Submitted by Randy Yates, Technical Supervisor and Technical Training Administrator, NPI/GPI Corporate Office
Inspectors Can’t Find Every Problem
Contractors often say, “You had the home inspected, and your inspector should have caught it.” There are many circumstances that can prevent an inspector from finding problems. The following are just a few examples:
What was the weather like when the inspection took place? Was the home occupied and full of the previous homeowner’s personal possessions? Was it too cold to test and run the air conditioning system? More importantly does the contractor fully understand and know the standards of practice by which the inspection was conducted?
No one can predict the future of a problem. Some indications may point to a potential problem, though. A classic example and not so far-fetched: A roof was inspected, and at the time of inspection appeared to be dry, with no indications of a leak. It turns that out the homeowner removed the roasting pans from the attic before the inspector got there. Evidence removed makes leaks hard to detect. Anyone can report a wet problem. Predicting a potential problem like a leak is different.
Depending on the size of the house, inspectors spend an average of three hours or more conducting an inspection, which in actuality is only a brief moment in time. Based on the standards of practice the inspector is following, they are conducting a “visual noninvasive” inspection that is not to be technically exhaustive. Inspectors could certainly spend more time disassembling components and digging in deeper, but the cost of the inspection would be substantially higher.
Inspectors are trained to be generalists in nature and not specialists in any of the respective fields for a property inspection. Specialists such as plumbers, electricians, HVAC contractors and in some cases structural engineers are just exactly that — specialists.
Inspectors also do not have x-ray vision. They cannot see behind walls or under carpets or even begin to know the history of a home without living in it. Most standards of practice for the home inspection industry state that the inspector is conducting a “visual noninvasive inspection of readily available components.” They are not doing any excavation, demolition or anything other than removing furnace covers and electrical panel covers when they are readily accessible. You cannot expect, nor should a home inspector do, anything beyond their standards of practice.
In conclusion, a home inspection is designed to provide you an unbiased opinion of the condition of the property at the time of the inspection. It is not a guarantee. It is not designed to eliminate all risks when buying a home or property. It is not an insurance policy.
We hope you find this information useful and informative and that you take it under consideration if you think you may have a problem with an inspector or the inspection report you received before you purchased your home.