What is a Home Inspector?
A Home Inspector in New York State is a licensed professional, who, after having participated in extensive classroom and field training under a State certified instructor, taking a State qualification test and applying for a license (which includes a review to exclude those with issues such as prior criminal records), is only then permitted to legally advertise their availability and conduct home inspections in New York.
Licensed Home Inspectors are skilled generalists. Much as one would go to their general practitioner physician for an annual physical and be referred by the GP to a specialist if a health issue is detected, the Home Inspector gives the home a “check-up” on its overall health and condition and will refer you to a specialist if that is warranted.
What is a Home Inspection?
We inspect readily and safely accessible, visually observable and installed systems and components and then prepare a written report about what, in the professional opinion of the inspector, is deficient or not functioning properly and/or unsafe at the time of the inspection.
When are Home Inspections done?
Most Home Inspections take place after a Sales Contract is made between the Seller of a home and a Buyer to confirm the condition of the home being sold. Sellers may also decide to have a Home Inspection conducted prior to putting their house on the market. This helps them find and correct problems that may effect the value of their home and many time makes the sale and closing much easier. Home Owners also order home inspections to keep abreast with the maintenance and safety of their property, to protect their family and their investment.
What is inspected as part of the service?
Home inspections, while not comprehensive or technically exhaustive, are however broad in scope. New York State regulates home inspections and requires the following to be inspected:
- Site Conditions
- Structural Systems
- Building Exterior
- Roof Systems
- Plumbing System
- Electrical System
- Heating System
- Air Conditioning System
- Building Interior
- Insulation and Ventilation
Home inspections have certain limitations and exclusions by New York State regulation, that control the scope of the inspections and responsibilities of the inspector, so that home inspections can be performed at a reasonable cost in a practical time period and without involving a range of specialists or specialty equipment. Some limitations and exclusions by New York State regulation include:
- “Home inspectors are not required to observe any item that is concealed or not readily accessible to the home inspector. The home inspector is not required to move furniture, personal or stored items; lift floor coverings; move attached wall or ceiling coverings or panels; or perform any test or procedure which could damage or destroy the item being evaluated.”
- “Home inspectors are not required to determine the presence or absence of any suspected hazardous substance including but not limited to, latent surface and/or subsurface volatile organic compounds, PCB’s, asbestos, urea formaldehyde insulation, toxins, carcinogens, diseases, wood destroying organisms, mold, hazardous plants, illicit drugs or drug making equipment, lead paint, noise or contaminants in soil, water, air quality, wet lands or any other environmental hazard.”
- “Home inspectors are not required to use special instruments or testing devices, such as amp meters, pressure gauges, moisture meters, gas detectors and similar equipment.”
- “Home inspectors are not required to report on real property, geological, environmental or hazardous waste conditions, manufacturer recalls or conformance of proper manufacturer installation of any component or system, or information contained in Consumer Protection Bulletins.”
- “Home inspectors are not required to report upon past or present violations of codes, ordinances or regulations.”
- “Home inspections are not technically exhaustive and are not required to identify concealed conditions, latent defects or consequential damages.”
- “Home inspectors are not required to move personal property, furniture, equipment, plants, soil, snow, ice or debris.”
What happens if a problem is found during in the Inspection?
If the Inspector observes, what is in his opinion, a “material” (substantial) problem with an inspected system or component of the home, it will be clearly identified in the resulting Report. That notation will also include a recommendation that the faulty condition be confirmed and addressed by a qualified specialist. All homes age and naturally show signs of wear and tear. Home Inspections are not about “nit-picking”. While the Inspector may point out various things that require some maintenance or could use improvement, only those things that might present a significant safety hazard or might require significant work to make them reliably functional are required to be included in the Report. You may schedule a discounted Follow-up Inspection with us before closing to confirm that problems included in the Report have been corrected.
How long does a Home Inspection take?
Much depends on the size and age of the home and how well the home has been maintained. Generally however, a diligent Home Inspection should take at least 3-4 hours.
Who can accompany the Inspector during the Home Inspection?
We encourage our Clients to attend the inspection so that they can ask questions and benefit from the Inspector pointing out important features and conditions. We ask that Clients do not bring children or pets. But, other adults who have an interest in helping you with your home (or home acquisition) are welcome. Please try to limit the number attending. Larger groups are difficult to interact with while conducting the inspection. Safety during the inspection is also an issue. Various hazards can be encountered during a Home inspection and one can be injured. No person attending the inspection should enter any confined space, climb a ladder, walk a roof or enter any area that the Inspector does not enter. Nor should attendees get near electrical panels or devices or attempt to operate any controls. Attendees must stay in the immediate company of the Inspector unless told by the Inspector to stay back. The Client must be responsible for ensuring that those attending follow these rules and the instructions of the Inspector to stay safe.
What if I have questions during the inspection?
Please ask the Inspector! We look forward to sharing our knowledge and experience with you and that is a very important part of your inspection experience. We want you to feel confident that you understand the inspected home, its systems and components. We also want you to feel comfortable calling us anytime you have a question or concern.
Is the Home Inspection confidential?
NYS regulations require that the inspection and report are maintained strictly confidential and that related information is disclosed only to the Client and those that the Client specifically designates to receive information. Because of this, you should carefully consider who you want to be privy to that information (your lawyer?, realtor?, spouse?, …). The names and contact information for designated recipients will be included in the Pre-Inspection Agreement and you should prepare a list of names and contact information to give to us. Also, if you are looking to buy the home being inspected you may wish to consider whether the current owner of the home and those that you invite to attend the inspection should have access to the information. If they are not designated recipients, our Inspector will not be able to comment during the inspection if they attend. Generally it is best to arrange for the current home owner not to attend the inspection to give the Inspector and those attending plenty of space to permit sharing of the confidential information.
How soon should I expect the Report?
We understand that our Clients expect and need a quick turn-around on the Report and we will do our best to expedite it without sacrificing quality. Generally you should receive it within a few business days (sometimes even sooner!). State regulation limits the turn around to five business days.
Is the Report a guarantee?
No. Consistent with State regulation, our services and the Report do not constitute, nor does Ames Inspection Services offer, any guarantee or warranty of any type. However, we do participate in Inter-NACHI’s Buy-Back Guarantee Program, and that trade organization does guarantee our work.
What are the responsibilities of the Client?
Make an Appointment: Work with us to pick a date and time that will be convenient for you, your Realtor, Inspection Attendees and the Home Owner. We are flexible and are also available evenings and weekends.
Decide Who You Will Invite: You may invite others to attend the inspection to help you in your evaluation of the home. Please keep the number to a minimum as the inspector needs to concentrate, and ask that they do not bring children or pets.
Choose Those You Authorize: The information from the inspection and report is strictly confidential and we will share it only with those you specifically authorize. Generally our clients authorize their spouse/significant other, those they invite to attend the inspection, their realtor and their attorney.
Sign the Agreement: New York State requires that a Pre-Inspection Agreement be signed by the Client prior to the Inspection and it also regulates its content. We will go over it with you and answer any questions you may have. The Agreement and any other authorizations you may wish to send us may be signed and transmitted electronically by e-mail or fax.
Prepare a List of Concerns & Questions: Please make a list to share with the Inspector. Include any item that you wish to bring to the attention of the Inspector or for which you would like particular information. (For instance: “I’m concerned about orange stains in the toilets and sinks.” …or… “The Seller says the boiler is 20 years old. How long should i expect a boiler to last?”)
Make Payment: Payment in full is due prior to the inspection. Payment may be made by cash, check, money order, PayPal or any major credit card.
Be There On Time: If you plan to attend the inspection, please be on time so that you will get the most information for your money. Our Inspector has much knowledge to share with you.
Can I hire the Home Inspector to do repairs?: No, New York State Regulations forbid Home Inspectors from offering repair services for the homes they inspect and Ames Inspection Services is diligent in our compliance with prevailing laws and regulations.
Questions??? …Contact Us Anytime: If you have any question about the Inspection or Report, or even if down the road something comes up and you need information to help you in the closing or as a homeowner. We are always very pleased to hear from our Clients and to help them in any way we can.