Why do I need more inspections?

Doesn’t the home inspector find everything?

The home inspector is a “generalist.” This means that they are giving you an overview of the condition of the property based on a “visual” inspection. Their inspection is not in-depth or comprehensive in any area, but it is thorough and covers all major home systems. This is due to a number of factors:

  • Most home inspectors follow a set of “Standards of Practice” (SoP) that dictate what is inspected, what is NOT inspected, and how it is reported. These standards must be available to you at the time of inspection.
  • Doing an in-depth evaluation of all the items and systems involved in a typical home inspection would take many, many hours and cost far more than most would be willing to pay.
  • Often times, depending on the condition of the property, this level of comprehensive inspection is not required.

Think of the home inspector as the primary care physician in your new home. He will do a general visual inspection of the main components of the house and suggest a further and in-depth evaluation by a specialist on that particular system or component. You most likely don’t need a full roofing, electrical, plumbing, foundation, and HVAC inspection. You could, but probably not. In the long run, this saves you money. Additional inspections cost money. From $ 50 to $ 350 or more each. Mold inspections cost much more in many cases.

Remember above where I said this is a “visual“Inspection? Visual is the keyword! If the inspector cannot see or access something, that fact will be reported, but the condition of the item will not be reported as it could not be visually assessed correctly. As an example: If there is no access to the attic or it is blocked by stored personal property (which the inspector WILL NOT TOUCH) they will indicate that there was no access and that the conditions of the attic area are unknown. The inspector will generally include information indicating whether it could not be accessed to something and why. There are a couple of areas where this applies:

  • The underground part of the sewer line, especially the part that goes from the house to the city street or to the septic tank in the case of a private sewage disposal system.
  • The interior of the smoke ducts and chimneys.
  • Inside walls or ceilings, behind tiles and wallpaper, or behind areas blocked or obscured by seller’s furniture or stored items. (as in attics or garages and basements)
  • A roof if the cladding is tile or is too deteriorated that walking on it will damage it more. Steep or icy / wet roofs are also not walkable for safety reasons. In some parts of the country, Standards of Practice prohibit the inspector from mounting a roof.

These areas are the target of some of those “specialized inspections” performed by experts in those particular areas with specialized (and expensive) equipment.

These areas are a fact. They should be given a high priority for further evaluation.

Additional areas for more in-depth evaluation by an expert are; the electrical system, roofing, HVAC plumbing and foundation.

If the home inspector finds significant or life-threatening problems in these areas, they will recommend further evaluation by a licensed specialist contractor.

So now you know what to expect from the home inspector and his inspection and that he is not necessarily the last inspector you will see.