December, 2012
Standards of Practice
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

What are Requests for Interpretation (RFIs)?


From time to time, ASHI members wonder how to apply the Standards of Practice or the Code of Ethics to specific real-life situations.

One of the benefits of membership is the interpretation service available from the ASHI Standards of Practice and the Code of Ethics Committees.

Each committee is charged with developing and maintaining either the Standards or the Code, and with answering Requests for Interpretation (RFI) when an issue may seem unclear or undefined by either document.
Past interpretations are available on the Members-Only website under Resources because they are a resource for members who are committed to conducting business in accordance with the Standards and the Code.

Members who do not find answers to their questions on the website are invited to file a Request For Interpretation (RFI) to the appropriate committee.

The form is available on the Interpretations of the ASHI Standard of Practice and Code of Ethics page.

Filing a RFI

The committees understand members desire a quick response, but please be advised because the SoP and CoE are vital to ASHI, interpretations must be performed with extreme care.

Responses to requests for interpretation are not intended to supersede the Code. A response to an RFI is not necessarily a determination that an action in question is ethical or unethical or in agreement or conflict with the Standards, only that it does, or does not, violate one or more principles of the Code or the Standards.

Bruce Barker, Standards of Practice Committee chair, and Jamison Brown, Code of Ethics Committee chair, will be returning to these positions for 2013.

If you have questions, please contact Sandy Bourseau,

Below are three RFIs from the archives.

From the Archive: Three RFIs

RFI e111018

Question: I would like to sponsor a table ($300) at a breakfast awards program at a real estate office. There will be sponsors other than home inspectors who will have tables. Does this table violate CoE 1C? Does buying a table at a breakfast awards program for a real estate office differ from buying a table at a home show or street fair?

Repsonse: This is not a violation of our CoE if our member's purchase of the $300 table is not exclusive.
Is the program open to all home inspectors in the service area? If other inspectors have the opportunity, but choose not to participate, that is their marketing decision; however, if our member has been assured an exclusive, and if this exclusive right-to-market also comes with an assurance that his position on any in-house referral list will be placed above other qualified inspectors, then it is a violation of CoE 1C.

RFI s120913

Question: If when I'm doing a buyer inspection I find the attic hatch is sealed or screwed shut and I write that's why I didn't enter the attic, is that okay?

Repsonse: ASHI Standards of Practice (SoP) clause 2.2.C.4 requires the inspector to report systems and components designated for inspection that were present, not inspected, and the reason(s) why they were not inspected.
Stating that the attic was not inspected because the hatch was sealed shut complies with the SoP. The nature or type of client is not relevant. Clause 2.2.C.4 applies to all home inspections.

While not required by the SoP, best-reporting practices include recommending that the client have the system or component inspected and informing the client that there are risks in not having the system or component inspected. These best-reporting practices may reduce complications for the client and the inspector.

RFI s120730

Question: If I write, say for example, gutters are damaged, do I have to give a written explanation on how to fix them?

Inspectors are not required to design or specify the methods of repairing a deficiency identified during an inspection. ASHI Standards of Practice (SoP) general exclusion 13.2.A.5 states inspectors are not required to determine correction methods. SoP clause 2.3.B allows (but does not require) inspectors to design or specify repairs if the inspector is qualified and willing to do so. Related clauses include 3.2.A, 13.1.A, 13.2.B.2, and 13.2.B.3. These clauses also do not require a home inspection written report to include any form of design services such as architectural, engineering, and other trades and professions.