Home inspection services are commonly arranged to provide professional opinions regarding the condition of houses being offered for sale. But the inspection services industry is much broader than the satisfaction of a purchase agreement contingency. And in fact a home inspection itself is less comprehensive than many readers might think. It does include much, as any nine-page checklist would indicate, but there are also specific and general items excluded from a standard inspection, and it behooves the customer to understand what they are.
This inspection services guide dwells primarily on service extensions or additions available to customers. The generalist home inspector is qualified to provide some of these functions; others require an authorized specialist. In any case, to obtain the additional work typically requires an extra fee. We review first those services most closely related to home inspection, and then we look at those more on the periphery.
A very important service usually conducted as part of a home inspection is inspecting for wood-destroying pests. Because damage from termites, carpenter ants, and other insects is capable of compromising a house’s entire structure, it is imperative that this detailed examination be included. It may be necessary to investigate the level of pest inspecting expertise various home inspectors possess, for there highest quality inspection services can be a wide range. You want someone who not only can recognize conditions that foster infestation but can also identify insect species from specimens, damage patterns, remains, and habitats.
There are other varieties of inspection services besides the standard, all offered by a home inspector. One variety is designed to assist an owner who isn’t selling his home but simply has the goal of maintaining it in good condition and/or allaying worries that he might have major problems due to long-term neglect. Another variety is what I call the warranty inspection, targeted to buyers of newly constructed homes as they approach the first anniversary of their purchase, the presumed end of their builder’s warranty; the idea is to discover all construction defects and build a complete punch list of them for the builder to fix at his expense. A third variety is the re-inspection, or verification inspection; here, the client is a homebuyer who has requested certain repairs to be made prior to closing and he wants the inspector to verify that the defects have been properly fixed. By the way, not all inspectors charge an additional fee for the warranty or re-inspection service.
As mentioned above, there are general, documented exclusions of mostly peripheral items from the standard inspection. Occasionally the client requests that specific items be included that are normally excluded. Usually the inspector is happy to oblige the request for an additional fee. Examples of such items are fences not attached to the house, retaining walls, swimming pools, detached buildings (including garages), and private wells.
Lately customers have expressed interest in energy audits either as stand-alone or add-on services. This requires a certified specialist and additional equipment such as infrared imaging devices; hence, many home inspectors do not offer the service. The audit typically includes the measurement of infiltration, ex-filtration, insulation R-values, and “wasteful” uses of energy. There may be government or commercial incentives for having one’s house audited.