What to Expect From a Professional Home Inspection
What is a home inspection? If you boil it down, a home inspection is a visual inspection of the readily accessible areas of the house, inside and out. What that means in English is we have to be able to see it to inspect it (we don’t have X-ray vision (yet)), and it has to be part of the house, or have a direct affect on safe egress into and out of the house, to be within the scope of inspection. We have to limit the scope or we’ll be in the woods looking for Dodo birds before you know it.
The accompanying infographic does a pretty good job of summing it up.
The Massachusetts Standards of Practice are the governing document (a bit dry for casual reading, but the best source if you want to know exactly what’s included and excluded).
Some of the exclusions worth noting, so they don’t take you by surprise, are swimming pools, alarm systems, sprinkler systems, trees, hazardous materials (unless specifically contracted for), inaccessible areas, outbuildings not specifically contracted for, and systems that can’t be safely run under given weather conditions (i.e. air conditioning systems when it’s cold out). There are others, but these seem to pop up the most. Also worth noting, we don’t inspect for cosmetic issues; if something is ugly that is not a defect.
A home inspector is hired to look at the essential systems, and to find apparent defects in those systems that you should know about. Examples of this are curling roof shingles (material nearing the end of its life), improper chimney flashing, inadequate attic ventilation, inadequate insulation, leaky plumbing, unsafe electrical conditions, apparent structural defects, heating system defects, problems with windows and doors, etc.
Pictures explain all of this better. Take a look at how problems are reported and things will make more sense: