home inspector inspecting roof with clipboard

What Home Inspectors Don’t Have to Do

By Published On: November 11th, 2022Categories: Home Inspection Career Guide, Home Inspection Tips, Training0 Comments

What Home Inspectors Don’t Have to Do

Summary

These days, there are a lot of misconceptions around what home inspectors HAVE to do during a home inspection. Some of them may even deter great, would-be home inspectors away from pursuing this career. Read on as we explore seven things home inspectors don’t have to do during an inspection. Some may surprise you! 

7 Things Home Inspectors Don’t Have to Do During Home Inspections

Home Inspectors Should Not Risk Their Safety at Any Point in the Inspection

Both Standards of Practice (“Standards”) from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) state that, as a professional home inspector, you can use your judgment to decide if any area is safe or not safe to visually inspect. Both associations’ Standards form the primer on national and state-specific home inspection processes across the industry. 

If safety hazards prevent you from inspecting an area, system, or component, you can note a disclaimer in your report and move on to the next area of your inspection. You have the right and the legal responsibility to keep yourself safe on the job. 

Home Inspectors Don’t Have to Walk on Roofs 

Home inspectors do not have to walk on roofs, according to both Standards from InterNACHI and ASHI.  

Some inspectors do walk on roofs when conditions appear safe and they’re confident in doing so. But many inspectors understandably use alternative methods to visually inspect roofs safely from ground level, including cutting-edge technology like drones and telescopic pole cameras. 

During a home inspection, if you see a problem area or major defect with a roof in your visual inspection, standard practice states to note what you see in your report and recommend a more thorough inspection by a qualified roof inspector. 

Home Inspectors Don’t Have to Move Items to Access Hard-to-Reach Areas 

According to both Standards from InterNACHI and ASHI, the homeowner must move bulky and/or personal items to allow you to access hard-to-reach areas and out-of-sight systems. If you can’t access the areas you need to visually inspect, the Standards state you can note the area you couldn’t access in your report and continue with the inspection.  

Indoor items you’re not required to move include (but are not limited to): 

  • Rugs 
  • Carpeting 
  • Wall coverings 
  • Furniture 
  • Ceiling tiles 
  • Window coverings 
  • Plants 
  • Debris 
  • Equipment 
  • Pets 

Outdoors, you don’t have to remove any natural elements that obstruct your visual inspection, including: 

  • Ice 
  • Snow 
  • Water 
  • Dirt 

Home Inspectors Don’t Have to Enter Areas That Appear Unsafe 

During inspections, home inspectors don’t have to enter areas that appear unstable, unsafe, or that are not readily accessible. These areas commonly include crawl spaces and attics as well as underground areas where equipment is stored. 

Here’s what each association’s Standard states:

Area InterNACHI Standard ASHI Standard
Crawl Spaces The inspector is not required to enter any crawl space that is not readily accessible, or where entry could cause damage or pose a hazard to him/herself. The inspector is not required to enter under-floor crawl space areas that have less than 24 inches of vertical clearance between components and the ground or that have an access opening smaller than 16 inches by 24 inches.

And:

The inspector is not required to inspect under-floor crawl spaces that are not readily accessible.

Attics The inspector is not required to enter the attic or any unfinished spaces that are not readily accessible, or where entry could cause damage or, in the inspector’s opinion, pose a safety hazard. The inspector is not required to traverse attic load-bearing components that are concealed by insulation or by other materials.

And:

The inspector is not required to inspect attics that are not readily accessible.

Underground Items The inspector is not required to inspect underground items, such as, but not limited to, lawn irrigation systems or underground storage tanks (or indications of their presence), whether abandoned or actively used. The inspector is not required to inspect underground items including, but not limited to, underground storage tanks and other underground indications of their presence, whether abandoned or active.

Home Inspectors Don’t Diagnose Defects They See 

As a home inspector, you are responsible for visually inspecting home systems and components in a non-invasive manner. In your inspection report, you’ll note your methods of inspecting each area and the material defects you see. But—you don’t have to diagnose the problem or cause of the defects.  

As the InterNACHI Standard states: “The general home inspection will not reveal every issue that exists or ever could exist, but only those material defects observed on the date of the inspection.” ASHI’s Standard adds: “The home inspector is not required to determine the causes of conditions or deficiencies…and the methods, materials, and costs of corrections.” 

In your report, you should instead include a recommendation for seeking a specialized inspection for any area that appears to have a material defect. 

Home Inspectors Don’t Estimate the Life of Systems or Components in the Home 

As a home inspector, you’re also not required to provide any information estimating the remaining life or condition of home systems or components. Both InterNACHI and ASHI list this limitation in their Standards of Practice. Homebuyers and homeowners might ask your opinion about the condition of a component, but you do not have to offer it and, legally, you shouldn’t. 

Home Inspectors Don’t Give Opinions on Whether or Not a Home is a Sound Investment 

Generally, home inspectors don’t give homebuyers (or their real estate agents) opinions on whether a home is a sound investment. This is both a Standard and an ethical rule across the industry.  

It’s an impossible question to answer, after all. Some homes, regardless of their many defects, might still be great investments overtime. And some homes that have little defects on the day of inspection might turn out to be poor investments overtime.  

Legally, home inspectors aren’t allowed to answer this question. The same goes for offering opinions on a home’s fair market value, resale value, sale price, and any kind of real estate advice. 

Additional Resources

Learn All the Ins and Outs of Home Inspection with AHIT

There are lots of “do’s” and “don’ts” in home inspection. Fortunately, when you train with AHIT, you’ll learn the common Standards of Practice in-depth—from how to inspect major home systems and write inspection reports to how to communicate with clients. Plus, with field training courses, you’ll even have the opportunity to practice procedures at real homes with real clients. Learn more about how to become a home inspector in your state. 

About the Author: Ashley Roe

Ashley Roe is a Content Specialist with AHIT and The CE Shop. She writes regularly about home inspection and appraisal. With a reporter's eye and a passion for learning, Ashley stays current on what's happening within each industry. Her goal is to create engaging, relevant, and useful content that both informs and inspires readers.

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