At HomeWright, we believe that meeting client expectations
is the cornerstone of a successful home inspection. Experience
has shown us, however, that some clients just don’t know what
to expect. With this in mind, we’ve put together this informative
article on expectations and limitations that will help you
better appreciate what our service can and can not do for
common misconceptions about home inspections:
Will the home inspector will be able to identify problems
that are concealed behind building finishes or exist in areas
that are either inaccessible or only partially accessible?
A professional home inspection is limited to only visible
and readily accessible systems and components in the home.
The reason is simple. We are invited guests in someone elses
home, and as such, we are expected to treat the property with
respect and leave it in the condition we found it in. We do
not have permission to dismantle components or do destructive
testing, such as take apart the furnace, knock holes in the
drywall, and so on. Nor do we have permission to move personal
belongings, clothing, storage items, furniture, carpeting,
ceiling tiles, appliances, etc.
Will the home inspector will be able to identify problems
that occur only sporadically?
Some problems may not reveal themselves during the inspection
and therefore may not be detected. Water infiltration tends
to be the most common of these types of problems. For example,
some types of roof and basement leaks only occur during severe
or unusual weather conditions, and it is unrealistic to expect
your home inspector to identify this without clear evidence.
Prolonged dry weather may eliminate any evidence of roof and/or
basement leaks. It is important to understand that both major
and minor problems can escape detection, especially when symptoms
or clues are absent or concealed.
Will the home inspector will be responsible for problems that
develop or occur after the inspection?
Your home inspectors opinions and findings reflect
what he or she observed on the day of the inspection only.
If the furnace is working during the inspection, it is unrealistic
to expect your home inspector to forecast its breakdown. A
good analogy is that it is like looking at bald tires on a
car. We all know that bald tires run a much higher risk of
blowing than new tires, but who can say with any certainty
when those tires will blow? They may last another year or
two, or they may go flat tomorrow morning. Furthermore, even
brand new tires go flat from time to time. The bottom line
is that some mechanical systems may operate intermittently,
and some may fail to operate altogether. Whether or not youll
experience this type of problem is anyones guess.
Will the home inspector pay for any defects or problems that
are missed during the inspection?
It is important to understand that a home inspection does
not come with guarantees or warranties, and is not an insurance
policy of any kind. The primary reason is that there are just
too many limitations and restrictions with what we can do
as guests in the Sellers home. Although a home inspection
can reduce your risk, it can not eliminate it, nor will your
home inspector assume it. If this is a concern to you, Home
Warranties are available for those looking for limited protection
from potential unexpected problems.
Will a home inspection uncover problems with the "inner
workings" of mechanical devices or components, such as
heat exchangers, compressors, chimney flue interiors, drainage
pipe interiors, etc?
In almost all cases, the inner workings of mechanical devices
and components can only be accessed by dismantling the system
or component, which is beyond the scope of a home inspection.
Typically, a specialist is required to perform this type of
Is a home inspection technically exhaustive in nature and
will identify every problem with the house and property?
This is simply an unrealistic expectation. Such an inspection
would take far longer than a standard home inspection and
cost several thousand dollars, not to mention the disruption
it would cause to the homeowner. Although a professional home
inspection is comprehensive, the reality is that you will
likely experience unexpected problems and spend money on repairs
not noted in the report.
Home Inspectors are experts in every area of building construction
In actuality, home inspectors are generalists rather than
specialists, much like your family doctor. When your inspector
finds a defect or area of concern, he or she usually will
refer you to a specialist for further evaluation and repair
Will a home inspection reveal whether or not underground drainpipes
are broken or clogged with tree roots, or determine the likelihood
of a sewer backup into the basement?
This type of problem can only be identified by a drain specialist
with the proper camera equipment to view the interior of underground
drainpipes. If you are concerned about the condition of the
underground drainage system, we recommend you engage a drain
specialist for further evaluation. The homeowner and/or the
municipal works department may have information about past
instances of sewer backups.
Will a home inspection identify environmental issues, such
as the presence of, or danger from, mold, Urea Formaldehyde
Foam Insulation (UFFI), asbestos, mercury, lead paint and
water-supply pipes, underground oil storage tanks, soil contamination,
arsenic in pressure-treated lumber, indoor air quality, radon
gas, and so on?
In fact, environmental issues are beyond the scope of a home
inspection. The only way to identify the presence of mold,
asbestos, UFFI, etc. is through laboratory testing. This type
of inspection is usually performed by a qualified environmental
specialist. Professional home inspectors know better than
to offer opinions on issues that are outside their area of
expertise and/or beyond the scope of their inspection.
HomeWright Inspections is certified to perform radon testing
which is available as an option with a home inspection or
as a radon only inspection. Other environmental specialist
may be obtained through the yellow pages or you may contact
the Environmental protection agency, The Consumer Product
safety Commission, or other government agencies, trade associations,
or municipal code enforcement officials for more information
regarding these issues.
Will a home inspection identify building components or systems
that do not meet current building codes or zoning?
When you consider that building codes and zoning change every
few years, it is unrealistic to expect a house that was built
say, in 1970, to conform to current building codes. However,
in some instances where safety may be an issue, the inspector
may look to the current building codes as a benchmark for
what is presently considered safe.
Will a home inspection address the presence of, or the absence
of wood-boring insects, such as termites or carpenter ants?
Actually, inspecting for wood-boring insects is beyond the
scope of a home inspection, but most home inspectors will
document any evidence of insect activity they happen to come
across. Unfortunately, in many cases, evidence of wood-boring
insects is well hidden and only becomes exposed after the
existing homeowner moves out and the house is empty. If you
are buying a home, it is a good idea to engage a pest control
specialist for a wood-boring insect specific inspection.
We Know For Sure
- No house or condo is free of defects.
- Sellers sometimes go to great lengths to conceal problems.
- You may find opinions that differ from ours.
- Your roof may leak if you dont maintain it, repair
damaged or worn areas, and replace it when the roof cover
is at or nearing the end of its intended service life.
- Your basement or crawlspace may leak if you dont
keep your gutters clean and downspouts extended away from
the foundation, and maintain proper foundation grading and,
adequate site drainage away from the house.
- Your tub and /or shower may leak if you dont maintain
the caulking and grout around the tub, shower, faucets,
- Mechanical systems may operate intermittently, or fail
to operate altogether.
- Cold weather can cause water-supply pipes to freeze.
- Failure to properly and regularly maintain any system
or component will lead to premature failure and costly repairs.
The thing to remember is that at some point these types of
problems and situations may eventually occur in almost all
houses, new and old. If you are looking for a house that is
free of problems and unexpected surprises, you will not find
it. To avoid disappointment, your best course of action is
to be sure to budget 1% to 3% of the cost of the home for
immediate repairs, improvements, and upgrades.