Home Inspection Limitations & Customer Expectations
Often, a home buyer or property investor will hire a home inspector without fully understanding the limitations of what a home inspector can do or the limitations of what a home inspection service will provide. It must be clearly communicated and understood from the beginning what the home inspection will include and will not include. The scope of a home inspection can be found in the standards of practice, the inspection report and the signed inspection agreement which is required for every inspection. The FL Standards of Practice 61-30.801 lists all of the requirements and limitations in a home inspection. A link to the Florida Standards of Practice is located at the bottom of this page.
It is also highly recommended to read the inspection agreement carefully before signing it so there is a clear understanding of what is included and what is not included in the home inspection. It is recommended that a client take the time to ask any questions and convey any concerns so the inspector can address them properly and in a timely manner. Additional services, for example, such as a wind mitigation or four-point, are often not included in a standard home inspection but can be added for additional charges as they are ancillary to a home inspection. Certain systems and components of a home require inspection and testing by trade specific contractors and a home inspector will often recommend consulting them for further evaluation and recommendations.
We must keep in mind that the property being inspected is not owned by the client or home inspector, and as such, only a visual inspection can be performed. We must respect the property of the homeowner and their personal items, belongings and space. As a result, home inspectors do not move items such as furniture or other personal items or furnishings and unfortunately this can result in limited access to certain areas of a room, space or entire areas of the house. Accessibility in an occupied home is much more limited than in a vacant dwelling.
Examples of some of the limitations include but are not limited to: walking on certain types of roofs, moving furniture or personal belongings, stored items and boxes, moving or pulling out any appliance, operating specialized window treatments, moving or displacing attic insulation, turning on anything that is turned off or unplugged, dismantling air conditioning systems and installed devices etc.
Additionally, areas such as the wall cavities, behind walls and or floor to ceiling spaces are usually enclosed and non-accessible. These spaces are also used to convey utilities such as water supply pipes, drain pipes, and electrical lines. At times there could be issues such as a water leak or other damage inside these wall spaces which cannot be inspected or tested and issues within may not be readily apparent. It is reasonable to understand that areas which cannot be accessed also cannot be inspected. There are currently no tools or practical methods in which to inspect these areas without invasive procedures such as making holes or removing sections of walls. As such, these areas are beyond the scope of a standard home inspection. Furthermore, it must be understood that an issue such as a water leak or a roof leak can develop an hour, day, week, or months after an inspection. Appliances and systems such as a dishwasher and the HVAC system all have moving parts which can fail at any time. A home inspector cannot predict the life expectancy or anticipated failure of any system, component, appliance, etc.
A home inspector does not pass or fail a home. We are merely reporting and documenting on the condition of the home and its systems and components at that moment in time. Leaks and system and component failure can occur at any time. Mold can develop within 48-72 hours given the proper conditions.
It is beneficial to all parties involved, to have a full understanding of the benefits and limitations of the home inspection before the home inspection begins. Clients are encouraged to be present during an inspection so any questions and concerns can be addressed. For further explanation or if you have a specific question, concern or request, please give us a call.
Caliber Home Inspections, LLC
West Palm Beach, Florida
The Florida Standards of Practice 61-30.801 for Home Inspections can be found here: https://www.flrules.org/gateway/ruleno.asp?id=61-30.801&Section=0