The Home Inspection Defined
A general home inspection is a visual inspection for system
and major accessible component defects and safety issues. The inspection is not
A home inspection is designed to reflect, as accurately as possible, the visible condition of the home at the time of the inspection. Conditions at a home for sale can change radically in only a day or two, so a home inspection is not meant to guarantee what condition a home will be in when the transaction closes. It’s not uncommon for conditions to change between the time of the inspection and the closing date.
It’s a Visual Inspection
A “visual” inspection means that a home inspection report is limited to describing conditions in those parts of a home that an inspector can see during the inspection. Obviously, parts of the home that are permanently hidden by wall, ceiling and floor coverings are excluded, but so are parts of the home that were inaccessible during the inspection for some other reason. Some reasons might include lack of an access point, such as a door or hatch, or a locked access point, or because an occupant’s belongings blocked access, or because of dangerous or unsanitary conditions.
Safety can be a matter of perception. Some conditions, such as exposed electrical wiring, are obviously unsafe. Other conditions, such as the presence of mold, aren’t as clear-cut.
Although the majority of the inspection is visual, the InterNACHI Standards of Practice do require our inspectors to operate space and water heating equipment, and air-conditioning equipment, if it can be done without damaging the equipment.
Asbestos, mold, lead, water purity, and other environmental issues or potential hazards typically require a specialist inspection, and may additionally require laboratory analysis.
Home Inspectors are Generalists
Home inspectors are not experts in every home system but are generalists trained to recognize evidence of potential problems in the different home systems and their major components. Inspectors know when a problem is serious enough to recommend a specialist inspection. Recommendations are often made for a qualified contractor, such as a plumber or electrician, and sometimes for a structural engineer.