Limitations Of Home Inspection

A general home inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of the accessible areas of a residential property (as delineated below), performed for a fee, which is designed to identify defects within specific systems and components defined by the standards below that are both observed and deemed material by our inspector.

The general home inspection is based on the observations made on the date of the inspection, and not a prediction of future conditions. The general home inspection will not reveal every issue that exists or ever could exist, but only those material defects observed on the date of the inspection.

A material defect is a specific issue with a system or component of a residential property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property, or that poses an unreasonable risk to people. The fact that a system or component is near, at, or beyond the end of its normal, useful life is not, in itself, a material defect.

A general home inspection report shall identify, in written format, defects within specific systems and components defined by the standards below that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector and may include additional comments and recommendations.

‚ÄčImportant Limitations about Home Inspections

  • An inspection is not technically exhaustive.
  • An inspection will not identify concealed or latent defects.
  • An inspection will not deal with aesthetic concerns or what could be deemed matters of taste, cosmetic defects, etc.
  • An inspection will not determine the suitability of the property for any use.
  • An inspection does not determine the market value of the property or its marketability.
  • An inspection does not determine the insurability of the property.
  • An inspection does not determine the advisability or inadvisability of the purchase of the inspected property.
  • An inspection does not determine the life expectancy of the property or any components or systems therein.
  • An inspection does not include items not permanently installed.
  • This Standards of Practice applies to properties with four or fewer residential units and their attached garages and carports.

The inspector is not required to determine:

  • Property boundary lines or encroachments.
  • The condition of any component or system that is not readily accessible.
  • The service life expectancy of any component or system.
  • The size, capacity, BTU, performance or efficiency of any component or system.
  • The cause or reason of any condition.
  • The cause for the need of correction, repair or replacement of any system or component.
  • Future conditions.
  • Compliance with codes or regulations.
  • The presence of evidence of rodents, birds, animals, insects, or other pests.
  • The presence of mold, mildew or fungus.
  • The presence of airborne hazards, including radon.
  • The air quality.
  • The existence of environmental hazards, including lead paint, asbestos or toxic drywall.
  • The existence of electromagnetic fields.
  • Any hazardous waste conditions.
  • Any manufacturers' recalls or conformance with manufacturer installation, or any information included for consumer protection purposes.
  • Acoustical properties.
  • Correction, replacement or repair cost estimates.
  • Estimates of the cost to operate any given system.

The inspector is not required to operate:

  • Any system that is shut down.
  • Any system that does not function properly.
  • Or evaluate low-voltage electrical systems, such as, but not limited to:
    • Phone lines;
    • Cable lines;
    • Satellite dishes;
    • Antennae;
    • Lights; or
    • Remote controls.
  • Any system that does not turn on with the use of normal operating controls.
  • Any shut-off valves or manual stop valves.
  • Any electrical disconnect or over-current protection devices.
  • Any alarm systems.
  • Moisture meters, gas detectors or similar equipment.

The inspector is not required to:

  • Move any personal items or other obstructions, such as, but not limited to:  throw rugs, carpeting, wall coverings, furniture, ceiling tiles, window coverings, equipment, plants, ice, debris, snow, water, dirt, pets, or anything else that might restrict the visual inspection.
  • Dismantle, open or uncover any system or component.
  • Enter or access any area that may, in the inspector's opinion, be unsafe.
  • Enter crawlspaces or other areas that may be unsafe or not readily accessible.
  • Inspect underground items, such as, but not limited to: lawn-irrigation systems, or underground storage tanks (or indications of their presence), whether abandoned or actively used.
  • Do anything that may, in the inspector's opinion, be unsafe or dangerous to him/herself or others, or damage property, such as, but not limited to:  walking on roof surfaces, climbing ladders, entering attic spaces, or negotiating with pets.
  • Inspect decorative items.
  • Inspect common elements or areas in multi-unit housing.
  • Inspect intercoms, speaker systems or security systems.
  • Offer guarantees or warranties.
  • Offer or perform any engineering services.
  • Offer or perform any trade or professional service other than general home inspection.
  • Research the history of the property, or report on its potential for alteration, modification, extendibility or suitability for a specific or proposed use for occupancy.
  • Determine the age of construction or installation of any system, structure or component of a building, or differentiate between original construction and subsequent additions, improvements, renovations or replacements.
  • Determine the insurability of a property.
  • Perform or offer Phase 1 or environmental audits.
  • Inspect any system or component that is not included in these Standards.

1. General Inspection Criteria

  • We will inspect readily accessible, visually observable, installed systems and components listed in this Standard.
  • We will provide the client with a written report, using a format and medium selected by the inspector, that states:
    • Those systems and components inspected that, in the professional judgment of the inspector, are not functioning properly, significantly deficient, unsafe, or are near the end of their service lives
    • Recommendations to correct, or monitor for future correction, the deficiencies reported, or items needing further evaluation (we will NOT determine methods, materials, or costs of corrections.)
    • Reasoning or explanation as to the nature of the deficiencies reported in that are not self-evident
    • Those systems and components designated for inspection that were present at the time of the home inspection but were not inspected and the reason(s) they were not inspected.
  • We will adhere to the InterNACHI and ASHI® Code of Ethics for the Home Inspection Profession.

2. Structural Components

  • We will inspect structural components including the foundation and framing.
  • We will NOT:
    • provide engineering or architectural services or analysis.
    • Offer an opinion about the adequacy of structural systems and components.
    • Enter under-floor crawlspace areas that have less than 24 inches of vertical clearance between components and the ground or that have an access opening smaller than 16 inches by 24 inches.
    • Traverse attic load-bearing components that are concealed by insulation or by other materials.

3. Exterior

  • We will inspect:
    • Wall coverings, flashing, and trim, exterior doors.
    • Attached and adjacent decks, balconies, stoops, steps, porches, and their associated railings.
    • Eaves, soffits, and fascias where accessible from the ground level.
    • Vegetation, grading, surface drainage, and retaining walls that are likely to adversely affect the building.
    • Adjacent and entryway walkways, patios, and driveways.
  • We will NOT inspect:
    • Screening, shutters, awnings, and similar seasonal accessories.
    • Fences, boundary walls, and similar structures.
    • Geological and soil conditions, recreational facilities, outbuildings other than garages and carports.
    • Seawalls, break-walls, and docks.
    • Erosion control and earth stabilization measures.

4. Roofing

  • We will inspect from ground level or the eaves:
    • Roofing materials.
    • Roof drainage systems.
    • Flashing.
    • Skylights, chimneys, and roof penetrations.
  • We will NOT be required to:
    • Walk on any roof surface
    • Inspect antennae, satellite dishes, lightning arresters, de-icing equipment, or similar attachments
    • Inspect Interiors of vent systems, flues, and chimneys that are not readily accessible
    • Walk on any roof surface
    • Predict the service life expectancy
    • Inspect underground downspout diverter drainage pipes
    • Remove snow, ice, debris or other conditions that prohibit the observation of the roof surfaces
    • Move insulation
    • Performa water test
    • Warrant or certify the roof
    • Confirm proper fastening or installation of any roof-covering material
    • Inspect:
      • ‚ÄčAntennas, satellite dishes, lightning arresters, de-icing equipment, or similar attachments.
      • Interiors of vent systems, flues, and chimneys that are not readily accessible or any ‚Äčother installed accessories

5. Plumbing

  • We will inspect:
    • Interior water supply and distribution systems heating equipment and hot water supply systems.
    • Interior drain, waste, and vent systems including fixtures.
    • Water heating equipment and hot water supply systems.
    • Vent systems, flues, and chimneys.
    • Fuel storage and fuel distribution systems.
    • Sewage ejectors, sump pumps, and related piping.
  • We will NOT inspect:
    • Clothes washing machine connections.
    • Interiors of vent systems, flues, and chimneys that are not readily accessible.
    • Wells, well pumps, and water storage related equipment.
    • Water conditioning systems.
    • Solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy water heating systems.
    • Manual and automatic fire extinguishing and sprinkler systems and landscape irrigation systems.
    • Septic and other sewage disposal systems.
  • We will NOT determine:
    • Whether water supply and sewage disposal are public or private.
    • Water quality, unless specifically requested to (at an additional charge).
    • The adequacy of combustion air components.
    • Measure water supply flow and pressure, and well water quantity.
  • We will NOT fill shower pans and fixtures to test for leaks.

6. Electrical

  • We will inspect:
    • Service drop.
    • Service entrance conductors, cables, and raceways.
    • Service equipment and main disconnects.
    • Service grounding.
    • Interior components of service panels and subpanels.
    • Conductors.
    • Overcurrent protection devices.
    • A representative number of installed lighting fixtures, switches, and receptacles.
    • Ground fault circuit interrupters and arc fault circuit interrupters.
  • We will NOT inspect:
    • Remote control devices.
    • Or test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, security systems, and other signaling and warning devices.
    • Low voltage wiring systems and components.
    • Ancillary wiring systems and components not a part of the primary electrical power distribution system.
    • Solar, geothermal, wind, and other renewable energy systems.
    • Measure amperage, voltage, and impedance.
    • Determine the age and type of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.

7. Heating

  • We will:
    • Open readily openable access panels.
    • Inspect:
      • Installed heating equipment.
      • Vent systems, flues, and chimneys.
      • Distribution systems.
    • Describe:
      • Energy source(s).
      • Heating systems.
  • We will NOT:
    • Inspect:
      • Interiors of vent systems, flues, and chimneys that are not readily accessible.
      • Heat exchangers.
      • Humidifiers and dehumidifiers.
      • Electric air cleaning and sanitizing devices.
      • Heating systems using ground-source, water-source, solar, and renewable energy technologies.
      • Heat-recovery and similar whole-house mechanical ventilation systems.
    • Determine:
      • Heat supply adequacy and distribution balance.
      • The adequacy of combustion air components.

8. Air Conditioning

  • We will:
    • Open readily openable access panels.
    • Inspect:
      • Central and permanently installed cooling equipment.
      • Distribution systems.
    • Describe:
      • Energy source(s).
      • Cooling systems.
    • We will NOT:
      • Inspect electric air cleaning and sanitizing devices.
      • Determine cooling supply adequacy and distribution balance.
      • Inspect cooling units that are not permanently installed or that are installed in windows.
      • Inspect cooling systems using ground-source, water-source, solar, and renewable energy technologies.

9. Interiors

  • We will inspect:
    • Walls, ceilings, and floors.
    • Steps, stairways, and railings.
    • Countertops and a representative number of installed cabinets.
    • A representative number of doors and windows.
    • Garage vehicle doors and garage vehicle  door operators.
    • Installed ovens, ranges, surface cooking appliances,  microwave ovens, dishwashing machines, and food waste grinders by using normal operating controls to activate the primary function.
  • We will NOT inspect:
    • Paint, wallpaper, and other finish treatments (unless specifically requested to (at an additional fee).
    • Floor coverings.
    • Window treatments.
    • Coatings on and the hermetic seals between panes of window glass.
    • Central vacuum systems.
    • Recreational facilities.
    • Installed and free-standing kitchen and laundry  appliances not listed in Section 10.1.F.
    • Appliance thermostats including their calibration,  adequacy of heating elements, self cleaning oven  cycles, indicator lights, door seals, timers, clocks,  timed features, and other specialized features of the appliance. I.  operate, or confirm the operation of every control and feature of an inspected appliance.

10. Insulation And Ventilation

  • We will inspect:
    • Insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces.
    • Ventilation of attics and foundation areas.
    • Kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and similar  exhaust systems.
    • Clothes dryer exhaust systems.
  • We will NOT disturb insulation.

11. Fireplaces And Fuel-Burning Appliances

  • We will inspect:
    • Fuel-burning fireplaces, stoves, and fireplace inserts.
    • Fuel-burning accessories installed in fireplaces.
    • Chimneys and vent systems.
  • We will NOT inspect:
    • Interiors of vent systems, flues, and chimneys that  are not readily accessible.
    • Fire screens and doors.
    • Seals and gaskets.
    • Automatic fuel feed devices.
    • Determine draft characteristics.
  • We will NOT move fireplace inserts and stoves or firebox contents.

12. General Limitations And Exclusions

  • General limitations
    • The inspector is NOT required to perform actions, or to make determinations, or to make recommendations not specifically stated in this Standard.
    • Inspections performed using this Standard:
      • Are not technically exhaustive.
      • Are not required to identify and to report:
        • Concealed conditions, latent defects, consequential damages, and
        • Cosmetic imperfections that do not significantly affect a component’s performance of its intended function.
    • This Standard applies to buildings with four or fewer dwelling units and their attached and detached garages and carports.
    • This Standard shall not limit or prevent the inspector from meeting state statutes which license professional home inspection and home inspectors.
    • Redundancy in the description of the requirements, limitations, and exclusions regarding the scope of the home inspection is provided for emphasis only.
  • General exclusions
    • The inspector is NOT required to determine:
      • The condition of systems and components that  are not readily accessible.
      • The remaining life expectancy of systems and  components.
      • The strength, adequacy, effectiveness, and efficiency of systems and components.
      • The causes of conditions and deficiencies.
      • Methods, materials, and costs of corrections.
      • Future conditions including but not limited to failure of systems and components.
      • The suitability of the property for specialized uses.
    • The inspector is NOT required to offer:
      • Or to perform acts or services contrary to law or to government regulations.
      • Or to perform architectural, engineering, contracting, or surveying services or to confirm or to evaluate such services performed by others.
      • Or to perform trades or professional services other than home inspection.
      • Warranties or guarantees.
    • The inspector is NOT required to operate:
      • Systems and components that are shut down or  otherwise inoperable.
      • Systems and components that do not respond to normal operating controls.
      • Shut-off valves and manual stop valves.
      • Automatic safety controls.
      • Mantles and fireplace surrounds.
      • Combustion air components and to determine their adequacy.
      • Heat distribution assists (gravity fed and fan assisted).
      • Fuel-burning fireplaces and appliances located outside the inspected structures.
    • The inspector is NOT required to enter:
      • Areas that will, in the professional judgment of the inspector, likely be dangerous to the inspector or to other persons, or to damage the property or its  systems and components.
      • Under-floor crawlspaces and attics that are not  readily accessible.
    • The inspector is NOT required to inspect:
      • Underground items including, but not limited to, underground storage tanks and other underground indications of their presence, whether abandoned  or active.
      • Items that are not installed.
      • Installed decorative items.
      • Items in areas that are not entered in accordance with 13.2.D.
      • Detached structures other than garages and carports.
      • Common elements and common areas in multi- unit housing, such as condominium properties and cooperative housing.
      • Every occurrence of multiple similar components.  8. outdoor cooking appliances.
    • The inspector is NOT required to:
      • Perform procedures or operations that will, in the  professional judgment of the inspector, likely be dangerous to the inspector or to other persons, or to damage the property or its systems or components.
      • Describe or report on systems and components that are not included in this Standard and that were not inspected.
      • Move personal property, furniture, equipment, plants, soil, snow, ice, and debris.
      • Dismantle systems and components, except as  explicitly required by this Standard.
      • Reset, reprogram, or otherwise adjust devices, systems, and components affected by inspection required by this Standard.
      • Ignite or extinguish fires, pilot lights, burners, and other open flames that require manual ignition.
      • Probe surfaces that would be damaged or where no deterioration is visible or presumed to exist.
      • Compliance of systems and components with past and present requirements and guidelines (codes, regulations, laws, ordinances, specifications, installation and maintenance instructions, use and care guides, etc.).
      • The market value of the property and its marketability.
      • The advisability of purchasing the property.
      • The presence of plants, animals, and other life forms and substances that may be hazardous or harmful to humans including, but not limited to, wood destroying organisms, molds and mold-like substances.
      • The presence of environmental hazards including, but not limited to, allergens, toxins, carcinogens, electromagnetic radiation, noise, radioactive substances, and contaminants in building materials,  soil, water, and air.
      • The effectiveness of systems installed and methods used to control or remove suspected hazardous plants, animals, and environmental hazards.
      • Operating costs of systems and components.
      • Acoustical properties of systems and components.
      • Soil conditions relating to geotechnical or hydrologic specialties.
      • Whether items, materials, conditions and  components are subject to recall, controversy,  litigation, product liability, and other adverse  claims and conditions.