Home inspections explained

What you need to know about
The home inspection process

What do St Louis home inspectors look at

What Is A Home Inspection?

People often ask what is a home inspection. To answer your question a home inspection is a visual non-invasive snapshot of the condition of the home at the time of the inspection. A home inspection should only be performed trained and qualified home inspector. The home inspection should clearly identify potential significant defects that may affect your buying decision. Additionally, the home inspection should identify areas in need of repairs, plus components that are reaching the end of their useful lifespan. The inspection of a typical home usually takes between 2 and 3 hours, depending upon the size and condition of the home.

The home inspection can be a useful negotiating tool. The job of the home inspector is to identify the condition of the residence. The role of the Realtor is to assist you with every other aspect of your home purchase. Always look to a professional real estate agent to advise you what you should and should not ask for that was cited in your home inspection.

Home Inspection Infographic building exterior interiors foundation and structural fireplaces and wood stoves plumbing system electrical system heating and cooling roofing system insulation and ventilation home-inspection-image-map

What do home inspectors look at

Home inspectors climb onto the roof, poke around the foundation and crawl space if there is one. They crawl into the attic space looking for roof and ceiling structure issues, ventilation issues, water condensation or penetration. The inspector looks at the mechanical, plumbing, and electrical system along with buildings interior components and finishes. Home inspectors also walk around the exterior of the property and look at a long list of this from the grading to the windows/doors and the exterior of the home. Pretty much looking at everything from the roots or foundation up. The inspector may also include general comments about cosmetic issues along with providing recommendations on all issues found and ips on maintaining the home.

How to find a home inspector?

After people understand what a home inspector is looking and they decide to hire a home inspector, The next question is how to choose a home inspector. Well, we always recommend you only hire an ASHI Certified Home Inspector professional. ASHI Certified Home Inspectors are trained and have experience in evaluating all the component features in a house, and to draw you a clear and accurate picture of the condition of these components. They also are currently the only home inspectors with third party credentials through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

The home inspector should want you to be present for the home inspection and should make himself available to you after the Inspection, to clarify or answer any questions you may have about the Inspection and Report. An Inspector can be an invaluable resource for you, long after you have moved in. A quality Home Inspection, performed by a professional, is designed to provide you with the information you need to make a more informed decision about your potential purchase.


home inspection roof line

ASHI LogoASHI has the highest educational standards in the home inspection industry. The ASHI Standard of Practice and Code of Ethics have been adopted by states as the standard by which their licenses are based. ASHI is the only home inspector association that is recognized as a certifying body by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCAA).
Building Exteriors Icon

Building Exterior


GROUNDS / SITE - The drainage, downspouts, drain/vents, water stop box/meter, window wells, retaining walls, walks, steps, stoops, driveways, fencing, and landscaping.
BUILDING EXTERIOR - The siding type, siding condition, gables, fascia, soffits, entry, bay/bow windows, decorative trim, painted finishes, electrical, water spigots, masonry, and brickwork.
EXTERIOR WINDOWS / DOORS - Entry doors (front, side, rear, basement), sliding doors, windows, screens, storm windows, and basement windows.
PORCHES / DECKS - Materials, method of construction, rails, trim, structure, steps, and flooring.

Home Inspection Standard of Practice - Exterior

4.1 The inspector shall:
     A. 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 fascia 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.
     B. describe wall coverings.
4.2 The inspector is NOT required to inspect:
     A. screening, shutters, awnings, and similar seasonal accessories.
     B. fences, boundary walls, and similar structures.
     C. geological and soil conditions.
     D. recreational facilities.
     E. outbuildings other than garages and carports.
     F. seawalls, break-walls, and docks.
     G. erosion control and earth stabilization measures.

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GENERAL INTERIOR FINISHES - Walls, ceilings, floors, interior stairs, steps, handrails, cabinetry, built-ins, and interior doors.
KITCHEN/BATHS/BARS - The Cabinetry, counter tops, sink, faucet, drains, appliances, outlets, switches, lighting, walls, ceilings, ventilation, and bars.
GARAGES - Fire walls and ceilings, doors, vehicle doors, and electric door operators.

Home Inspection Standard of Practice - Interiors

10.1 The inspector shall inspect:
     A. walls, ceilings, and floors.
     B. steps, stairways, and railings.
     C. countertops and a representative number of installed cabinets.
     D. a representative number of doors and windows.
     E. garage vehicle doors and garage vehicle door operators.
     F. installed ovens, ranges, surface cooking appliances, microwave ovens, dishwashing machines, and food waste grinders by using normal operating controls to activate the primary function.
10.2 The inspector is NOT required to inspect:
     A. paint, wallpaper, and other finish treatments.
     B. floor coverings.
     C. window treatments.
     D. coatings on and the hermetic seals between panes of window glass.
     E. central vacuum systems.
     F. recreational facilities.
     G. installed and free-standing kitchen and laundry appliances not listed in Section 10.1.F.
     H. 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.
     I. operate, or confirm the operation of every control and feature of an inspected appliance.

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Foundation and Structural Elements


FOUNDATIONS/CRAWL SPACES - Foundation walls, bearing structures, floor structure, sub-floor, basement floors, floor drains, sump pumps, stairs and rails, evidence of moisture, crawl space area, crawl space structure, and crawl space floor/ventilation.
ATTIC - Type of structure, roof/ceiling structure, roof decking, attic insulation, attic ventilation, moisture issues, whole house fans, wall insulation, electrical, HVAC ductwork, and chimney/flue piping.

Home Inspection Standard of Practice - Structural

3.1 The inspector shall:
     A. inspect structural components including the foundation and framing.
     B. 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.
3.2 The inspector is NOT required to:
     A. provide engineering or architectural services or analysis.
     B. offer an opinion about the adequacy of structural systems and components.
     C. 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.
     D. traverse attic load-bearing components that are concealed by insulation or by other materials.

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Fireplaces and Wood Stoves


FIREPLACES/WOOD BURNING STOVES - The construction materials, construction type, flue, damper, and gas logs.

Home Inspection Standard of Practice - Fireplaces and Fuel-Burning Appliances

12.1 The inspector shall:
     A. inspect:
         1. fuel-burning fireplaces, stoves, and fireplace inserts.
         2. fuel-burning accessories installed in fireplaces.
         3. chimneys and vent systems.
     B. describe systems and components listed in 12.1.A.1 and .2.
12.2 The inspector is NOT required to:
     A. 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.
     B. determine draft characteristics.
     C. move fireplace inserts and stoves or firebox contents.

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Plumbing Systems


PLUMBING SYSTEMS - The water main, main water shut-off, interior visible piping, supply/shut-off valves, water pressure, and drain/waste/vent piping.
HOT WATER - Document the manufacturer, age, capacity, power source, burners, controls, valves, TPR valve, overflow, flue, and expansion tank.
BATHROOMS - Document/Inspect the type, fixtures, faucets, drains, electrical, floor, walls, tubs, shower, and ventilation.
KITCHEN/BARS - The Cabinetry, counter tops, sink, faucet, all drains. All other components are inspected as part of the interior finishes.
LAUNDRY FACILITIES - Water supplies, drainage, electrical, dryer facilities, cabinetry, sinks, drains, and faucets.

Home Inspection Standard of Practice - Plumbing

6.1 The inspector shall:
     A. 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.
     B. 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.
6.2 The inspector is NOT required to:
     A. 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.
     B. determine:
         1. whether water supply and sewage disposal are public or private.
         2. water quality.
         3. the adequacy of combustion air components.
     C. measure water supply flow and pressure, and well water quantity.
     D. fill shower pans and fixtures to test for leaks.

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Electrical Systems


ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS - Service size, service entry cable, panel type, main shut-off, system ground, over current protection, electrical panels, visible circuitry, outlets, switch, lighting, fans, GFCI/AFCI protection, and smoke detectors.

Home Inspection Standard of Practice - Electrical

7.1 The inspector shall:
     A. 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 sub-panels.
         6. conductors.
         7. over current protection devices.
         8. a representative number of installed lighting fixtures, switches, and receptacles.
         9. ground fault circuit interrupters and arc fault circuit interrupters.
     B. 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.
7.2 The inspector is NOT required to:
     A. inspect:
         1. remote control devices.
         2. or test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, security systems, and other signaling and warning devices.
         3. low voltage wiring systems and components.
         4. ancillary wiring systems and components not a part of the primary electrical power distribution system.
         5. solar, geothermal, wind, and other renewable energy systems.
     B. measure amperage, voltage, and impedance.
     C. determine the age and type of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.

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Heating and Cooling


HEATING/COOLING SYSTEMS - Type of systems, fuel source, age, capacity, housing, heat exchanger/elements, compressors, refrigerant lines, blower/motor, flue, fuel lines and valves, distribution ducts/pipes, filters, electrical service, registers/radiators, and more.

Home Inspection Standard of Practice Heating

8.1 The inspector shall:
    A. open readily openable access panels.
    B. inspect:
         1. installed heating equipment.
         2. vent systems, flues, and chimneys.
         3. distribution systems.
    C. describe:
         1. energy source(s).
         2. heating systems.
8.2 The inspector is NOT required to:
    A. 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.

Home Inspection Standard of Practice - Air Conditioning

9.1 The inspector shall:
    A. open readily openable access panels.
    B. inspect:
         1. central and permanently installed cooling equipment.
         2. distribution systems.
    C. describe:
         1. energy source(s).
         2. cooling systems.
9.2 The inspector is NOT required to:
    A. inspect electric air cleaning and sanitizing devices.
    B. determine cooling supply adequacy and distribution balance.
    C. inspect cooling units that are not permanently installed or that are installed in windows.
    D. inspect cooling systems using ground-source, water-source, solar, and renewable energy technologies.

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ROOFING - The roofing materials, roof style, valleys, gutters, downspouts, flues, vent pipes, skylights, flashing, and chimneys.

Home Inspection Standard of Practice - Roofing

5.1 The inspector shall:
     A. inspect:
         1. roofing materials.
         2. roof drainage systems.
         3. flashing.
         4. skylights, chimneys, and roof penetrations.
     B. describe:
         1. roofing materials.
         2. methods used to inspect the roofing.
5.2 The inspector is NOT required to inspect:
     A. antennas.
     B. interiors of vent systems, flues, and chimneys that are not readily accessible.
     C. other installed accessories.

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Insulation and Ventilation


INSULATION - Attic, bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, whole house fans.
VENTILATION - Wall and attic insulation where visible.

Home Inspection Standard of Practice - Insulation and Ventilation

11.1 The inspector shall:
    A. 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.
    B. describe:
         1. insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces.
         2. absence of insulation in unfinished spaces at conditioned surfaces.
11.2 The inspector is NOT required to disturb insulation.

Plus additional items depending of the unique characteristic of the property. Along with storage and out building.















Typically, inspections only include those systems and components expressly and specifically identified in the inspection report. Home inspections are not invasive inspections and therefore all concealed components along with components that have restricted access and or concealed/inaccessible because of soil, walls, floors, carpets, ceilings, furnishing, storage or any other things, are excluded. Along with components that are not part of the Standard of Practice. Inspections do not include any destructive testing or dismantling. All components listed on this page may not be part of the home inspection for the specific property as every property is different and unique. The Standard of Practice listed is based upon the ASHI Standard of Practice