Keep in mind that there is a large variation from area to area about how home inspections are carried out. The training requirements for a certified home inspector vary from state to state, and some states have very little or even no requirements, believe it or not. Apart from legal requirements, there’s also local custom. Asking your broker or someone who has been in the business for a long time in your area can be truly helpful.
It’s a visual inspection only
Although it’s possible to buy a more through inspection, and in some cases, that may even be a good idea, in general the inspector is going to simply eyeball the home. This means they are likely to spot and report obvious water damage on a wall or ceiling, note if an electrical outlet appears damaged, report the state of the roof, etc. It’s unlikely they will actually go up on the roof so problems that aren’t obvious are easily missed.
They won’t be knocking holes in walls to determine the status or even existence of any insulation. While occasionally one may pull the cover off an electrical outlet, they won’t look any deeper than that.
Nor will they pull up any carpet to determine how sound and flat the floor really is. In fact if it’s an older home it may make sense to bring along your own level to check out floors. Remember, that most older homes are no longer square – a T-square may reveal this, and often it isn’t a problem.
And while they may turn on and on any heaters or central heating and air conditioners including center air, they simply want to know if they seem to operating okay. If a fan is terribly noise, for example, they will probably note that, but they aren’t going up into the attic to find out why.
If there’s a basement, the inspector will pay attention to it’s ceiling with the floor above it in mind. They will also look for visible water damage around windows and any foundation they can see. They are not going to pull off wall board to be sure no water is leaking through the foundation when it rains.
The inspector will assume the water and sewage pipes are fine unless they spot some seepage or a puddle. Unless it’s leading visibly, septic systems are usually ignored. Oh sure, they’ll turn water off and on and probably flush the toilet, but no more than that.
If damage caused by pets is obvious, the inspector will probably simply list that there is evidence of pets, with no other details.
Major problems may be missed
What this boils down to obvious problems will probably be spotted, but problems may be missed by the typical home inspection. The average home buyer simply doesn’t understand this. You don’t want to scare them, but you don’t want to mislead them either.
Make sure you work with professional inspectors who are properly trained and have enough experience to do a great job. Get and check references. Develop a relationship with two or three so you understand what their reports cover and what they don’t. You’ll reduce potential problems taking this approach.
Not so by the way, an article about what’s covered and what’s not would make an ideal article for your website because you could tailor it for your area.