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Puget Home Inspection Standards of Practice 

1. Definitions and Scope

1.1. A general home inspection is a fee-based, non-invasive, and visual examination of accessible areas within a residential property, as outlined below. The purpose is to identify defects in specific systems and components defined by these Standards, which are both observed and deemed significant by the inspector. The scope of work may be adjusted by the Client and Inspector before the inspection.


I. The general home inspection is based on observations made on the inspection date and does not predict future conditions.


II. The inspection may not uncover every conceivable issue, but it focuses on material defects observed on the inspection date.


1.2. A material defect refers to a specific issue in a residential property's system or component that could significantly impact the property's value or pose an unreasonable risk to people. The mere proximity to the end of a system or component's normal useful life is not considered a material defect.


1.3. The general home inspection report shall document defects in written form within specific systems and components defined by these Standards, which are both observed and deemed significant by the inspector. The report may include additional comments and recommendations.


2. Limitations, Exceptions & Exclusions


2.1. Limitations:

I. The inspection is not exhaustive technically.

II. Concealed or latent defects won't be identified.

III. Aesthetic concerns, matters of taste, cosmetic defects, etc., will not be addressed.

IV. Suitability for any use is not determined.

V. The inspection does not ascertain the property's market value or marketability.

VI. Insurability of the property is not determined.

VII. Advisability of purchasing the inspected property is not determined.

VIII. Life expectancy of the property or its components is not determined.

IX. Items not permanently installed are not included in the inspection.

X. These Standards of Practice apply only to properties with four or fewer residential units.


2.2. Exclusions:

 

I. The inspector is not required to determine:

A. Property boundary lines or encroachments.

B. The condition of any component or system that is not readily accessible.

C. The service life expectancy of any component or system.

D. The size, capacity, BTU, performance, or efficiency of any component or system.

E. The cause or reason for any condition.

F. The cause for the need for correction, repair, or replacement of any system or component.

G. Future conditions.

H. Compliance with codes or regulations.

I. The presence of evidence of rodents, birds, animals, insects, or other pests.

J. The presence of mold, mildew, or fungus.

K. The presence of airborne hazards, including radon.

L. Air quality.

M. The existence of environmental hazards, including lead paint, asbestos, or toxic drywall.

N. The existence of electromagnetic fields.

O. Any hazardous waste conditions.

P. Any manufacturer's recalls or conformance with manufacturer installation, or any information included for consumer protection purposes.

Q. Acoustical properties.

R. Correction, replacement, or repair cost estimates.

S. Estimates of the cost to operate any given system.


II. The inspector is not required to operate:

A. Any system that is shut down.

B. Any system that does not function properly.

C. Or evaluate low-voltage electrical systems such as, but not limited to:

1 Phone lines.

2 Cable lines.

3 Satellite dishes.

4 Antennae.

5 Lights.

6 Remote controls.

D. Any system that does not turn on with the use of normal operating controls.

E. Any shut-off valves or manual stop valves.

F. Any electrical disconnect or over-current protection devices.

G. Any alarm systems.

H. Moisture meters, gas detectors, or similar equipment.


III. The inspector is not required to:

A. Move any personal items or other obstructions, such as, but not limited to: throw rugs, carpeting, wall coverings, furniture, ceiling tiles, window coverings, equipment, plants, ice, debris, snow, water, dirt, pets, or anything else that might restrict the visual inspection.

B. Dismantle, open, or uncover any system or component.

C. Enter or access any area that may, in the opinion of the inspector, be unsafe.

D. Enter crawlspaces or other areas that may be unsafe or not readily accessible.

E. Inspect underground items, such as, but not limited to: lawn-irrigation systems, or underground storage tanks (or indications of their presence), whether abandoned or actively used.

F. Do anything which may, in the inspector's opinion, be unsafe or dangerous to the inspector or others, or damage property, such as, but not limited to: walking on roof surfaces, climbing ladders, entering attic spaces, or negotiating with pets.

G. Inspect decorative items.

H. Inspect common elements or areas in multi-unit housing.

I. Inspect intercoms, speaker systems, or security systems.

J. Offer guarantees or warranties.

K. Offer or perform any engineering services.

L. Offer or perform any trade or professional service other than a general home inspection.

M. Research the history of the property, or report on its potential for alteration, modification, extendibility, or suitability for a specific or proposed use for occupancy.

N. Determine the age of construction or installation of any system, structure, or component of a building, or differentiate between original construction and subsequent additions, improvements, renovations, or replacements.

O. Determine the insurability of a property.

P. Perform or offer Phase 1 or environmental audits.

Q. Inspect any system or component that is not included in these Standards.


3.1. Roof

 

I. The inspector shall inspect from ground level or the eaves:

A. The roof-covering materials.

B. The gutters.

C. The downspouts.

D. The vents, flashing, skylights, chimney, and other roof penetrations.

E. The general structure of the roof from the readily accessible panels, doors, or stairs.

 

II. The inspector shall describe:

A. The type of roof-covering materials.

 

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

A. Observed indications of active roof leaks.

 

IV. The inspector is not required to:

A. Walk on any roof surface.

B. Predict the service life expectancy.

C. Inspect underground downspout diverter drainage pipes.

D. Remove snow, ice, debris, or other conditions that prohibit the observation of the roof surfaces.

E. Move insulation.

F. Inspect antennae, satellite dishes, lightning arresters, de-icing equipment, or similar attachments.

G. Walk on any roof areas that appear, in the opinion of the inspector, to be unsafe.

H. Walk on any roof areas if it might, in the opinion of the inspector, cause damage.

I. Perform a water test.

J. Warrant or certify the roof.

K. Confirm proper fastening or installation of any roof-covering material.


3.2. Exterior

I. The inspector shall inspect:

A. The exterior wall-covering materials, flashing, and trim.

B. All exterior doors.

C. Adjacent walkways and driveways.

D. Stairs, steps, stoops, stairways, and ramps.

E. Porches, patios, decks, balconies, and carports.

F. Railings, guards, and handrails.

G. The eaves, soffits, and fascia.

H. A representative number of windows.


I. Vegetation, surface drainage, retaining walls, and grading of the property, where they may adversely affect the structure due to moisture intrusion.


II. The inspector shall describe:

A. The type of exterior wall-covering materials.

B. The type of windows.

C. The number of steps at the entry of the building.

 

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

A. Any improper spacing between intermediate balusters, spindles, or rails.

B. Photo-electric safety sensors that did not operate properly.

 

IV. The inspector is not required to inspect:

A. Window, door, or floor drains.

B. Tempered glass.

C. Sealant between panes.

D. Insulated window units.

E. Storm windows and storm doors.

F. Screening, shutters, awnings, and similar seasonal accessories.

G. Awnings, patio covers, fences, gates, and other attachments.

H. Subterranean window wells.

I. Safety glazing.

J. All components.

 

3.3. Structural Components

I. The inspector shall inspect:

A. The construction of the foundation.

B. Floor framing and the crawl space.

C. The attic for roof structure and insulation.

D. The columns.

E. The piers.

F. The beams.

G. The joists.

H. The wall structure.

 

II. The inspector shall describe:

A. The type of foundation.

B. The floor structure.

C. The wall structure.

D. The ceiling structure.

E. The roof structure.

 

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

A. Any deficiency in the foundation.

B. Any other failure of a structural component.

 

IV. The inspector is not required to:

A. Enter any crawl space that has a clearance less than 24 inches between components and the ground.

B. Provide any engineering or architectural service.

C. Report on the adequacy of any structural system or component.

D. Enter any area or perform any procedure that may damage the property or its components or be dangerous to or adversely affect the health or safety of the inspector.

 

3.4. Heating

I. The inspector shall inspect:

A. The heating system and describe the energy source and the heating method.

B. The heating distribution systems.

 

II. The inspector shall describe:

A. The location of the thermostat for the heating system.

B. The heating method.

 

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

A. Inoperative units.

B. The presence of any solid fuel heating devices.

 

IV. The inspector is not required to:

A. Inspect the interior of flues or chimneys.

B. Inspect the heat exchanger.

C. Inspect the humidifier.

D. Inspect the electronic air filter.

E. Inspect the solar heating systems.

F. Inspect the underground utilities.

G. Inspect the systems or components that are not included in these Standards.

 

3.5. Cooling

 

I. The inspector shall inspect:

A. The cooling system and describe the energy source and the cooling method.

B. The cooling distribution systems.

 

II. The inspector shall describe:

A. The location of the thermostat for the cooling system.

B. The cooling method.

 

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

A. Inoperative units.

B. The absence of insulation on the suction, liquid, and discharge lines.

 

3.6. Plumbing

 

I. The inspector shall inspect:

A. The plumbing system, including the water supply.

B. The drain, waste, and vent systems.

C. The water heating equipment.

D. The vent systems, flues, and chimneys.

E. The fuel storage and fuel distribution systems.

 

II. The inspector shall describe:

A. The location of the main water supply shut-off device.

B. The location of the water heating equipment.

C. The location of the fuel storage and fuel distribution systems.

 

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

A. The existence of active leaks.

B. The existence of active, but minor, leaks.

C. The existence of past leaks.

D. The existence of any capped pipes.

 

IV. 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.

E. Report the lack of a spare or ungrounded electrical outlet for disposals, garage door openers, and other equipment.

F. Inspect:

1 Remotely controlled water-supply lines.

2 Wells or water-storage related equipment.

3 Water-conditioning systems.

4 Fire sprinkler systems.

5 Private waste disposal systems.

6 Water supplies using wells or other private systems.

7 The structural integrity of laundry appliances.

G. Evaluate the uniformity, temperature, flow, balance, distribution, size, capacity, BTU, or supply adequacy of any plumbing system, component, or fixture.

H. Evaluate the condition or adequacy of fuel tanks.

I. Inspect ancillary or accessory systems or components.

J. Inspect fixtures that are not readily accessible.

K. Inspect appliances.

L. Inspect exterior plumbing components or systems.

M. Inspect items that are not listed in these Standards.

 

3.7. Electrical


I. The inspector shall inspect:

A. The service drop.

B. The overhead service conductors and attachment point.

C. The service head, gooseneck, and drip loops.

D. The service mast, service conduit, raceway, and fittings.

E. The electric meter and base.

F. The service-entrance conductors.

G. The main service disconnect.

H. The panelboards and over-current protection devices (circuit breakers and fuses).

I. The service grounding and bonding.

J. The switches.

K. The receptacles, including:

1 GFCI.

2 AFCI.

3 The presence of solid conductor aluminum branch-circuit wiring.

L. The installed lighting.

M. The ceiling fans.

N. The polarity and grounding of the installed outlets.

O. The operation of a representative number of installed ceiling fans, lighting fixtures, switches, and receptacles located inside the house, garage, and on the dwelling's exterior walls.

 

II. The inspector shall describe:

A. The main service disconnect's location.

B. The type of wiring observed.

C. The amperage rating of the service.

D. The general absence of smoke detectors.

E. The presence of solid conductor aluminum branch-circuit wiring.

 

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

A. Deficiencies in the integrity of the service-entrance conductors' insulation, drip loop, and vertical clearances from grade and roofs.

B. Any unused circuit-breaker panel opening that was not filled.

C. The presence of solid conductor aluminum branch-circuit wiring.

D. Any switch, receptacle, or lighting fixture that is not operational.

E. The absence of lighting fixtures.

F. The presence of loose breakers or their connections.

G. The absence of GFCI devices where required.

 
IV. The inspector is not required to:

A. insert any tool, probe or device into the main panelboard, sub-panels, distribution panelboards, or electrical fixtures.

B. operate electrical systems that are shut down.

C. remove panelboard cabinet covers or dead fronts.

D. operate or re-set over-current protection devices or overload devices.

E. operate smoke or carbon-monoxide detectors.

F. measure or determine the amperage or voltage of the main service equipment, if not visibly labeled.

G. inspect the fire and alarm system or components.

H. inspect the ancillary wiring or remote-control devices.

I. activate any electrical systems or branch circuits that are not energized. 

J. inspect low-voltage systems, electrical de-icing tapes, swimming pool wiring, or any timecontrolled devices.

K. verify the service ground.

L. inspect private or emergency electrical supply sources, including, but not limited to: generators, windmills, photovoltaic solar collectors, or battery or electrical storage facility.

M. inspect spark or lightning arrestors.

N. inspect or test de-icing equipment.

O. conduct voltage-drop calculations.

P. determine the accuracy of labeling.

Q. inspect exterior lighting.

 

3.8. Fireplace

 

I. The inspector shall inspect:

A. readily accessible and visible portions of the fireplaces and chimneys;

B. lintels above the fireplace openings;

C. damper doors by opening and closing them, if readily accessible and manually operable; and

D. cleanout doors and frames.

 

II. The inspector shall describe:

A. the type of fireplace.

 

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

A. evidence of joint separation, damage or deterioration of the hearth, hearth extension or chambers;

B. manually operated dampers that did not open and close;

C. the lack of a smoke detector in the same room as the fireplace;

D. the lack of a carbon-monoxide detector in the same room as the fireplace; and

E. cleanouts not made of metal, pre-cast cement, or other non-combustible material.

 

IV. The inspector is not required to:

A. inspect the flue or vent system.

B. inspect the interior of chimneys or flues, fire doors or screens, seals or gaskets, or mantels.

C. determine the need for a chimney sweep.

D. operate gas fireplace inserts.

E. light pilot flames.

F. determine the appropriateness of any installation.

G. inspect automatic fuel-fed devices.

H. inspect combustion and/or make-up air devices.

I. inspect heat-distribution assists, whether gravity controlled or fan-assisted.

J. ignite or extinguish fires.

K. determine the adequacy of drafts or draft characteristics.

L. move fireplace inserts, stoves or firebox contents.

M. perform a smoke test.

N. dismantle or remove any component.

O. perform a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)-style inspection.

P. perform a Phase I fireplace and chimney inspection.

 

3.9. Attic, Insulation & Ventilation

 

I. The inspector shall inspect:

A. insulation in unfinished spaces, including attics, crawlspaces and foundation areas

B. ventilation of unfinished spaces, including attics, crawlspaces and foundation areas; and

C. mechanical exhaust systems in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry area.

 

II. The inspector shall describe:

A. the type of insulation observed; and

B. the approximate average depth of insulation observed at the unfinished attic floor area or roof structure.

 

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

A. the general absence of insulation or ventilation in unfinished spaces.

 

IV. The inspector is not required to:

A. enter the attic or any unfinished spaces that are not readily accessible, or where entry could cause damage or, in the inspector's opinion, pose a safety hazard.

B. move, touch or disturb insulation.

C. move, touch or disturb vapor retarders.

D. break or otherwise damage the surface finish or weather seal on or around access panels or covers.

E. identify the composition or R-value of insulation material.

F. activate thermostatically operated fans.

G. determine the types of materials used in insulation or wrapping of pipes, ducts, jackets, boilers or wiring.

H. determine the adequacy of ventilation.

 

3.10. Doors, Windows & Interior

 

I. The inspector shall inspect:

A. a representative number of doors and windows by opening and closing them;

B. floors, walls and ceilings;

C. stairs, steps, landings, stairways and ramps;

D. railings, guards and handrails; and

E. garage vehicle doors and the operation of garage vehicle door openers, using normal operating controls.

 

II. The inspector shall describe:

A. a garage vehicle door as manually-operated or installed with a garage door opener.

 

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

A. improper spacing between intermediate balusters, spindles and rails for steps, stairways, guards and railings;

B. photo-electric safety sensors that did not operate properly; and

C. any window that was obviously fogged or displayed other evidence of broken seals.

 

IV. The inspector is not required to:

A. inspect paint, wallpaper, window treatments or finish treatments.

B. inspect floor coverings or carpeting.

C. inspect central vacuum systems.

D. inspect for safety glazing.

E. inspect security systems or components.

F. evaluate the fastening of islands, countertops, cabinets, sink tops or fixtures.

G. move furniture, stored items, or any coverings, such as carpets or rugs, in order to inspect the concealed floor structure.

H. move suspended-ceiling tiles.

I. inspect or move any household appliances.

J. inspect or operate equipment housed in the garage, except as otherwise noted.

K. verify or certify the proper operation of any pressure-activated auto-reverse or related safety feature of a garage door.

L. operate or evaluate any security bar release and opening mechanisms, whether interior or exterior, including their compliance with local, state or federal standards.

M. operate any system, appliance or component that requires the use of special keys, codes, combinations or devices.

N. operate or evaluate self-cleaning oven cycles, tilt guards/latches, or signal lights.

O. inspect microwave ovens or test leakage from microwave ovens.

P. operate or examine any sauna, steamgenerating equipment, kiln, toaster, ice maker, coffee maker, can opener, bread warmer, blender, instant hot-water dispenser, or other small, ancillary appliances or devices.

Q. inspect elevators.

R. inspect remote controls.

S. inspect appliances.

T. inspect items not permanently installed.

U. discover firewall compromises.

V. inspect pools, spas or fountains.

W. determine the adequacy of whirlpool or spa jets, water force, or bubble effects.

X. determine the structural integrity or leakage of pools or spas.

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