What's Inspected During A Home Inspection

CREIA Standards of Practice

Part I. Definitions and Scope

These Standards of Practice provide guidelines for a real estate inspection and define certain terms relating to these inspections. Italicized words in these Standards are defined in Part IV, Glossary of Terms.

  1. real estate inspection is a survey and basic operation of the systems and components of a buildingwhich can be reached, entered, or viewed without difficulty, moving obstructions, or requiring any action which may result in damage to the property or personal injury to the Inspector. The purpose of the inspection is to provide the Client with information regarding the general condition of the building(s). Cosmetic and aesthetic conditions shall not be considered.
  2. real estate inspection report provides written documentation of material defects discovered in the inspected building’s systems and components which, in the opinion of the Inspector, are safety hazards, are not functioning properly, or appear to be at the ends of their service lives. The report may include the Inspector's recommendations for correction or further evaluation.
  3. Inspections performed in accordance with these Standards of Practice are not technically exhaustiveand shall apply to the primary building and its associated primary parking structure.

Part II. Standards of Practice

real estate inspection includes the readily accessible systems and components or a representative number of multiple similar components listed in Sections 1 through 9 subject to the limitations, exceptions, and exclusions in Part III.

SECTION 1 - Foundation, Basement, and Under-floor Areas
A. Items to be inspected:

  1. Foundation system
  2. Floor framing system
  3. Under-floor ventilation
  4. Foundation anchoring and cripple wall bracing
  5. Wood separation from soil
  6. Insulation

B. The Inspector is not required to:

  1. Determine size, spacing, location, or adequacy of foundation bolting/bracing components or reinforcing systems
  2. Determine the composition or energy rating of insulation materials

SECTION 2 - Exterior
A. Items to be inspected:

  1. Surface grade directly adjacent to the buildings
  2. Doors and windows
  3. Attached decks, porches, patios, balconies, stairways and their enclosures, handrails and guardrails
  4. Wall cladding and trim
  5. Portions of walkways and driveways that are adjacent to the buildings

B. The Inspector is not required to:

  1. Inspect door or window screens, shutters, awnings, or security bars
  2. Inspect fences or gates or operate automated door or gate openers or their safety devices
  3. Use a ladder to inspect systems or components

SECTION 3 - Roof Covering
A. Items to be inspected:

  1. Covering
  2. Drainage
  3. Flashings
  4. Penetrations
  5. Skylights

B. The Inspector is not required to:

  1. Walk on the roof surface if in the opinion of the Inspector there is risk of damage or a hazard to the Inspector
  2. Warrant or certify that roof systems, coverings, or components are free from leakage

SECTION 4 - Attic Areas and Roof Framing
A. Items to be inspected:

  1. Framing
  2. Ventilation
  3. Insulation

B. The Inspector is not required to:

  1. Inspect mechanical attic ventilation systems or components
  2. Determine the composition or energy rating of insulation materials

SECTION 5 - Plumbing
A. Items to be inspected:

  1. Water supply piping
  2. Drain, waste, and vent piping
  3. Faucets and fixtures
  4. Fuel gas piping
  5. Water heaters
  6. Functional flow and functional drainage

B. The Inspector is not required to:

  1. Fill any fixture with water, inspect overflow drains or drain-stops, or evaluate backflow devices, waste ejectors, sump pumps, or drain line cleanouts 
  2. Inspect or evaluate water temperature balancing devices, temperature fluctuation, time to obtain hot water, water circulation, or solar heating systems or components
  3. Inspect whirlpool baths, steam showers, or sauna systems or components
  4. Inspect fuel tanks or determine if the fuel gas system is free of leaks
  5. Inspect wells or water treatment systems

SECTION 6 - Electrical
A.   Items to be inspected:

  1. Service equipment
  2. Electrical panels
  3. Circuit wiring
  4. Switches, receptacles, outlets, and lighting fixtures

B.   The Inspector is not required to:

  1. Operate circuit breakers or circuit interrupters
  2. Remove cover plates
  3. Inspect de-icing systems or components
  4. Inspect private or emergency electrical supply systems or components

SECTION 7 - Heating and Cooling
A. Items to be inspected:

  1. Heating equipment
  2. Central cooling equipment
  3. Energy source and connections
  4. Combustion air and exhaust vent systems
  5. Condensate drainage
  6. Conditioned air distribution systems

B. The Inspector is not required to:

  1. Inspect heat exchangers or electric heating elements
  2. Inspect non-central air conditioning units or evaporative coolers
  3. Inspect radiant, solar, hydronic, or geothermal systems or components
  4. Determine volume, uniformity, temperature, airflow, balance, or leakage of any air distribution system
  5. Inspect electronic air filtering or humidity control systems or components

SECTION 8 - Fireplaces and Chimneys
A. Items to be inspected:

  • Chimney exterior
  • Spark arrestor
  • Firebox
  • Damper
  • Hearth extension

B. The Inspector is not required to:

  1. Inspect chimney interiors
  2. Inspect fireplace inserts, seals, or gaskets
  3. Operate any fireplace or determine if a fireplace can be safely used

SECTION 9 - Building Interior
A. Items to be inspected:

  1. Walls, ceilings, and floors
  2. Doors and windows
  3. Stairways, handrails, and guardrails
  4. Permanently installed cabinets
  5. Permanently installed cook-tops, mechanical range vents, ovens, dishwashers, and food waste disposals
  6. Absence of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
  7. Vehicle doors and openers

B. The Inspector is not required to:

  1. Inspect window, door, or floor coverings
  2. Determine whether a building is secure from unauthorized entry
  3. Operate, test or determine the type of smoke or carbon monoxide alarms or test vehicle door safety devices
  4. Use a ladder to inspect systems or components

Part III. Limitations, Exceptions, and Exclusions

A. The following are excluded from a real estate inspection:

  1. Systems or components of a building, or portions thereof, which are not readily accessible, not permanently installed, or not inspected due to circumstances beyond the control of the Inspector or which the Client has agreed or specified are not to be inspected
  2. Site improvements or amenities, including, but not limited to; accessory buildings, fences, planters, landscaping, irrigation, swimming pools, spas, ponds, waterfalls, fountains or their components or accessories
  3. Auxiliary features of appliances beyond the appliance’s basic function
  4. Systems or components, or portions thereof, which are under ground, under water, or where the Inspector must come into contact with water
  5. Common areas as defined in California Civil Code section 1351, et seq., and any dwelling unit systems or components located in common areas
  6. Determining compliance with manufacturers’ installation guidelines or specifications, building codes, accessibility standards, conservation or energy standards, regulations, ordinances, covenants, or other restrictions
  7. Determining adequacy, efficiency, suitability, quality, age, or remaining life of any buildingsystem, or component, or marketability or advisability of purchase
  8. Structural, architectural, geological, environmental, hydrological, land surveying, or soils-related examinations
  9. Acoustical or other nuisance characteristics of any system or component of a building, complex, adjoining property, or neighborhood
  10. Conditions related to animals, insects, or other organisms, including fungus and mold, and any hazardous, illegal, or controlled substance, or the damage or health risks arising there from
  11.  Risks associated with events or conditions of nature including, but not limited to; geological, seismic, wildfire, and flood
  12. Water testing any buildingsystem, or component or determine leakage in shower pans, pools, spas, or any body of water
  13. Determining the integrity of hermetic seals at multi-pane glazing
  14. Differentiating between original construction or subsequent additions or modifications
  15. Reviewing information from any third-party, including but not limited to; product defects, recalls, or similar notices
  16. Specifying repairs/replacement procedures or estimating cost to correct
  17. Communication, computer, security, or low-voltage systems and remote, timer, sensor, or similarly controlled systems or components
  18. Fire extinguishing and suppression systems and components or determining fire resistive qualities of materials or assemblies
  19. Elevators, lifts, and dumbwaiters
  20. Lighting pilot lights or activating or operating any systemcomponent, or appliance that is shut down, unsafe to operate, or does not respond to normal user controls
  21. Operating shutoff valves or shutting down any system or component
  22. Dismantling any system, structure or component or removing access panels other than those provided for homeowner maintenance

B. The Inspector may, at his or her discretion:

  1. Inspect any buildingsystemcomponentappliance, or improvement not included or otherwise excluded by these Standards of Practice. Any such inspection shall comply with all other provisions of these Standards.
  2. Include photographs in the written report or take photographs for Inspector’s reference without inclusion in the written report. Photographs may not be used in lieu of written documentation.

IV. Glossary of Terms

*Note: All definitions apply to derivatives of these terms when italicized in the text.

Appliance: An item such as an oven, dishwasher, heater, etc. which performs a specific function
Building: The subject of the inspection and its primary parking structure
Component: A part of a systemappliancefixture, or device
Condition: Conspicuous state of being
Determine: Arrive at an opinion or conclusion pursuant to a real estate inspection
Device: component designed to perform a particular task or function
Fixture: A plumbing or electrical component with a fixed position and function
Function: The normal and characteristic purpose or action of a systemcomponent, or device
Functional Drainage: The ability to empty a plumbing fixture in a reasonable time
Functional Flow: The flow of the water supply at the highest and farthest fixture from the building supply shutoff valve when another fixture is used simultaneously
Inspect: Refer to Part I, 'Definition and Scope', Paragraph A
Inspector: One who performs a real estate inspection
Normal User Control: Switch or other device that activates a system or component and is provided for use by an occupant of a building
Operate: Cause a systemappliancefixture, or device to function using normal user controls
Permanently Installed: Fixed in place, e.g. screwed, bolted, nailed, or glued
Primary Building: A building that an Inspector has agreed to inspect
Primary Parking structure: A building for the purpose of vehicle storage associated with the primary building
Readily Accessible: Can be reached, entered, or viewed without difficulty, moving obstructions, or requiring any action which may harm persons or property
Real Estate Inspection: Refer to Part I, 'Definitions and Scope', Paragraph A
Representative Number: Example, an average of one component per area for multiple similar componentssuch as windows, doors, and electrical outlets
Safety Hazard: A condition that could result in significant physical injury
Shut Down: Disconnected or turned off in a way so as not to respond to normal user controls
System: An assemblage of various components designed to function as a whole
Technically Exhaustive: Examination beyond the scope of a real estate inspection, which may require disassembly, specialized knowledge, special equipment, measuring, calculating, quantifying, testing, exploratory probing, research, or analysis