Description Of A Home Inspection
A home inspection is a little different depending on your regional area and the type of housing construction that's more common. However, you'll be dealing with the same general inspection process and business.
A home inspection is a visual, limited time, nondestructive inspection. There's no dismantling or using tools to take things apart. However, you will need some tools to help on the inspection. I'll tell you what tools you need a little further on in this book.
You don't turn anything on that doesn't operate by its normal controls. Meaning that you use only thermostats to test the heating or air-conditioning systems, etc. Don't test anything that has "do-it-yourself" wiring and installations. Any do-it-yourself type of setups can be dangerous to operate and you don't get paid to get injured.
You're a real estate home inspector, you're not a repairman. Tell the client to have something checked out by a licensed contractor if it's not operating properly, or if you have any doubts about its present condition. This means that you don't need to know how to fix everything in a house. All you need to do is to be able to identify a problem, or identify whether the operating systems are working properly. To make this point more clear, I'll use an analogy with your car. Normally, you know when your car isn't running properly or if there's a problem with it. However, you don't need to know how to fix the car. All you need to do is identify that something is wrong and that a repairman needs to check it out further. You just bring the car to an auto mechanic and let them tell you exactly what's wrong and what it will cost to repair the problem.
As a home inspector, you're not required to be the Wizard of Oz. You're not required to have a magic wand that reveals every, single problem with the house and site. You're not required to have X-ray vision to see things behind walls, ceilings or other finished areas. You're not required to have a crystal ball to foresee all potential problems that will arise in the future with the subject property. (However some people expect you to have all of these qualities).
You determine what the current condition and life expectancy is of different aspects of a house or condominium. Try to be very conservative with evaluating life expectancies of an item because you don't know what the past maintenance history was for the items you're evaluating. As a home inspector, you check all visible and accessible areas and operating systems, such as, heating, air-conditioning, electrical, plumbing, the roof, etc. Everything should be operating properly at the time of the inspection.
A home inspection is not a building code inspection. Building code inspections determine if a property adheres to all of the local building codes. The local municipality has their own building inspectors that perform these services. A home inspection and a building code inspection are two very different services. Home inspectors do not memorize the local building codes for their clients.