Home inspectors are trained to examine a property’s structural components, systems, and overall condition to identify deficiencies required to be reported by the SOPs. The home inspector’s job is to observe and report any deficiencies and/or limitations that they encounter at the time of the inspection. All licensed inspectors should give the client a comprehensive and thorough inspection report showing the home’s current condition, thus allowing the client to make an informed decision.
A visual inspection is the first line of defense in identifying any obvious defects in a system. A competent home inspector will have the training and experience to identify warning signs such as signs of leaks, rust, cracks, and damaged or missing components. By identifying these issues before operating the system, the inspector can avoid causing damage and advise the client on what repairs or maintenance may be necessary to prevent further damage.
While home inspectors have the best intentions, their actions can inadvertently result in a deficiency or damage during an inspection. Inspectors might perform tasks that cause a deficiency such as disassembling a vent stack (not required) in order to remove an inspection cover on a gas furnace. When the inspector reassembles the vent stack, the inspector may not line it back up correctly – resulting in carbon monoxide and other byproducts venting to the interior of the structure. This can be avoided by adding a limitation to the inspection report stating the inspection cover could not be removed due to the vent stack.
If an inspector observes an immediate safety concern during an inspection, the SOPs allow the inspector to notify the homeowner that such a concern exists, without prior approval from the
buyer. If the inspector observes a water leak, gas leak, or other safety concern that poses a risk to the occupant, the inspector should report this to the homeowner and/or their agent. The picture below shows a flue vent that has been separated. This poses a safety hazard and should be disclosed to the homeowner.
Home inspectors are not perfect, and mistakes can happen. Inspectors should be familiar with the SOPs and refer to them as necessary. If the inspector causes damage or a deficiency, they are responsible for the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged component, unless the damage or deficiency was due to the normal operation of a system required by the SOPs. Consider a
garage door operator that opens properly when tested and quits working the next time the button is pushed to lower the door. The inspector did nothing to cause the operator to quit, it was just its time to stop functioning and the inspector happened to be the last one to push the button.
In conclusion, home inspectors are responsible for observing and providing thorough inspection reports for their clients. A good inspector will minimize the risk of creating deficiencies or damage during the course of the inspection by having the necessary experience, training and tools to perform a quality inspection.