The Scope and Purpose of Your Home Inspection

Gary Smith - Professional Home Inspector and Home Builder
Gary Smith

A home inspection aims to help reduce the risk associated with purchasing a structure by providing a professional opinion about the structure’s overall condition. A home inspection is a limited visual inspection that cannot eliminate this risk.

Some homes present more risks than others. I cannot control this, but I try to help educate you about what I don’t know during the inspection process.

This is more difficult to convey in a report, and like the saying goes: Tell me, and I forget; teach me, and I remember; involve me, and I learn; I strongly recommend that you attend the inspection.

The report may contain occasional typographical errors and other minor errors and omissions. I apologize in advance for any inconvenience. If any of these types make the report unclear, confusing, or incomplete, please contact me immediately for clarification/correction.

A home inspection is not an insurance policy.

This report does not substitute for or serve as a warranty or guarantee of any kind. Home warranties can be purchased separately from insuring firms that provide this service.

A home inspection is visual and not destructive or invasive.

The descriptions and observations in my report are based on a visual inspection of the structure. I inspect the aspects of the structure that can be viewed without dismantling, damaging, or disfiguring the structure and without moving furniture and interior furnishings. The inspection does not cover certain areas that are concealed, hidden, or inaccessible to view.

Some systems cannot be tested during this inspection as testing risks damaging the building. For example, overflow drains on bathtubs are generally not tested because if they were found to be leaking, they could damage the finishes or leak from under the tub. My procedures involve non-invasive investigation and non-destructive testing – which will limit the scope of the inspection.

This is not an inspection for code compliance.

The inspection and the report are not intended for city / local code compliance. During the construction process, structures are inspected for code compliance by municipal inspectors. Wall and ceiling framing is open during construction, and conditions can be fully viewed. Framing is not open during inspections of finished homes, which limits inspection.

Know that all houses fall out of code compliance shortly after they’re built, as the codes continually change and are upgraded. National codes are augmented at least every three years for all of the varying disciplines. Municipalities can choose to adopt and phase in sections of the codes on their own timetables or omit them altogether.

There are generally no requirements to bring older homes into compliance unless substantial renovation is being undertaken.

Environmental/Mold Exclusions

The reported or actual health effects of many potentially harmful, toxic, or environmentally hazardous elements that may be found in building materials or the air, soil, and water in and/or around any house are varied and, in some cases, controversial.

A home inspection does not include the detection, identification, or analysis of any such elements or related concerns such as, but not limited to, mold, allergens, legal/illegal drugs, and other biological contaminants, radon, bed bugs, cockroaches, fleas, lice, formaldehyde, asbestos, lead, electromagnetic fields, carbon monoxide, insecticides, Chinese drywall, refrigerants, and fuel oils. Furthermore, no evaluations are performed to determine the effectiveness or appropriateness of any method or system (e.g., water filter, radon mitigation, etc.) designed to prevent or remove any hazardous or unwanted materials or elements. An environmental health specialist should be contacted to evaluate any potential health or environmental concerns. The noting of the presence of materials commonly considered to contain asbestos, formaldehyde, lead, mold, etc., in the inspection report should not be construed to mean that I am inspecting for these things but instead should be seen as a “heads-up” regarding these materials and further evaluation by a qualified professional may be warranted.

The following applies to vacant properties.

Most often, vacant properties have little to no historical property condition report(s), and the problems/risk of repair are often increased by how a home performs when not in normal use. Also, recognize that no disclosure data is typically shared with me before the inspection.

Some systems and components of vacant and/or abandoned home(s), such as piping, wiring, and appliances that have not been used during real-life conditions, could fail without warning. Know that while some systems and components are reported as “working at the time of inspection”, they may, in fact, fail. It is difficult to know how they will respond to regular use after having sat for extended periods of time. Septic systems may initially function and then fail under a live load. Plumbing traps may operate with no signs of leaks and then “let go” when being actively used for a few days. Component seals may dry up and later create a leak. Sewer lines could take a few days to back up because roots allow test water to flow and fail when waste and tissue are flushed through the system.

For these and similar reasons – be aware that the risk of component failure is greater in these types of homes.

Synthetic Stucco – USE DUE DILIGENCE

Exterior “stucco” portions of siding systems known as Exterior Insulated Finish Systems or EIFS are excluded from our inspection. This is a synthetic stucco designed to be a barrier siding.

EIFS is essentially a coat of plaster laid over foam insulation board. If moisture gets trapped behind this type of siding, it can lead to extensive water damage, especially in wood-framed buildings. EIFS systems can generally be low-maintenance and excellent siding systems if installed per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Unfortunately, EIFS systems are difficult to install well, and visual inspection is limited as these systems are excellent at concealing water damage below the finished surface.

EIFS has a black eye in the real estate and home inspection industry as these are risky exterior siding systems. Owners of EIFS-sided buildings are well-advised to do periodic specialized EIFS inspections. These inspections include a visual evaluation of critical flashings and sealants and some invasive probing. These types of inspections often involve destructive testing and are well beyond the scope of a visual home inspection.

This is just our opinion and just for you.

The contents of this report are for the sole use of the client named on the report, and no other person or party may rely on the report for any reason or purpose whatsoever without my prior written consent.

If any person not a party to the inspection agreement makes any claim against me arising out of the services performed by me under my agreement, the client agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold me harmless from any and all damages, expenses, cost, and attorney fees arising from such a claim.

Construction techniques and standards vary. There is no “one way” to build a house or install a system in a house. The observations in this report are my opinions. Other inspectors and contractors are likely to have differing opinions. You are welcome to seek opinions from other professionals.

The scope of this inspection

The inspection and report are intended to provide my client with information regarding the condition of the systems and components of the property, as observed at the time of the inspection. I examine the readily accessible systems and components using normal operating controls (the on/off switch).

The inspection is not technically exhaustive and will not identify concealed conditions or latent defects. Any comments I offer that could be construed as over or beyond the standards of practice or the language of the signed and dated contract are offered as a professional courtesy.

You should refer to the ASHI Standards of Practice and/or Pre-Inspection Agreement for additional information regarding the scope and limitations of the inspection. The Standards of Practice are linked below and describe the “minimum” standards a Licensed Mississippi State Home Inspector must adhere to:

Mississippi Home Inspector Standards of Practice

All homes will likely have some faults ranging from cosmetic defects to major safety hazards. Not all defects will be found. While some minor deficiencies may be mentioned, the emphasis of this report is to inform the buyer of the property condition by detecting deficiencies or circumstances that may affect the structural integrity of the building and its components and its safe use as a residence.

You are encouraged to obtain competitive estimates for major repair needs. Safety and health issues should be addressed promptly. It is recommended that all corrective work, other than routine maintenance activities, be performed by qualified licensed contractors.

It is beyond the scope of the Standard Home Inspection to identify components within the home that may have been part of a “manufacturer’s recall.” Mention of specific recalls within my report must not be construed to mean that all such items have been identified or that such identification is part of a Standard Home Inspection.

When possible, appliance Model Numbers and Serial Numbers are included in the report and can be used to check for recall-related issues. If you have any questions about specific appliances, information can be found at the CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission) website: or, or contact the manufacturer directly.

You should obtain as much history as possible concerning this property. This historical information may include copies of any seller’s disclosures, previous inspection or engineering reports, and reports performed for or by relocation companies, municipal inspection departments, lenders, insurers, and appraisers.

You should attempt to determine whether repairs, renovation, remodeling, additions, or other such activities have taken place at this property, and my report will attempt to identify such items when possible.

Ranges, dishwashers, refrigerators (and the like) are typically tested for basic function, i.e., do they turn on? No assertions are made as to how well they function. Microwave ovens and clothes washers/dryers are not operated.

Throughout my report, comments will be made as to the presence or absence of components or parts of components. This must not be construed to mean that these components or parts of components exist (or don’t exist) in concealed areas or behind finished surfaces. For example: if foundation bolting was seen in one area, it does not mean that the bolting exists (or doesn’t exist) in concealed areas. Also, if an item was noted as “not being visible,” that should not be construed to mean that none of whatever was “not visible” doesn’t exist on the premises—it just means none was noted at the time of inspection and should be seen as a “heads-up” that the concern or condition might be present but hidden, or that the conditions that would allow its presence to be known were not replicated at the time of inspection.

Many of the non-narrative observations/documentation detailed in my report that is related to more “cosmetic” issues should not be construed as “all-inclusive” but should instead be seen as “suggestive” or a “guideline” of conditions that may exist elsewhere in the home.

It is not the report’s focus to comment extensively on cosmetic issues, but I sometimes note them to help complete the “snap-shot” of the home at the time of inspection. For example, “nail pops” seen in one room are likely to be seen (and should be anticipated) in other rooms, even though I may not have noted them in the report.

Throughout the report, I may make recommendations as to possible repairs. These recommendations are not intended to be substitutes or construed to be more appropriate than the recommendations of the professionals making the repairs. Conflicts in recommendations should be resolved before repairs are made.

Who should make repairs, and what should their qualifications be?

In the report’s text, I sometimes recommend that work be done by a “qualified” person or “qualified” parties. I consider qualified parties in licensed trades to be those who hold the necessary licenses to legally work in their profession — licensed electricians, licensed pest control applicators, licensed plumbers, licensed HVAC professionals, licensed engineers, licensed general contractors, etc. In instances where a task may not typically need to be done by a person with a license, my recommendation is to hire an individual to do the work who is, based on past training, experience, or expertise, qualified to further evaluate the condition or problem listed in the report and to then make appropriate repairs.

Photography/Infrared and Moisture meters.

Digital photographs, thermograms, and illustrations may be included in the report. If included, their purpose is to better illustrate an observation or recommendation. No degree of importance should be inferred by the presence or absence of photos and illustrations. Some pictures will undergo lightening, darkening, and cropping, with callouts, annotations, and other “overlays” present, but the image itself will not be altered unless specifically noted on the picture.

The use of infrared thermography (IR) must not be construed to mean that a full thermal survey of the structure was done. The use of IR is primarily for recording thermal differences to show the function or lack of function of heating and cooling HVAC equipment; anomalies associated with temperature differences are sometimes produced by water leaks, air infiltration, etc. IR during a home inspection is mainly a qualitative evaluation, and, in most cases, “thermal tuning” will not have been performed; therefore, temperatures present on any thermal images in the report should not be seen as an absolute temperature but only “relative temperature.”

Throughout the report, references may be made to moisture conditions and moisture content percentages.

Your participation is requested

Again – your presence is requested during the inspection.

A written report will not substitute for all the possible information that can be conveyed verbally by a shared visual observation of the property’s conditions.

You are urged to contact me for a verbal consultation if you were not present during the inspection. If you choose not to consult with me, I cannot be responsible for the misinterpretation(s) of the report.

  • Email me:
  • Phone or text me: 601-454-5559
  • US Postal Mail: 120 North Perkins Street, Ridgeland, MS 39157

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