Not every state has its own association for home inspectors. Luckily, any home inspector working in the United States can qualify to join ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors.
But depending on where you work, you may want to join your local society as well, if there is one. Some of these call their group building inspectors or real estate inspectors, so check the website carefully to make sure the group pertains to your business.
One large and active independent group is the Florida Association of Building Inspectors, established in 1984. Whereas ASHI has its standards of practice, the truth is that in different regions, different standards may apply. For instance, it may be standard in the Midwest to inspect homes for structural issues that could be caused by tornadoes, but in the Northeast, this is largely unnecessary.
Although a home inspector is not required to have memorized local codes, familiarization with them, especially as they pertain to areas prone to hurricanes, flooding or other natural disasters, can help them do their jobs better.
FABI Standards of Practice for Roofs
You can assume, for the most part, that the standards of practice for examining plumbing, electricity, roofs, etc., are similar in all home inspecting associations, so this article focuses on what might be considered unique to FABI.
Home inspectors in Florida are expected to inspect roofs in a similar manner to those in any state; however, they might want to pay special attention to roofs in areas that have recently been hit by hurricanes. A storm of this magnitude can not only rip off roofs, it can destroy an entire structure.
Assuming the roof is intact, the home inspector should pay careful attention to breaches in any part of the roofing system that may allow leaking, as well as “unconventional repairs and materials,” FABI says.
Florida has a high elderly population, and scam artists tend to target them more. There’s little chance of homeowners of any age will go onto a roof to check the roofers’ work, so it is the home inspector’s responsibility to alert them to any potential problems.
Inspecting Pools, Spas, Docks, and Seawalls
Whereas pools and spas are not unique to Florida, they are more common in the south. The FABI standards of practice list what a home inspector is supposed to check and not check; however, the section begins by stating that pool and spa inspection is optional. So inspecting these features is not standard.
If you are not comfortable inspecting a pool for safety and durability, don’t do it. And further, understand that if you charge extra for this inspection, you are legally presenting yourself as an expert qualified to inspect the pool, so if anything is found to be wrong with it after your inspection, you could be held liable.
FABI also outlines standards of practice for docks and seawalls as well. Similarly, this is optional and the same circumstances apply.
Home alarm systems aren’t exactly unique to Florida, but they have long been in use there in prosperous communities where break-ins are not uncommon. Although home inspectors are required to inspect electrical systems, they are not required to verify that home alarm systems are working properly.
If you suspect the home alarm system may not work, or you know the area is prone to crime, suggest to the potential homeowner that they have the system inspected by the company that installed it. There might not even be a fee for this service.
Drainage Issues in Florida
FABI standards for practice for drainage and water runoff are fairly basic; however, mistakes made in this area can be more serious in Florida. Because many parts of the state are at sea level, poor or inadequate drainage can lead to flooding even after a routine rainstorm. Be sure these systems — including gutters, downspouts, grading, drainage systems, and retaining walls — are all in good working order. These are covered in FABI’s structure standards.
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