FAQs about Home Inspections
Each home inspection is different, but all have certain similarities about what is covered and excluded. Here are the FAQs.
According to the Connecticut Home Inspection Standards of Practice, the inspector is not required to disassemble any house components, or to move any house objects, or to turn on any non-normal operating house controls or valves, or damage the property in any way. The inspector has to leave the house in the same condition it was found. Anything that can possibly damage the house should not be done.
What the inspector looks for are symptoms of problems that are visible. Most house problems sooner or later show visible evidence of problems or distress and should be reported.
A home inspection is like a physical by a general practitioner. If symptoms of problems are found, a more detailed investigation by a specialist is recommended. A home inspector cannot tell you every damaged piece of wood, every defective wire, etc. in the house. A home inspector can tell you if evidence of problems are visible. Just listing the visible problems does not tell you if hidden problems are present. Just cleaning up the visible problems usually does not solve hidden problems. A home inspection should give the buyer a general idea of what is wrong with the house by noting the evidence that is visible and what hidden problems are suggested by the visible evidence.
2. What does a home inspector look for during an inspection?
A home inspection usually consists of looking for evidence of problems in these three areas:
- Visible house components that show evidence of being defective or unsafe on the date of the inspection.
- Visible components that are older and show evidence of being past their design life or are approaching the end of their life.
- Home components that show evidence of not having been installed properly. Building Codes and manufacturer installation instructions should always be followed during repairs and remodeling to assure proper and safe usage. Often evidence is visible that proper installation instructions were not followed and further investigation is needed to see if proper permits were pulled and followed.
3. What is the basis of home inspection findings?
The Connecticut Home Inspection Standards of Practice do not list any guides for inspection findings. The standards say that findings are based on the home inspector’s knowledge and honest convictions. Compliance with building codes is excluded from the inspection standards. That is why the technical qualifications and experience of the home inspector are critical. If not self-evident, the basis of any visual findings should be explained in the home inspection report.
4. How should a findings dispute be handled with the seller, real estate agent, etc.
A second opinion by a licensed professional should be called for if disputes are present. The second opinion should be in writing with a relevant licensed number attached. That way, the licensed professional is responsible for any negative consequences for his/her opinions that disagree with the inspection report.
5. What is the seller’s responsibility with regard to the findings in the home inspection report?
It usually depends on the real estate contracts signed. Often, the seller does not have to do any repairs if the deposit money is refunded and the purchase is voided. Any repair work should be done by licensed professional under permit with a final code inspection.
6. Why are formal written remodeling repair estimates usually not given by the inspector?
Unless a complete statement of work with specifications is present, the estimates can vary widely. Example: A toilet can cost from $150 to $1,500. To avoid future arguments and disagreements, formal estimates are usually not given.
7. What care should be taken in hiring repair/remodeling contractors/repair professionals?
Repairs and remodeling should be done by licensed people, who pull building permits for the work/remodel, have full insurance, have been in business for at least 3 years, and have a detailed contract for the works in accordance with CT regulations.
8. What is the real estate buyer’s agent responsibility in recommending home inspectors, etc.
A broker should do due diligence investigations of any people they recommend. They should verify that the person is licensed, has insurance, does or does not cover more than the minimum requirements of the Connecticut Home Inspection Standards and has no convictions of any compliance issues. The recommending party should be aware of the home inspection standards exclusions and limitations and make that is clear to the buyer so supplemental inspections can be ordered, if needed.
9. What is excluded by the CT Home Inspection Standards?
Environmental (radon, mold, asbestos, etc.) inspections, septic system inspections, full well inspections, most outlying building inspections, pools, appliances, carpets, etc. Read the Connecticut Home Inspection Standards for a full list. Most excluded inspections can be added at extra cost or are sometimes included in the base inspection if it is made clear.
10. Does a real estate appraiser do a home inspection when doing an appraisal?
If a situation is obvious, the appraiser calls it out on some appraisals. Appraisers are not trained to discern non-obvious visual indicators of problems. They are not usually knowledgeable enough to do a home inspection and are not licensed to do so.