A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation. On average, a single-family home inspection usually takes 2-4 hours to complete, though this is heavily dependent on the of the size and condition of the home. After the inspection process, the inspector will send the client an inspection report (often within 24-48 hours) that covers their findings, complete with pictures, analysis and recommendations.
The standard home inspector’s report will cover the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing system; electrical system; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; and the foundation, basement and structural components. ASHI publishes a Standard of Practice and Code of Ethics that outlines what to expect to be covered in the home inspection report.
It is important to note that there may be some exceptions. If certain areas are inaccessible (locked door, tenant’s belongings in the way) or unsafe conditions (severely steep roofs, poor structural integrity) the inspector will explain the situation and note that they were not able to assess that specific area or system.
Buying a home could be the largest single investment the homebuyer will ever make. To minimize unpleasant surprises and unexpected difficulties, homebuyers should strive to learn as much as they can about the house before they buy it. A home inspection may identify the need for major repairs or builder oversights, as well as the need for maintenance to keep it in good shape. Through the home inspection process, homebuyers will have a better understanding about their prospective house, which will allow them to make decisions with confidence. If a homeowner is planning to sell their home, a home inspection can give them the opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition.
It is not required for the homebuyer to be present for the inspection. However, ASHI recommends attending so the homebuyer can receive the most value from their inspection. This allows homebuyers to observe the inspector and ask questions throughout the process. Many homebuyers find that talking with their inspectors gives them a better understanding the condition of the home and how to maintain it.
A professional home inspection is an examination and objective assessment of the current condition of a house. A home inspector will not pass or fail a house, but rather describe its physical condition and indicate what components and systems may need major repair or replacement. A home inspection is not an appraisal and will not determine the home’s market value. It is also not a municipal inspection and does not verify local code compliance.
It is important to note that no house is perfect. Every home inspection will identify issues with the property and the inspector will communicate the severity of the issues found. The home inspector’s goal is to leave their clients with a deeper understanding of their prospective home, so the client can make a sound decision as they continue their home buying process. The client should be fully aware of any issues, risks, or health concerns that may impact the client’s decision. The inspector’s role is not to tell the clients if they should buy the house or not, but to help the clients understand the full cost of ownership. If major problems are found, homebuyers may wish to negotiate with the seller to make repairs or cover their costs.
In some cases, the homebuyer may be displeased with the service the home inspector provided. Often in these situations, the homebuyer is left feeling that crucial defects or details were missed during the inspection process or left out of the inspection report. ASHI always suggests that the homebuyer should contact their home inspector and explain the concerns they have with the home inspection report.
Sometimes, it may turn out to be a simple misunderstanding, with the inspector providing further explanation clarifying the issue. In many states, home inspectors are licensed and follow the regulations put forth by their state. If the homebuyer is not able to resolve their dissatisfaction with the home inspector directly, they are encouraged to contact their state governing body for information on how to proceed.