January, 2007
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Focus on Standards

JOHN CRANOR

The ASHI Standards of Practice Committee is charged with developing and maintaining the ASHI Standards of Practice, and answering Requests for Interpretation (RFI) of it.

The two RFIs presented this month are from early last year. The first deals with what is required on a report when the system or component does not exist.  The second deals with what is meant by the phrase “accepted residential construction standards” as used in the definition of “Unsafe.”

Each month in Focus on Standards, we present one or more RFIs and the responses developed by the committee. The membership is encouraged to submit RFIs to the committee if serious questions about the Standards of Practice should arise. Click here to download a PDF of the necessary form.

—John Cranor, Chair, 2006 ASHI Standards of Practice Committee

Request for interpretation

S060221
– If a system or component designated for inspection in the ASHI Standards of Practice (SOP) does not exist in the inspected home, is an ASHI inspector required to report that the system or component does not exist and was not inspected?

Answer

No. ASHI SOP requires reporting about systems and components only if they are designated for inspection in the SOP and if they are present at the time of the home inspection. Listing every possible system or component that could exist in a home would be impractical, and doing so would provide no useful information to the client. ASHI Standards of Practice 2.2.B.4 states: “The inspector shall report on any systems or components designated for inspection in these Standards of Practice, that were present at the time of the home inspection, but were not inspected and a reason they were not inspected.”

While not specifically required by the ASHI SOP, inspectors using a pre-printed checklist-style reporting system should take care to follow the protocols established by the author of the system. This includes completing sections or boxes labeled N/A (Not Applicable) or N/P (Not Present) if such sections or boxes exist in the reporting system and if the system or component does not exist in the inspected home.

This interpretation is not intended to relieve inspectors of their responsibility to report the absence of readily accessible systems and components of homes listed in the SOP if the absence of such systems or components
creates a significantly deficient condition.

Request for interpretation

S060307 – The ASHI Standards of Practice (SOP) defines unsafe as: “A condition in a readily accessible, installed system or component which is judged to be a significant risk of personal injury during normal, day-to-day use. The risk may be due to damage, deterioration, improper installation or a change in accepted residential construction standards.” What is the meaning of accepted residential construction standards as used in this ASHI SOP definition?

Answer

The phrase “a change in accepted residential construction standards” is intended to make clear that inspectors should report significant safety risk even if the condition may have been considered acceptable at some point in the past. Past acceptance may have been based on local building codes adopted at the time, by generally accepted local practice or for some other reason.

It is not necessary to cite either past or current building code provisions when reporting a condition currently identified as a safety risk.  For example, a stairway without a handrail is identified as a safety risk by current and generally accepted inspection standards. Inspectors should report the condition as a safety risk regardless of whether the condition was considered acceptable at some point in the past.