The goal of a home inspection is to give the client a much better understanding of the physical condition of the structure than would otherwise be known. To achieve this an inspector conducts a visual inspection of the home and its systems.
Typical homes take 2-3 hours to inspect. When the client arrives the inspector often presents a pre-inspection agreement to be signed followed by payment. A good inspector then gives the client an overview of the inspection process and invites the client to accompany him.
Though the order may vary the inspector should at least visually inspect the following:
- interior (non-cosmetic)
- foundation / basement
- framing / structure
- roof / attic
- kitchen / appliances / laundry bathrooms
- plumbing system
- electrical system
- heating system
- air conditioning system
Additional items such as pools, spas, barns & other outer structures, docks & sea walls, well flow, wood destroying insects, lawn sprinkler systems, fences & gates and EIFS (exterior insulation & finish systems) may be offered by the inspection company but may add to the fee. The inspection company may also offer environmental services such as:
Upon completion of the inspection the inspector should give the client a summary of what was discovered and an opportunity to ask questions. The client then receives a signed written report of the findings. The report is the client's property; no other party is entitled to see it.
The inspector's job is to inform the client of the condition of the home. He can describe any problems discovered, explain how and why they occurred, and even make repair recommendations. The inspector should not recommend contractors, estimate repair costs (unless the inspector is an active contractor in the particular field), recommend whether or not the client should purchase the home, comment on its market value, or benefit in any way from the repair or sale of the home.
The inspection is limited to the condition of the house at the time of inspection and what is visually accessible. It is important to understand that an inspection is not a warranty and that it is limited. Due to industry pressures, an inspection is expected to take no more than 2-3 hours. It is impossible for an inspector to inspect every one of the thousands of components that make up a home in this 2-3 hours. He must rely on his experience to optimize the time available and focus on the most important items. No two inspectors will make exactly the same report.