What does a home inspector look for?
A home inspection is a visual, non-invasive inspection of the home. Home inspectors are not allowed to do anything that would damage the house; therefore, they are not able to remove sheet rock to determine if there is a leaking pipe or mold hidden behind the walls or ceiling. Special tools, such as thermal imaging and moisture meters, are used to help detect the potential of these problems existing.
The home inspection is limited to a visual inspection of accessible items. For example, if access to the electrical panel is blocked, or if access to the furnace in the attic is blocked, the home inspector is not required to inspect them. A good home inspector will contact the seller, via the listing agent, to request them to come and remedy access while he is there so that a second trip, which costs more money, is not necessary.
Inspectors are not required to get on roofs if there is a potential for damaging the roof or injury to the inspector. Many roofs are too steep for an on roof inspection. Weather may also prevent on roof access.
The basic home inspection is limited to the house and the garage only. The client may request additional inspection of other items (add-ons). Most inspections take 2 to 3 hours. The time may increase based upon the age and condition of the home, the size of the home, and the number of add-ons to be inspected.
When the inspector arrives, he is going to perform a visual inspection on the following items:
- Grading or slope of the ground towards the house
- Roof Covering
- Roof & Attic Structure
- Exterior and Interior Doors
- Ceiling and Floors
- Fireplaces and Chimneys
- Porches, Balconies, Decks and Car Ports
- Electrical Panel and Service Entry
- Branch Circuits, Connected Devices, and Fixtures
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Systems (HVAC)
- Heating Equipment
- Cooling Equipment
- Duct Systems, Chases, and Vents
- Plumbing Supply, Distribution, Systems, and Fixtures
- Drains, Wastes, and Vents
- Water Heating Equipment
- Hydro Massage Therapy Equipment
- Food Waste Disposers
- Range Hood and Exhaust Systems
- Ranges, Cook tops, and Ovens
- Microwave Ovens
- Mechanical Exhaust Vents and Bathroom Heaters
- Garage Door Operators
- Dryer Exhaust System
- Landscape Irrigation (Sprinkler) Systems
- Swimming Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs and Equipment
- Outbuildings (barns, pavilions, etc.)
- Private Water Wells
- Private Sewage Disposal (Septic) Systems
- Inspectors are limited to visual inspections. Inspectors are not allowed to damage the house or the property by opening walls, ceilings, etc.
- Inspectors are not required to open mechanical equipment such as HVAC systems or water heaters other than inspection cover plates.
- Inspectors may be restricted due to access. Inspectors are not required to move furniture, storage boxes, etc. to gain access to test a system.
- Inspections may be limited due to unsafe or hazardous access which could cause physical harm to the inspector.
- Home inspections are visual inspections. If part of the structure or is hidden from view and cannot be accessed, inspectors are not required to inspect it.
- Home inspectors are not experts. Each home has multiple systems including housing structure, foundation, roofs, grading, HVAC systems, electrical systems, plumbing systems, and appliances. Many home inspectors do not have first-hand knowledge of each system. Home inspectors have been educated and certified as generalists and have been trained to identify deficiencies with systems and to recognize when an expert opinion or further evaluation is necessary.
- Home inspections are visual inspections. If systems or system components are hidden from view and not accessible without damaging the property or creating unsafe conditions, the home inspector is not required to inspect it.
Our hope is that this information will give you a basic idea of what is entailed in a home inspection.