The Standards of Practice

The Standards of Practice are a set of guidelines for home inspectors to follow in the performance of their inspections. They are the most widely accepted home inspection guidelines in use, and include all of the home's major systems and components. The Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics are recognized by many government, professional, and legal authorities as the definitive standard for professional performance.

  1. Introduction
  2. Purpose & Scope
  3. Structural components
  4. Exterior
  5. Roofing
  6. Plumbing
  7. Electrical
  1. Heating
  2. Central Air Conditioning
  3. Interiors
  4. Insulation & Ventilation
  5. Solid fuel burning appliances
  6. General limitations and exclusions

Glossary
Note: Italicized words are defined in the Glossary.

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 The American Society of Home Inspectors®, Inc. (ASHI®) is a not-for-profit professional society established in 1976. Membership in ASHI is voluntary and its members include private, fee-paid home inspectors. ASHI's objectives include promotion of excellence within the profession and continual improvement of its members' inspection services to the public.

2. PURPOSE AND SCOPE

2.1 The purpose of these Standards of Practice is to establish a minimum and uniform standard for private, fee-paid home inspectors who are members of the American Society of Home Inspectors. Home Inspections performed to these Standards of Practice are intended to provide the client with information regarding the condition of the systems and components of the home as inspected at the time of the Home Inspection.

  1. provide the client with a better understanding of the property conditions, as observed at the time of the inspection.

2.2 The Inspector shall:

A. inspect:

        1. readily accessible systems and components of homes listed in these Standards of Practice.
        2. installed systems and components of homes listed in these Standards of Practice.

       

    B. report:

        1. on those systems and components inspected which, in the professional opinion of the inspector, are significantly deficient or are near the end of their service lives.
        2. A reason why, if not self-evident, the system or component is significantly deficient or near the end of its service life.
        3. the inspector's recommendations to correct or monitor the reported deficiency.
        4. on any systems and components designated for inspection in these Standards of Practice which were present at the time of the Home Inspection but were not inspected and the reason they were not inspected.

       

    2.3 These Standards are not intended to limit inspectors from:

    A. including other inspection services, systems or components in addition to those required by these Standards of Practice.
    B. specifying repairs, provided the inspector is appropriately qualified and willing to do so.
    C. excluding systems and components from the inspection if requested by the client.

3. STRUCTURAL COMPONENTS

3.1 The inspector shall:

A. inspect:

  1. the structural components including foundation and framing.
  2. by probing a representative number of structural components where deterioration is suspected or where clear indications of possible deterioration exist. Probing is NOT required when probing would damage any finished surface or where no deterioration is visible.

B: describe:

  1. the foundation and report the methods used to inspect the under-floor crawl space.
  2. the floor structure.
  3. the wall structure.
  4. the ceiling structure.
  5. the roof structure and report the methods used to inspect the attic.

3.2 The inspector is NOT required to:
A.
provide any engineering service or architectural service.
B. offer an opinion as to the adequacy of any structural system or component.

4. EXTERIOR

4.1 The inspector shall:
A.
inspect:

  1. the exterior wall covering, flashing and trim.
  2. all exterior doors.
  3. attached decks, balconies, stoops, steps, porches, and their associated railings.
  4. the eaves, soffits, and fascias where accessible from the ground level.
  5. the vegetation, grading, surface drainage, and retaining walls on the property when any of these are likely to adversely affect the building. walkways, patios, and driveways leading to dwelling entrances.
  6. describe the exterior wall covering.

4.2 The inspector is NOT required to:
A. inspect:

  1. screening, shutters, awnings, and similar seasonal accessories.
  2. fences.
  3. Geological, geotechnical, or hydrological conditions.
  4. recreational facilities.
  5. outbuildings.
  6. seawalls, break-walls, and docks.
  7. erosion control and earth stabilization measures.

5. ROOFING SYSTEM

5.1 The inspector shall:
A. inspect:

  1. the roof covering.
  2. the roof drainage systems.
  3. the flashings.
  4. the skylights, chimneys, and roof penetrations.
  5. describe the roof covering and report the methods used to inspect the roof.

5.2 The inspector is NOT required to:
A.
inspect:

  1. antennae.
  2. interiors of flues or chimneys which are not readily accessible.
  3. other installed accessories.

6. PLUMBING SYSTEM

6.1 The inspector shall:
A.
inspect:

  1. the interior water supply and distribution systems including all fixtures and faucets.
  2. the drain, waste and vent systems including all fixtures.
  3. the water heating equipment the vent systems, flues, and chimneys.
  4. the fuel storage and fuel distribution systems.
  5. the drainage sumps, sump pumps, and related piping.

B. describe:

  1. the water supply, drain, waste, and vent piping materials.
  2. the water heating equipment including the energy source.
  3. the location of main water and main fuel shut-off valves.

6.2 The inspector is NOT required to:
A.
inspect:

  1. the clothes washing machine connections.
  2. the interiors of flues or chimneys which are not readily accessible.
  3. wells, well pumps, or water storage related equipment.
  4. water conditioning systems.
  5. solar water heating systems.
  6. fire and lawn sprinkler systems.
  7. private waste disposal systems.

B. determine:

  1. whether water supply and waste disposal systems are public or private.
  2. the quantity or quality of the water supply.
  3. operate safety valves or shut off valves.

7. ELECTRICAL SYSTEM

7.1 The inspector shall:
A.
inspect:

  1. the service drop.
  2. the service entrance conductors, cables, and raceways.
  3. the service equipment and main disconnects.
  4. the service grounding. the interior components of service panels and sub panels.
  5. the conductors.
  6. the over current protection devices.
  7. a representative number of installed lighting fixtures, switches, and receptacles.
  8. the ground fault circuit interrupters.

B. describe:

  1. the amperage and voltage rating of the service
  2. the location of main disconnect(s) and sub panels
  3. the wiring methods

C. report:

  1. on the presence of solid conductor aluminum branch circuit wiring
  2. on the absence of smoke detectors

7.2 The inspector is NOT required to:
A.
inspect:

  1. the remote control devices unless the device is the only control device.
  2. the alarm systems and components.
  3. the low voltage wiring, systems and components.
  4. the ancillary wiring, systems and components not a part of the primary electrical power distribution system.
  5. measure amperage, voltage, or impedance.

8. HEATING SYSTEM

8.1 The inspector shall:
A.
inspect:

  1. the installed heating equipment.
  2. the vent systems, flues, and chimneys.

B. describe:

  1. the energy source.
  2. the heating method by its distinguishing characteristics.

8.2 The inspector is NOT required to:
A.
inspect:

  1. the interiors of flues or chimneys which are not readily accessible.
  2. the heat exchanger.
  3. the humidifier or dehumidifier.
  4. the electronic air filter.
  5. the solar space heating system.
  6. determine heat supply adequacy or distribution balance.

9. AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEMS

9.1 The inspector shall:
A.
inspect the installed central and through-wall cooling equipment.
B. describe:

  1. the energy source.
  2. the cooling method by its distinguishing characteristics.

9.2 The inspector is NOT required to:
A. inspect

1. electronic air filters.
2. determine cooling supply adequacy or distribution balance.

10. INTERIOR

10.1 The inspector shall:
A.
inspect:

  1. the walls, ceilings, and floors.
  2. the steps, stairways, and railings.
  3. the countertops and a representative number of installed cabinets.
  4. a representative number of doors and windows.
  5. garage doors and garage door operators.


10.2 The inspector is NOT required to:
A. inspect:

  1. the paint, wallpaper, and other finish treatments.
  2. the carpeting.
  3. the window treatments.
  4. the central vacuum systems.
  5. the household appliances.
  6. recreational facilities.

11. INSULATION & VENTILATION

11.1 The inspector shall:
A.
inspect:

  1. the insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces.
  2. the ventilation of attics and foundation areas.
  3. the mechanical ventilation systems.

B. describe:

  1. the insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces.
  2. the absence of insulation in unfinished spaces at conditioned surfaces.

11.2 The inspector is NOT required to:

1. disturb insulation or vapor retarders.
2.
determine indoor air quality.

12. FIREPLACES AND SOLID FUEL BURNING APPLIANCES

12.1 The inspector shall:
A
. inspect :

  1. the system components.
  2. the vent systems, flues, and chimneys.

B. describe:

  1. the fireplaces and solid fuel burning appliances.
  2. the chimneys.

12.2 The inspector is NOT required to:
A
. inspect:

  1. the interiors of flues or chimneys.
  2. the firescreens and doors.
  3. the seals and gaskets.
  4. the automatic fuel feed devices.
  5. the mantles and fireplace surrounds.
  6. the combustion make-up air devices.
  7. the heat distribution assists whether gravity controlled or fan assisted.
  8. ignite or extinguish fires.
  9. determine draft characteristics.
  10. move fireplace inserts or stoves or firebox contents.

13. GENERAL LIMITATIONS AND EXCLUSIONS

13.1 General limitations:
A. Inspections performed in accordance with these Standards of Practice

  1. are not technically exhaustive.
  2. will not identify concealed conditions or latent defects
These Standards are applicable to buildings with four or less dwelling units and their garages or carports.

13.2 General exclusions:
The inspector is not required to perform any action or make any determination unless specifically stated in these Standards of Practice, except as may be required by lawful authority.

Inspectors are NOT required to determine:

  1. the condition of systems or components which are not readily accessible.
  2. the remaining life of any system or component.
  3. the strength, adequacy, effectiveness, or efficiency of any system or component.
  4. the causes of any condition or deficiency.
  5. the methods, materials, or costs of corrections.
  6. future conditions including, but not limited to, failure of systems and components.
  7. the suitability of the property for any specialized use.
  8. compliance with regulatory requirements (codes, regulations, laws, ordinances, etc.).
  9. the market value of the property or its marketability.
  10. the advisability of the purchase of the property.
  11. the presence of potentially hazardous plants or animals including, but not limited to wood destroying organisms or diseases harmful to humans.
  12. the presence of any environmental hazards including, but not limited to toxins, carcinogens, noise, and contaminants in soil, water, and air.
  13. the effectiveness of any system installed or methods utilized to control or remove suspected hazardous substances.
  14. the operating costs of systems or components.
  15. the acoustical properties of any system or component.

Inspectors are NOT required to offer:

  1. or perform any act or service contrary to law.
  2. or perform engineering services. or perform work in any trade
  3. or any professional service other than home inspection.
  4. warranties or guarantees of any kind.

Inspectors are NOT required to operate:

  1. any system or component which is shut down or otherwise inoperable.
  2. any system or component which does not respond to normal operating controls.
  3. shut-off valves.

Inspectors are NOT required to enter:

  1. 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.
  2. the under-floor crawl spaces or attics which do not conform to recognized standards for clearance.

Inspectors are NOT required to inspect:

  1. underground items including, but not limited to underground storage tanks or other underground indications of their presence, whether abandoned or active.
  2. systems or components which are not installed.
  3. decorative items.
  4. systems or components located in areas which are not entered in accordance with these Standards of Practice.
  5. detached structures other than garages and carports.
  6. common elements or common areas in multi-unit housing, such as condominium properties or cooperative housing.

Inspectors are NOT required to:

  1. perform any procedure or operation 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.
  2. move suspended ceiling tiles, personal property, furniture, equipment, plants, soil, snow, ice, or debris.
  3. dismantle any system or component, except as explicitly required by these Standards of Practice.

GLOSSARY
GLOSSARY of ITALICIZED WORDS*

Alarm Systems
Warning devices, installed or free-standing, including but not limited to; carbon monoxide detectors, flue gas and other spillage detectors, security equipment, ejector pumps and smoke alarms

Architectural Service
Any practice involving the art and science of building design for construction of any structure or grouping of structures and the use of space within and surrounding the structures or the design for construction, including but not specifically limited to, schematic design, design development, preparation of construction contract documents, and administration of the construction contract

Automatic Safety Controls
Devices designed and installed to protect systems and components from unsafe conditions

Component
A part of a system

Decorative
Ornamental; not required for the proper operation of the essential systems and components of a home

Describe
To report a system or component by its type or other observed, significant characteristics to distinguish it from other systems or components

Dismantle
To take apart or remove any component, device or piece of equipment that would not be taken apart or removed by a homeowner in the course of normal and routine home owner maintenance

Engineering Service
Any professional service or creative work requiring engineering education, training, and experience and the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical and engineering sciences to such professional service or creative work as consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning, design and supervision of construction for the purpose of assuring compliance with the specifications and design, in conjunction with structures, buildings, machines, equipment, works or processes

Further Evaluation
Examination and analysis by a qualified professional, tradesman or service technician beyond that provided by the home inspection

Home Inspection
The process by which an inspector visually examines the readily accessible systems and components of a home and which describes those systems and components in accordance with these Standards of Practice

Household Appliances
Kitchen, laundry, and similar appliances, whether installed or free-standing

Inspect
To examine readily accessible systems and components of a building in accordance with these Standards of Practice, using normal operating controls and opening readily openable access panels

Inspector
A person hired to examine any system or component of a building in accordance with these Standards of Practice

Installed
Attached such that removal requires tools

Normal Operating Controls
Devices such as thermostats, switches or valves intended to be operated by the homeowner

Readily Accessible
Available for visual inspection without requiring moving of personal property, dismantling, destructive measures, or any action which will likely involve risk to persons or property

Readily Openable Access Panel
A panel provided for homeowner inspection and maintenance that is within normal reach, can be removed by one person, and is not sealed in place

Recreational Facilities
Spas, saunas, steam baths, swimming pools, exercise, entertainment, athletic, playground or other similar equipment and associated accessories

Report
To communicate in writing

Representative Number
One component per room for multiple similar interior components such as windows and electric outlets; one component on each side of the building for multiple similar exterior components

Roof Drainage Systems
Components used to carry water off a roof and away from a building

Significantly deficient
unsafe or not functioning

Shut Down
A state in which a system or component cannot be operated by normal operating controls

Solid Fuel Burning Appliances
A hearth and fire chamber or similar prepared place in which a fire may be built and which is built in conjunction with a chimney; or a listed assembly of a fire chamber, its chimney and related factory-made parts designed for unit assembly without requiring field construction

Structural Component
A component which supports non-variable forces or weights (dead loads) and variable forces or weights (live loads)

System
A combination of interacting or interdependent components, assembled to carry out one or more functions

Technically Exhaustive
An investigation that involves dismantling, the extensive use of advanced techniques, measurements, instruments, testing, calculations, or other means

Under-floor Crawl Space
The area within the confines of the foundation and between the ground and the underside of the floor

Unsafe
A condition in a readily accessible, installed component or system which is judged to be a significant risk of personal injury during normal, day-to-day use. The risk may be due to damage, deterioration, improper installation or a change in accepted residential construction standards.

Wiring Methods
Identification of electrical conductors or wires by their general type, such as "non-metallic sheathed cable" ("Romex"), "armored cable" ("bx") or "knob and tube," etc.

*Note: In these Standards of Practice, redundancy in the description of the requirements, limitations and exclusions regarding the scope of the Home Inspection is provided for clarity.

Copyright 2000 American Society of Home Inspectors, Inc. All Rights Reserved.