The Definition of a Home Inspection

Hello and welcome to the new and improved website of REDLine Home Inspection! Among the many changes I decided to make, towards the end of the 2018, was to write a blog to help better serve my clients, potential future clients, agents, and anyone else that wants to check it out. One of the challenges I’ve faced, since becoming a home inspector, is setting expectations for clients when they need a home inspection. In my experience, the average person doesn’t fully understand what is included and not included with a home inspection. Typically, there is little face-time with the client, until the inspection has been completed and even then, the only things that are discussed are the highlights of the report contents. This can be said for seller expectations as well. So hopefully this blog sheds some light and perspective about home inspections.

By definition a home inspection is a visual, non-invasive, general evaluation or assessment of the condition of a home. Let’s address the first term, visual. This term is used loosely but most of the inspection is performed visually, with the use of other senses and equipment that may help confirm an inspector’s suspicions or visual sign of an issue. The second term, non-invasive. This simply means that an inspector will not perform demolition or other means that would cause damage or otherwise require work to be performed to return the item to original condition, in order to find a defect or safety issue. Inspectors are to only use provided accesses in order to view a space or component, such as removing an attic cover hatch, electrical panel cover (dead front), or removing a window or cover to enter a crawlspace. Inspectors are not to make their own access or tear into a wall. Moving furniture and personal belongings also falls under the non-invasive.  The third term, general. By nature, inspectors are generalists. A home inspection is not technically exhaustive. Inspectors are not experts in any discipline (plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc.). That’s not to say that no inspector isn’t or hasn’t been licensed in a discipline. When identifying a potential issue the inspector should recommend evaluation or repair by a licensed or qualified professional. The inspector is not there to diagnose, estimate cost for repair, or fix the issue. That is the responsibility of the qualified professional. One may ask, why wouldn’t a buyer just hire the experts to perform the inspection of each area and components of the home. First, that would be difficult to schedule and a nightmare for all involved. Second, it would be much more expensive. Around here, just to get a professional to the door will cost around $100. Then figure, a plumber, electrician, HVAC, framing contractor, insulation professional, roofer, and so on, we’re already at $600. Most home inspections are half that amount in this area. A home inspection streamlines the process as being a “one-stop shop” so to speak.

When a home is occupied and/or furnished, my goal is to do my job and make it as if I was never at the home when I’m finished, other than leaving a thank you note and a business card. Inspectors are not to move furniture or personal belongings for the purpose of the inspection. The part of the home I get most concerned for access, is the attic. A majority of attic accesses are located in a bedroom closet which can be obstructed by a shelving unit, the occupants’ belongings, or located in an inaccessible area. I do my best to ask the listing agent to ask their sellers to make critical areas of the home readily accessible. Meaning, make it to where I don’t have to move or dismantle anything. I just want to set up my ladder and safely view or enter the space. If that means the seller has to take down shelving, then so be it. Chances are, they will have to sooner or later because if I can’t safely access the area during the inspection, I have to disclose that to my clients and they will likely ask the seller to make the area more accessible and want me to come back. This is inconvenient for all involved, especially during the busy season when scheduling can be challenging.

A home inspection is not code compliant, meaning we don’t call out code violations. When buying a home, the sale is dependent on when the home was constructed. If home inspections were code compliant homes even 15 years old would require some significant upgrades, as codes often change. As an inspector, I use code as a baseline to make observations but a code will never be cited in the report.

A home inspection is not pass/fail. This is up to the client. Ultimately, the client, along with their agent, will use the report to decide what they want further evaluated or repaired/corrected. When meeting with the client, I will verbally put issues in perspective and I trust the agents, I work with, will help with perspective, as well. Experienced agents will have a good idea as to what items to ask to have addressed. That can be dependent on the initial negotiated price of the home. If a seller comes down a significant amount from their initial asking price, the likelihood of them addressing items, other than obvious defects or immediate safety issues, is low. So when you’re going the through the process of buying a home, keep that in the back of your mind. Not every home will be perfect, even new construction. Focus on the important items that are revealed from the home inspection.

Come back soon to read my next blog on how to prepare your home for your inspection!


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