Eight things your home inspector can’t tell you comes from a post from HouseLogic, a site from the National Association of REALTORS.

Thank you, HouseLogic, for your post!

Here is their list, changed with my adjustments, thoughts and personalized details.

  1. They won’t tell you if they would buy the house. They really aren’t allowed to, as they are not permitted to provide real estate advice, per the code of ethics from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. A home inspection is not pass/fail. A home inspection is for the inspector to look at the house as carefully as he or she can, and using his or her expertise, share with you details about the house. Not all details are bad, often home inspectors will educate buyers on the house so they are aware of where things are, and what maintenance items are needed or warranted either now or in the future. The inspector should document any issues he or she may find, and the buyer should receive a copy of the report.
  2. They can’t tell you if the house currently has termites, mice, or mold. They may see evidence, and may record such evidence in their report, but they are usually not licensed pest inspectors. Make sure to get a separate pest inspection if your home inspector is not certified! As for mold, there is a test that can be run, but not all home inspectors are licensed to do the tests. If you are wondering about mold in the house, you should ask your inspector beforehand if he or she runs that test, and if not, if allowable in your contract, have a separate inspection.
  3. They can’t tell you about the pool or septic system. These are separate inspections – check your contract to see if you have these inspections in them. Note that many houses do not have pools or septic systems here in Maryland. Public sewers are not septic systems!
  4. Sometimes the report may feel overwhelming. Some inspectors note every little thing they see about the house, including peeling paint or mold-like substances in a shower. Depending on the inspector and the report, it may be hard to determine what is an issue and what is just something of note. You can always ask the inspector to clarify things, and make sure to go over the report with your agent to help to determine what is important to you.
  5. They can’t see everything. Inspectors are not allowed to move pieces of furniture, partially to protect the floors and furniture of the seller. If the inspector can’t see or reach an outlet, they may not be able to test it. Often, there is a general test of outlets that can be reached. Inspectors also cannot remove walls, so they cannot see what is behind them. Note that this is a visual inspection of the property.
  6. The roof may not be thoroughly inspected. Weather-permitting, and roof-permitting, some inspectors will get up on the roof to check it out. Not all inspectors do, though, and some roofs are not able to be accessed or walked on. Find out how your inspector checks most roofs, and what is done in case it is covered in snow or ice. Discuss potential options with your inspector and agent.
  7. They may not be able tell you what is really bad vs OK. What they could possibly not be concerned with if they were purchasing the home may not be OK to you as the person purchasing the home. Each buyer and each house is different. Make sure to discuss with your agent the items that may need further evaluation. You also can call to ask the inspector further questions to clarify any issues or concerns you may have.
  8. They usually can’t tell you who they would recommend to fix things – or the actual cost. There is a very good reason for this. You really don’t want your inspector to get a financial benefit from recommending their contractor friend to make repairs. You need your inspector to be completely neutral and just identify issues in the home. You can call contractors (sometimes your agent may have some recommendations too,) to find out averages of repairs for certain items. That being said, an estimate without seeing the property or the damage is just that. A contractor doesn’t know what they may find when they go to make a repair. Again, remember, a home inspection is a visual inspection, so once things go more in depth, more issues could potentially be found.

If you are considering buying a home in Timonium, Towson, or the Greater Baltimore area, please contact me. I would be pleased to help!