Standards

Selecting the right home inspector can be as important as finding the right home. ASHI Members have performed no fewer than 250 fee-paid inspections in accordance with the ASHI Standards of Practice. They have passed written examinations testing their knowledge of residential construction, defect recognition, inspection techniques, and report-writing, as well as ASHI’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. Membership in the American Society of Home Inspectors is well-earned and maintained only through meeting requirements for continuing education. Additional information can be found at the ASHI Web site at http://www.ashi.org

ASHI Standards of Practice Effective January 1, 2000

  1. Introduction

    The American Society of Home Inspectors®, Inc. (ASHI®) is a not-for-profit professional society established in 1976. Mem­bership in ASHI is voluntary and its members are private home inspectors. ASHI’s objectives include promotion of excellence within the profession and continual improvement of its members' inspection services to the public.

  2. Purpose & Scope

    The purpose of this document is to establish a minimum standard (Standard) for home inspections performed by home inspectors who subscribe to this Standard. Home inspections performed using this Standard are intended to provide the client with information about the condition of inspected systems and components at the time of the home inspection.

    The Home Inspector Shall:

    1. Adhere to the Code of Ethics of the American Society of Home Inspectors.
    2. Inspect readily accessible, visually observable, installed systems and components listed in these Standards of Practice.
    3. Provide the client with a written report, using a format and medium selected by the inspector, that states:
      1. Those systems and components inspected that, in the professionalopinion of the inspector,are not functioning properly, significantly deficient, unsafe, or are near the end of their servicelives.
      2. Recommendations to correct, or monitor for future correction, the deficiencies reported in 2.2.C.1, or items needing further evaluation. (Per Exclusion 13.2.A.5 inspectors are NOT required to determine methods, materials, or costs of corrections.)
      3. Reasoning or explanation as to the nature of the deficiencies reported in 2.2.C.1, that are not self-evident.
      4. Systems and components designated for inspection in these Standards of Practicethat were present at the time of the home inspection but were not inspected and the reason(s) they were not inspected.

    These Standards of Practice are not intended to limit inspectors from:

    1. Including other inspection services or systemsand componentsin addition to those required In Section 2.2.B.
    2. Designing or specifying repairs, provided the inspectoris appropriately qualified and willing to do so.
    3. Excluding systems and componentsfrom the inspection if requested by the client.
  3. Structural Components

    The Inspector shall:

    1. Inspect structural components including the foundation and framing.
    2. Describe:
      1. The methods used to inspect under-floor crawlspaces and attics.
      2. The foundation.
      3. The floor structure.
      4. The wall structure.
      5. The ceiling structure.
      6. The roof structure.

    The inspector is NOT required to:

    1. Provide engineering or architectural services or analysis.
    2. Offer an opinion about the adequacy of structural systems and components.
    3. Enter under-floor crawlspace areas that have less than 24 inches of vertical clearance between components and the ground or that have an access opening smaller than 16 inches by 24 inches.
    4. Traverse attic load-bearing components that are concealed by insulation or by other materials.
  4. Exterior

    The Inspector shall:

    1. Inspect:

      1. Wall coverings, flashing, and trim.
      2. Exterior doors.
      3. Attached and adjacent decks, balconies, stoops, steps, porches, and their associated railings.
      4. Eaves, soffits, and fascias where accessible from the ground level.
      5. Vegetation, grading, surface drainage, and retaining walls that are likely to adversely affect the building.
      6. Adjacent and entryway walkways, patios, and drive­ways.
    2. Describe wall coverings.

    The inspector is NOT required to inspect:

    1. Screening, shutters, awnings, and similar seasonal accessories.
    2. Fences, boundary walls, and similar structures.
    3. Geological and soil conditions.
    4. Recreational facilities.
    5. Outbuildings other than garages and carports.
    6. Seawalls, break-walls, and docks.
    7. Erosion control and earth stabilization measures.
  5. Roofing

    The Inspector shall:

    1. Inspect:
      1. Roofing materials.
      2. Roof drainage systems.
      3. Flashing.
      4. Skylights, chimneys, and roof penetrations.
    2. Describe:
      1. Roofing materials.
      2. Methods used to inspect the roofing.

    The inspector is NOT required to inspect:

    1. Antennas.
    2. Interiors of vent systems, flues, and chimneys that are not readily accessible.
    3. Other installed accessories.
  6. Plumbing

    The Inspector shall:

    1. Inspect:
      1. Interior water supply and distribution systems including fixtures and faucets.
      2. Interior drain, waste, and vent systems including fixtures.
      3. Water heating equipment and hot water supply systems.
      4. Vent systems, flues, and chimneys.
      5. Fuel storage and fuel distribution systems.
      6. Sewage ejectors, sump pumps, and related piping.
    2. Describe:
      1. Interior water supply, drain, waste, and vent piping materials.
      2. Water heating equipment including energy source(s).
      3. Location of main water and fuel shut-off valves.

    The inspector is NOT required to:

    1. Inspect:
      1. Clothes washing machine connections.
      2. Interiors of vent systems, flues, and chimneys that are not readily accessible.
      3. Wells, well pumps, and water storage related equipment.
      4. Water conditioning systems.
      5. Solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy water heating systems.
      6. Manual and automatic fire extinguishing and sprinkler systems and landscape irrigation systems.
      7. Septic and other sewage disposal systems.
    2. Determine:
      1. Whether water supply and sewage disposal are public or private.
      2. Water quality.
      3. The adequacy of combustion air components.
    3. Measure water supply flow and pressure, and well water quantity.
    4. Fill shower pans and fixtures to test for leaks.
  7. Electrical

    The Inspector shall:

    1. Inspect:
      1. Service drop.
      2. Service entrance conductors, cables, and raceways.
      3. Service equipment and main disconnects.
      4. Service grounding.
      5. Interior components of service panels and subpanels.
      6. Conductors.
      7. Overcurrent protection devices.
      8. A representative number of installed lighting fixtures, switches, and receptacles.
      9. Ground fault circuit interrupters and arc fault circuit interrupters.
    2. Describe:
      1. Amperage rating of the service.
      2. Location of main disconnect(s) and subpanels.
      3. Presence or absence of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.
      4. The predominant branch circuit wiring method.

    The inspector is NOT required to:

    1. Measure amperage, voltage, and impedance.
    2. Determine the age and type of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.
  8. Heating

    The Inspector shall:

    1. Open readily openable access panels.
    2. Inspect:
      1. Installed heating equipment.
      2. Vent systems, flues, and chimneys.
      3. Distribution systems.
    3. Describe:
      1. Energy source(s).
      2. Heating systems.

    The inspector is NOT required to:

    1. Inspect:
      1. Interiors of vent systems, flues, and chimneys that are not readily accessible.
      2. Heat exchangers.
      3. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers.
      4. Electric air cleaning and sanitizing devices.
      5. Heating systems using ground-source, water-source, solar, and renewable energy technologies. 6. heat-recovery and similar whole-house mechanical ventilation systems.
    2. Determine:
      1. Heat supply adequacy and distribution balance.
      2. The adequacy of combustion air components.
  9. Air Conditioning

    The Inspector shall:

    1. Open readily openable access panels.
    2. Inspect:
      1. Central and permanently installed cooling equipment.
      2. Distribution systems.
    3. Describe:
      1. Energy source(s).
      2. Cooling systems.

    The inspector is NOT required to:

    1. Inspect electric air cleaning and sanitizing devices.
    2. Determine cooling supply adequacy and distribution balance.
    3. Inspect cooling units that are not permanently installed or that are installed in windows.
    4. Inspect cooling systems using ground-source, wa­ter-source, solar, and renewable energy technologies.
  10. Interiors

    The Inspector shall inspect:

    1. Walls, ceilings, and floors.
    2. Steps, stairways, and railings.
    3. Countertops and a representative number of installed cabinets.
    4. A representative number of doors and windows. E. garage vehicle doors and garage vehicle door operators.
    5. Installed ovens, ranges, surface cooking appliances, microwave ovens, dishwashing machines, and food waste grinders by using normal operating controls to activate the primary function.

    The inspector is NOT required to inspect:

    1. Paint, wallpaper, and other finish treatments.
    2. Floor coverings.
    3. Window treatments.
    4. Coatings on and the hermetic seals between panes of window glass.
    5. Central vacuum systems.
    6. Recreational facilities.
    7. Installed and free-standing kitchen and laundry appliances not listed in Section 10.1.F.
    8. Appliance thermostats including their calibration, adequacy of heating elements, self cleaning oven cycles, indicator lights, door seals, timers, clocks, timed features, and other specialized features of the appliance.
    9. Operate, or confirm the operation of every control and feature of an inspected appliance.
  11. Insulation and Ventilation

    The Inspector shall:

    1. Inspect:
      1. Insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces.
      2. Ventilation of attics and foundation areas.
      3. Kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and similar exhaust systems.
      4. Clothes dryer exhaust systems.
    2. Describe:
      1. Insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces.
      2. Absence of insulation in unfinished spaces at conditioned surfaces.

    The inspector is NOT required to disturb insulation.

  12. Fireplaces and Fuel-burning Appliances

    The Inspector shall inspect:

    1. Inspect:
      1. Fuel-burning fireplaces, stoves, and fireplace inserts.
      2. Fuel-burning accessories installed in fireplaces.
      3. Chimneys and vent systems.
    2. Describe systems and components listed in 12.1.A.1 and .2.

    The inspector is NOT required to:

    1. Inspect:
      1. Interiors of vent systems, flues, and chimneys that are not readily accessible.
      2. Fire screens and doors.
      3. Seals and gaskets.
      4. Automatic fuel feed devices.
      5. Mantles and fireplace surrounds.
      6. Combustion air components and to determine their adequacy.
      7. Heat distribution assists (gravity fed and fan assisted).
      8. Fuel-burning fireplaces and appliances located out­side the inspected structures.
    2. Determine draft characteristics.
    3. Move fireplace inserts and stoves or firebox contents.
  13. General Limitations and Exclusions

    General Limitations

    1. The inspector is NOT required to perform actions, or to make determinations, or to make recommendations not specifically stated in this Standard.
    2. Inspections performed using this Standard:
      1. Are not technically exhaustive.
      2. Are not required to identify and to report:
        1. Concealed conditions, latent defects, consequential damages, and
        2. Cosmetic imperfections that do not significantly affect a component’s performance of its intended function.
    3. This Standard applies to buildings with four or fewer dwelling units and their attached and detached garages and carports.
    4. This Standard shall not limit or prevent the inspector from meeting state statutes which license professional home inspection and home inspectors.
    5. Redundancy in the description of the requirements, limi­tations, and exclusions regarding the scope of the home inspection is provided for emphasis only.

    General Exclusions

    The inspector is NOT required to determine:

    1. The condition of systems and components that are not readily accessible.
    2. The remaining life expectancy of systems and components.
    3. The strength, adequacy, effectiveness, and efficiency of systems and components.
    4. The causes of conditions and deficiencies.
    5. Methods, materials, and costs of corrections.
    6. Future conditions including but not limited to failure of systems and components.
    7. The suitability of the property for specialized uses.
    8. Compliance of systems and components with past and present requirements and guidelines (codes, regula­tions, laws, ordinances, specifications, installation and maintenance instructions, use and care guides, etc.).
    9. The market value of the property and its marketability.
    10. The advisability of purchasing the property.
    11. The presence of plants, animals, and other life forms and substances that may be hazardous or harmful to humans including, but not limited to, wood destroying organisms, molds and mold-like substances.
    12. The presence of environmental hazards including, but not limited to, allergens, toxins, carcinogens, electro­magnetic radiation, noise, radioactive substances, and contaminants in building materials, soil, water, and air.
    13. The effectiveness of systems installed and methods used to control or remove suspected hazardous plants, animals, and environmental hazards.
    14. Operating costs of systems and components.
    15. Acoustical properties of systems and components.
    16. Soil conditions relating to geotechnical or hydrologic specialties.
    17. Whether items, materials, conditions and components are subject to recall, controversy, litigation, product liability, and other adverse claims and conditions.

    The inspector is NOT required to offer:

    1. Or to perform acts or services contrary to law or to government regulations.
    2. Or to perform architectural, engineering, contracting, or surveying services or to confirm or to evaluate such services performed by others.
    3. Or to perform trades or professional services other than home inspection.
    4. Warranties or guarantees.

    The inspector is NOT required to operate:

    1. Systems and components that are shut down or otherwise inoperable.
    2. Systems and components that do not respond to normal operating controls.
    3. Shut-off valves and manual stop valves.
    4. Automatic safety controls.

    The inspector is NOT required to enter:

    1. areas that will, in the professional judgment of the inspector, likely be dangerous to the inspector or to other persons, or to damage the property or its systems and components.
    2. under-floor crawlspaces and attics that are not readily accessible.

    The inspector is NOT required to inspect:

    1. Underground items including, but not limited to, underground storage tanks and other underground indications of their presence, whether abandoned or active.
    2. Items that are not installed.
    3. Installed decorative items.
    4. Items in areas that are not entered in accordance with 13.2.D.
    5. Detached structures other than garages and carports.
    6. Common elements and common areas in multi-unit housing, such as condominium properties and cooperative housing.
    7. Every occurrence of multiple similar components.
    8. Outdoor cooking appliances.

    The inspector is NOT required to:

    1. Perform procedures or operations that will, in the professional judgment of the inspector, likely be dangerous to the inspector or to other persons, or to damage the property or its systems or components.
    2. Describe or report on systems and components that are not included in this Standard and that were not inspected.
    3. Move personal property, furniture, equipment, plants, soil, snow, ice, and debris.
    4. Dismantle systems and components, except as explicitly required by this Standard.
    5. Reset, reprogram, or otherwise adjust devices, systems, and components affected by inspection required by this Standard.
    6. Ignite or extinguish fires, pilot lights, burners, and other open flames that require manual ignition.
    7. Probe surfaces that would be damaged or where no deterioration is visible or presumed to exist.
  14. Glossary of Terms

    Automatic Safety Controls
    Devices designed and installed to protect systems and components from unsafe conditions

    Component
    A part of a system

    Decorative Ornamental
    not required for the proper operation of the essential systems and components of a home side of the building for multiple similar exterior components

    Describe
    To identify (in writing) a system and component by its type or other distinguishing characteristics

    Dismantle
    To take apart or remove components, devices, or pieces of equipment that would not be taken apart or removed by a homeowner in the course of normal maintenance

    Engineering
    The application of scientific knowledge for the design, control, or use of building structures, equipment, or apparatus

    Further Evaluation
    Examination and analysis by a qualified professional, tradesman, or service technician beyond that provided by a home inspection

    Home Inspection
    The process by which an inspector visually examines the readily accessible systems and components of a home and describes those systems and components using this Standard

    Inspect
    The process of examining readily accessible systems and components by (1) applying this Standard, and (2) operating normal operating controls, and (3) opening readily openable access panels

    Inspector
    A person hired to examine systems and components of a building using this Standard

    Installed
    Attached such that removal requires tools

    Normal Operating Controls
    Devices such as thermostats, switches, and valves intended to be operated by the homeowner

    Readily Accessible
    Available for visual inspection without requiring moving of personal property, dismantling, destructive measures, or actions that will likely involve risk to persons or property

    Readily Openable Access Panel
    A panel provided for homeown­er inspection and maintenance that is readily accessible, within normal reach, can be opened by one person, and is not sealed in place

    Recreational Facilities
    Spas, saunas, steam baths, swimming pools, exercise, entertainment, athletic, playground and other similar equipment, and associated accessories

    Representative Number
    One component per room for multiple similar interior components such as windows and electric receptacles; one component on each side of the building for multiple similar exterior components

    Roof Drainage Systems
    Components used to carry water off a roof and away from a building

    Shut Down
    A state in which a system or component cannot be operated by normal operating controls

    Structural Component
    A component that supports non-variable forces or weights (dead loads) and variable forces or weights (live loads)

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

    Technically Exhaustive
    An investigation that involves disman­tling, the extensive use of advanced techniques, measurements, instruments, testing, calculations, or other means

    Under-floor Crawlspace
    The area within the confines of the foundation and between the ground and the underside of the floor

    Unsafe
    A condition in a readily accessible, installed system or component that is judged by the inspector to be a significant risk of serious bodily injury during normal, day-to-day use; the risk may be due to damage, deterioration, improper installation, or a change in accepted residential construction practices

    Wall Covering
    A protective or insulating layer fixed to the outside of a building such as: aluminum, brick, EIFS, stone, stucco, vinyl, and wood

    Wiring Method
    Identification of electrical conductors or wires by their general type, such as non-metallic sheathed cable, armored cable, and knob and tube, etc.