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What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is an overall, non-invasive analysis of the condition of a home at the time of inspection. This includes the different systems, such as the plumbing, roofing, exterior, structure, electrical, the interior, heating/cooling, insulation and ventilation. All of the mentioned components must work independently, while acting as a single system for a home to function properly.
The primary goal of a home inspector is to protect the buyer’s interests…to identify and report on the major deficiencies, unsafe or expensive problems that exist in the home. Once the inspection has been completed, the inspector communicates the findings through a written report. If possible, the clients should accompany the inspector during the inspection. This way, the buyer can ask questions while the inspector educates the client along the way. I always recommend that my clients come with me because they will leave with a better overall understanding of the home.
In the State of Florida, home inspectors are required to be licensed and insured. In addition, to stay licensed, we are strictly required to continually update our education by attending relevant courses. The home inspection field is relatively new and is continually evolving to keep relevant with the changing building requirements and the educated public. There is a lot of effort involved with this process, which makes the role of a home inspector challenging, yet rewarding.
To clarify the specifics, all home inspectors must follow a Standards of Practice. This document outlines exactly what home inspectors are required to do and not do during a home inspection. The question, what is a home inspection, is answered by reading the Standards of Practice. When inspectors decide to do more than required, they go beyond the standards, which puts them at greater risk from a liability standpoint. This is a business decision for each inspector to make.
There are two types of reports provided. Onsite reports are given immediately after the inspection. They are simple, short, and generic, much like a checklist format. The other type of report is an offsite report, which is sent to the client typically within 24 hours after the inspection via email. They are a narrative style, which provides greater detail, pictures, and customized to the home. Offsite reports take much longer to prepare because there is more specific information provided. In my opinion, they are a far better value to the client for their money. I consider my report as an educational resource. My clients can relate their knowledge to the inspection report I provide.
Home inspections are usually requested just before the home is sold, called a pre-sale home inspection. However, on occasion, home inspections are requested before a home goes on the market. This is known as a pre-listing home inspection. Another inspection is a home maintenance inspection. This is often done because the owners did not get an inspection when they bought the home and want to know what repairs are needed, as preventative maintenance, or how to solve a problem they have noticed.