As long as the burners heat up, the oven does, too, and there are no obvious breaks or wiring problems, the kitchen range is generally deemed safe. But is that enough for your customers and your business reputation?
Opinions split on how far a home inspector should go to inspect a kitchen range or any built-in home appliance. Some certified home inspectors adhere to the most common Standards of Practice, which require only a cursory inspection to ensure that the appliance is operational. But the first time the new homeowner bakes a cake and ends up with a giant hockey puck, you might be in for a phone call.
What Do Standards of Practice Say?
Considering how often homeowners use appliances and how costly they are to replace, it might surprise you to learn that Standards of Practice for home inspectors is fairly silent about how to handle them. Here are some of the most common examples:
- American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI): The inspector is required to inspect permanently installed ovens, ranges, and cooktops, but only by using normal controls to see whether or not burners and elements heat up.
- International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI): The inspector is not required to inspect or move any household appliances
- California Real Estate Inspectors Association (CREIA): The inspector is required to inspect permanently installed appliances, but only to test whether or not they’re operational
Surprised? A lot of new home inspectors are. Now imagine how surprised your customers will be if they pay for an inspection and find out later that the most important appliance the kitchen can’t cook breakfast without making egg-shaped charcoal.
How do the Standards Guide Home Inspectors in Real Life
The absence of explicit direction on how or whether to inspect the kitchen range shouldn’t be misinterpreted as nonexistent standards for the job. At least that’s what Bruce Baker, ACI, says in Working RE magazine.
Home inspectors should be a lot more through than any Standards of Practice require. That’s because the Standards give high-level guidance on inspecting any home system. Baker explains that an inspector’s job is to identify any defects that affect proper function, making the appliance “significantly deficient, unsafe or near the end” of its service life.
As it applies to a kitchen range, inspectors have several tasks to check off before determining whether a range is defective.
- Is there any obvious damage inside or out?
- Does the appliance appear to be safe to operate?
- Are any parts loose, broken or missing?
- Is the range anchored to the wall or floor?
- Does the oven door open easily and close completely?
- Are electrical wiring and gas lines in good condition?
- Do traditional electric cooktop burners and the oven element glow red at their highest setting?
Other tasks, he says, might include noting cracked oven door glass, interior and exterior cosmetic damage, whether the range is level and whether there’s a carbon monoxide leak.
Although you should inspect the kitchen range, there’s still a limit to how far an inspection can go. The burners and oven element might glow red, but you shouldn’t be required to determine what temperature they reach or any other operational details. Those are for an appliance technician to determine unless you decide to specialize in that service.
Every home–even new construction–is likely to have at least a few defects. Your customers count on you to find them all. Of course, that’s not possible for any certified home inspector. The better they understand the limitations of your work, the less likely you’ll be to get a grumpy phone call about a ruined supper.
Good training is what sets some certified home inspectors apart from the rest. At ICA School, we are committed to not just providing a rudimentary education, but preparing you for the business of running your own home inspection company. If you’re ready to make a change, enroll now and let us show you how it’s done.