IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HOME INSPECTOR & BUILDING INSPECTOR?
Many job titles sound similar, but in reality, are not the same. This is the case with building inspectors and home inspectors. They each are unique in their responsibilities.
While many people use the terms interchangeably, they are two very different professions. Some of the confusion comes from the fact that, well, they look at the same thing… a building.
But just because they look at the same thing, doesn’t mean they have the same job – as they are looking at a building for two very different reasons.
BUILDING INSPECTOR VS A HOME INSPECTOR
What is the difference between the two of them? Let’s discuss each one individually to put the pieces together a bit, and then we can clearly see the difference.
What is a “Building Inspector”
Most of the time, the term “building inspector” refers to a local code enforcer (the opposite of a home inspector). Building inspectors can be a generalist and be certified in one or more disciplines – or they may specialize in one area such as electrical, plumbing, or mechanical. They can inspect homes, commercial buildings, and other structures during and after construction. They may also inspect infrastructures such as bridges, highways, and sewer systems.
For your home, their tasks may include checking the structural quality, architectural requirements, and general safety of the building. They can also check for environmental issues such as asbestos, mold, and water contamination. If there are code violations, fines may be given until the issue is fixed. Some examples of code violations could be: improperly configured electrical panels, improper bathroom venting, or a kitchen remodel done without a permit. If a building is in very poor condition, the inspector may condemn the property as unlivable.
For new construction or renovation, after applying to your local municipality for permits, a building inspector would visit your home and make sure everything is up to code. Or a building inspector may be called to your home to investigate some code violation, perhaps called in by a neighbor.
What is a “Home Inspector”
A “Home Inspector” is generally referring to a real estate inspector. in other words, someone who inspects your home during or before a real estate transaction. Home inspectors review a property’s condition and provide a report on issues, safety concerns, or repairs needed. They check the physical structure and major internal systems, including:
- Attic and roof
- Walls, floors, and ceilings
Evidence of water or fire damage, insect infestation, or others issues that can affect the value of the property will be noted.
When a Home Inspection Is Necessary
This is the most common time to hire a home inspector. A buyer will hire an inspector to thoroughly inspect their potential future property so they can know what they can expect. Oftentimes, there are contingencies built into a sale agreement that allows a buyer to back out or negotiate the sale if the results of an inspection do not meet their expectation. Usually, a buyer has between five and ten days to order an inspection, after an offer is accepted on the home. In an inspection report, the home inspector will list any issues found with the property. Photos, comments, and sometimes videos may be included in the report. The buyer can then decide to buy the home as-is or request repairs to be made by the seller. Depending on the sales agreement, a seller may or may not be obligated to make repairs.
Before sellers put their homes on the market, they often like to know what potential issues might arise or whether repairs need to be made. Then they can choose whether to make those repairs before listing or disclose them in the agreement.
Home Maintenance Inspection:
Every homeowner should have a maintenance inspection done on their home every year or at least every few years (3-5) to help prioritize home improvement and catch any potential issues.
How To Find a Good Home Inspector
It is very important to find a qualified and skilled home inspector. There is no universal standard or certification requirement, and only certain states require inspectors to be licensed.
A great source is InterNACHI – International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. You can search for certified home inspectors. It’s also helpful to check with family and friends for recommendations on inspectors they have used and been happy with.
When you find an inspector you think you’d like to use, ask them for a sample inspection report. This will give you an idea of their communication style and thoroughness. Be sure to ask them for work experience and a breakdown of the services and prices.
Building Inspectors vs. Home Inspectors
After considering the above, it is clear that these two inspectors are very different. Building inspectors are hired by their local government and enforce codes and regulations and are able to sign off on building plans.
Home inspectors report issues and defects of a property. They are not able to enforce codes. Their goal is to give an accurate assessment of the condition of the property and provide a report for the homeowner or potential buyer. With the final report, the client then will decide what to do with the results.