What exactly is a home inspection?

A home inspection is a professional consulting service that determines the present condition of the home’s major systems, based on a visual inspection of accessible features. It focuses on the performance of the home, rather than cosmetic, code or design issues. Inspections are often performed during a real estate transaction but may be done anytime.

A home inspection is:

  • An in-field evaluation and professional opinion of the performance of the readily accessible installed systems in a home at one point in time
  • Primarily a visual examination
  • Intended to identify components that are significantly deficient, unsafe or near the end of their life
  • Documented in a written report

A home inspection is not:

  • An insurance policy, guarantee or warranty on the home
  • An invasive or destructive exercise
  • Intended to identify concealed defects
  • A code or design review
  • Intended to predict future performance or life expectancy
  • An environmental review or energy audit

Components included:

  • Roof
  • Structure
  • Exterior
  • Electrical system
  • Heating and Air Conditioning systems
  • Plumbing system
  • Insulation and Air/Vapor Barriers
  • Interior
  • Mechanical and Natural Ventilation systems

What’s excluded:

  • Cosmetics
  • Code, bylaw and building regulation issues
  • Outbuildings
  • Swimming pools and spas
  • Specialty systems including telephone, cable TV, alarm systems

Do I need a construction background to go into home inspection?

Absolutely not. A construction background can be an asset, but is not necessary. Home inspectors need to have a broad understanding of homes. Specific knowledge of a single home system such as plumbing or electrical is helpful in that area, but there is much more to a professional home inspection. Experience with new work and modern building materials and systems may not expose people to older materials and systems commonly found during home inspections.

An understanding of building science and how houses act as a system is critical to being an accomplished home inspection professional. Home inspection is an analytical process and requires deductive reasoning based on incomplete information. It is different from construction work.

Each of our Courses is designed from first principles, assuming no pre-existing knowledge. The focus is on developing understanding first, and applying the knowledge to the home inspection process.

What kind of people make good home inspectors?

  • People interested in how things work
  • People who like helping people
  • People who like to work independently – being their own boss
  • People who like setting their own schedule
  • People who don’t like being chained to a desk
  • People who want to earn a significant revenue

Who hires home inspectors?

  • Buyers, sellers, real estate salespeople and homeowners
  • Sometimes lawyers, appraisers, lenders, insurers, etc.

Do home inspectors ever work outside of a real estate transaction?

Yes. A few examples are problem-solving inspections, annual maintenance inspections, pre-renovation inspections/consultations, and construction dispute inspections (expert witness).

What percent of resale homes get inspected?

Typically 65 to 90% depending on the region, market and market conditions.

What is a typical home inspection fee?

Between $350 and $700 for a typical home. It varies by the region and market. Fees are higher for older, larger homes. Many home inspectors offer ancillary services which result in significantly higher fees. These include mold, thermographic imaging inspections, indoor air quality, swimming pools, radon, lead, well and septic systems, asbestos, etc.

Do people get condominiums inspected?

Yes, condos need inspections too.

Do people get new homes inspected?

Yes, although the percentage is lower than for resale homes.

Do inspectors tell clients whether or not to buy the house?

No. We provide clients with information to make an educated decision. We understand that the inspection is one piece of the homebuying puzzle.

How long does a home inspection take?

Typically, two and a half hours, plus or minus 30 minutes. Older and larger homes take longer. Newer inspectors take longer than experienced inspectors.

The report writing process is typically about the same length of time as the inspection. Reports are often sent to clients the same day as the inspection. Home inspectors are unique in their ability to produce high-quality, technical yet readable reports in a very short time frame. Sophisticated report writing software facilitates this process. Our Horizon Inspection Software helps you write outstanding reports quickly and easily. Our students enjoy free use of Horizon Report Writing Software while studying. We believe report writing is a critical skill for professional inspectors.

Who attends the inspection?

We suggest that inspectors encourage the client to attend the inspection or at least the last part of it. Some inspectors suggest clients attend only the last 30 minutes, so they can inspect alone and then tour the home with the client. Others feel that misses an opportunity to build a relationship with the client. It’s a business decision for the inspector.

Clients sometimes bring the whole family and real estate salespeople often attend too.

What kind of report is provided and when?

A written technical report is typically provided within 24 hours of the inspection.
View a Sample Report 

What hours do home inspectors work?

You can choose your hours; however, we do not recommend inspecting homes without daylight. You need to be able to see the exterior.

Do home inspectors report on code issues?

No. There are many codes and they change every couple of years. Resale homes do not generally comply with the most modern version of every code. Home inspection is a performance-based evaluation, not a code compliance inspection.

Should I join a professional association?

Absolutely. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is the oldest and most respected association. The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) is another. There are several other very good regional associations. Here are four reasons to join:

  1. Credibility – credentials help
  2. Education – stay up to date
  3. Networking with peers
  4. Preferred pricing on a number of goods and services

What kind of insurance do I need?

We recommend errors and omissions and general liability insurance, in addition to coverage for auto, office contents, health and dental, etc.


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