What Is a Home Inspection?

A proper home inspection uses nationally recognized standards of practice. Its intent is to analyze, inform, and provide helpful information for the home buyer prior to the purchase or seller prior to listing. Although some minor problems can be listed, it is impossible to list them all. (Serious defects must be included in the inspection report, although some of the minor problems can also be listed as appropriate.)

A home inspection has specific limitations. It can include only readily accessible areas of the building and is limited to visual observations only. It does not include the condition of components or systems hidden by furniture, carpeting, panels, or any other objects that obstruct the view. There is a myth that only structural engineers are qualified to perform home inspections. While formal education is a benefit, a home inspector does not have to be an engineer or a licensed tradesman to inspect homes. A home inspection by definition is a general, visual inspection that can be performed by any properly trained individual.

Engineering calculations fall outside the scope of a home inspection. To limit liability, an engineer who performs inspections often includes additional disclaimers which state that while he or she is an engineer, no engineering services or calculations are offered as part of the normal inspection. An inspection is intended to assist in the evaluation of the overall condition of the building. It is based on visual observation of the building's condition on the day of the inspection. The results of a home inspection cannot identify latent or concealed details that may exist, or warranty or guarantee any part of the home.

A home inspector cannot render an opinion as to the structural integrity of the building or its component parts, nor can a home inspection eliminate risks involved with purchasing a home. After occupancy, all buildings will have some defects that were not identified in the inspection report. The fee for a basic home inspection averages from $200 to $400. It is dependent mainly on the size and age of the house and the area of the country. A large, older home with a basement may take four hours or more to inspect, while a 2,000 square foot home built on a concrete slab will take less than two hours to inspect. Inspections are generally scheduled three to seven days ahead of time, and a written report is normally submitted the day following an inspection.

Source: Professional Home Inspection Institute, www.homeinspectioninstitute.com