Material defects are not always obvious to the untrained eye.
There was a time when home inspectors used their own personal guidelines and rules for performing a home inspection. But as this field grew to include inspectors across the country, the need for a unified set of standards became evident.
That’s how the Standards of Practice was born. Today, it helps create consistency in home inspections, regardless of which state the property sits in or which inspector performs the inspection.
Here’s a look into what the Standards cover, and what they do not:
Visual Examination of What’s Accessible to the Inspector
One common misconception about home inspections is that the inspector digs in to uncover concealed defects. The Standards of Practice explain that home inspections are limited to what’s readily accessible to the inspector. If a crawlspace is too low or a part of the house is deemed dangerous to enter, it won’t be inspected.
Inspectors are not expected to walk on roofs, operate dangerous equipment, determine the cause of any problem, or remove or disassemble anything to perform their work. Additionally, they are not responsible for predicting future problems, nor estimating repair costs.
Inspectors don’t perform repairs, but may help home owners with recommendations.
Identification of Material Defects Discovered During the Inspection
The purpose of a home inspection is to discover material defects with the roof, exterior, basement, HVAC system, plumbing, foundation, and other components of a house. But even with defects, there are limitations on what an inspector can report. For example, wood that contacts the soil is a defect. But the inspector is only responsible for reporting the condition, not for recommending the scope of repair work necessary to correct it.
Inspectors don’t search for mold in walls, asbestos or lead materials, or for the presence of pests. Those are usually separate inspections performed by specialists. But some general home inspectors add these specialties to their repertoire, which allows them to provide a more comprehensive service to more customers.
Technology helps inspectors work more efficiently.
Written Report Itemizing Material Defects in the Property
The result of every inspection should be the written report, according to the Standards of Practice. Most inspectors provide a report to the customer the day after the inspection, or at least within two days. And with modern technology, that’s usually not a problem.
The report should include all material defects and where they were located, but it may also include some comments and suggestions that the inspector has for the home owner. These are not required, but can be a useful tool that offers up some guidance or direction for correcting defects that were found.
Not every home inspector is bound by the Standards of Practice, but many are. If you had membership in one of the larger, national home inspector organizations, such as InterNACHI, you’d be expected to comply.
But even without a membership, these guidelines are worth thinking about. They promote consistency, which benefits everyone. You can read them in full here at the InterNACHI website.
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