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What is Covered in a Typical Home Inspection?

Spectora 7/16/16 7:20 PM

A home inspection is a visual inspection of your home & major systems. It is meant to give you a comprehensive report at that moment in time of areas that require fixing or further evaluation by a specialist. It is also a helpful tool in negotiations with the seller on who pays for repairs.

What is covered in a typical home inspection is largely dictated by the home inspector's state standards and/or the 2 main associations that most inspectors belong to:

  • InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors)
  • ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors)

Each organization (and in some cases state licensing board) has their own Standards of Practice (SOP) that covers what their home inspectors are required and not required to inspect. There are slight nuances between each, but all have very thorough, similar standards for which their home inspectors must adhere to.

What is Covered in a Home Inspection Report?

Each inspector has a different level of detail and flow for how they inspect a house, and their report will reflect that. Be sure to look at a prospective inspector's sample home inspection report to ensure that it is an informative, easy to navigate report. 

Here is a list of what to expect and the main areas of a home that most inspectors will cover:

Exterior, Foundation & Structural Components (also could include basement, crawlspace)

This section will generally include:

  • Description of structure, foundation, floors, walls & ceilings
  • Condition of the visible elements such as foundation walls, framing, slabs, posts, beams, joists, etc.
  • Indications of moisture or water penetration
  • Land grading around the home, walkways, steps, driveways, decks, patios, retaining walls, etc.

Roof, Gutters & Downspouts

This section will generally include:

  • Description of roofing materials, drainage systems, & ventilation
  • Flashings, soffits & fascias
  • Skylights, Chimneys, & any roof penetrations

Inspectors aren't required to climb on the roof to inspect, but many will if it is easily accessible and safe.

Attic, Insulation & Ventilation

This section will generally include:

  • Presence of attic insulation and approximate depth (R-value)
  • Any evidence of water intrusion
  • Kitchen, bathroom, & laundry exhaust systems
  • Ventilation of unfinished spaces

There must be sufficient headroom for inspectors to enter attic spaces or they may not be able to inspect.


This section will generally include:

  • Location of main sub-panels, amperage rating, wiring method
  • Presence or absence of smoke alarms & carbon monoxide detectors
  • Inspection of technical aspects - service drop, entrance conductors, cables, disconnects, grounding, over-current protection devices, electric meter & base, etc.
  • Verifying operation of a representative number of switches, fixtures & receptacles
  • Inspection of GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) receptacles using a GFCI tester

Inspectors are not required to test every outlet, move furniture or appliances, or test ancillary items like burglar alarms, timers, etc.


This section will generally include:

  • Description of the interior water supply, drain, waste & vent piping materials
  • Water heater energy source, approximate age, condition, etc.
  • Location of the main water & fuel supply shut-off valves
  • Operation & functional flow of fixtures & faucets
  • Testing of waste lines & drain pumps

Heating & Cooling (HVAC)

This section will generally include:

  • Inspection of HVAC (condition, age) & distribution systems (ductwork, radiant, etc)
  • Description of energy & fuel sources
  • Location & operation of thermostat
  • Inspection of vent systems, flues or chimneys
  • Operation of systems using readily accessible controls


This section will generally include:

  • Inspection of fuel-burning fireplaces, stoves & inserts
  • Operation of dampers, accessories & components
  • Chimneys & vent systems
  • Evidence of damage or deterioration of hearth or chambers

Inspectors generally aren't required to operate gas fireplace inserts, light pilot flames or inspect interior of chimney or flues.

Interior (Garage, Doors, Windows, Appliances)

This section will generally include:

  • Inspection of walls, ceilings, floors, steps, stairways & railings
  • Inspection of countertops, cabinets, doors, & windows
  • Operation of garage door and opener operators
  • Operation of built-in appliances (oven, range, microwave, dishwasher, garbage disposal)

Inspectors are not required to inspect household appliances or move carpets, furniture, etc. to inspect concealed flooring.

Bonus Features

While home inspection reports aren't required to give you guidance on what to do next or who to call for quotes, it's very helpful when they do. In some instances, your home inspector will be able to give you ballpark figures for how much fixes will cost.

Experienced inspectors are generally comfortable giving you their opinion on average life spans and common remedies, with the knowledge that they aren't liable should something go wrong.

Their advice and guidance should never be a substitute for an inspection by a qualified, licensed contractor in that category. 

If there is any questions as to what's covered, definitely ask your home inspector before signing the inspection agreement so there are no surprises.

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