph 5 of the Contract. Through that Paragraph, we are warranting that we will do as thorough and as conscientious an inspection as we possibly can, given the legal, ethical, environmental and logistical constraints under which all home inspectors have to work. The dictionary defines the word “disclaim” as follows, “to repudiate or deny interest in or connection with,” and, “to renounce or repudiate a legal claim or right.” Nowhere in our Contract will you find us renouncing or repudiating your legal rights. Our Contract sets forth, very clearly, exactly what we are going to do and those few things we aren’t going to do. In addition, it states clearly how all of the parties to the Contract have agreed to conduct themselves should a disagreement surface at any time during our relationship.
What do you mean when you mention “legal, ethical, environmental and logistical constraints?”
The “Contract to Buy and Sell Real Estate” which you signed when you began the purchase of this property customarily gives you the right to conduct whatever physical inspections of the property and inclusions that you might desire – at your expense. This “Inspection Clause” and your directions to us are our authority to arrange for and conduct a home inspection (and other related inspection services, if ordered) on your behalf. However, another sentence usually found in that same Inspection Clause escapes the notice of Purchasers with alarming regularity. This sentence usually reads something like this, “Purchaser is responsible and shall pay for any damage which occurs to the Property and Inclusions as a result of such inspection.” Remember that you (our client) are the “Purchaser” to whom this paragraph refers! Therefore, it is for your protection that, for example, we refrain from ripping the vegetation off of exterior walls in order to get a closer look, or why we don’t cut holes in walls, ceilings or floors or in ductwork or pipes in order to see “what’s going on inside,” or why we don’t operate systems or components to failure in order to test their endurance.
The ethical parameters to which we subscribe go beyond recognized fundamental business ethics to include the Code of Ethics of the American Society of Home Inspectors. Environmental parameters include such conditions as the weather at the time of the inspection. This may prevent our walking a roof surface due to inadequate traction or snow cover, or hostile conditions in an underbuilding crawl space such as excessive water or carbon monoxide that will logically preclude entry by all but the most foolish novice.
Logistical parameters will dictate the scope and conduct of our inspection services, since we are neither equipped nor licensed to conduct teardown inspections of components such as furnaces, boilers, and appliances. We commonly exclude inspection of specialty items such as wells, septic systems, solar systems, hot tubs, etc. To conduct a thorough and competent inspection of such items requires a substantial amount of time, specialized expertise, and additional tools over and above those commonly carried by a well-equipped home inspector. Because we must budget our time and resources very carefully in order to assure you, our client, of the most useful and comprehensive coverage of your potential purchase, we must follow a pre-planned format when conducting your inspection so that we can be certain to “cover all of the important bases” during our limited time at the property.
Finally, the information and advice contained in the RecallChek® Report we have offered is compiled by an independent organization not in any way associated with or under the control of Enlightened Home Inspections, LLC, thus we cannot be responsible for errors or omissions in their report not the direct result of our failure to accurately report appliance data.
What do you mean by the term “Random Sampling?”
Certain components are randomly sampled or checked, such as: electrical switches and outlets, interior door function and latches, cabinet mounts, window function and condition, etc. When the Inspector randomly samples, s/he will check at least one of each component per room or per space – see also the definition of “Representative Number “ in the Glossary of the Standards of Practice of the American Society of Home Inspectors.
Also, the Inspector does not crawl every square inch of the underbuilding crawl space, and the Inspector does not normally enter and crawl around in the attic past the access opening, because the potential for damaging the ceilings far outweighs the possible benefits from any additional information gained.
What if the Report mentions instances of Moisture Staining?
When moisture staining or efflorescence on walls, ceilings, floors, or other surfaces is noted either verbally or in the Property Inspection Report, the client should understand that it cannot be determined whether the conditions contributing to or causing the staining have been corrected or are still present. Therefore, we recommend that the client take steps to monitor these areas on a periodic basis for the possible recurrence of moisture at some future time.
Will you tell the Seller “what he/she should fix?”
No, we will not convey any of the information contained in our Property Inspection Report to anyone but you, our client (and your Real Estate Professional, with your permission and at your direction). Obviously, all actions based upon the recommendations of the Inspector, which may be taken subsequent to the inspection, are subject to negotiation between the Buyer and Seller – usually through their respective Real Estate Professionals. The details and nature of these negotiations are not our business.
Who will inspect the repairs that another party has made or has agreed to have made?
We strongly recommend that qualified individuals, who are licensed where applicable, perform all repairs or corrective actions, and that all work should conform to all applicable governmental codes, ordinances and regulations.
The Inspector will not inspect completed work that has been done by or under the direct supervision of the Seller or any other third party. Likewise, we will not inspect the work of qualified trades’ persons such as licensed plumbers or electricians, heating or air conditioning technicians, licensed roofers, etc. The primary reason for this policy is that truly qualified technicians who work in their field of expertise every day are usually quite able to evaluate problems in their specialty and make the appropriate corrections. Furthermore, when the work has been completed, often important parts are once again concealed. Without being constantly on site to observe each of the steps that were taken, no one can ascertain, after the fact, that all of the work was done properly and in conformance with generally accepted industry standards.
What can you tell us about Building Permits and other Public Records?
The Inspector does not have the resources for determining if any permits were required or obtained for any work performed on the property. If there is evidence (or you find out) that additional work has been done on the property after the completion of the initial construction, or if you are uncertain as to whether a Building Permit was ever obtained to cover the initial construction of the house, you should investigate, through the local Building Department having jurisdiction, as to whether Permits have been obtained and whether all required inspections have been made and the Permit(s) have been properly closed out – usually through the issuance of a “Certificate of Occupancy.”
The legal status of the property and its present use; condition of title, boundaries and easements; compliance with local codes, ordinances, regulations or covenants, and possible location in earthquake or hazard zones will not be addressed in your Property Inspection Report. If desired, you can obtain most of this information from the appropriate public records.