Existing Home Inspections Overview

An existing home inspection will give you insight on any damage and repairs needed that you may have been unaware of until now. Being able to preemptively detect these issues and stop them from becoming larger problems in the future could potentially save you and your family thousands of dollars. This particular inspection reviews the condition of the home's heating system, central air conditioning system, interior plumbing and electrical systems; roof, attic, and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; foundation, basement, and the visible structures of the home. All of our home inspections strictly abide by the American Society of Home Inspections (ASHI) Standard of Practice. 

ASHI STANDARD OF PRACTICE FOR HOME INSPECTIONS

2. Purpose and Scope

2.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect readily accessible, visually observable, installed systems and components listed in this Standard.

B. provide the client with a written report, using a format and medium selected by the inspector, that states:

  1. 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,
  2. recommendations to correct, or monitor for future correction, the deficiencies reported in 2.2.B.1, or items needing further evaluation (Per Exclusion 13.2.A.5 the inspector is NOT required to determine methods, materials, or costs of corrections.),
  3. reasoning or explanation as to the nature of the deficiencies reported in 2.2.B.1, that are not self-evident,
  4. those systems and components designated for inspection in this Standard that were present at the time of the home inspection but were not inspected and the reason(s) they were not inspected.

 C. adhere to the ASHI® Code of Ethics for the Home Inspection Profession. 

More information regarding what the inspector looks for (per the ASHI Standards of Practice) while inspecting each element is described below:

 

3. STRUCTURAL COMPONENTS

3.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect structural components including the foundation and framing.

B. describe:

  1. the methods used to inspect under-floor crawlspaces and attics.
  2. the foundation.
  3. the floor structure.
  4. the wall structure.
  5. the ceiling structure.
  6. the roof structure.

3.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

A. provide engineering or architectural services or analysis.

B. offer an opinion about the adequacy of structural systems and components.

  1. 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.

C. traverse attic load-bearing components that are concealed by insulation or by other materials.

 

4. EXTERIOR

4.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

  1. wall coverings, flashing, and trim.
  2. exterior doors.
  3. attached and adjacent decks, balconies, stoops, steps, porches, and their associated railings.
  4. eaves, soffits, and fascias where accessible from the ground level.
  5. vegetation, grading, surface drainage, and retaining walls that are likely to adversely affect the building.
  6. adjacent and entryway walkways, patios, and driveways.

B. describe wall coverings.

4.2 The inspector is NOT required to inspect:

A. screening, shutters, awnings, and similar seasonal accessories.

B. fences, boundary walls, and similar structures.

C. geological and soil conditions.

D. recreational facilities.

E. outbuildings other than garages and carports.

F. seawalls, break-walls, and docks.

G. erosion control and earth stabilization measures. 

 

5. ROOFING

5.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

  1. roofing materials.
  2. roof drainage systems.
  3. flashing.
  4. skylights, chimneys, and roof penetrations.

B. describe:

  1. roofing materials.
  2. methods used to inspect the roofing.


5.2 The inspector is NOT required to inspect:

A. antennae.

B. interiors of vent systems, flues, and chimneys that are not readily accessible.

C. other installed accessories.

 

6. PLUMBING

6.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

  1. interior water supply and distribution systems including fixtures and faucets.
  2. interior drain, waste, and vent systems including fixtures.
  3. water heating equipment and hot water supply systems.
  4. vent systems, flues, and chimneys.
  5. fuel storage and fuel distribution systems.
  6. sewage ejectors, sump pumps, and related piping.

B. describe:

  1. interior water supply, drain, waste, and vent piping materials.
  2. water heating equipment including energy source(s).
  3. location of main water and fuel shut-off valves.

6.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

A. inspect:

  1. clothes washing machine connections.
  2. interiors of vent systems, flues, and chimneys that are not readily accessible.
  3. wells, well pumps, and water storage related equipment.
  4. water conditioning systems.
  5. solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy water heating systems.
  6. manual and automatic fire extinguishing and sprinkler systems and landscape irrigation systems.
  7. septic and other sewage disposal systems.

B. determine:

  1. whether water supply and sewage disposal are public or private.
  2. water quality.
  3. the adequacy of combustion air components.
    1. measure water supply flow and pressure, and well water quantity.
    2. fill shower pans and fixtures to test for leaks.

 

7. ELECTRICAL

7.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

  1. service drop.
  2. service entrance conductors, cables, and raceways.
  3. service equipment and main disconnects.
  4. service grounding.
  5. interior components of service panels and subpanels.
  6. conductors.
  7. overcurrent protection devices.
  8. a representative number of installed lighting fixtures, switches, and receptacles.
  9. ground fault circuit interrupters and arc fault circuit interrupters.

B. describe:

  1. amperage rating of the service.
  2. location of main disconnect(s) and subpanels.
  3. presence or absence of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.
  4. the predominant branch circuit wiring method.

7.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

A. inspect:

  1. remote control devices.
  2. or test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, security systems, and other signaling and warning devices.
  3. low voltage wiring systems and components.
  4. ancillary wiring systems and components not a part of the primary electrical power distribution system.
  5. solar, geothermal, wind, and other renewable energy systems.

B. measure amperage, voltage, and impedance.

  1. determine the age and type of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms

 

8. HEATING

 8.1 The inspector shall:

A. open readily openable access panels.

B. inspect:

  1. installed heating equipment.
  2. vent systems, flues, and chimneys.
  3. distribution systems.

C. describe:

  1. energy source(s).
  2. heating systems.

 8.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

A. inspect:

  1. interiors of vent systems, flues, and chimneys that are not readily accessible.
  2. heat exchangers.
  3. humidifiers and dehumidifiers.
  4. electric air cleaning and sanitizing devices.
  5. heating systems using ground-source, water-source, solar, and renewable energy technologies.
  6. heat-recovery and similar whole-house mechanical ventilation systems.

B. determine:

  1. heat supply adequacy and distribution balance.
  2. the adequacy of combustion air components.

 

9. AIR CONDITIONING

9.1 The inspector shall:

A. open readily openable access panels.

B. inspect:

  1. central and permanently installed cooling equipment.
  2. distribution systems.

C. describe:

  1. energy source(s).
  2. cooling systems

9.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

A. inspect electric air cleaning and sanitizing devices.

B. determine cooling supply adequacy and distribution balance.

C. inspect cooling units that are not permanently installed or that are installed in windows.

  1.  inspect cooling systems using ground-source, water-source, solar, and renewable energy technologies.

 

10. INTERIORS 

10.1 The inspector shall inspect:

A. walls, ceilings, and floors.

B. steps, stairways, and railings.

C. countertops and a representative number of installed cabinets.

D. a representative number of doors and windows.

E. garage vehicle doors and garage vehicle door operators.

  1. installed ovens, ranges, surface cooking appliances, microwave ovens, dishwashing machines, and food waste grinders by using normal operating controls to activate the primary function.

10.2 The inspector is NOT required to inspect:

A. paint, wallpaper, and other finish treatments.

B. floor coverings.

C. window treatments.

  1. coatings on and the hermetic seals between panes of window glass.

E. central vacuum systems.

F. recreational facilities.

  1. installed and free-standing kitchen and laundry appliances not listed in Section 10.1.F.
  2. 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.
  3. operate, or confirm the operation of every control and feature of an inspected appliance.



11. INSULATION AND VENTILATION 

11.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

  1. insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces.
  2. ventilation of attics and foundation areas.
  3. kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and similar exhaust systems.
  4. clothes dryer exhaust systems.


B. describe:

  1. insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces.
  2. absence of insulation in unfinished spaces at conditioned surfaces.

11.2 The inspector is NOT required to disturb insulation.

 

12. FIREPLACES AND FUEL-BURNING APPLIANCES

12.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

  1. fuel-burning fireplaces, stoves, and fireplace inserts.
  2. fuel-burning accessories installed in fireplaces.
  3. chimneys and vent systems.

B. describe systems and components listed in 12.1.A.1 and .2.

12.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

A. inspect:

  1. interiors of vent systems, flues, and chimneys that are not readily accessible.
  2. fire screens and doors.
  3. seals and gaskets.
  4. automatic fuel feed devices.
  5. mantles and fireplace surrounds.
  6. combustion air components and to determine their adequacy.
  7. heat distribution assists (gravity fed and fan assisted).
  8. fuel-burning fireplaces and appliances located outside the inspected structures. 

B. determine draft characteristics.

C. move fireplace inserts and stoves or firebox contents.

 

13. GENERAL LIMITATIONS AND EXCLUSIONS 

13.1 General limitations

A. The inspector is NOT required to perform actions, or to make determinations, or to make recommendations not specifically stated in this Standard.

B. Inspections performed using this Standard:

  1. are not technically exhaustive.
  2. are not required to identify and to report:
    1. concealed conditions, latent defects, consequential damages, and
    2. cosmetic imperfections that do not significantly affect a component’s performance of its intended function.

C. This Standard applies to buildings with four or fewer dwelling units and their attached and detached garages and carports.

  1. This Standard shall not limit or prevent the inspector from meeting state statutes which license professional home inspection and home inspectors.
  2. Redundancy in the description of the requirements, limitations, and exclusions regarding the scope of the home inspection is provided for emphasis only.

13.2 General exclusions 

A. The inspector is NOT required to determine:

  1. the condition of systems and components that are not readily accessible.
  2. the remaining life expectancy of systems and components.
  3. the strength, adequacy, effectiveness, and efficiency of systems and components.
  4. the causes of conditions and deficiencies.
  5. methods, materials, and costs of corrections.
  6. future conditions including but not limited to failure of systems and components.
  7. the suitability of the property for specialized uses.
  8. 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.).
  9. the market value of the property and its marketability.
  10. the advisability of purchasing the property.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. the effectiveness of systems installed and methods used to control or remove suspected hazardous plants, animals, and environmental hazards.
  14. operating costs of systems and components.
  15. acoustical properties of systems and components.
  16. soil conditions relating to geotechnical or hydrologic specialties.
  17. whether items, materials, conditions and components are subject to recall, controversy, litigation, product liability, and other adverse claims and conditions. 

B. The inspector is NOT required to offer:

  1. or to perform acts or services contrary to law or to government regulations.
  2. or to perform architectural, engineering, contracting, or surveying services or to confirm or to evaluate such services performed by others.
  3. or to perform trades or professional services other than home inspection.
  4. warranties or guarantees.

C. The inspector is NOT required to operate:

  1. systems and components that are shut down or otherwise inoperable.
  2. systems and components that do not respond to normal operating controls.
  3. shut-off valves and manual stop valves.
  4. automatic safety controls.

D. The inspector is NOT required to enter:

  1. 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.
  2. under-floor crawlspaces and attics that are not readily accessible.

E. The inspector is NOT required to inspect:

  1. underground items including, but not limited to, underground storage tanks and other underground indications of their presence, whether abandoned or active.
  2. items that are not installed.
  3. installed decorative items.
  4. items in areas that are not entered in accordance with 13.2.D.
  5. detached structures other than garages and carports.
  6. common elements and common areas in multi-unit housing, such as condominium properties and cooperative housing.
  7. every occurrence of multiple similar components.
  8. outdoor cooking appliances.

F. The inspector is NOT required to:

  1. 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.
  2. describe or report on systems and components that are not included in this Standard and that were not inspected.
  3. move personal property, furniture, equipment, plants, soil, snow, ice, and debris.
  4. dismantle systems and components, except as explicitly required by this Standard.
  5. reset, reprogram, or otherwise adjust devices, systems, and components affected by inspection required by this Standard.
  6. ignite or extinguish fires, pilot lights, burners, and other open flames that require manual ignition.
  7. probe surfaces that would be damaged or where no deterioration is visible or presumed to exist.

 

Whether you are a homebuyer, a seller or a current owner, a home inspector has been trained and certified with the knowledge needed to analyze the existing conditions visually found in the house. The inspector will provide you with an unbiased report that you can trust.

For a full version of the ASHI Standard of Practice guidelines, click here.