“Visual”, “non invasive” and “not technically exhaustive” are terms used to describe our inspections. They can be found in various forms or versions in our contract wording or standards of practice. As you use more and more testing and sensing equipment, the less visual your inspections become.
The inspections done here are visual building and home inspections for pre-listing and pre-purchase requirements. They are not technically exhaustive and rely on very few indirect sensing devices.
We use our knowledge of building construction technology and systems in buildings* to guide us to look for evidence and then interpret that information to assess risks or weak areas in the building. (*And the history and chronology of the technologies and those systems.)
Very few inspectors here carry anything more than a GFCI plug in tester. Some have moisture meters and fewer have infrared cameras. (Cameras, lights, tools to open panels, and ladders are commonly used.)
If we find problems, or indications of problems we say so and recommend the qualified specialists and appropriate tradesmen be brought in to investigate further. Our recommendation gives the client the right to have that specialists’ evaluation (if the agents have written the offer terms correctly).
Our inspections provide our clients the due diligence the courts require to conserve their right to seek redress via the courts should the need arise.
Unless an inspector has been negligent and missed a major defect (This has to be proven legally.), anything discovered or that manifests later is a ‘hidden defect’. It is hidden in that a qualified inspector was not able to detect it during a 2 to 3 hour visual inspection of the property.
That a buyer might not see something is to be expected. An inspector is valued as a professional in the field and is held to a high standard of knowledge and perspicacity. But he is not as specialist.
Inspectors are not expected to find absolutely everything. We cannot! Clients who expect this have been miss-informed. The vision of an inspector as Mr Gadget is a miss-conception that industry insiders treat as the cartoonish image that it is.
Invasive testing is best left to engineers and the ‘Mike Holmes’ contractors who are prepared to take it all apart and then rebuild it. That’s not inspection it’s renovation and is not part of the process of buy or selling property.
Hidden defects, when present are just that, i.e. hidden. They are behind walls, floors or ceilings. They can’t be seen. Inspectors look for indicators, evidence or clues to underlying conditions.
When there are none no conclusions can be drawn.
Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post