Note:This article was originally published in our Asheville home inspections blog - Asheville Home Inspections – Limits of Home Inspections & Setting Expectations but I thought the content was very useful to share at our Boone office as well.
Over the years as a home inspector in Boone NC, we have seen many disputes arise between home inspection clients and the companies they have hired to perform their home inspection. Most of these disputes arise due to a misunderstanding of what the State of North Carolina considers the home inspectors’ obligation or job and the client’s expectation from what they have heard or been told. At Mountains to Sea Inspections we have always relied on strong communication with our clients, a clear and concise home inspections agreement and contract and the NC Standards of Practice for Home Inspectors. Lets dive a little deeper into these items and see where the major misunderstandings exist.
NC HOME INSPECTOR STANDARDS OF PRACTICE AND CODE OF ETHICS
Lets first take a close a look at some of the limitations presented to all home inspectors in Boone by the NC Standards of Practice for Home Inspectors, an abridged version of this is linked to below. The full NC SOP is linked in the text above and here.
Following, I will share some excerpts from this document to help shed some light on what NC deems our responsibility as licensed home inspectors in NC and how that differs from public opinion. Should you have further questions concerning these ideas please contact us and we can discuss further.
Excerpts from SOP of NC for Home Inspectors
.1105 GENERAL EXCLUSIONS: (a) Home inspectors are not required to report on: (1) Life expectancy of any component or system; (2) The causes 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 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.
.1105 GENERAL EXCLUSIONS: (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 presence or absence of any suspected adverse environmental condition or hazardous substance, including toxins, carcinogens, noise, contaminants in the building or in soil, water, and air; (8) Determine the effectiveness of any system installed to control or remove suspected hazardous substances; (9) Predict future condition, including failure of components; (10) Project operating costs of components; (11) Evaluate acoustical characteristics of any system or component; (12) Inspect special equipment or accessories that are not listed as components to be inspected in this Section; or (13) Disturb insulation, except as required in Rule .1114 of this Section. (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 an occupational license in the jurisdiction where the inspection is taking place, unless the home inspector holds a valid occupational license, in which case the home inspector shall inform the client that the home inspector is so licensed, and therefore qualified to go beyond this Section and perform additional inspections beyond those within the scope of the Standards of Practice.
.1103 PURPOSE AND SCOPE (a) Home inspections performed according to this Section shall provide the client with an understanding of the property conditions, as inspected at the time of the home inspection. (b) Home inspectors shall: (1) provide a written contract, signed by the client, before the home inspection is performed that shall: (A) State that the home inspection is in accordance with the Standards of Practice of the North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board as set forth in this Section; (B) Describe what services shall be provided and the cost; and (C) 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 described in Rules .1106 through .1115 of this Section; and (3) submit a written report and summary, pursuant to G.S. 143-151.58(a1), to the client that shall: (A) Describe those systems and components required to be described in Rules .1106 through .1115 of this Section; (B) State which systems and components present at the home and designated for inspection in this Section were not inspected, and the reason for not inspecting; (C) State any systems or components inspected that do not function as intended, allowing for normal wear and tear, or appear not to function as intended, based upon documented tangible evidence; (D) Describe the system or component; state how the condition is defective; explain the implications of conditions listed in the summary; and direct the client to a course of action for repair, further investigation by a specialist, or subsequent observation; and (E) State the name, license number, and signature of the person conducting the inspection.
Boone Home Inspections - Contract & Agreement
Now that you have had a chance to review some the limitations placed on home inspectors in North Carolina, I bet your asking yourself what does it mean? Here is an excerpt from Mountains to Sea Inspections’ contract and agreement that highlights the primary restriction:
This inspection is a limited visual inspection as a generalist. Areas that are inaccessible are not part of this inspection including but not limited to: behind walls, furniture, under rugs, inaccessible areas and below soil. The client signing below assumes all risk for potential problems or conditions including those areas not accessible by the inspector.
Home inspectors in Boone and surrounding areas can not reasonably be expected to comment on areas they can not see and while most home inspector's breadth of knowledge is large, we also do not know everything about everything. That is why we make recommendations for further inspection from qualified professionals; whether that be from an engineer, soil scientist, or HVAC technician to name a few.
Another excerpt from Mountains to Sea Inspections’ contract and agreement helps shed some light on the idea of warranties or lack thereof:
We are not a guarantee, nor do we guarantee any items or opinions described on this report. This inspection is to reduce the risk of finding a potential problem, not to eliminate them. We are not a home warranty company, nor do we carry insurance on warranty claims.
I know this is a lot to absorb and seems there are a lot of exclusions! But, when you look at the fact that at Mountains to Sea Inspections we have performed, combined, 1000's of home inspections and saved our clients countless $1,000's, if not $10,000's, and still maintain an almost flawless 4.9 rating on Google for our home inspections office in Asheville and a flawless 5.0 rating on Google for our Boone office, you begin to see the value in having your next home or your current home inspected by Mountains to Sea Inspections. Also, keep in mind that first and foremost each and every one of our certified home inspectors came from the construction industry! Each and every one of our home inspectors near you knows how your home goes together from the footer to the roof and everything in between.
Your Biggest Investment, Deserves The Best Inspection...