This first section 'FAQs' is all about understanding the baseline responsibilities and limitations of an Arizona Home Inspector. The answers to the questions are considered 'typical baseline responses' all inspectors abide too, however there are many unique responses to each question depending on the inspector's certifications, qualifications and client/inspector agreements. After the FAQs I cover all the elements of the Arizona State Standards of Practice.


FAQs

What is a home inspection?

It is a non-invasive, visual examination of the accessible areas of a residential property performed for a fee, which is designed to identify defects within specific systems and components defined by the the Arizona Standards of Practice that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector. A good inspector documents everything, usually with digital pictures.

Can the scope of work be modified? 

Yes, and this agreement must be accepted by all parties prior to the inspection process

Does the inspector make estimates of such as 'years remaining for a...' or predict future conditions?

No, they are not suppose too.

Does the home inspection reveal every issue that exists or ever could exist?

No, only those material defects observed on the date of the inspection.

What is a material defect?

It is a specific issue with a system or component of a residential property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property, or that poses an unreasonable risk to people.  Something to consider: The fact that a system or component is near, at, or beyond the end of its normal, useful life is not, in itself, a material defect.

What exactly is a home inspection report?

After (or during the inspection) the inspector may comment on observation to the client but the inspector is required to create a formal report, in written format, identifying defects within specific systems and components defined by the Arizona State Standards of Practice that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector.  Of course, inspection reports may include additional comments and recommendations.

Is an inspection technically exhaustive?

No (in almost all cases)

What does technically exhaustive mean?

An inspection is technically exhaustive when it involves the use of measurements, instruments, testing, calculations, and other means to develop scientific or engineering findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

Does an inspection identify concealed or latent defects?

No (Although specific devices such as infrared helps)

Will an inspection include concerns regarding with aesthetics, or what could be deemed matters of taste, cosmetic defects, etc?

No

Does an inspection determine the suitability of the property for any use?

No

Will an inspection determine the market value of the property or its marketability?

No (Professionals such as real estate agents and appraisers are skilled in these matters)

Will the the inspection determine the insurability of the property?

No (in almost all cases)

Will the inspector provide advice regarding the purchase of the inspected property?

No

Does an inspection determine the life expectancy of the property or any components or systems therein?

No

Will the inspection include items not permanently installed on the property?

No (Although some appliances are part of the inspection)

What is the limit of the Arizona Standards of Practice with building size and units?

It applies to properties with four or fewer residential units and their attached garages and carports.

Can the inspector determine property boundary lines or encroachments?

No

Can an inspector determine the condition of any component or system that is not readily accessible? Such as a locked crawlspace or systems behind personal belongings?

No, inspectors will no access locked or unsafe areas or move any personal items.

Do inspectors estimate the service life expectancy of any component or system?

No

Will an inspector determine the cause or reason of any condition?

No, they report on what they observe.

Do inspectors check for compliance with codes or regulations?

No. In many cases however there are areas where compliance and the Arizona State Standards of Practice overlap. Many examples include electrical systems.

Is an inspector required to determine the presence of evidence of rodents, birds, bats, animals, insects, or other pests?

No, but they often times verbally point out an observation. If pests have caused a material defect the inspector will report the defect only.

Is an inspector required to determine the presence of mold, mildew or fungus?

No, however they can report on what they observe. The inspector is careful not to determine or identify unless properly trained and certified.

Is an inspector required to determine the presence of airborne hazards, including radon?

No, but the client may ask the inspector to perform a radon test. CAUTION! Do not rely on any method that is not a certified approved method of testing. The most trusted method are radon test canisters sent to a certified lab. Or using a certified radon detection device listed here.

Is an inspector required to determine the air quality?

No, but some inspectors are certified for this service. Any in Flagstaff...not at the moment.

Is an inspector required to determine the existence of environmental hazards, including lead paint, asbestos or toxic drywall.

No, this truly requires a testing lab to determine such hazards. An inspector may, however, identify what may be any of the above hazards but they are not required to determine it. Often times if such observations are made the inspector will recommend a certified professional for further evaluations.

Is an inspector required to determine the existence of electromagnetic fields?

No, this requires special instruments for use by certified professionals. An inspector may observe electromagnetic interference and report on it but that is rare.

Is an inspector required to determine any hazardous waste conditions?

No, this requires a lab professional with testing equipment to determine hazardous waste. This DOES NOT limit the inspector from using common sense such as reading labels of containers, smell, observed corrosion (You get the idea, they observe and report...

Is an inspector required to identify any manufacturers' recalls or conformance with manufacturer installation, or any information included for consumer protection purposes?

No, but most inspectors access resources regarding appliance information which often times supplies recalls.

Will an inspector determine acoustical properties of a house?

No, but I have known inspectors who whistle while they inspect.

Is an inspector required to determine correction, replacement or repair cost estimates?

No, inspectors do not provide cost estimates and do not provide estimates of the cost to operate any given system.

Is the the inspector required to operate any system that is shut down or any system that does not function properly?

No, but they will report the observation and recommend a qualified person to repair/replace.

Is the the inspector required to evaluate low-voltage electrical systems, such as, but not limited to phone lines, cable lines, satellite dishes, antennae, lights or remote controls?

No

Will an inspector inspect any system that does not turn on with the use of normal operating controls?

No, but they will most likely make note of it.

Will an inspector operate any shut-off valves, manual stop valves, any electrical disconnect or over-current protection devices?

Absolutely not! An inspector will test GFCI and AFCI connections.

Will the inspector test an alarm system?

No, not unless they are certified in the sate of Arizona to perform such work.

Do inspector use moisture meters, gas detectors or similar equipment?

Yes, some inspectors do but not required.

Will the inspector move any personal items or other obstructions, such as,  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?

No

Will the inspector dismantle, open or uncover any system or component?

Inspectors are required look inside a furnace and inside an electrical box, other than that and few rare exceptions the answer is no.

Will an inspector enter or access any area that may, in the inspector's opinion, be unsafe? Such as a cluttered or very wet crawlspace or other areas that may be unsafe such as an area that has the smell of propane gas?

No

Will an inspector inspect underground items such as lawn-irrigation systems, or underground storage tanks?

No, not unless they are certified to do so.

Do inspector offer guarantees or warranties?

No

Will an inspector ever offer or perform any engineering services or offer or perform any trade or professional service other than a home inspection?

No

Will an inspector 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?

No

Will the inspector determine the insurability of a property?

No


STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE (Currently updating)

For Arizona Home Inspectors

 

STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Introduction
  2. Purpose & Scope
  3. General Limitations & Exclusions
  4. Structural Components
  5. Exterior
  6. Roofing
  7. Plumbing
  8. Electrical
  9. Heating
  10. Central Air Conditioning
  11. Interiors
  12. Insulation and Ventilation

Glossary   NOTE: Italicized words are defined in the Glossary

  1. INTRODUCTION
    • These Standards define the practice of Home Inspection in the State of Arizona.
    • These Standards of Practice
      1. provide inspection guidelines.
      2. make public the services provided by private fee-paid inspectors.
  2. PURPOSE AND SCOPE
    • Inspections performed to these Standards shall provide the client with a better understanding of the property conditions, as observed at the time of the inspection.
    • Inspectors shall:
      1. before the inspection report is delivered, enter into a written agreement with the client or their authorized agent that includes:
        1. the purpose of the inspection.
        2. the date of the inspection.
        3. the name address and certification number of the inspector.
        4. the fee for services.
        5. a statement that the inspection is performed in accordance with these Standards.
        6. limitations or exclusions of systems or components
      2. Observe readily accessible installed systems and components listed in these Standards.
      3. submit a written report to the client which shall:
        1. Describe systems and components identified in sections 4-12 of these Standards.
        2. state which systems and components designated for inspection in these Standards have been inspected and any systems and components designated for inspection in these Standards which were present at the time of the inspection and were not inspected and a reason why they were not inspected.
        3. state any systems and components so inspected which were found to be in need of immediate major repair and any recommendations to correct, monitor or evaluate by appropriate persons.
  • These Standards are not intended to limit inspectors from:
    1. reporting observations and conditions in addition to those required in Section 2.2.
    2. excluding systems and components from the inspection if requested by the client.

3.     GENERAL LIMITATIONS AND EXCLUSIONS (YES, the FAQs above covered this section.)

3.1    General limitations:

  1. Inspections done in accordance with these Standards are visual, not technically exhaustive and will not identify concealed conditions or latent defects.
  2. These Standards are applicable to buildings with four or less dwelling units and their garages or carports.

3.2   General exclusions:

  1. Inspectors are NOT required to report on:
    1. life expectancy of any component or system.
    2. the causes of the need for a major repair.
    3. the methods, materials and costs of corrections.
    4. the suitability of the property for any specialized use.
    5. compliance or non-compliance with applicable regulatory requirements.
    6. the market value of the property or its marketability.
    7. the advisability or inadvisability of purchase of the property.
    8. any component or system which was not observed.
    9. the presence or absence of pests such as wood damaging organisms, rodents, or insects.
    10. cosmetic items, underground items, or items not permanently installed. Inspectors are NOT required to:
    11. offer warranties or guarantees of any kind.
    12. calculate the strength, adequacy, or efficiency of any system or component.
    13. enter any area or perform any procedure which may damage the property or its components or be dangerous to the inspector or other persons.
    14. operate any system or component which is shut down or otherwise inoperable.
    15. operate any system or component which does not respond to normal operating controls.
    16. disturb insulation, move personal items, furniture, equipment, plant life, soil, snow, ice, or debris which obstructs access or visibility.
    17. determine the presence or absence of any suspected hazardous substance including but not limited to toxins, fungus, molds, mold spores, carcinogens, noise, contaminants in soil, water, and air.
    18. determine the effectiveness of any system installed to control or remove suspected hazardous substances.
    19. predict future conditions, including but not limited to failure of components.
    20. project operating costs of components.
    21. evaluate acoustical characteristics of any system or component.

4.    SYSTEM: STRUCTURAL COMPONENTS

4.1    The inspector shall observe:

  1. structural components including:
    1. foundation
    2. floors
    3. walls
    4. columns
    5. ceilings
    6. roofs

4.2   The Inspector shall: A. describe the type of:

  1. foundation
  2. floor structure
  3. wall structure
  4. columns
  5. ceiling structure
  6. roof structure
  1. probe structural components where deterioration is suspected. However, probing is NOT required when probing would damage any finished surface.
  2. enter underfloor crawl spaces and attic spaces except when access is obstructed, when entry could damage the property, or when dangerous or adverse situations are suspected.
  3. report the methods used to inspect underfloor crawl spaces and attics.
  4. report signs of water penetration into the building or signs of abnormal or harmful condensation on building components.

5.   SYSTEM: EXTERIOR

5.1  The inspector shall observe:

  1. wall cladding, flashings and trim.
  2. entryway doors and representative number of windows.
  3. garage door operators.
  4. decks, balconies, stoops, steps, areaways, and porches including railings.
  5. eaves, soffits and fascias.
  6. vegetation, grading, drainage, driveways, patios, walkways and retaining walls with respect to their effect on the condition of the building.

5.2   The inspector shall:

  1. describe wall cladding materials.
  2. operate all entryway doors and representative number of windows including garage doors, manually or by using permanently installed controls of any garage door operator.
  3. report whether or not any garage door operator will automatically reverse or stop when meeting reasonable resistance during closing.

5.3   The inspector is NOT required to observe:

  1. storm windows, storm doors, screening, shutters, awnings and similar seasonal accessories. B. fences.
  2. safety glazing.
  3. garage door operator remote control transmitters.
  4. geological conditions.
  5. soil conditions.
  6. recreational facilities.
  7. outbuildings other than garages and carports.

6.    SYSTEM: ROOFING

6.1   The inspector shall observe:

  1. roof coverings.
  2. roof drainage systems.
  3. flashings
  4. skylights, chimneys and roof penetrations.
  5. signs of leaks or abnormal condensation on building components.

6.2    The inspector shall:

  1. describe the type of roof covering materials.
  2. report the methods used to inspect roofing.

6.3    The inspector is NOT required to: A. walk on the roofing.

  1. observe attached accessories including but not limited to solar systems, antennae, and lightning arresters.

7.     SYSTEM: PLUMBING

7.1   The inspector shall observe:

  1. interior water supply and distribution system including:
  2. piping materials, including supports and insulation.
  3. fixtures and faucets.
  4. functional flow.
  5. leaks.
  6. cross connections.
  7. interior drain, waste and vent system, including:
  8. traps; drain, waste, and vent piping; piping supports and pipe insulation.
  9. functional drainage.
  10. hot water systems including:
  11. water heating equipment.
  12. normal operating controls.
  13. automatic safety controls.
  14. chimneys, flues and vents.
  15. fuel storage and distribution systems including:
  16. interior fuel storage equipment, supply piping, venting and supports.
  17. sump pumps.

7.2   The inspector shall: A. describe:

  1. water supply and distribution piping materials.
  2. drain, waste and vent piping materials.
  3. water heating equipment.
  4. operate all plumbing fixtures, including their faucets and all exterior faucets attached to the house.

7.3   The inspector is NOT required to:

  1. state the effectiveness of anti-siphon devices.
  2. determine whether water supply and waste disposal systems are public or private.
  3. operate automatic safety controls.
  4. operate any valve except water closet flush valves, fixture faucets and hose faucets.
  5. observe:
  6. water conditioning systems.
  7. fire and lawn sprinkler systems.
  8. on-site water supply quantity and quality.
  9. on-site waste disposal systems.
  10. foundation irrigation systems.
  11. spas, except as to functional flow and functional drainage.

8.    SYSTEM: ELECTRICAL

8.1   The inspector shall observe:

  1. service entrance conductors.
  2. service equipment, grounding equipment, main overcurrent device, main and distribution panels.
  3. amperage and voltage ratings of the service.
  4. branch circuit conductors, their overcurrent devices, and the compatibility of their ampacities and voltages.
  5. the operation of a representative number of installed lighting fixtures, switches and receptacles located inside the house, garage, and on its exterior walls.
  6. the polarity and grounding of all receptacles within six feet of interior plumbing fixtures and all receptacles in the garage or carport, and on the exterior of inspected structures.
  7. the operation of ground fault circuit interrupters.

8.2   The inspector shall: A. describe:

  1. service amperage and voltage.
  2. service entry conductor materials.
  3. service type as being overhead or underground.
  4. location of main and distribution panels.
  5. report any observed aluminum branch circuit wiring.

8.3   The inspector is NOT required to:

  1. insert any tool, probe or testing device inside the panels.
  2. test or operate any overcurrent device except ground fault interrupters.
  3. dismantle any electrical device or control other than to remove covers of the main and auxiliary distribution panels.
  4. observe
  5. low voltage systems.
  6. smoke detectors.
  7. telephone, security, cable TV, intercoms or other ancillary wiring that is not a part of the primary electrical distribution system.

9.    SYSTEM: HEATING

9.1   The inspector shall observe:

  1. permanently installed heating systems including:
  2. heating equipment.
  3. normal operating controls.
  4. automatic safety controls.
  5. chimneys, flues and vents.
  6. solid fuel heating devices.
  7. heat distribution systems including fans, pumps, ducts and piping, with supports, dampers, insulation, air filters, registers, radiators, fan coil units, convectors.
  8. the presence of an installed heat source in each room.

9.2   The inspector shall: A. describe:

  1. energy source.
  2. heating equipment and distribution type.
  3. operate the systems using normal operating controls.
  4. open readily openable access panels provided by the manufacturer or installer for routine homeowner maintenance.

9.3   The inspector is NOT required to:

  1. operate heating systems when weather conditions or other circumstances may cause equipment damage.
  2. operate automatic safety controls.
  3. ignite or extinguish solid fuel fires.
  4. observe:
  5. the interior of flues.
  6. fireplace insert flue connections.
  7. humidifiers.
  8. electronic air filters.
  9. the uniformity or adequacy of heat supply to the various rooms.

10.     SYSTEM: CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONING

10.1    The inspector shall observe:

  1. central air conditioning including:
  2. cooling and air handling equipment.
  3. normal operating controls.
  4. distribution systems including:
  5. fans, pumps, ducts and piping, with supports, dampers, insulation, air filters, registers, fan-coil units.
  6. the presence of an installed cooling source in each room.

10.2  The inspector shall: A. describe:

  1. energy sources.
  2. cooling equipment type.
  3. operate the systems using normal operating controls.
  4. open readily openable access panels provided by the manufacturer or installer for routine homeowner maintenance.

10.3  The inspector is NOT required to:

  1. operate cooling systems when weather conditions or other circumstances may cause equipment damage.
  2. observe non-central air conditioners.
  3. observe the uniformity or adequacy of cool-air supply to the various rooms.

11.   SYSTEM: INTERIORS

11.1  The inspector shall observe:

  1. walls, ceiling and floors.
  2. steps, stairways, balconies and railings.
  3. counters and a representative number of cabinets.
  4. a representative number of doors and windows.
  5. separation walls, ceilings, and doors between a dwelling unit and an attached garage or another dwelling unit. F.

11.2  The inspector shall:

  1. operate a representative number of primary windows and interior doors.
  2. report signs of water penetration into the building or signs of abnormal or harmful condensation on building components.

11.3   The inspector is NOT required to observe:

  1. paint, wallpaper and other finish treatments on the interior walls, ceilings, and floors.
  2. carpeting
  3. draperies, blinds or other window treatments.
  4. household appliances.
  5. recreational facilities or another dwelling unit.

12.   SYSTEM: INSULATION & VENTILATION

12.1   The inspector shall observe:

  1. insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces.
  2. ventilation of attics and foundation areas.
  3. kitchen, bathroom, and laundry venting systems.

12.2   The inspector shall describe:

  1. insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces.
  2. absence of same in unfinished space at conditioned surfaces.

12.3   The inspector is NOT required to report on:

  1. concealed insulation and vapor retarders.
  2. venting equipment which is integral with household appliances.

GLOSSARY

Automatic Safety Controls:

Devices designated and installed to protect systems and components from high or low pressures and temperatures, electrical current, loss of water, loss of ignition, fuel leaks, fire, freezing, or other unsafe conditions.

Central Air Conditioning:

A system which uses ducts to distribute cooled and/or dehumidified air to more than one room or uses pipes to distribute chilled water to heat exchangers in more than one room, and that is not plugged into an electrical convenience outlet.

Client:

A customer who contracts with a home inspector for a home inspection.

Component:

A readily accessible and observable aspect of a system, such as a floor, or wall, but not individual pieces such as boards or nails where many similar pieces make up the system.

Cross Connection:

Any physical connection or arrangement between potable water and any source of contamination.

Dangerous or Adverse Situations:

Situations which pose a threat of injury to the inspector, and those situations that require the use of special protective clothing or safety equipment.

Describe:

Report in writing a system or component by its type, or other observed characteristics, to distinguish it from other components used for the same purpose.

Dismantle:

To take apart or remove any component, device or piece of equipment that is bolted, screwed, or fastened by other means and that would not be taken apart or removed by a homeowner in the course of normal household maintenance.

Engineering:

Any professional service or creative work requiring education, training, and experience and the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical and engineering sciences

Evaluation by Appropriate Persons:

Examination and analysis by a qualified professional, tradesman, or service technician beyond that provided by the home inspector.

Functional Drainage:

A drain is functional when it empties in a reasonable amount of time and does not overflow when another fixture is drained simultaneously.

Functional Flow:

A reasonable flow at the highest fixture in a dwelling when another fixture is operated simultaneously.

Immediate Major Repair:

A major defect, which if not quickly addressed, will be likely to do any of the following:

  1. worsen appreciably
  2. cause further damage
  3. be a serious hazard to health and/or personal safety Inspector:

A person certified as a home Inspector by the Arizona Board of Technical Registration

Installed:

Attached or connected such that the installed item requires tools for removal.

Major Defect:

A system or component that is unsafe or not functioning

Normal Operating Controls:

Homeowner operated devices such as a thermostat, wall switch or safety switch.

Observe:

The act of making a visual examination of a system or component and reporting on its condition.

On-site Water Supply Quality:

Water quality is based on the bacterial, chemical, mineral and solids content of the water.

On-site Water Supply Quantity:

Water quantity is the rate of flow of water.

Primary Windows and Doors:

Windows and/or exterior doors which are designed to remain in their respective openings year round.

Readily Accessible:

Available for visual inspection without requiring moving of personal property, dismantling, destructive measures, or any action which will likely involve risk to persons or property.

Readily Openable Access Panel:

A panel provided for homeowner inspection and maintenance that has removable or operable fasteners or latch devices in order to be lifted off, swung open, or otherwise removed by one person, and its edges and fasteners are not painted in place. Limited to those panels within normal reach or from a 4-foot stepladder, and which are not blocked by stored items, furniture, or building components.

Recreational Facilities:

Spas, saunas, steam baths, swimming pools, tennis courts, playground equipment, and other exercise, entertainment, or athletic facilities.

Representative Number:

For multiple identical components such as windows and electrical outlets, the inspection of one such   component per room. For multiple identical exterior components, the inspection of one such component on each side of the building.

Roof Drainage Systems:

Gutters, downspouts, leaders, splash blocks, and similar components used to carry water off a roof and away from a building.

Safety Glazing:

Tempered glass, laminated glass, or rigid plastic.

Shut Down:

A piece of equipment whose safety switch or circuit breaker is in the “off” position, or its fuse is missing or blown, or a system that cannot be operated by the device or control that a home owner should normally use to operate it.

Solid Fuel Heating Device:

Any wood, coal, or other similar organic fuel burning device, including but not limited to fireplaces  whether masonry or factory built, fireplace inserts and stoves, woodstoves (room heaters), central furnaces, and combinations of these devices.

Structural Component:

A component that supports non-variable forces or weights (dead loads) and variable forces or weights (live loads). For purposes of this definition, a dead load is the fixed weight of a structure or piece of equipment, such as a roof structure on bearing walls, and a live load is a moving variable weight added to the dead load or intrinsic weight of a structure.

System:

A combination of interacting or interdependent components, assembled to carry out one or more functions.

Technically Exhaustive:

An inspection is technically exhaustive when it involves the use of measurements, instruments, testing, calculations, and other means to develop scientific or engineering findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

Underfloor Crawl Space:

The area within the confines of the foundation and between the ground and the underside of the lowest floor structural .

Unsafe:

A condition in a readily accessible, installed system or component which is judged to be a significant risk of personal injury during normal, day to day use. The risk may be due to damage, deterioration, improper installation or changes in adopted residential construction standards.

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