How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
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Does a home inspector go in the attic?
Monday, April 13, 2020
Entering an attic is a standard part of any home inspection, except when doing so may be potentially hazardous to the inspector. The Standards of Practice for Florida-licensed inspectors, along with both national home inspector associations, agree on that point.The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) Standards of Practice state that “the inspector is not required to enter any attic or any unfinished spaces that are not readily accessible, or where entry could cause damage or, in the inspector’s opinion, pose a safety hazard.”
The Standards of Practice of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) do not directly address attics, but do note that the inspector is not required to enter "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."
But the Florida DBPR Standards of Practice are more specific:
(3) The inspector is not required to enter or traverse any under-floor crawl space or attic, if in the opinion of the inspector:
(a) An unsafe or unsanitary condition exists;
(b) Enter areas in which inadequate clearance exists to allow the inspector safe entry or traversing;
(c) The potential exists to cause damage to insulation, ductwork, other components or stored items.
Like most inspectors, we try to examine as much of an attic as is safely possible, but there are a number of limiting factors:
An extremely small attic hatch opening, or an opening in a closet or other location that is obstructed by shelving and stored items, or does not have enough headroom above the hatch opening to safely enter and exit is often a problem in older homes. We end up poking our head in the attic or, sometimes, not even that.
Florida ttics are extremely hot during the summer months, which limits the amount of time an inspector can spend inside. Attic temperatures of 130º F or more are typical on a July afternoon.
If there are loose electrical wires, mold infestation from roof leakage, or extensive rat fecal matter, we may also choose not to enter.
Large air conditioning ducts limit access to some parts of an attic. Occasionally, a duct running directly over an attic hatch even makes attic entry difficult.
Attics in homes with a low roof pitch do not have sufficient height for an inspector to move around. While it might be possible for a slim 20-year-old to wiggle between truss cords and ducts in a low attic, most home inspectors are neither young or trim.
Binoculars, a bright flashlight, and a camera with a long lens can help when access to an attic is limited, and each inspector has personal limits as to what is considered safe and acceptable for entry.
Also, see our blog post What makes a house fail the home inspection?
Click on any of the links below to read other articles about what is required to be included, or not, in a home inspection:
AFCI •• Air conditioner •• Ants •• Appliance recalls •• Appliance testing •• Attic •• Awnings •• Barns and ag blgs. •• Bathroom exhaust fan •• Bonding •• Carpet •• Ceiling fans •• Central vacuum •• Chimneys •• Chinese drywall •• Clothes dryer •• Dryer exhaust •• CO alarms •• Code violations •• Condemn a house •• Crawl space •• Detached carport •• Detached garage •• Dishwasher •• Docks •• Doors •• Electrical •• Electrical panel •• Electromagnetic radiation •• Fences •• Fireplaces Furnace •• Garage door opener •• Garbage disposal •• Generator •• GFCIs •• Gutters •• Ice maker •• Inspect in the rain •• Insulation •• Insurance •• Interior Finishes •• Grading & drainage •• Lead paint •• Level of thoroughness •• Lift carpet •• Low voltage wiring •• Microwave •• Mold •• Move things •• Help negotiate •• Not allowed •• Outbuildings •• Paint •• Permits •• Pilot lights •• Plumbing •• Plumbing under slab •• Pools •• Questions won't answer •• Radon •• Range/cooktop •• Receptacle outlet •• Refrigerator •• Reinspection •• Remove panel cover •• Repairs •• Repair estimates •• Retaining walls •• Roaches •• Rodents •• Roof •• Screens •• Seawalls •• Septic loading dye test •• Septic tank •• Sewer lines •• Shower pan leak test •• Shutters •• Sinkholes •• Smoke alarms •• Solar panels •• Specify repairs •• Sprinklers •• Termites •• Toilets •• Trees •• Troubleshooting •• Wall air conditioners •• Walk roof •• Washing machine •• Water heater •• Water pressure •• Water shut-offs •• Main water shut-off •• Water softener •• Water treatment systems •• Well •• Windows •• Window air conditioners •• Window blinds •• Wiring
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
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