Home Inspection Standards of Practice for The State of Tennessee and InterNACHI

TENNESSEE HOME INSPECTION STANDARDS OF PRACTICE

0780-5-12-.10 STANDARDS OF PRACTICE.

(1) Standards of Practice. This rule sets forth the minimum standards of practice required of licensed
home inspectors.
(2) Definitions. The following definitions apply to this rule:
(a) “Automatic safety controls” means devices designed and installed to protect systems and
components from excessively high or low pressures and temperatures, excessive
electrical current, loss of water, loss of ignition, fuel leaks, fire, freezing, or other
unsafe conditions;
(b) “Central air conditioning” means a system that uses ducts to distribute cooled or
dehumidified air to more than one room or uses pipes to distribute chilled water to heat
exchangers in more than one room, and that is not plugged into an electrical
convenience outlet;
(c) “Component” means a readily accessible and observable aspect of a system, such as a
floor, or wall, but not individual pieces such as boards or nails where many similar
pieces make up the component;
(d) “Cosmetic damage” means superficial blemishes or defects that do not interfere with the
functionality of the component or system;
(e) “Cross connection” means any physical connection or arrangement between potable water
and any source of contamination;
(f) “Dangerous or adverse situations” means situations that pose a threat of injury to the home
inspector, or those situations that require the use of special protective clothing or safety
equipment;
(g) “Describe” means report in writing a system or component by its type, or other inspected
characteristics, to distinguish it from other systems or components used for the same
purpose;
(h) “Dismantle” means to take apart or remove any component, device or piece of equipment
that is bolted, screwed, or fastened by other means and that would not be dismantled by
a homeowner in the course of normal household maintenance;
(i) “Enter” means to go into an area to inspect all visible components;
(j) “Functional drainage” means a drain is functional when it empties in a reasonable amount
of time and does not overflow when another fixture is drained simultaneously;
(k) “Functional flow” means a reasonable flow at the highest fixture in a dwelling when
another fixture is operated simultaneously;
(l) “Inspect” means the act of making a visual examination;
(m) “Installed” means attached or connected such that an item requires tools for removal;
(n) “Normal operating controls” means homeowner operated devices such as a thermostat,
wall switch, or safety switch;
(o) “On-site water supply quality” means water quality is based on the bacterial, chemical,
mineral, and solids content of the water;
(p) “On-site water supply quantity” means the rate of flow of on-site well water;
(q) “Operate” means to cause systems or equipment to function;
(r) “Readily accessible” means approachable or enterable for visual inspection without the
risk of damage to any property or alteration of the accessible space, equipment, or
opening;
(s) “Readily openable access panel” means a panel provided for homeowner inspection and
maintenance that has removable or operable fasteners or latch devices in order to be
lifted off, swung open, or otherwise removed by one person; and its edges and
fasteners are not painted in place. This definition is limited to those panels within
normal reach or from a four-foot stepladder, and that are not blocked by stored items,
furniture, or building components;
(t) “Readily visible” means seen by using natural or artificial light without the use of
equipment or tools other than a flashlight;
(u) “Representative number” means, for multiple identical components such as windows and
electrical outlets, one such component per room; and, for multiple identical exterior
components, one such component on each side of the building;
(v) “Roof drainage systems” means gutters, downspouts, leaders, splashblocks, and similar
components used to carry water off a roof and away from a building;
(w) “Shut down” means a piece of equipment or a system which cannot be operated by the
device or control that a homeowner should normally use to operate it. If its safety
switch or circuit breaker is in the “off” position, or its fuse is missing or blown, the
home inspector is not required to reestablish the circuit for the purpose of operating the
equipment or system;
(x) “Significantly deficient” means unsafe or not functioning;
(y) “Solid fuel heating device” means any wood, coal, or other similar organic fuel burning
device, including but not limited to fireplaces whether masonry or factory built,
fireplace inserts and stoves, woodstoves (room heaters), central furnaces, and
combinations of these devices;
(z) “Structural component” means a component that supports non-variable forces or weights
(dead loads) and variable forces or weights (live loads);
(aa) “System” means a combination of interacting or interdependent components, assembled
to carry out one or more functions;
(bb) “Technically exhaustive” means an inspection involving the use of measurements,
instruments, testing, calculations, and other means to develop scientific or engineering
findings, conclusions, and recommendations;
(cc) “Underfloor crawl space” means the area within the confines of the foundation and
between the ground and the underside of the lowest floor structural component.
(3) Purpose and Scope.
(a) Home inspections performed according to this rule shall provide the client with an
understanding of the property conditions at the time of the home inspection.
(b) Home inspectors shall:
1. Provide a written contract, signed by the client or the client’s legal representative
that shall:
(i) State that the home inspection will be in accordance with the Standards of
Practice promulgated by the commissioner;
(ii) Describe what services shall be provided and their cost;
(iii) State that the home inspection report will not address the items set forth in
parts (5)(a)4. and 5. of this rule; and
(iv) State, when an inspection is for only one or a limited number of systems or
components, that the inspection is limited to only those systems or
components.
2. Inspect readily visible and readily accessible installed systems and components
listed in this rule; and
3. Submit a written report to the client that shall at a minimum:
(i) Describe those systems and components required to be described in
paragraphs (7) through (16) of this rule;
(ii) State which systems and components designated for inspection in this rule
have been inspected, and state any systems or components designated for
inspection that were not inspected, and the reason for not inspecting;
(iii) State any systems or components so inspected that do not function as
intended, allowing for normal wear and tear, or adversely affect the
habitability of the dwelling;
(iv) State whether the condition reported requires repair or subsequent
observation, or warrants further investigation by a specialist; and
(v) State the name, license number, and signature of the person conducting the
inspection.
(c) This rule does not limit home inspectors from:
1. Reporting observations and conditions or rendering opinions of items in addition to
those required in paragraphs (7) through (16) of this rule; or
2. Excluding systems and components from the inspection if requested by the client,
and so stated in the written contract.
(4) General Limitations.
(a) This rule applies to structures that are intended to be or are in fact used as residences,
consisting of from one to four (1-4) family dwelling units and their attached garages or
carports.
(5) Required Reporting.
(a) The home inspection report shall include the following:
1. A report on any system or component inspected that, in the opinion of the home
inspector, is significantly deficient;
2. A list of any systems or components that were designated for inspection in this rule
but that were not inspected;
3. The reason a system or component listed in accordance with part (5)(a)2. was not
inspected;
4. A statement that the report does not address environmental hazards, including:
(i) Lead-based paint;
(ii) Radon;
(iii) Asbestos;
(iv) Cockroaches;
(v) Rodents;
(vi) Pesticides;
(vii) Treated lumber;
(viii) Fungus;
(ix) Mercury;
(x) Carbon monoxide; or
(xi) Other similar environmental hazards.
5. A statement that the report does not address subterranean systems or system
components (operational or non-operational), including:
(i) Sewage disposal;
(ii) Water supply; or
(iii) Fuel storage or delivery.
(6) General Exclusions.
(a) Home inspectors are not required to report on:
1. Life expectancy of any component or system;
2. The cause(s) of the need for a repair;
3. The methods, materials, and costs of corrections;
4. The suitability of the property for any specialized use;
5. Compliance or non-compliance with adopted codes, ordinances, statutes, regulatory
requirements or restrictions;
6. The market value of the property or its marketability;
7. The advisability or inadvisability of purchase of the property;
8. Any component or system that was not inspected;
9. The presence or absence of pests such as wood damaging organisms, rodents, or
insects; or
10. Cosmetic damage, underground items, or items not permanently installed.
(b) Home inspectors are not required to:
1. Offer warranties or guarantees of any kind;
2. Calculate the strength, adequacy, or efficiency of any system or component;
3. Enter any area or perform any procedure that may damage the property or its
components or be dangerous to or adversely affect the health or safety of the
home inspector or other persons;
4. Operate any system or component that is shut down or otherwise inoperable;
5. Operate any system or component that does not respond to normal operating
controls;
6. Move personal items, panels, furniture, equipment, plant life, soil, snow, ice, or
debris that obstructs access or visibility;
7. Determine the effectiveness of any system installed to control or remove suspected
hazardous substances;
8. Predict future condition, including but not limited to failure of components;
9. Project operating costs of components;
10. Evaluate acoustical characteristics of any system or component; or
11. Inspect special equipment or accessories that are not listed as components to be
inspected in this rule.
(c) Home inspectors shall not:
1. Offer or perform any act or service contrary to law; or
2. Offer or perform engineering, architectural, plumbing, electrical or any other job
function requiring a license in this state for the same client unless the client is
advised thereof and consents thereto.
(7) Heating Systems.
(a) The home inspector shall inspect permanently installed heating systems including:
1. Heating equipment;
2. Normal operating controls;
3. Automatic safety controls;
4. Chimneys, flues, and vents, where readily visible;
5. Solid fuel heating devices;
6. Heat distribution systems including fans, pumps, ducts and piping, insulation, air
filters, registers, radiators, fan coil units, convectors; and
7. The presence of an installed heat source in each room.
(b) The home inspector shall describe:
1. The energy source for the system; and
2. The heating equipment and distribution type.
(c) The home inspector shall operate the systems using normal operating controls.
(d) The home inspector shall open readily openable access panels provided by the
manufacturer or installer for routine homeowner maintenance.
(e) The home inspector is not required to:
1. Operate heating systems when weather conditions or other circumstances may cause
equipment damage;
2. Operate automatic safety controls;
3. Ignite or extinguish solid fuel fires; or
4. Inspect:
(i) The interior of flues;
(ii) Fireplace insert flue connections;
(iii) Humidifiers;
(iv) Electronic air filters; or
(v) The uniformity or adequacy of heat supply to the various rooms.
(8) Cooling Systems.
(a) The home inspector shall inspect:
1. Central air conditioning and through-the-wall installed cooling systems including:
(i) Cooling and air handling equipment; and
(ii) Normal operating controls.
2. Distribution systems including:
(i) Fans, pumps, ducts and piping, dampers, insulation, air filters, registers, fancoil
units; and
(ii) The presence of an installed cooling source in each room.
(b) The home inspector shall describe:
1. The energy source for the system; and
2. The cooling equipment type.
(c) The home inspector shall operate the systems using normal operating controls.
(d) The home inspector shall open readily openable access panels provided by the
manufacturer or installer for routine homeowner maintenance.
(e) The home inspector is not required to:
1. Operate cooling systems when weather conditions or other circumstances may cause
equipment damage;
2. Inspect window air conditioners; or
3. Inspect the uniformity or adequacy of cool-air supply to the various rooms.
(9) Electrical Systems.
(a) The home inspector shall inspect:
1. Service entrance conductors;
2. Service equipment, grounding equipment, main overcurrent device, and main and
distribution panels;
3. Amperage and voltage ratings of the service;
4. Branch circuit conductors, their overcurrent devices, and the compatibility of their
ampacities and voltages;
5. The operation of a representative number of installed ceiling fans, lighting fixtures,
switches and receptacles located inside the house, garage, and on the dwelling’s
exterior walls;
6. The polarity and grounding of all receptacles within six feet of interior plumbing
fixtures, and all receptacles in the garage or carport, and on the exterior of
inspected structures;
7. The operation of ground fault circuit interrupters; and
8. Smoke detectors.
(b) The home inspector shall describe:
1. Service amperage and voltage;
2. Service entry conductor materials;
3. The service type as being overhead or underground; and
4. The location of main and distribution panels.
(c) The home inspector shall report the presence of any readily accessible single strand
aluminum branch circuit wiring.
(d) The home inspector shall report on the presence or absence of smoke detectors. If the
smoke detector is an individual (stand alone) unit, the home inspector shall operate its
test function. If the smoke detector is incorporated into an alarm system, the entity that
monitors the alarm system should test the smoke detector.
(e) The home inspector is not required to:
1. Insert any tool, probe, or testing device inside the panels;
2. Test or operate any overcurrent device except ground fault circuit interrupters;
3. Dismantle any electrical device or control other than to remove the covers of the
main and auxiliary distribution panels; or
4. Inspect:
(i) Low voltage systems;
(ii) Security system devices, heat detectors, or carbon monoxide detectors;
(iii) Telephone, security, cable TV, intercoms, or other ancillary wiring that is
not a part of the primary electrical distribution system; or
(iv) Built-in vacuum equipment.
(10) Plumbing Systems.
(a) The home inspector shall inspect:
1. Interior water supply and distribution system, including: piping materials, supports,
and insulation; fixtures and faucets; functional flow; leaks; and cross
connections;
2. Interior drain, waste, and vent system, including: traps; drain, waste, and vent
piping; piping supports and pipe insulation; leaks; and functional drainage;
3. Hot water systems including: water heating equipment; normal operating controls;
automatic safety controls; and chimneys, flues, and vents; and
4. Sump pumps.
(b) The home inspector shall describe:
1. Water supply and distribution piping materials;
2. Drain, waste, and vent piping materials;
3. Water heating equipment; and
4. The location of any main water supply shutoff device.
(c) The home inspector shall operate all plumbing fixtures, including their faucets and all
exterior faucets attached to the house, except where the flow end of the faucet is
connected to an appliance.
(d) The home inspector is not required to:
1. State the effectiveness of anti-siphon devices;
2. Determine whether water supply and waste disposal systems are public or private;
3. Operate automatic safety controls;
4. Operate any valve except water closet flush valves, fixture faucets, and hose faucets;
5. Inspect:
(i) Water conditioning systems;
(ii) Fire and lawn sprinkler systems;
(iii) On-site water supply quantity and quality;
(iv) On-site waste disposal systems;
(v) Foundation irrigation systems;
(vi) Bathroom spas, except as to functional flow and functional drainage;
(vii) Swimming pools;
(viii) Solar water heating equipment; or
6. Inspect the system for proper sizing, design, or use of proper materials.
(11) Structural Components and Foundations.
(a) The home inspector shall inspect structural components including:
1. Foundation;
2. Floors;
3. Walls;
4. Columns or piers;
5. Ceilings; and
6. Roofs.
(b) The home inspector shall describe the type of:
1. Foundation;
2. Floor structure;
3. Wall structure;
4. Columns or piers;
5. Ceiling structure; and
6. Roof structure.
(c) The home inspector shall:
1. Probe structural components where deterioration is suspected;
2. Enter underfloor crawl spaces, basements, and attic spaces except when access is
obstructed, when entry could damage the property, or when dangerous or
adverse situations are suspected;
3. Report the methods used to inspect underfloor crawl spaces and attics; and
4. Report signs of water penetration into the building or signs of condensation on
building components.
(12) Roof Coverings.
(a) The home inspector shall inspect:
1. Roof coverings;
2. Roof drainage systems;
3. Flashings;
4. Skylights, chimneys, and roof penetrations; and
5. Signs of leaks or abnormal condensation on building components.
(b) The home inspector shall:
1. Describe the type of roof covering materials; and
2. Report the methods used to inspect the roofing.
(c) The home inspector is not required to:
1. Walk on the roofing; or
2. Inspect attached accessories including solar systems, antennae, and lightning
arrestors.
(13) Exterior Components.
(a) The home inspector shall inspect:
1. Wall cladding, flashings, and trim;
2. Entryway doors and a representative number of windows;
3. Garage door operators;
4. Decks, balconies, stoops, steps, areaways, porches and applicable railings;
5. Eaves, soffits, and fascias; and
6. Vegetation, grading, drainage, driveways, patios, walkways, and retaining walls with
respect to their effect on the condition of the building.
(b) The home inspector shall:
1. Describe wall cladding materials;
2. Operate all entryway doors and a representative number of windows;
3. Operate garage doors manually or by using permanently installed controls for any
garage door operator;
4. Report whether or not any garage door operator will automatically reverse or stop
when meeting reasonable resistance during closing; and
5. Probe exterior wood components where deterioration is suspected.
(c) The home inspector is not required to inspect:
1. Storm windows, storm doors, screening, shutters, awnings, and similar seasonal
accessories;
2. Fences;
3. For the presence of safety glazing in doors and windows;
4. Garage door operator remote control transmitters;
5. Geological conditions;
6. Soil conditions;
7. Recreational facilities (including spas, saunas, steam baths, swimming pools, tennis
courts, playground equipment, and other exercise, entertainment, or athletic
facilities), except as otherwise provided in this rule;
8. Detached buildings or structures; or
9. For the presence or condition of buried fuel storage tanks.
(14) Interior Components.
(a) The home inspector shall inspect:
1. Walls, ceiling, and floors;
2. Steps, stairways, balconies, and railings;
3. Counters and a representative number of built-in cabinets; and
4. A representative number of doors and windows.
(b) The home inspector shall:
1. Operate a representative number of windows and interior doors; and
2. Report signs of water penetration into the building or signs of condensation on
building components.
(c) The home inspector is not required to inspect:
1. Paint, wallpaper, and other finish treatments on the interior walls, ceilings, and
floors;
2. Carpeting; or
3. Draperies, blinds, or other window treatments.
(15) Insulation and Ventilation.
(a) The home inspector shall inspect:
1. Insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces;
2. Ventilation of attics and foundation areas;
3. Kitchen, bathroom, and laundry venting systems; and
4. The operation of any readily accessible attic ventilation fan, and, when temperature
permits, the operation of any readily accessible thermostatic control.
(b) The home inspector shall describe:
1. Insulation in unfinished spaces; and
2. The absence of insulation in unfinished space at conditioned surfaces.
(c) The home inspector is not required to report on:
1. Concealed insulation and vapor retarders; or
2. Venting equipment that is integral with household appliances.
(16) Built-In Kitchen Appliances.
(a) The home inspector shall inspect and operate the basic functions of the following kitchen
appliances:
1. Permanently installed, dishwasher(s) through a normal cycle;
2. Range(s), cook top(s), and permanently installed oven(s);
3. Trash compactor(s);
4. Garbage disposal(s);
5. Ventilation equipment or range hood(s); and
6. Permanently installed microwave oven(s).
(b) The home inspector is not required to inspect:
1. Clocks, timers, self-cleaning oven functions, or thermostats for calibration or
automatic operation;
2. Non built-in appliances; or
3. Refrigeration units.
(c) The home inspector is not required to operate:
1. Appliances in use; or
2. Any appliance that is shut down or otherwise inoperable.

InterNACHI Standards of Practice

1. Definitions and Scope

1.1.  A general home inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of the accessible areas of a residential property (as delineated below), performed for a fee, which is designed to identify defects within specific systems and components defined by these Standards that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector.  The scope of work may be modified by the Client and Inspector prior to the inspection process.

  1. The general home inspection is based on the observations made on the date of the inspection, and not a prediction of future conditions.

 

  • The general home inspection will not reveal every issue that exists or ever could exist, but only those material defects observed on the date of the inspection.

 

1.2.  A material defect is a specific issue with a system or component of a residential property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property, or that poses an unreasonable risk to people.  The fact that a system or component is near, at or beyond the end of its normal useful life is not, in itself, a material defect.

1.3.  A general home inspection report shall identify, in written format, defects within specific systems and components defined by these Standards that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector.  Inspection reports may include additional comments and recommendations.

2. Limitations, Exceptions & Exclusions

2.1. Limitations:

  1. An inspection is not technically exhaustive.
  2. An inspection will not identify concealed or latent defects. 
  3. An inspection will not deal with aesthetic concerns or what could be deemed matters of taste, cosmetic defects, etc. 
  4. An inspection will not determine the suitability of the property for any use. 
  5. An inspection does not determine the market value of the property or its marketability.
  6. An inspection does not determine the insurability of the property. 
  7. An inspection does not determine the advisability or inadvisability of the purchase of the inspected property. 
  8. An inspection does not determine the life expectancy of the property or any components or systems therein. 
  9. An inspection does not include items not permanently installed. 
  10. These Standards of Practice apply only to properties with four or fewer residential units.


2.2. Exclusions:

I. The inspector is not required to determine:

  1. property boundary lines or encroachments.
  2. the condition of any component or system that is not readily accessible. 
  3. the service life expectancy of any component or system. 
  4. the size, capacity, BTU, performance or efficiency of any component or system. 
  5. the cause or reason of any condition. 
  6. the cause for the need of correction, repair or replacement of any system or component. 
  7. future conditions. 
  8. compliance with codes or regulations. 
  9. the presence of evidence of rodents, birds, animals, insects, or other pests. 
  10. the presence of mold, mildew or fungus.
  11. the presence of airborne hazards, including radon. 
  12. the air quality. 
  13. the existence of environmental hazards, including lead paint, asbestos or toxic drywall.
  14. the existence of electromagnetic fields. 
  15. any hazardous waste conditions. 
  16. any manufacturers’ recalls or conformance with manufacturer installation, or any information included for consumer protection purposes.
  17. acoustical properties.
  18. correction, replacement or repair cost estimates. 
  19. estimates of the cost to operate any given system.

II. The inspector is not required to operate:

  1. any system that is shut down.
  2. any system that does not function properly. 
  3. or evaluate low-voltage electrical systems such as, but not limited to:

1. phone lines;
2. cable lines;
3. satellite dishes;
4. antennae;
5. lights; or
6. remote controls.

 

  • any system that does not turn on with the use of normal operating controls. 
  • any shut-off valves or manual stop valves. 
  • any electrical disconnect or over-current protection devices. 
  • any alarm systems. 
  • moisture meters, gas detectors or similar equipment.

 

III. The inspector is not required to:

  1. move any personal items or other obstructions, such as, but not limited to:  throw rugs, carpeting, wall coverings, furniture, ceiling tiles, window coverings, equipment, plants, ice, debris, snow, water, dirt, pets, or anything else that might restrict the visual inspection.
  2. dismantle, open or uncover any system or component.
  3. enter or access any area that may, in the opinion of the inspector, be unsafe. 
  4. enter crawlspaces or other areas that may be unsafe or not readily accessible. 
  5. inspect underground items, such as, but not limited to: lawn-irrigation systems, or underground storage tanks (or indications of their presence), whether abandoned or actively used. 
  6. do anything which may, in the inspector’s opinion, be unsafe or dangerous to the inspector or others, or damage property, such as, but not limited to:  walking on roof surfaces, climbing ladders, entering attic spaces, or negotiating with pets. 
  7. inspect decorative items. 
  8. inspect common elements or areas in multi-unit housing. 
  9. inspect intercoms, speaker systems or security systems.
  10. offer guarantees or warranties. 
  11. offer or perform any engineering services. 
  12. offer or perform any trade or professional service other than general home inspection. 
  13. research the history of the property, or report on its potential for alteration, modification, extendibility or suitability for a specific or proposed use for occupancy. 
  14. determine the age of construction or installation of any system, structure or component of a building, or differentiate between original construction and subsequent additions, improvements, renovations or replacements. 
  15. determine the insurability of a property.
  16. perform or offer Phase 1 or environmental audits.
  17. inspect any system or component that is not included in these Standards.


3. Standards of Practice

3.1. Roof

I. The inspector shall inspect from ground level or the eaves:

  1. the roof-covering materials;
  2. the gutters;
  3. the downspouts;
  4. the vents, flashing, skylights, chimney, and other roof penetrations; and 
  5. the general structure of the roof from the readily accessible panels, doors or stairs.

II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. the type of roof-covering materials.


III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. observed indications of active roof leaks.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. walk on any roof surface.
  2. predict the service life expectancy. 
  3. inspect underground downspout diverter drainage pipes. 
  4. remove snow, ice, debris or other conditions that prohibit the observation of the roof surfaces.
  5. move insulation. 
  6. inspect antennae, satellite dishes, lightning arresters, de-icing equipment, or similar attachments.
  7. walk on any roof areas that appear, in the opinion of the inspector, to be unsafe.
  8. walk on any roof areas if it might, in the opinion of the inspector, cause damage. 
  9. perform a water test.
  10. warrant or certify the roof.
  11. confirm proper fastening or installation of any roof-covering material.

3.2. Exterior

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the exterior wall-covering materials, flashing and trim;
  2. all exterior doors;
  3. adjacent walkways and driveways;
  4. stairs, steps, stoops, stairways and ramps;
  5. porches, patios, decks, balconies and carports;
  6. railings, guards and handrails;
  7. the eaves, soffits and fascia;
  8. a representative number of windows; and
  9. vegetation, surface drainage, retaining walls and grading of the property, where they may adversely affect the structure due to moisture intrusion. 


II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. the type of exterior wall-covering materials.


III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. any improper spacing between intermediate balusters, spindles and rails.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. inspect or operate screens, storm windows, shutters, awnings, fences, outbuildings, or exterior accent lighting.
  2. inspect items that are not visible or readily accessible from the ground, including window and door flashing. 
  3. inspect or identify geological, geotechnical, hydrological or soil conditions. 
  4. inspect recreational facilities or playground equipment. 
  5. inspect seawalls, breakwalls or docks. 
  6. inspect erosion-control or earth-stabilization measures. 
  7. inspect for safety-type glass. 
  8. inspect underground utilities. 
  9. inspect underground items. 
  10. inspect wells or springs. 
  11. inspect solar, wind or geothermal systems. 
  12. inspect swimming pools or spas. 
  13. inspect wastewater treatment systems, septic systems or cesspools. 
  14. inspect irrigation or sprinkler systems. 
  15. inspect drainfields or dry wells. 
  16. determine the integrity of multiple-pane window glazing or thermal window seals.

3.3. Basement, Foundation, Crawlspace & Structure

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the foundation;
  2. the basement;
  3. the crawlspace; and
  4. structural components.


II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. the type of foundation; and
  2. the location of the access to the under-floor space.

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. observed indications of wood in contact with or near soil;
  2. observed indications of active water penetration; 
  3. observed indications of possible foundation movement, such as sheetrock cracks, brick cracks, out-of-square door frames, and unlevel floors; and
  4. any observed cutting, notching and boring of framing members that may, in the inspector’s opinion, present a structural or safety concern.


IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. enter any crawlspace that is not readily accessible, or where entry could cause damage or pose a hazard to the inspector.
  2. move stored items or debris. 
  3. operate sump pumps with inaccessible floats. 
  4. identify the size, spacing, span or location or determine the adequacy of foundation bolting, bracing, joists, joist spans or support systems. 
  5. provide any engineering or architectural service. 
  6. report on the adequacy of any structural system or component.

3.4. Heating

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the heating system, using normal operating controls.

II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. the location of the thermostat for the heating system;
  2. the energy source; and
  3. the heating method.

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. any heating system that did not operate; and
  2. if the heating system was deemed inaccessible.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. inspect or evaluate the interior of flues or chimneys, fire chambers, heat exchangers, combustion air systems, fresh-air intakes, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, electronic air filters, geothermal systems, or solar heating systems.
  2. inspect fuel tanks or underground or concealed fuel supply systems. 
  3. determine the uniformity, temperature, flow, balance, distribution, size, capacity, BTU, or supply adequacy of the heating system. 
  4. light or ignite pilot flames. 
  5. activate heating, heat pump systems, or other heating systems when ambient temperatures or other circumstances are not conducive to safe operation or may damage the equipment. 
  6. override electronic thermostats. 
  7. evaluate fuel quality.
  8. verify thermostat calibration, heat anticipation, or automatic setbacks, timers, programs or clocks.

3.5. Cooling

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the cooling system using normal operating controls.

II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. the location of the thermostat for the cooling system; and
  2. the cooling method.

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. any cooling system that did not operate; and
  2. if the cooling system was deemed inaccessible.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. determine the uniformity, temperature, flow, balance, distribution, size, capacity, BTU, or supply adequacy of the cooling system.
  2. inspect portable window units, through-wall units, or electronic air filters. 
  3. operate equipment or systems if the exterior temperature is below 65° Fahrenheit, or when other circumstances are not conducive to safe operation or may damage the equipment. 
  4. inspect or determine thermostat calibration, cooling anticipation, or automatic setbacks or clocks. 
  5. examine electrical current, coolant fluids or gases, or coolant leakage.

3.6. Plumbing

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the main water supply shut-off valve;
  2. the main fuel supply shut-off valve;
  3. the water heating equipment, including the energy source, venting connections, temperature/pressure-relief (TPR) valves, Watts 210 valves, and seismic bracing;
  4. interior water supply, including all fixtures and faucets, by running the water;
  5. all toilets for proper operation by flushing;
  6. all sinks, tubs and showers for functional drainage;
  7. the drain, waste and vent system; and
  8. drainage sump pumps with accessible floats.


II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. whether the water supply is public or private based upon observed evidence;
  2. the location of the main water supply shut-off valve;
  3. the location of the main fuel supply shut-off valve;
  4. the location of any observed fuel-storage system; and
  5. the capacity of the water heating equipment, if labeled.


III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. deficiencies in the water supply by viewing the functional flow in two fixtures operated simultaneously;
  2. deficiencies in the installation of hot and cold water faucets;
  3. mechanical drain stops that were missing or did not operate if installed in sinks, lavatories and tubs; and
  4. toilets that were damaged, had loose connections to the floor, were leaking, or had tank components that did not operate.


IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. light or ignite pilot flames.
  2. measure the capacity, temperature, age, life expectancy or adequacy of the water heater. 
  3. inspect the interior of flues or chimneys, combustion air systems, water softener or filtering systems, well pumps or tanks, safety or shut-off valves, floor drains, lawn sprinkler systems, or fire sprinkler systems. 
  4. determine the exact flow rate, volume, pressure, temperature or adequacy of the water supply. 
  5. determine the water quality, potability or reliability of the water supply or source. 
  6. open sealed plumbing access panels. 
  7. inspect clothes washing machines or their connections. 
  8. operate any valve.
  9. test shower pans, tub and shower surrounds or enclosures for leakage or functional overflow protection. 
  10. evaluate the compliance with conservation, energy or building standards, or the proper design or sizing of any water, waste or venting components, fixtures or piping. 
  11. determine the effectiveness of anti-siphon, back-flow prevention or drain-stop devices. 
  12. determine whether there are sufficient cleanouts for effective cleaning of drains. 
  13. evaluate fuel storage tanks or supply systems.
  14. inspect wastewater treatment systems.
  15. inspect water treatment systems or water filters. 
  16. inspect water storage tanks, pressure pumps, or bladder tanks. 
  17. evaluate wait-time to obtain hot water at fixtures, or perform testing of any kind to water heater elements. 
  18. evaluate or determine the adequacy of combustion air. 
  19. test, operate, open or close: safety controls, manual stop valves, temperature/pressure-relief valves, control valves, or check valves.
  20. examine ancillary or auxiliary systems or components, such as, but not limited to, those related to solar water heating and hot water circulation.
  21. determine the existence or condition of polybutylene plumbing.

3.7. Electrical

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the service drop;
  2. the overhead service conductors and attachment point;
  3. the service head, gooseneck and drip loops;
  4. the service mast, service conduit and raceway;
  5. the electric meter and base;
  6. service-entrance conductors;
  7. the main service disconnect;
  8. panelboards and over-current protection devices (circuit breakers and fuses);
  9. service grounding and bonding;
  10. a representative number of switches, lighting fixtures and receptacles, including receptacles observed and deemed to be arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI)-protected using the AFCI test button, where possible;
  11. all ground-fault circuit interrupter receptacles and circuit breakers observed and deemed to be GFCIs using a GFCI tester, where possible; and
  12. smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors.


II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. the main service disconnect’s amperage rating, if labeled; and 
  2. the type of wiring observed.


III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. deficiencies in the integrity of the service-entrance conductors’ insulation, drip loop, and vertical clearances from grade and roofs;
  2. any unused circuit-breaker panel opening that was not filled;
  3. the presence of solid conductor aluminum branch-circuit wiring, if readily visible;
  4. any tested receptacle in which power was not present, polarity was incorrect, the cover was not in place, the GFCI devices were not properly installed or did not operate properly, evidence of arcing or excessive heat, and where the receptacle was not grounded or was not secured to the wall; and
  5. the absence of smoke detectors.


IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. insert any tool, probe or device into the main panelboard, sub-panels, distribution panelboards, or electrical fixtures.
  2. operate electrical systems that are shut down. 
  3. remove panelboard cabinet covers or dead fronts.
  4. operate or re-set over-current protection devices or overload devices. 
  5. operate smoke or carbon-monoxide detectors. 
  6. measure or determine the amperage or voltage of the main service equipment, if not visibly labeled.
  7. inspect the fire and alarm system or components. 
  8. inspect the ancillary wiring or remote-control devices. 
  9. activate any electrical systems or branch circuits that are not energized. 
  10. inspect low-voltage systems, electrical de-icing tapes, swimming pool wiring, or any time-controlled devices. 
  11. verify the service ground. 
  12. inspect private or emergency electrical supply sources, including, but not limited to: generators, windmills, photovoltaic solar collectors, or battery or electrical storage facility. 
  13. inspect spark or lightning arrestors.
  14. inspect or test de-icing equipment. 
  15. conduct voltage-drop calculations. 
  16. determine the accuracy of labeling.
  17. inspect exterior lighting. 

3.8. Fireplace

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. readily accessible and visible portions of the fireplaces and chimneys;
  2. lintels above the fireplace openings;
  3. damper doors by opening and closing them, if readily accessible and manually operable; and
  4. cleanout doors and frames.

II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. the type of fireplace.

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. evidence of joint separation, damage or deterioration of the hearth, hearth extension or chambers;
  2. manually operated dampers that did not open and close;
  3. the lack of a smoke detector in the same room as the fireplace;
  4. the lack of a carbon-monoxide detector in the same room as the fireplace; and
  5. cleanouts not made of metal, pre-cast cement, or other non-combustible material.


IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. inspect the flue or vent system.
  2. inspect the interior of chimneys or flues, fire doors or screens, seals or gaskets, or mantels. 
  3. determine the need for a chimney sweep. 
  4. operate gas fireplace inserts. 
  5. light pilot flames. 
  6. determine the appropriateness of any installation. 
  7. inspect automatic fuel-fed devices. 
  8. inspect combustion and/or make-up air devices. 
  9. inspect heat-distribution assists, whether gravity-controlled or fan-assisted. 
  10. ignite or extinguish fires. 
  11. determine the adequacy of drafts or draft characteristics. 
  12. move fireplace inserts, stoves or firebox contents. 
  13. perform a smoke test.
  14. dismantle or remove any component.
  15. perform a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)-style inspection.
  16. perform a Phase I fireplace and chimney inspection.

3.9. Attic, Insulation & Ventilation

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. insulation in unfinished spaces, including attics, crawlspaces and foundation areas;
  2. ventilation of unfinished spaces, including attics, crawlspaces and foundation areas; and
  3. mechanical exhaust systems in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry area.

II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. the type of insulation observed; and
  2. the approximate average depth of insulation observed at the unfinished attic floor area or roof structure.


III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. the general absence of insulation or ventilation in unfinished spaces.


IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. enter the attic or any unfinished spaces that are not readily accessible, or where entry could cause damage or, in the inspector’s opinion, pose a safety hazard.
  2. move, touch or disturb insulation. 
  3. move, touch or disturb vapor retarders. 
  4. break or otherwise damage the surface finish or weather seal on or around access panels or covers. 
  5. identify the composition or R-value of insulation material. 
  6. activate thermostatically operated fans. 
  7. determine the types of materials used in insulation or wrapping of pipes, ducts, jackets, boilers or wiring.
  8. determine the adequacy of ventilation.

3.10. Doors, Windows & Interior

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. a representative number of doors and windows by opening and closing them;
  2. floors, walls and ceilings;
  3. stairs, steps, landings, stairways and ramps;
  4. railings, guards and handrails; and
  5. garage vehicle doors and the operation of garage vehicle door openers, using normal operating controls.


II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. a garage vehicle door as manually-operated or installed with a garage door opener.


III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. improper spacing between intermediate balusters, spindles and rails for steps, stairways, guards and railings;
  2. photo-electric safety sensors that did not operate properly; and
  3. any window that was obviously fogged or displayed other evidence of broken seals.


IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. inspect paint, wallpaper, window treatments or finish treatments.
  2. inspect floor coverings or carpeting.
  3. inspect central vacuum systems. 
  4. inspect for safety glazing. 
  5. inspect security systems or components. 
  6. evaluate the fastening of islands, countertops, cabinets, sink tops or fixtures. 
  7. move furniture, stored items, or any coverings, such as carpets or rugs, in order to inspect the concealed floor structure. 
  8. move suspended-ceiling tiles. 
  9. inspect or move any household appliances. 
  10. inspect or operate equipment housed in the garage, except as otherwise noted. 
  11. verify or certify the proper operation of any pressure-activated auto-reverse or related safety feature of a garage door. 
  12. operate or evaluate any security bar release and opening mechanisms, whether interior or exterior, including their compliance with local, state or federal standards. 
  13. operate any system, appliance or component that requires the use of special keys, codes, combinations or devices. 
  14. operate or evaluate self-cleaning oven cycles, tilt guards/latches, or signal lights. 
  15. inspect microwave ovens or test leakage from microwave ovens. 
  16. operate or examine any sauna, steam-generating equipment, kiln, toaster, ice maker, coffee maker, can opener, bread warmer, blender, instant hot-water dispenser, or other small, ancillary appliances or devices. 
  17. inspect elevators. 
  18. inspect remote controls. 
  19. inspect appliances. 
  20. inspect items not permanently installed.
  21. discover firewall compromises. 
  22. inspect pools, spas or fountains.
  23. determine the adequacy of whirlpool or spa jets, water force, or bubble effects. 
  24. determine the structural integrity or leakage of pools or spas.

4. Glossary of Terms

  • accessible:  In the opinion of the inspector, can be approached or entered safely, without difficulty, fear or danger.
  • activate:  To turn on, supply power, or enable systems, equipment or devices to become active by normal operating controls. Examples include turning on the gas or water supply valves to the fixtures and appliances, and activating electrical breakers or fuses.
  • adversely affect:  To constitute, or potentially constitute, a negative or destructive impact.
  • alarm system:  Warning devices, installed or freestanding, including, but not limited to: carbon-monoxide detectors, flue gas and other spillage detectors, security equipment, ejector pumps, and smoke alarms.
  • appliance:  A household device operated by the use of electricity or gas. Not included in this definition are components covered under central heating, central cooling or plumbing.
  • architectural service:  Any practice involving the art and science of building design for construction of any structure or grouping of structures, and the use of space within and surrounding the structures or the design, design development, preparation of construction contract documents, and administration of the construction contract.
  • component:  A permanently installed or attached fixture, element or part of a system.
  • condition:  The visible and conspicuous state of being of an object.
  • correction:  Something that is substituted or proposed for what is incorrect, deficient, unsafe, or a defect.
  • cosmetic defect:  An irregularity or imperfection in something, which could be corrected, but is not required.
  • crawlspace:  The area within the confines of the foundation and between the ground and the underside of the lowest floor’s structural component.
  • decorative:  Ornamental; not required for the operation of essential systems or components of a home.
  • describe:  To report in writing a system or component by its type or other observed characteristics in order to distinguish it from other components used for the same purpose.
  • determine:  To arrive at an opinion or conclusion pursuant to examination.
  • dismantle:  To open, take apart or remove any component, device or piece that would not typically be opened, taken apart or removed by an ordinary occupant.
  • engineering service:  Any professional service or creative work requiring engineering education, training and experience, and the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical and engineering sciences to such professional service or creative work as consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning, design and supervision of construction for the purpose of assuring compliance with the specifications and design, in conjunction with structures, buildings, machines, equipment, works and/or processes.
  • enter:  To go into an area to observe visible components.
  • evaluate:  To assess the systems, structures and/or components of a property.
  • evidence:  (noun form) That which tends to prove or disprove something; something that makes plain or clear; ground for belief; proof.
  • examine:  To visually look (see inspect).
  • foundation:  The base upon which the structure or wall rests, usually masonry, concrete or stone, and generally partially underground.
  • function:  The action for which an item, component or system is specially fitted or used, or for which an item, component or system exists; to be in action or perform a task.
  • functional:  Performing, or able to perform, a function.
  • functional defect:  A lack of or an abnormality in something that is necessary for normal and proper functioning and operation, and, therefore, requires further evaluation and correction.
  • general home inspection:  The process by which an inspector visually examines the readily accessible systems and components of a home and operates those systems and components utilizing these Standards of Practice as a guideline.
  • home inspection:  See general home inspection.
  • household appliances:  Kitchen and laundry appliances, room air conditioners, and similar appliances.
  • identify:  To notice and report.
  • indication (noun form):  That which serves to point out, show, or make known the present existence of something under certain conditions.
  • inspect:  To examine readily accessible systems and components safely, using normal operating controls, and accessing readily accessible areas, in accordance with these Standards of Practice.
  • inspected property:  The readily accessible areas of the buildings, site, items, components and systems included in the inspection.
  • inspection report:  A written communication (possibly including images) of any material defects observed during the inspection.
  • inspector:  One who performs a real estate inspection.
  • installed:  Attached or connected such that the installed item requires a tool for removal.
  • material defect:  A specific issue with a system or component of a residential property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property, or that poses an unreasonable risk to people.  The fact that a system or component is near, at or beyond the end of its normal useful life is not, in itself, a material defect.
  • normal operating controls:  Describes the method by which certain devices (such as thermostats) can be operated by ordinary occupants, as they require no specialized skill or knowledge.
  • observe:  To visually notice.
  • operate:  To cause systems to function or turn on with normal operating controls.
  • readily accessible:  A system or component that, in the judgment of the inspector, is capable of being safely observed without the removal of obstacles, detachment or disengagement of connecting or securing devices, or other unsafe or difficult procedures to gain access.
  • recreational facilities:  Spas, saunas, steam baths, swimming pools, tennis courts, playground equipment, and other exercise, entertainment and athletic facilities.
  • report:  (verb form) To express, communicate or provide information in writing; give a written account of.  (See also inspection report.)
  • representative number:  A number sufficient to serve as a typical or characteristic example of the item(s) inspected.
  • residential property:  Four or fewer residential units.
  • residential unit:  A home; a single unit providing complete and independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.
  • safety glazing:  Tempered glass, laminated glass, or rigid plastic.
  • shut down:  Turned off, unplugged, inactive, not in service, not operational, etc.
  • structural component:  A component that supports non-variable forces or weights (dead loads) and variable forces or weights (live loads).
  • system:  An assembly of various components which function as a whole.
  • technically exhaustive:  A comprehensive and detailed examination beyond the scope of a real estate home inspection that would involve or include, but would not be limited to:  dismantling, specialized knowledge or training, special equipment, measurements, calculations, testing, research, analysis, or other means.
  • unsafe:  In the inspector’s opinion, a condition of an area, system, component or procedure that is judged to be a significant risk of injury during normal, day-to-day use. The risk may be due to damage, deterioration, improper installation, or a change in accepted residential construction standards.
  • verify:  To confirm or substantiate.