Licensed inspectors in general are pretty good at checking most things in the typical home. They may not know exactly what the problem is or how to fix it, they do know there is a problem.
What items do inspectors not check and what type of disclaimers do they utilize? More than most people realize!
Most significantly, the sales person should know that just because something is in the house the inspector is not necessarily looking at it! Burglar alarms, septics, wells, solar systems, sewer lines, roof mounted photocells, water softeners, utility lines and meters (including gas!), electric air filters & self clean ovens come to mind. Some inspectors won’t even inspect hot tubs, pool, or sprinklers !
In addition the inspector most likely is not inspecting all the features of some items. For instance the dishwasher is only checked in the “normal wash” mode, the intercom is only checked in the “radio” mode and the sprinkler is only checked in the “manual” mode. Occasionally they work in these modes, but not in others (usually prompting a call to us after closing)!
We also don’t check for any environmental hazards such as radon, lead, asbestos or mold, though we can refer you to people who can. A wise inspector also doesn’t inspect for “code” compliance since a home just a few years old won’t adhere to current stds. A lot of them do EVEN THOUGH THEY’RE NOT CODE CERTIFIED !
Time constraints and the desire for liability reduction are the motivating factors behind these self imposed limitations.
Additionally, most inspectors add disclaimers to their reports to limit the buyer’s recourse should a problem come up after closing (typically this involves an item which was not as represented). Common wording here would say that the inspection is “limited”, “visual only”, “subjective” or “does not constitute a warranty”. Let’s face it, an inspector is supposed to find everything wrong with the property in the course of a 2-3 hr. inspection. In reality this is not possible though the parties to the contract assume that it is! We all know what ASSUME means!
Inspectors like the standards of practice which TREC has formulated as they formally set the boundaries of what is and isn’t required for us to look at. I highly recommend agents get a copy of these stds., I think you’ll find them very interesting… Previously there were far too many gray areas. Some inspectors looked at some items that others didn’t and vice versa. That served only to confuse all parties to the real estate transaction. The more “black and white” instead of “gray”, the better! As of Sept. 2007 all inspectors must carry E & O insurance (the ONLY profession in the state req’d to do so!). A home warranty can also mitigate some but not all the risk…