Why so many home inspection disclaimers?
Q: The home we're buying was inspected a few days ago. Everything in the home inspector's report was marked "Good," but on the plumbing page, there were three disclaimers that concerned us. The report said:
1.) Unable to check the water and gas shut-off valves.
2.) Unable to check the underground plumbing system or test for gas leaks at the property.
3.) We do not inspect laundry appliances.
Is it normal for a home inspector to exclude these portions of a property?
A: The items you've listed are typically disclaimed in most home inspection reports, because they involve components and conditions that are outside the scope of a home inspection. Here are the reasons why:
Gas shut-off valves are typically not tested because this would require home inspectors to relight the pilot light. Water shut-off valves below sinks and at water heaters are usually not tested because they sometimes begin to leak after being turned.
The most common exclusions in a home inspection are components that are not visible or accessible. That is why portions of the plumbing system that are underground are routinely disclaimed.
Laundry appliances are not tested because they are not built-in fixtures. In many cases, they are not even included in the sale of the home. Built-in fixtures such as stoves and dishwashers are routinely tested by home inspectors, but free-standing appliances such as washers, dryers and refrigerators are not.
The surprising aspect of your home inspection was that everything in the report was marked "Good." Experienced home inspectors generally agree there is no such thing as a home without defects. If your inspection report revealed no defects of any kind, the thoroughness of that inspection is doubtful. A second opinion by another inspector is recommended.
Q: The house we're buying seems to be in good condition, but our home inspector suspects that there may not have been a final inspection after it was built. Is this a deal killer? What should we do?
A: You should find out what conditions the home inspector observed that gave rise to that conclusion. Defects in construction, however, do not prove that a final inspection did not take place. It is possible that some faults were simply missed by the municipal inspector when the construction was completed. It is also possible that additional work was done after final approval.
You can check with the local building department to determine whether a final inspection did or did not take place. If it did not, you should ask the sellers to request a final inspection at this time and to make whatever corrections are ordered by the municipal inspector. If a final inspection did take place, you can request a re-inspection, based upon the home inspector's findings.
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