When Home Inspections Began
Home inspections were once an unregulated business, had few standards and no licensing, but has evolved tremendously over the years into a common and necessary component of the real estate process. Today, a home inspection is almost universally recommended by real estate professionals.
The industry started in the 1960s by contractors & remodelers looking to make some additional money. While it did provide limited protection to buyers, the industry was largely unregulated, unstandardized and unlicensed. The first standards of practice were created in the 70’s, and we saw further upgrades to the SOP as well as courses, regulations and testing.
In the 90’s the boom began and we saw home inspections performed on over 75% of transactions. Several franchise organizations began to emerge at this time and there was shift towards full-service, professional companies. Many independent home inspectors at that time adapted or left the industry. Professional organizations began to create standards of practice and some states began requiring inspectors to be licensed. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is the professional trade organization that sets the standard for home inspectors. Virginia began licensing home inspectors in 2017.
Today, home inspections are recommended by real estate professionals to help buyers make educated purchase decisions. In fact, home sellers are now getting their homes inspected prior to listing the property (referred to as a Pre-Listing Inspection) as a way of improving their chances of a higher priced transaction with fewer problems.
What is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is a snapshot in time of the home. It is important to be aware of what types of items are included in the inspection and what is outside of the scope of this inspection.
The purpose of a home inspection is to visually examine the readily accessible systems and components of the home and to report on items thought to be unsafe or have visible major defects. Items that are defective or unsafe will be described in a written report, usually accompanied by pictures.
It is not meant to be a warranty or insurance on the home, but rather provide you with an unbiased opinion of the home from a professional home inspector. Inspectors are generalists, with a wide range of knowledge in a variety of areas. If any areas are deemed to need further exploration, we will recommend that a specialist in that area be brought in.
Cosmetic items, minor repairs and routine maintenance are not considered major defects. While they may be mentioned as a courtesy, they are often not included in the report.
Home inspectors cannot inspect for code compliance because we are not code inspectors employed by the state or city. This makes it illegal for us to conduct a code inspection, possibly losing our home inspector license as a result.
Lastly, a home inspection is non-invasive. This means that we do not do things such as pull off light covers, or remove drywall to look behind a wall, or move furniture.
The Major Components of the Inspection:
- Structural Systems including the foundation, floor structure, wall structure and roof structure
- Exterior– such as the siding & cladding, exterior doors, decks & porches, eaves & soffits, walkways & patios
- Roof System – such as the roofing materials, drainage systems, flashing, venting system and chimneys
- Plumbing System – such as interior supply & distribution, waste systems, water heaters, plumbing venting, faucets, toilets, and sump pumps
- Electrical System – such as outside service components, disconnects, service panels, overcurrent protection and a representative number of fixtures, switches and receptacles
- Heating and Air Conditioning System – such as furnaces and their components as well as other heating equipment, central cooling and air filters
- Interior– such as walls, ceilings, floors, windows, steps, railings, countertops, cabinets, garage doors & openers
- Fireplaces and Solid Fuel Burning Appliances including all chimney & vents
We recommend that you be present at the inspection, especially at completion. Be sure to ask the inspector any questions you have at the end of their inspection, after they’ve had a chance to view the property. That is your best chance to put your mind at ease by fully understanding their findings.
After the Inspection
After the home inspection, the inspector provides a verbal introduction to improve the buyer’s knowledge of the home they have chosen to purchase. The written report provides documentation about the home with a summary of items and photos that can be referenced after the inspection and provides the information necessary to make an informed decision.
It is important to have reasonable expectations between the buyer and seller. The inspector includes a reasonable expectations “Summary” page in every home inspection report, but agents and clients should read the report in its entirety.
Knowledge is power, and a home inspection gives buyers peace of mind about their purchase and helps to make informed decisions with confidence, no matter what the age or condition of the home.
Having a better understanding of the home inspection process creates common goals for everyone involved in the transaction. Hiring a professional home inspection company ensures the client will proceed with confidence and knowledge about their purchase and is receiving the best possible service!
Chris Baber, Owner
HomeTeam Inspection Service-North Richmond
Inspections (804) 977-0401 | Direct Dial (804) 647-3071
VA Home Inspector License #3380000828
New Residential Structure Specialty (NRS)
Radon Certified, NRPP #109374RT
ASHI Certified Inspector #262686