Throughout the years, home inspectors in Gainesville have seen numerous debates emerge between customers and the inspectors they have employed to perform their home inspection. A large portion of these debates emerge because of a misconception of what the State of Florida considers the home inspectors’ responsibilities and the customer’s expectations based on what they have heard or been told. At Mountains to Sea Inspections, we have consistently depended on solid correspondence with our customers, a concise agreement and contract and the FL Standards of Practice for Home Inspectors. Let’s jump into the Standards of Practice for home inspectors and see where some of these disagreements arise.
FL HOME INSPECTOR STANDARDS OF PRACTICE AND CODE OF ETHICS
Let’s start with a thorough review of the Florida Standards of Practice for Home Inspectors. This document sets forth the guiding principles for all home inspectors in Gainesville and is the final word in what the State’s expectations are for home inspectors. At Mountains to Sea Inspections, we consider this the bare minimum and always strive to provide more information than required.
Link for the abbreviated FL Standards of Practice for Home Inspectors
Excerpts from SOP of FL for Home Inspectors
Here are a couple of excerpts from the Standards of Practice to help shed some light on the restrictions presented to home inspectors for every home inspection they perform.
61-30.801 Standards of Practice, General. (1) Home inspections performed to these Standards of Practice are intended to provide the client with information regarding the overall condition of installed systems and components of the home based on observation of the visible and apparent condition of the structure and components at the time of the home inspection and to report on those systems and components inspected that, in the professional opinion of the inspector, are significantly deficient or at the end of their service lives. A home inspection does not include the prediction of future conditions. (2) These standards shall not be construed as limiting the scope of the inspection process in those areas where the inspector is qualified and/or has special knowledge. (3) The inspector shall inspect readily accessible, installed systems and components of homes listed in these Standards of Practice by using normal operating controls and opening readily operable access panels. Where multiple instances of the same component exist, a representative number shall be inspected. (4) The inspector shall inspect and report as required by Section 468.8323, F.S., when required by these standards, systems or components by their type and/or significant characteristics. (5) If not self-evident to the client at the time of inspection, the inspector shall give a reason why, in his or her opinion, the system or component was reported as significantly deficient or near the end of its service life. (6) The inspector shall make recommendations for correction and/or monitoring, or further evaluation of the deficiencies that the inspector observed. (7) These Standards of Practice do not limit inspectors from: (a) Including other inspection services, in addition to those required by these Standards of Practice; (b) Specifying repairs provided the inspector is appropriately qualified; © Excluding systems and components from the inspection if agreed upon in writing by the inspector and client. Rulemaking Authority 468.8325 FS. Law Implemented 468.8323, 468.832(1)(j) FS. History‒New 10-22-13.
61-30.812 Standards of Practice, General Limitations And Exclusions
(1) General limitations for inspections:
(a) Inspections are visual non-invasive only and are not technically exhaustive.
(b) Inspections may not identify concealed conditions or latent defects.
(c) Inspections are subjective and rely upon the inspector’s opinion, judgment, training, and experience.
(2) Generally, the inspector is not required to perform any action or make any determination unless specifically stated in these Standards of Practice.
(3) Inspectors are not required to determine:
(a) The condition of systems or components which are not readily accessible;
(b) The remaining life of any system or component;
(c) The strength, adequacy, effectiveness, or efficiency of any system or component;
(d) The causes of any condition or deficiency;
(e) The methods, materials, or costs of corrections;
(f) Future conditions including, but not limited to, failure of systems and components;
(g) The suitability of the property for any specialized use;
(h) Compliance with regulatory requirements (codes, regulations, laws, ordinances, etc.), manufacturer specifications, installation procedures or instructions;
(i) The market value of the property or its marketability;
(j) The advisability of the purchase of the property;
(k) The presence of potentially hazardous plants or animals including, but not limited to wood destroying organisms or diseases harmful to humans;
(l) The presence of any environmental hazards including, but not limited to fungi, molds, toxins, carcinogens, noise, and contaminants in soil, water, and air;
(m) The effectiveness of any system installed or methods utilized to control or remove suspected hazardous substances;
(n) The operating costs of systems or components;
(o) The acoustical properties of any system or component;
(p) Conditions that might affect the ability to obtain insurance and/or the price of insurance;
(4) Inspectors are not required to offer to:
(a) Perform any act or service contrary to law;
(b) Perform engineering/architectural services;
(c) Perform work in any trade or any professional service other than home inspection;
(d) Give warranties or guarantees of any kind.
(5) Inspectors are not required to operate:
(a) Any system or component which is shut down or otherwise inoperable or could cause damage;
(b) Any system or component which does not respond to normal operating controls; ( safety controls, valves or devices of any type.)
(6) Inspectors are not required to enter:
(a) Any area which will, in the opinion of the inspector, likely be dangerous to the inspector or other persons or damage the property or its systems or components. This situation will be noted in the home inspection report;
(b) The under-floor crawl space or attics which are not readily accessible. This situation will be noted in the home inspection report.
(7) Inspectors are not required to inspect:
(a) Underground items including, but not limited to underground storage tanks or other indications of their presence, whether abandoned or active;
(b) Systems or components which are not installed or readily accessible;
(c) Installed decorative items;
(d) Systems or components located in areas that are not entered in accordance with these Standards of Practice;
(e) Detached structures other than garages and carports;
(f) Common elements or common areas in multi-unit housing, such as condominium properties or cooperative housing.
(8) Inspectors are not required to:
(a) Perform any procedure or operation which will, in the opinion of the inspector, likely to be dangerous to the inspector or other persons or damage the property or its systems or components. This situation will be noted in the home inspection report. (b) Describe or report on any system or component that is not included in these Standards and was not inspected;
(c) Move furniture, appliances, lawn and garden equipment, tools, stored items, personal belongings, wall or floor decorations, floor covering, suspended ceilings, clothing, debris, soil, snow, ice or any items or material that blocks view and/or access to areas, components or structure. This situation will be noted in the home inspection report;
(d) Dismantle any system or component, except as explicitly required by these Standards of Practice;
(e) Inspect recreational facilities;
(f) Utilize special instruments, tools, or measuring devices of any kind to measure moisture, humidity, water or air volume, water or airflow, water potability, air quality, temperature, voltage, amperage, electrical grounding, polarity, and continuity, VOC’s, microwaves, electromagnetic fields, and other similar kinds of conditions or activities;
(g) Inspectors are not required to determine the calibration of measuring devices including timers, clocks, thermostats, and gauges;
(h) Operate equipment, appliances, or devices on more than one cycle, zone, or phase or operate any device, appliance, system, or equipment which in the opinion of the inspector may fail during the act of inspection;
(i) Provide any information from any source regarding property ownership, property boundaries, liens, outstanding loans, code violations, reports of hazardous materials, manufacturers’ recalls, Consumer Protection Agency bulletins, and other similar kinds of public information;
(j) Determine the integrity of thermal glass seals;
(k) Determine the presence of manufacturers’ defects in any product, material, component, equipment, or system, or information related to recall notices; (l) Determine installation conformance to manufacturers’ instructions for any product, component, element, device, or system.
Gainesville Home Inspections - Contract & Agreement
So, what does all that mean? I think there is one line from our home inspections contract that summarizes this very well:
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 Gainesville 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.
The second point I would like to point out from our home inspections contract is the following excerpt:
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 of information and there are lots of exclusions! But remember that Mountains to Sea Inspections has performed thousands of home inspections and saved our clients countless $1,000’s and maintain one of the best reputations in the home inspections industry. 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.
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