The Home Inspection Defined
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. Certainly, parts of the home that are permanently hidden by wall, ceiling and floor coverings are excluded. In addition, parts of the home that were inaccessible during the inspection for some other reason are also excluded. For example, some reasons might include lack of an access point (such as a door or hatch), a locked access point, or because an occupant’s belongings blocked access. Dangerous or unsanitary conditions may also cause inaccessibility.
That is to say, there can be many reasons for exclusions. To clarify, if an inspector can’t see a portion of the home, the inspector can’t assume responsibility for ensuring that a safe and proper condition exists or that systems are operating properly in that hidden space.
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.
In the case of mold…
In the example of the possible existence of mold, it’s difficult to accurately call it out during a general home inspection because mold sometimes grows in places where it can’t be readily seen. This may include inside walls, making its discovery beyond the scope of the inspection. Moreover, the dangers to human health are from the inhalation of spores from indoor air.
Asbestos, mold, lead, water purity, and other environmental issues or potential hazards typically require a specialist inspection. In addition, they may require laboratory analysis.
Home Inspectors are Generalists
This doesn’t mean that inspectors with a background in something other than the building trades are not qualified. Building the skills and developing the judgment to consistently recognize and interpret evidence correctly and make appropriate recommendations are things that can be improved with practice and continuing education.
Part of a home inspector’s job is to manage the expectations of their client. Above all, this is true when a client has never dealt with a home inspector before. Maintaining transparency and explaining the limitations of a home inspection to a client helps them develop realistic expectations. This includes what to expect from a home inspection report, and what lies beyond the scope of the inspection.
When a home buyer is interviewing inspectors, the buyer should ask about how the inspector handles special safety concerns.
Disclaimers are portions of an inspection agreement or report in which an inspector notifies the client that the inspector will not accept the responsibility for confirming the condition of a portion of the home or of a particular system or component.
In short, creating realistic expectations in a client’s mind will help prevent misunderstandings and promote smooth real estate transactions.
If your inspector misses anything during the inspection, InterNACHI will buy your home back.*
- It’s valid for home inspections performed for home buyers only by participating InterNACHI® members.
- The home must be listed with a licensed real estate agent.
- The Guarantee excludes homes with material defects not present at the time of the inspection, or not required to be inspected, per InterNACHI’s Residential Standards of Practice.
- The Guarantee will be honored for 90 days after closing.
- We’ll pay you whatever price you paid for the home.