There are a lot of questions that probably run through your head when it comes to home inspectors and home inspections. One that you may not have thought about is: what can a home inspector not do? Here are a few examples to give you an idea of what your home inspector cannot or should not be doing.
What is a Home Inspection?
Before we dive into some of these examples, let’s start with what a home inspection is. According to InterNACHI Standard of Practice:
1.1. A 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 these Standards that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector. The scope of work may be modified by the Client and Inspector prior to the inspection process.
- The home inspection is based on the observations made on the date of the inspection, and not a prediction of future conditions.
- The 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.
Now let’s discuss some things your inspection should not be doing.
1. Provide other services that fall outside of the home inspection
Did you know Ellingwood Pro’s inspectors have a background in residential construction? This is a great bonus to have in the inspector you choose because it allows them to have the knowledge and viewpoint of a builder when it comes to any issues that they find.
Ellingwood Pro’s owner, Geremey, likes to say “As a former residential contractor, I know all issues found during a home inspection are repairable or fixable. After we give our report, it is up to the client to decide if what was found is worth their time and money to fix.”
Even though we have residential construction experience, it would be unethical for our inspector or any inspector to fix the issues found during a home inspection. A home inspector’s role is only to provide a report that provides you with an unbiased opinion of the home’s current state. Therefore, a home inspector cannot and should not offer you services that fall outside of the inspection itself. If an inspector ever offers to fix the issues, this should be a red flag for you.
An exception to note for this, would be if they find evidence of something like mold or termites. If they offer the additional services to test or inspect for these, then it would be fine to offer those additional services to you.
2. Help with fixing or renovating any of their inspected homes
Continuing on the topic of home inspectors and fixing issues found during home inspections. This goes for not just the home they are currently inspecting, but also home’s that they previously inspected. It is against the law for a home inspector to later be hired to renovate or fix any homes they had inspected.
All home inspectors have a code of ethics that they should follow. By a home inspector fixing previously inspected homes, they would be violating these ethics.
3. Move your belongings/Damage the home
If you have ever had a home inspector cause damage to your home, they did something that they probably should not have. A home inspector should only inspect parts of the home that they have access to because home inspection is a visual examination of the home.
For example, if you have furniture or boxes stored in your basement that blocks the inspectors pathway to your furnace, the inspector should not move the items. They can only note on the report that the area was blocked and what they were able to see from where they were.
4. Jeopardize Their Safety
A home inspector cannot jeopardize their safety to inspect the home. Let’s say the inspector steps on a home’s roof and starts to realize that it is damaged and unsafe to be on. The inspector should get off the roof and complete the visual examination safely on the ground.
Along with the inspectors safety, they also cannot jeopardize the client’s safety. Even if the roof is determined to be safe to inspect, it still would not be safe for the inspector to allow the client to get on the roof. If an inspector finds any issues that they feel are hazardous, it is their ethical duty to notify all parties involved. That would include not only the buyer, but the seller also.
5. Inform the client of property lines or boundaries
If you are wondering where the home’s property lines or boundaries are, that is not something your home inspector can tell you about. This ties in with our first example of offering services outside of the home inspection. If you do not know where they are and want to know, you will have to contact a land surveyor.
6. Give their opinions on the cosmetic or aesthetics of the home
Your home inspector cannot comment about the home’s cosmetic appearance. If the inspector notices damage to say the ceiling, they will have to tell you that. However, they cannot give their opinions on if the ceiling’s style or areas of the home are considered outdated.
7. Condemn a Home
A home inspector is not qualified to determine if a house is unlivable or condemnable. In order for a home to be condemned, a building inspector with the city has to conduct their own inspection. Nor can they give you a certificate of occupancy. This also falls under the jurisdiction of the city, state, or federal government.
At the end of the day, it comes down to a home inspector should not do anything other than a visual and non-invasive inspection of the home. All home inspectors should follow a code of ethics. So, if a home inspector is trying to get you to hire them to fix issues outside of home inspection services they offer, allow this to be a huge red flag to you. To avoid areas of your home not being able to be properly inspected, declutter your home to make sure they have proper access.
Have questions about an Ellingwood Pro home inspection or services? Give us a call at 276-566-5669. Curious about the cost? Check out our free estimate tool. Our home inspection and services can be booked online or by giving us a call.