Answering the question “What to expect from your home inspection” requires a look at the definition of Home Inspection, the State of Pennsylvania defines a home inspection as;
“Home inspection.” A noninvasive visual examination of some combination of the mechanical, electrical or plumbing systems or the structural and essential components of a residential dwelling designed to identify material defects in those systems and components and performed for a fee in connection with or preparation for a proposed or possible residential real estate transfer……
The definition goes on to explain what not is covered, these items are outline in the inspection agreement you will be asked to sign. This is why it’s important to read your agreements and ask your inspector questions if you have any.
What do you know so far;
- The inspection is non-invasive,
- Is an inspection of a combination of the interior/exterior structure, the mechanical, electrical & plumbing systems and essential components such as built-in cabinetry and essential components such as certain appliances.
- The inspection should identify material defects in those systems and components. Seems pretty straight forward, right? you would be wrong to think that all inspections are equal.
Home inspections in Pennsylvania (and for the most part in Delaware) start with a basic SOP or “Standard Operating Procedure” which means your inspector has to follow ASHI or Internachi SOP standards. I follow the ASHI SOP and am an ASHI Certified Inspector or ACI for short. Once an inspector chooses an SOP they can choose to inspect by the letter of the law according to their SOP or they can inspect above and beyond their SOP.
Some inspectors follow their SOP with little deviation, others out of fear of liability, some because of how much time they limit their inspections, or it allows them to comply with their business model. Inspectors that do 3-4 inspections a day will have to limit their time at each inspection so they can fit them all into a single day. Other inspectors like, myself only complete 1-2 inspections a day, I scale the allotted time depending on the size and age of the home and provide a detailed service that provides you with more information in more detail than you otherwise might get from another inspector.
Let’s look at the term “Material Defect”, this is something that is important for you to understand. The term is actually a bit vague, the State of Pennsylvania defines material defect as:
“Material defect.” A problem with a residential real property or any portion of it that would have a significant adverse impact on the value of the property or that involves an unreasonable risk to people on the property. The fact that a structural element, system or subsystem is near, at or beyond the end of the normal useful life of such a structural element, system or subsystem is not by itself a material defect.
If you are like me, this statement makes your head hurt, because of the ambiguity and the fact that what one person thinks is a material defect might not be by another. There is no clear-cut process to identify what is and what is not a material defect. If you have ever read an inspection report where you noticed that a majority of comments recommended further review by a qualified contractor instead of recommending repair options, that is the inspector “punting responsibility” to another contractor. I strive to avoid doing that as much as possible, sometimes I don’t have a choice, usually with structural issues because one peculiarity of the Pennsylvania law is that only a Licensed Structural Engineer may provide written structural opinion and repair design.
In some cases, it’s very clear, such as in the case of a broken component of a roof truss, these repairs must always be designed by the manufactures engineer in order to maintain warranty. Another example would be in comparing similar issues between a relatively newer home of 25 years or less and an older home built in the early to mid 1900’s. They were built under different building standards, construction techniques and materials. I organize and present an inspection with context so you can better understand your home.
At Batten To Beam Inspections, LLC, your inspection and report will include a visual inspection of both the interior and exterior of the property, I review and comment on the following.
- Safety Hazard Material defects
- Recommended Systems and Component Repairs
- Maintenance repair opportunities
- Deferred Maintenance item
- Repair Budgeting
Repair and maintenance items are color coded, so you know if:
- They should be addressed immediately.
- They can be addressed within the first year of ownership.
- They can be addressed whenever you have the time and funds to address them.
The full report includes additional information about the home, some required by SOP and other information included to help you understand your home and where you may have room for improving systems and components. While care is taken to make it as easy to navigate as possible, it still is a lot of information to navigate. A summary is always provided, something your relator will appreciate as they often must address multiple reports a day. The summary helps them focus on the important negotiating issues so they can have an informed discussion with you and do not risk missing something in the full report. The summary also will help you focus on what is immediately important to consider after your have reviewed the full inspection report. I am also available by phone, text or email to answer all your questions.
It looked like I have reached my word count limit, so next time, look for an article about how I use photos, videos, 360 degree photos and hyper links to provide context and additional information in your inspection reports.
Your Home Inspector,
Batten To Beam Inspections, LLC