Home Inspection Standards in 1997:
History & archives of versions of the Standards of Practice for professional home inspectors in the United States and Canada. Standards of practice for home inspections in 1997. Home inspection professional information: associations, education, standards, ethics, certification & licensing.
Page top photo, a pit-sawn beam examined at Brinstone Farm, St. Weonards, Herefordshire, UK. Buildings in this area date from the 1600's and hedgerows or other field markers, paths and roadways date to Roman times.
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ASHI Standards of Practice TABLE OF CONTENTS Section 1. Introduction 2. Purpose & Scope 3. General Limitations & Exclusions 4. Structural Components 5. Exterior 6. Roofing 7. Plumbing 8. Electrical 9. Heating 10. Central Air Conditioning 11. Interiors 12. Insulation & Ventilation Note: Underlined 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 whose volunteer membership consists of private, fee- paid home inspectors. ASHI's objectives include promotion of excellence within the profession and continual improvement of its member's inspection services to the public. 1.2 These Standards of Practice: A. provide inspection guidelines. B. make public the services provided by private fee-paid inspectors. C. define certain terms relating to these inspections. 2. PURPOSE AND SCOPE 2.1 Inspections performed to these guidelines are intended to provide the client with a better understanding of the property conditions, as observed at the time of the inspection. 2.2 Inspectors shall: A. observe readily accessible installed systems and components listed in these Standards. B. submit a written report to the client which shall: 1. describe those components specified to be described in sections 4-12 of these Standards. 2. state which systems and components designated for inspection in these Standards have been inspected. 3. state any systems and components so inspected which were found to be in need of immediate major repair. 2.3 These Standards are not intended to limit inspectors from: A. reporting observations and conditions in addition to those required in Section 2.2. B. excluding systems and components from the inspection if requested by the client. 3. GENERAL LIMITATIONS AND EXCLUSIONS 3.1 General limitations: A. inspections done in accordance with these Standards are visual and are not technically exhaustive. B. these Standards are applicable to buildings with four or less dwelling units and their garages or carports. 3.2 General exclusions: A. Inspectors are NOT required to report on: 1. life expectancy of any component or system. 2. the causes of the need for a major repair. 3. the methods, materials and costs of corrections. 4. the suitability of the property for any specialized use. 5. compliance or non-compliance with applicable regulatory requirements. 6. the market value of the property or its marketability. 7. the advisability or inadvisability of purchase of the property. 8. any component or system which was not observed. 9. the presence or absence of pests such as wood damaging organisms, rodents, or insects. 10. cosmetic items, underground items, or items not permanently installed B. Inspectors are NOT required to: 1. offer or perform any act or service contrary to law. 2. offer warranties or guarantees of any kind. 3. offer or perform engineering, architectural, plumbing, or any other job function requiring an occupational license in the jurisdiction where the inspection is taking place, unless the inspector holds a valid occupational license in which case he/she may inform the client that he/she is so licensed, and is therefore qualified to go beyond the ASHI Standards of Practice, and for and additional fee, perform additional inspections beyond those within the scope of the basic ASHI inspection. 4. calculate the strength, adequacy, or efficiency of any system or component. 5. enter any area or perform any procedure which may damage the property or its components or be dangerous to the inspector or other persons. 6. operate any system or component which is shut down or otherwise inoperable. 7. operate any system or component which does not respond to normal operating controls. 8. disturb insulation, move personal items, furniture, equipment, plant life, soil, snow, ice, or debris which obstructs access or visibility. 9. determine the presence or absence of any suspected hazardous substance including but not limited to toxins, carcinogens, noise, contaminants in soil, water, and air. 10. determine the effectiveness of any system installed to control or remove suspected hazardous substances. 11. predict future conditions, including but not limited to failure of components. 12. project operating cost of components. 13. evaluate acoustical characteristics of any system or component. 3.3 Limitations and exclusions specific to individual systems are listed in following sections. 4. SYSTEM: STRUCTURAL COMPONENTS 4.1 The inspector shall observe: A. structural components including: 1. foundations 2. floors 3. walls 4. columns 5. ceilings 6. roofs 4.2 The inspector shall: A. describe the type of: 1. foundation 2. floor structure 3. wall structure 4. columns 5. ceiling structure 6. roof structure B. probe structural components where deterioration is suspected. However, probing is NOT required when probing would damage any finished surface. C. enter under floor crawl spaces and attic spaces except when access is obstructed, when entry could damage the property, or when dangerous or adverse situations are suspected. D. report the methods used to observe underfloor crawl spaces and attics. E. report signs of water penetration into the building or signs of abnormal or harmful condensation on building components. 5. SYSTEM: EXTERIOR 5.1 The inspector shall observe: A. wall cladding, flashings and trim. B. entryway doors and representative number of windows. C. garage door operators. D. decks, balconies, stoops, steps, areaway, and porches including railings. E. eaves, soffits and fascias. F. vegetation, grading, drainage, driveways, patios, walkways and retaining walls with respect to their effect on the condition of the building. 5.2 The inspector shall: A. describe wall cladding materials. B. operate all entryway doors and representative number of windows including garage doors, manually or by using permanently installed controls of any garage door operator. C. report whether or not any garage door operator will automatically reverse or stop when meeting reasonable resistance during closing. 5.3 The inspector is NOT required to observe: A. storm windows, storm doors, screening, shutters, awnings and similar seasonal accessories. B. fences. C. safety glazing. D. garage door operator remote control transmitters. E. geological conditions. F. soil conditions. G. recreational facilities. H. outbuildings other than garages and carports. 6. SYSTEM: ROOFING 6.1 The inspector shall observe: A. roof coverings. B. roof drainage systems. C. flashings. D. skylights, chimneys and roof penetrations. E. signs of leaks or abnormal condensation on building components. 6.2 The inspector shall: A. describe the type of roof covering materials. B. report the methods used to observe the roofing. 6.3 The inspector is NOT required to: A. walk on the roofing. B. observe attached accessories including but not limited to solar systems, antennae, and lightening arrestors. 7. SYSTEM:PLUMBING 7.1 The inspector shall observe: A. interior water supply and distribution system including: 1. piping materials, including supports and insulation. 2. fixtures and faucets. 3. functional flow. 4. leaks. 5. cross connections. B. interior drain, waste and vent system including: 1. traps; drain, waste, and vent piping; piping supports and pipe insulation. 2. leaks. 3. functional drainage. C. hot water systems including: 1. water heating equipment. 2. normal operating controls. 3. automatic safety controls. 4. chimneys, flues, and vents. D. fuel storage and distribution systems including: 1. interior fuel storage equipment, supply piping, venting, and supports. 2. leaks. E. sump pumps. 7.2 The inspector shall: A. describe: 1. water supply and distribution piping materials. 2. drain, waste, and vent piping materials. 3. water heater equipment. B. operate all plumbing fixtures, including their faucets, and all exterior faucets attached to the house. 7.3 The inspector is NOT required to: A. state the effectiveness of anti-siphon devices. B. determine whether water supply and waste disposal systems are public or private. C. operate automatic safety controls. D. operate any valve except water closet flush valves, fixture faucets and hose faucets. E. observe: 1. water conditioning systems. 2. fire and lawn sprinkler systems. 3. on-site water supply quantity and quality. 4. on-site waste disposal systems. 5. foundation irrigation systems. 6. spas, except as to functional flow and functional drainage. 8. SYSTEM: ELECTRICAL 8.1 The inspector shall observe: A. service entrance conductors. B. service equipment, grounding equipment, main over current device, main and distribution panels. C. amperage and voltage ratings of the service. D. branch circuit conductors, their over current devices, and the compatibility of their ampacaties and voltages. E. the operation of a representative number of installed lighting fixtures, switches and receptacles located inside the house, garage, and on its exterior walls. F. the polarity and grounding of all receptacles within six feet of interior plumbing fixtures, and all receptacles in the garage or carport, and on the exterior of inspected structures. G. the operation of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters. 8.2 The inspector shall: A. describe: 1. service amperage and voltage. 2. service entry conductor materials. 3. service type as being overhead or underground. 4. location of main and distribution panels. B. report any observed aluminum branch circuit wiring. 8.3 The inspector is NOT required to: A. insert any tool, probe or testing device inside the panels. B. test or operate any over current device except Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters. C. dismantle any electrical device or control other than to remove the covers of the main and auxiliary distribution panel. D. observe: 1. low voltage systems. 2. smoke detectors. 3. telephone, security, cable TV, intercoms, or other ancillary wiring that is not a part of the primary electrical distribution systems. 9. SYSTEM: HEATING 9.1 The inspector shall observe: A. Permanently installed heating systems including: 1. heating equipment. 2. normal operating controls. 3. automatic safety controls. 4. chimneys, flues, and vents. 5. solid fuel heating devices. 6. heat distribution systems including fans, pumps, ducts, and piping, with supports, dampers, insulation, air filters, registers, radiators, fan-coil units, convectors. 7. the presence of an installed heat source in each room. 9.2 The inspector shall: A. describe: 1. energy source. 2. heating equipment and distribution type. B. operate the systems using normal operating controls. C. open readily openable access panels provided by the manufacturer or installer for routine homeowner maintenance. 9.3 The inspector is NOT required to: A. operate heating systems when weather conditions or other circumstances may cause equipment damage. B. operate automatic safety controls. C. ignite or extinguish solid fuel fires. D. observe: 1. the interior of flues. 2. fireplace insert flue connectors. 3. humidifiers. 4. electronic air filters. 5. the uniformity or adequacy of heat supply to the various rooms. 10. SYSTEM: CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONING 10.1 The inspector shall observe: A. central air conditioning including: 1. cooling and air handling equipment. 2. normal operating controls. B. distribution systems including: 1. fans, pumps, ducts, and piping, with supports, dampers, insulation, air filters, registers and fan-coil units. 2. the presence of an installed cooling source in each room. 10.2 The inspector shall: A. describe: 1. energy sources. 2. cooling equipment type. B. operate the systems using normal operating controls. C. open readily openable access panels provided by the manufacturer or installer for routine homeowner maintenance. 10.3 The inspector is NOT required to: A. operate cooling systems when weather conditions or other circumstances may cause equipment damage. B. observe non-central air conditioners. C. observe the uniformity or adequacy of cool-air supply to the various rooms 11. SYSTEM: INTERIORS 11.1 The inspector shall observe: A. walls, ceilings, and floors. B. steps, stairways, balconies, and railings. C. counters and a representative number of cabinets. D. a representative number of doors and windows. E. separation walls, ceilings, and doors between a dwelling unit and an attached garage or another dwelling unit. F. sumps. 11.2 The inspector shall: A. operate a representative number of primary windows and interior doors. B. report signs of water penetration into the building or signs of abnormal or harmful condensation on building components. 11.3 The inspector is NOT required to observe: A. paint, wallpaper, and other finish treatments on the interior walls, ceilings, and floors. B. carpeting. C. draperies, blinds, or other window treatments. D. household appliances. E. recreational facilities or another dwelling unit. 12. SYSTEM: INSULATION & VENTILATION 12.1 The inspector shall observe: A. insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces. B. ventilation of attics and foundation areas. C. kitchen, bathroom, and laundry venting systems. 12.2 The inspector shall describe: A. insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces. B. absence of same in unfinished space at conditioned surfaces. 12.3 The inspector is NOT required to report on: A. concealed insulation and vapor retarders. B. venting equipment which is integral with household appliances. GLOSSARY AUTOMATIC SAFETY CONTROLS: Devices designed and installed to protect systems and components from excessively high or low pressures and temperatures, excessive electrical current, loss of water, loss of ignition, fuel leaks, fire, freezing, or other unsafe conditions. CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONING: A system which uses ducts to distribute cooled and/or dehumidified air to more than one room or uses pipes to distribute chilled water to heat exchangers in more than one room, and which is not plugged into an electrical convenience outlet. COMPONENT: A readily accessible and observable aspect of a system, such as a floor, or wall, but not individual pieces such as boards or nails where many similar pieces make up the component. CROSS CONNECTION: Any physical connection or arrangement between potable water and any source of contamination. DANGEROUS OR ADVERSE SITUATIONS: Situations which pose a threat of injury to the inspector, and those situations which require use of special use of special protective clothing or safety equipment. DESCRIBE: Report in writing a system or component by its type, or other observed characteristics, to distinguish it from other components used for the same purpose. DISMANTLE: To take apart or remove any component, device or piece of equipment that is bolted, screwed, or fastened by other means and that would not be dismantled by a homeowner in the course of normal household maintenance. ENGINEERING: Analysis or design work requiring extensive preparation and experience in the use of mathematics, chemistry, physics, and the engineering sciences. ENTER: To go into an area to observe all visible components. FUNCTIONAL DRAINAGE: A drain is functional when it empties in a reasonable amount of time and does not overflow when another fixture is drained simultaneously. FUNCTIONAL FLOW: A reasonable flow at the highest fixture in a dwelling when another fixture is operated simultaneously. HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES: Kitchen and laundry appliances, room air conditioners, and similar appliances. INSPECTOR: Any person who examines any component of a building, through visual means and through normal user controls, without the use of mathematical sciences. INSTALLED: Attached or connected such that the installed item requires tools for removal. NORMAL OPERATING CONTROLS: Homeowner operated devices such as a thermostat, wall switch, or safety switch. OBSERVE: The act of making a visual examination. ON-SITE WATER SUPPLY QUALITY: Water quality is based on the bacterial, chemical, mineral, and solids content of the water. ON-SITE WATER SUPPLY QUANTITY: Water quantity is the rate of flow of water. OPERATE: To cause systems or equipment to function. PRIMARY WINDOWS AND DOORS: Windows and/or exterior doors which are designed to remain in the respective openings year round and not left open for the entire summer. READILY OPERABLE ACCESS PANEL: A panel provided for homeowner inspection and maintenance which has removable or operable fasteners or latch devices in order to be lifted off, swung open, or otherwise removed by one person, and its edges and fasteners are not painted in place. Limited to those panels within normal reach or from a 4-foot step-ladder, and which are not blocked by stored items, furniture, or building components. RECREATIONAL FACILITIES: Spas, saunas, steam baths, swimming pools, tennis courts, playground equipment, and other exercise, entertainment, or athletic facilities. REPRESENTATIVE NUMBER: For multiple identical components such as windows and electric outlets - one such component on each side of the building. ROOF DRAINAGE SYSTEMS: Gutters, downspouts, leaders, splash blocks, and similar components used to carry water off a roof and away from a building. SAFETY GLAZING: Tempered Glass, laminated glass, or rigid plastic. SHUT DOWN: A piece of equipment or a system is shut down when it cannot be operated by the device or control which a home owner should normally use to operate it. If its safety switch or circuit breaker is in the "off" position, or its fuse is missing or blown, the inspector is not required to reestablish the circuit for the purpose of operating the equipment or system. SOLID FUEL HEATING DEVICE: Any wood, coal, or other similar organic fuel burning device, including but not limited to fireplaces whether masonry or factory-built, fireplace inserts and stoves, woodstoves (room heaters,) central furnaces, and combinations of these devices. STRUCTURAL COMPONENT: A component which supports non-variable forces or weighs (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 inspection is technically exhaustive when it involves the extensive use of measurements, instruments, testing, calculations, and other means to develop scientific or engineering findings, conclusions, and recommendations. UNDERFLOOR CRAWL SPACE: The area within the confines of the foundation and between the ground and the underside of the lowest floor structural component.
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