Ask 10 people what a home inspector will be doing at a home inspection and you’ll get 12 different answers. Especially if they have little or no experience dealing with inspectors. As a Certified Home Inspector in Tulsa Ok, I’ve performed thousands of home inspections over the last decade and a half.
I’ve know many other home inspectors here in Tulsa and other parts of the country. So I think I’m qualified to inform you of what you can expect from a typical home inspection in Northeast Oklahoma (and many other places as well).
What a Home Inspection Is Not!
First, let me start by telling you what a home inspection is not. A Home Inspection IS NOT:
– a technically exhaustive inspection of your home. The inspector is going to pull out a magnifying glass and look over every single square inch of your home.
– an inspection to determine if environmental issue exists. Most home inspectors will tell you that their inspection isn’t going to address Indoor Air Quality, Mold, Asbestos, Lead and other environmental issues. Some inspection companies (such as 1A Home Inspections) may offer tests for some environmental issues such as Mold and Radon, but they are an ancillary inspection. They must be asked for and additional fees will be incurred. But no home inspection company I know includes these types of inspections with a general home inspection.
– a structural engineering opinion. While a general home inspector has been trained in structural components and how they should be installed, an in depth diagnosis of each structural component isn’t going to happen. Our state inspector Standards of Practice outlines what each home inspector must look at minimally on the structure.
– invasive. As a trained professional performing a home inspection here in Tulsa or anywhere else, we are not going to be knocking holes in walls or otherwise damaging the building.
– insurance policy, guarantee or warranty. Look, we have no way of knowing when something will break. We don’t have those types of Magic 8 balls! Just because the furnace worked fine during the inspection, doesn’t mean it will be working 8 months from now when it’s 10 degrees outside!
What Things Will A Home Inspector Be Looking For During a Home Inspection?
Here’s list of some things we’ll be looking for. Note, this is just a short list. Every home inspector is different, but here in Oklahoma, we have a Standards of Practice from the state to follow. It is the MINIMUM guideline. Here’s a few things to note about your home inspection.
- A home inspection is non-invasive (see above), VISUAL inspection only of the READILY ACCESSIBLE components and systems of a home. We’re not going to be hooking gauges up to the A/C (because most of us don’t have an HVAC license!), we’re not going to be pulling siding or shingles off and looking behind them. It’s a VISUAL inspection of the readily accessible and VISIBLE components and systems. What does “readily accessible” mean? Means if there is something in our way, we’re not going to play Mover and move it in most cases. So if the Seller has all their boxes stored in front of the breaker box, we’re not moving all of them to get access. Or if a car is in the garage blocking the access to the Attic. We’ll just have to tell you we couldn’t inspect it because we couldn’t get access to it!
- We will be performing visual inspections on the roof, exterior walls, foundation, etc. Not all inspectors will be walking on a roof. The Standards of Practice leaves walking a roof up to the discretion of the Inspector if he or she feels like it’s dangerous to do so. It doesn’t matter if Ole Joe from Old Joe’s Home Inspections and BBQ Emporium walks every roof, the SOP says it’s up to the individual inspector to determine whether it’s dangerous FOR THEM! Same goes with removing a dead front from a breaker box or opening an air handler on a HVAC system.
- A home inspector will be evaluating components and systems of the home and offering their OPINION about the performance. A home inspector will also be trying to identify components that are significantly deficient, near or at the end of their normal life cycles and components that may pose a safety hazard in the Inspectors OPINION. What does ‘significantly deficient’ mean? Means something different for everyone. At the end of the day, the Inspector issues a report with their OPINION on the discrepancies they noted during the home inspection.
- The inspection is a “snap shot” in time. There’s no way we can guarantee something that is fine one day won’t go bad the second we walk out the door.
In short, we are generalists. Say you wake up one morning feeling crummy. You have a runny nose, aching joints and a high fever. Do you say “Man, I feel like crap today, I’m going to go to the Podiatrist and see whats wrong!” No. You don’t. You go to a general practitioner who will look you over real good (at least you hope they do) to determine what the problem might be and what specialists you might need. In most cases, he or she is gonna tell you “It’s nothing more than the flu. Here, take 2 of these, go back to bed and drink lots of fluids and can call me tomorrow.”
Home Inspectors the General Practitioners of the Real Estate world!
Hopefully this article has cleared up a lot of misconceptions as to what a home inspection is and what a home inspector will be (and won’t be) doing during a home inspection! I’ve been a certified home inspector in Tulsa OK for a while now, and I still run across people who are unsure what they’re getting when they hire me. Hopefully now you have a better idea!