With the median home price hitting $374,900 in 2021, it’s more important than ever to have your potential new home inspected to ensure you’re making a good investment.
Home inspectors have a thorough checklist of things they observe, evaluate, and report on. Most inspectors follow the ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) 1,600 feature check Standard of Practice. So, it’s safe to say that you’ll be getting a comprehensive evaluation of your home - from the foundation to the roof - at the time of inspection.
However, it’s important to note that home inspectors can’t see through walls or rip up floors so, there are some things they won’t be looking at during the 2 to 3-hour inspection.
To help you understand the limitations of a home inspection, here are 11 things that home inspectors don’t look for during a home inspection.
Why Don’t Inspectors Cover Everything?
There are a few reasons that home inspectors don’t examine every single item. They have 3 big limitations: time, knowledge, and physical restraints.
Inspectors usually only have 2-3 hours to look over the whole property. Realistically, that is not that much time. As such, home inspectors are generalists. They know what signs to look for that suggest there may be a problem, but they don’t necessarily have the expertise to locate the source of the problem.
Additionally, some issues to look for are physically impossible. If the sellers don’t move heavy obstructions (furniture, etc), the inspector will note that they were unable to inspect certain areas.
1. Things behind heavy furniture
One common guideline for home inspections is that the inspector can only evaluate items that they can see or easily access.
An inspector might slide a lightweight end table over to test a light switch, but don’t expect them to move heavy items to access spaces or things behind them.
If you know that a bulky item is concealing something you want to be inspected (like an electrical panel), ask the seller or their agent to move it before the inspection.
2. The condition of treacherous roofs
Usually, it isn’t an issue for a home inspector to examine a roof to evaluate its overall condition, look for missing or damaged shingles, and check out the gutters.
However, if it isn’t safe for the home inspector to access the roof, they won’t put themselves in danger to do so.
The inspector may consider homes with an extremely steep roof or homes more than a few stories high unsafe to access. If it’s raining or snowing, this also affects their ability to safely examine the roof.
Thanks to today’s technology, some inspectors use drone photography to examine the roof when they are unable to access it with a ladder.
3. Chimney issues
As far as we know, your home inspector doesn’t moonlight as Santa Claus, so they’re not going to enter your chimney to look for soot and creosote buildup.
But, a good home inspector will confirm that the fireplace’s damper works and examine what they can see of the chimney from the fireplace.
If you want a more in-depth examination, you can schedule a chimney inspection with a qualified professional.
4. The ground underneath the home
Home inspectors will inspect the foundation and walls to evaluate the structural integrity of the property.
However, they can’t dig underground or conduct research about the land around your home.
Should you need it, a geotechnical engineer can examine and research the land the home is on to determine if there are sinkholes, a high water table, or any issues that may cause the land to shift.
5. A full examination of pools or hot tubs
If the home has a pool or hot tub, the inspector will usually confirm that the pump and heater turn on. They won’t remove any panels or look at the interior of the pool or tub to look for evidence of cracks or structural issues.
You can typically add on a more-depth examination of the pool/spa for a fee if your inspector is qualified to do so. Since inground pools are expensive to install (upwards of $50,000), it’s wise to have your inspector or another qualified professional evaluate the systems.
6. Issues with the well and septic system
Well and septic systems are circumstantial. In more rural areas where well and septic systems are more common, they may be covered during the inspection. But it’s more likely that they will charge an additional fee.
However, you might need a well or septic system inspection separately in areas where they are less common, or for a more in-depth evaluation.
7. Problems Inside the Walls or Under the Floors
A home inspector’s job is to assess the problems that are visible. However, their scope is limited. They aren’t able to tear into your walls or pull up the floorboard to look for issues.
They are able to look for evidence of issues behind the scenes though. For example, water spots on the ceiling can indicate a loose connection between pipes.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that’s one of the leading causes of lung cancer. It’s emitted from decaying radioactive elements in rocks and soil.
Home inspectors don’t test a home for radon during a typical home inspection. They most likely offer radon testing for an additional fee or outsource the task to a specialist.
Home inspectors are able to detect signs of pests such as wood-destroying organisms (WDOs)— but they are not experts in dealing with pests.
To remove any pesky pests, you’ll need to call an exterminator to understand the extent of the damage and execute the removal.
Your home inspector will always keep an eye out for signs of mold and won’t ignore items that indicate mold might be a problem (like damp or water-damaged spaces).
It’s important to know that due to licensing and insurance limitations, they may not be able to refer to it as “mold” directly unless it is tested. They’ll call it out in their report will either send a sample to a lab for confirmation or direct you to a mold specialist.
Asbestos has the potential to cause a lot of health problems when it’s disturbed during home renovations. And for their own liability, home inspectors most likely won’t deem a home “asbestos-free” directly.
The inspector will tell you if your home is likely to include materials that have asbestos. If the home was built before 1975, you’ll want to request a separate asbestos inspection.
Things to Make Sure Your Inspector Covers
There are some important systems to ensure that your inspector does check. Every inspector should evaluate if present (or let you know why they were unable to inspect):
- Structural components
When buying a home, it’s crucial to understand what exactly you’re signing up for before lock-in your hard-earned money. A home inspection is the most affordable and comprehensive way to understand a home’s condition and future maintenance needs.
While your inspector will evaluate the home inside and out, it’s important to know what is included in the inspection and what isn’t so you can plan accordingly.
All accessible major systems and components will be inspected to make sure they’re in working order and your inspector will note any signs of concern for things they can’t see. An evaluation of most aspects of the home is usually included in a standard inspection, but you may need to add ancillary services or hire additional specialists to inspect items such as pools, check for radon or asbestos, or remove critters from the attic.
How to Find a Good Inspector
At Inspectify, it’s our mission to empower homeowners to discover and care for the home they love.
We have a nationwide network of home inspectors to ensure that homeowners across the country have access to a top-rated inspector within minutes. You can compare our inspectors based on price, online ratings and reviews, and their availability.
Our inspection reports are easy-to-read and include free repair cost estimates for any of the property’s deficiencies.
Ready to book your home inspection? Let Inspectify help you locate a home inspector in your area!