Home Inspectors
Certified Home Inspectors
Please Review "CREIA Standards of Practice"
to better understand a Professional Inspection

 

CREIA

The California Real Estate Inspection Association

 

Standards of Practice

 

Originally Adopted September 13, 1983

Revisions herein effective April 15, 1999

Table of Contents

*Note: Italicized words in this document are defined in the Glossary of Terms

 

I. Definitions and Scope

II. Standards of Practice

Mandatory Sections:

1. Foundations, Basements, and Under-floor Areas

2. Exteriors

3. Roof Coverings

4. Attic Areas and Roof Framing

5. Plumbing

6. Electrical Systems

7. Heating Systems

8. Central Cooling Systems

9. Fireplaces and Chimneys

10. Building Interior

 

Optional Sections:

 

11. Other Built-in Appliances and Systems

12. Pools and Spas

III. Limitations, Exceptions and Exclusions

IV. Glossary of Terms

 

 

I. Definitions and Scope
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A Real Estate inspection is a non-invasive physical examination, performed for a fee, designed to identify material defects in the systems, structures, and components of a building as they exist at the time of the inspection. The specific systems, structures and components of a building to be examined are listed in these Standards of Practice.

B. A material defect is a condition that significantly affects the value, desirability, habitability, or safety of the building. Style or aesthetics shall not be considered in determining whether a specific system, structure, or component is defective.

C. These Standards provide inspection guidelines, make public the services provided by private fee-paid inspectors, and define certain terms relating to these inspections.

D. Sections 1 through 10 of these Standards are a mandatory part of all such inspections. Sections 11 through 12 are optional.

E. Unless otherwise agreed between the inspector and client, these Standards shall apply to the primary building and its associated primary parking structure. The inspection shall be limited to those specific systems, structures and components that are present and visually accessible. Components and systems shall be operated with normal user controls only and as conditions permit. Inspections performed in accordance with these Standards are not intended to be technically exhaustive.

F. Inspection reports shall describe and identify in written format the inspected systems, structures, and components of the building and shall identify material defects.

G. Inspection reports may contain recommendations regarding conditions reported or recommendations for further evaluation by appropriate persons.

 

 

II. Standards of Practice

SECTION 1 - Foundations, Basements, and Under-floor Areas
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A. Items to be identified and reported:

1. Foundation and other support components.

2. Under-floor ventilation.

3. Location of under-floor access opening(s).

4. Wood separation from soil.

5. Presence of drainage systems or sump pumps within foundation footprint.

6. Presence or absence of seismic anchoring and bracing components.

B. The inspector is not required to:

1. Enter under-floor areas that are not accessible or where entry could cause damage or pose a hazard to the inspector.

2. Move stored items, vegetation or debris, or perform any excavations or other intrusive testing to gain access.

3. Operate or evaluate adequacy of sump pumps or drainage systems.

4. Identify size, spacing, location or adequacy of foundation bolting and bracing components or reinforcement systems.

5. Perform any intrusive examination or testing, or use any special equipment such as, but not limited to, levels, probes or meters.

 

 

SECTION 2 - Exteriors
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A. Items to be identified and reported:

1. Surface grade, hardscaping and drainage within six feet of the inspected building or associated primary parking structure.

2. Wall cladding, veneers, flashing, trim, eaves, soffits and fascias.

3. Exterior portions of a representative sampling of doors and windows.

4. Attached decks, porches, balconies, stairs, columns, walkways, guard-rails and handrails.

B. The inspector is not required to:

1. Operate or evaluate any mechanical, electro-mechanical, or underground drainage systems.

2. Operate or evaluate storm windows, storm doors, screening, shutters or awnings.

3. Operate or evaluate remote-control devices.

4. Examine detached buildings and structures (other than the primary parking structure), patio enclosures, fences, and retaining walls.

5. Examine items not visible from a readily accessible walking surface.

 

 

SECTION 3 - Roof Coverings
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A. Items to be identified and reported:

1. Roof coverings.

2. Flashing, vents, skylights and other penetrations.

3. Roof drainage systems.

B. The inspector is not required to:

1. Walk on the roof surface if, in the opinion of the inspector, there is a possibility of damage to the surface or a hazard to the inspector.

2. Perform a water test, warrant or certify against roof leakage or predict life expectancy.

 

 

SECTION 4 - Attic Areas and Roof Framing
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A. Items to be identified and reported:

1. Framing and sheathing.

2. Access opening(s) and accessibility.

3. Insulation material(s).

4. Ventilation.

B. The inspector is not required to:

1. Enter attic areas that, in the opinion of the inspector, are not accessible or where   entry could cause damage.

2. Remove insulation materials or identify composition or "R" value of insulation material.

3. Activate thermostatically operated fans.

 

 

SECTION 5 - Plumbing
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A. Items to be identified and reported:

1. Supply, waste, and vent piping.

2. Fixtures, faucets and drains.

3. Water heating equipment, including combustion air, venting, connections, energy sources, seismic bracing, and temperature-pressure relief valves.

4. Functional flow of water supply and functional drainage at fixtures.

5. Gas piping and connectors.

6. Cross-connections.

B. The inspector is not required to:

1. Operate any valve other than fixture faucets and hose faucets attached to the building.

2. Operate any system, fixture or component which is shut down or disconnected.

3. Examine or verify operation of water supply or pressure assistance systems, including, but not limited to: wells, pumps, tanks, and related equipment.

4. Verify functional flow or pressure at any fixture or faucet where the flow end is capped or connected to an appliance, or measure pressure, volume or temperature.

5. Examine or operate any sewage disposal system or component including, but not limited to: septic tanks and/or any underground system or portion thereof, or ejector pumps for rain or waste.

6. Examine the overflow device of any fixture.

7. Evaluate the potability of water, compliance with local or state conservation or energy standards, or proper design or sizing of any water, waste, and venting components, fixtures, or piping.

8. Identify whether water supply and waste disposal systems are public or private.

9. Evaluate time to obtain hot water at fixtures, or perform testing of any kind to water heater elements.

10. Examine ancillary systems or components such as, but not limited to: those relating to solar water heating, hot water circulation, yard sprinklers, water conditioning, swimming pools or spas and related equipment, and fire sprinklers.

11. Test shower pans for leakage or fill any fixture with water during examination.

12. Evaluate the gas supply system for leaks or pressure.

13. Determine effectiveness of anti-siphon, back-flow prevention, or drain-stop devices.

14. Determine whether there are sufficient clean-outs for effective clearing of drains.

15. Evaluate gas, liquid propane, or oil storage tanks.

 

 

SECTION 6 - Electrical Systems
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A. Items to be identified and reported:

1. Service conductors, equipment, and capacity.

2. Panels and overcurrent protection devices.

3. Service and equipment grounding.

4. Wiring types and methods.

5. A representative sampling of switches, receptacles, and light fixtures.

6. Ground-fault circuit-interrupters.

B. The inspector is not required to:

1. Operate electrical systems or components which are disconnected or shut down.

2. Disconnect any energized system or appliance.

3. Remove deadfront covers where not accessible, or if removal could cause injury or damage to persons or property, or remove device cover plates.

4. Operate overcurrent protection devices, or evaluate compatibility of overcurrent protection devices with the panelboard manufacturer.

5. Examine or test smoke detectors.

6. Operate ground-fault circuit-interrupter devices by other than the manufacturer’s test button.

7. Examine de-icing equipment, or private or emergency electrical supply sources, including but not limited to: generators, windmills, photovoltaic solar collectors, or battery or electrical storage facilities.

 

 

SECTION 7 - Heating Systems
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A. Items to be identified and reported:

1. Heating equipment and operation using normal user controls.

2. Venting systems.

3. Combustion and ventilating air.

4. Energy source and connections.

5. Heating distribution system(s) including a representative sampling of ducting, duct insulation, outlets, radiators, piping systems and valves.

B. The inspector is not required to:

1. Examine or evaluate condition of heat exchangers.

2. Determine uniformity, temperature, airflow or balance of heat supply to any room or building, or examine for warming at any heating system distribution component when access would require steps or a ladder, or determine leakage in any ductwork.

3. Examine electric heater elements or heat pump fluid/gas materials, or examine below ground/slab systems, ducts, fuel tanks and related components.

4. Determine or examine thermostat calibration, heat anticipation, or automatic setbacks or clocks.

5. Examine radiant or geothermal heat pump systems.

6. Examine any solar-energy heating systems or components.

7. Examine electronic air filtering systems.

8. Operate heat pump systems when the ambient air temperature may damage the equipment, or operate any heat pump system in "emergency" heat mode.

9. Examine humidity control systems and components.

 

 

SECTION 8 - Central Cooling Systems
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A. Items to be identified and reported:

1. Cooling equipment and operation using normal user controls.

2. Cooling distribution system(s) including a representative sampling of ducting, duct insulation, outlets, piping systems and valves.

3. Energy source and connections.

4. Condensate drains.

B. The inspector is not required to:

1. Determine uniformity, temperature, airflow or balance of cool air supply to any room or building, or examine for cooling at any cooling system distribution component when access would require steps or a ladder, or determine leakage in any ductwork.

2. Examine electrical current, coolant fluids or gases, or coolant leakage.

3. Examine electronic filtering systems.

4. Determine or examine thermostat calibration, cooling anticipation, or automatic setbacks or clocks.

5. Examine any non-central cooling unit(s) or gas-fired, solar or geothermal cooling system or food, wine or similar storage cooling system.

6. Examine humidity control systems and components.

 

 

SECTION 9 - Fireplaces and Chimneys
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A. Items to be identified and reported:

1. Chimneys, flues, dampers and associated components.

2. Fireboxes, hearth extensions and permanently installed accessory components.

3. Manufactured solid-fuel or gas-burning appliances.

B. The inspector is not required to:

1. Determine adequacy of draft, perform a smoke test, or dismantle or remove any component.

2. Examine the structural integrity of fireplaces and chimneys.

3. Examine or operate ancillary or non-permanently installed components.

 

 

SECTION 10 - Building Interior
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A. Items to be identified and reported:

1. Walls, ceilings and floors.

2. Security bars, ventilation components, and a representative sampling of doors and windows.

3. Stairs, handrails, and guardrails.

4. Permanently installed cabinet and countertop surfaces.

5. Safety glazing in locations subject to human impact.

B The inspector is not required to:

1. Operate or evaluate security bar release and opening mechanisms, whether interior or exterior, including compliance with local, state, or federal standards.

2. Determine whether a building is secure from forcible or unauthorized entry.

3. Evaluate the condition of floor, wall or ceiling finishes or coverings, or other surfaces for other than evidence of moisture damage.

4. Examine window or door coverings or treatments.

5. Evaluate fastening of countertops, furniture or cabinets supported by floors, ceilings and/or walls.

6. Evaluate separation walls, ceilings, and floors, including, but not limited to, the fire- resistivity or acoustical characteristics, between dwelling units.

7. Examine the interior concrete slab-on-grade when concealed by any floor coverings.

8. Operate or evaluate safety features of any garage door opener unless included as an inspection option per Section 11.

 

 

SECTION 11 (OPTIONAL) - Other Built-In Appliances and Systems
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The inspector may examine any of the following at his/her discretion, as agreed with client:

 

Attic power vents, central vacuum, cook-tops and exhaust fans, dishwashers, food waste disposers, garage door openers, hydrotherapy tubs, ovens, microwave ovens, refrigerators, freezers, trash compactors, or whole-house fans.

A. Items to be identified and reported:

1. Optional systems, components and appliances specifically examined during the inspection.

2. Basic operation of optional systems, components and appliances specifically included in the inspection.

 

B. The inspector is not required to:

1. Activate any system or appliance that is shut down.

2. Operate or evaluate any system, component, or appliance that does not respond to normal user controls.

3. Operate any gas appliance that requires the use of a match or other remote burner lighting device.

4. Operate any system or appliance that requires the use of special codes, keys, combinations, or devices.

5. Operate any system, component, or appliance where damage may occur.

6. Determine thermostat(s) calibration, adequacy of heating elements, operate or evaluate self-cleaning oven cycles, signal lights, or automatic setbacks or clocks.

7. Determine leakage from microwave ovens.

8. Determine the presence or operation of backdraft damper devices in exhaust devices.

9. Examine any sauna, steam-jenny, kiln, clothes washing or drying machine, toaster, ice-maker, coffee-maker, can-opener, bread-warmer, blender, instant hot water dispenser, or any other similar small, ancillary or non-built-in appliances.

 

 

SECTION 12 (OPTIONAL) - Pools and Spas
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The inspector may examine the following at his/her discretion, as agreed with client:

 

A. Items to be identified and reported:

1. Location and type of pool or spa examined.

2. Conditions limiting or otherwise inhibiting inspection.

3. Enclosure and related gates.

4. Hardscaping and drainage related to the inspected pool or spa.

5. Condition of visible portions of systems, structures, or components.

6. Normally necessary and present equipment such as: lights, pumps, heaters, filters, and related mechanical and electrical connections.

 

B. The inspector is not required to:

1. Examine any above-ground, movable, freestanding or otherwise non-permanently installed pool or spa, or self-contained equipment.

2. Come into contact with pool or spa water to examine the system, structure, or components.

3. Determine adequacy of spa jet water force or bubble effect.

4. Determine structural integrity or leakage of any kind.

5. Evaluate thermostat(s) or their calibration, heating elements, chemical dispensers, water chemistry or conditioning devices, low voltage or computer controls, timers, sweeps or cleaners, pool or spa covers and related components.

6. Operate or evaluate filter backwash systems.

7. Examine accessories, such as, but not limited to: aerators or air-blowers, diving or jump boards, ladders, skimmers, slides or steps.

 

 

III. LIMITATIONS, EXCEPTIONS AND EXCLUSIONS
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*Note: All limitations, exceptions and exclusions apply equally to mandatory and optional Sections.

A. The inspector may exclude from the inspection any system, structure, or component of the building which is inaccessible, concealed from view, or cannot be inspected due to circumstances beyond the control of the inspector, or which the client has agreed is not to be inspected. If an inspector excludes any specific system, structure, or component of the building from the inspection, the inspector shall confirm in the report such specific system, structure, or component of the building not inspected and the reason(s) for such exclusion(s).

B. The inspector may limit the inspection to individual specific systems, structures, or components of the building. In such event, the inspector shall confirm in the report that the inspection has been limited to such individual specific systems, structures, and components of the building.

C. The following are excluded from the scope of a real estate inspection unless specifically agreed otherwise between the inspector and the client:

1. Systems, structures, or components not specifically identified in these Standards.

2. Environmental hazards or conditions, including, but not limited to, toxic, reactive, combustible, corrosive contaminants, wildfire, geologic or flood.

3. Examination of conditions related to animals, rodents, insects, wood-destroying insects, organisms, mold, and mildew.

4. Geotechnical, engineering, structural, architectural, geological, hydrological, land surveying or soils-related examinations.

5. Certain factors relating to any systems, structures, or components of the building, including, but not limited to: adequacy, efficiency, durability or remaining useful life, costs to repair, replace or operate, fair market value, marketability, quality, or advisability of purchase.

6. Systems, structures, or components, of the building which are not permanently installed.

7. Determination of compliance with installation guidelines, manufacturers’ specifications, building codes, ordinances, regulations, covenants, or other restrictions, including local interpretations thereof.

8. Common areas, or systems, structures, or components thereof, including, but not limited to, those of a common interest development as defined in California Civil Code Section 1351 et seq.

D. The inspector is not required to perform any of the following as part of a real estate inspection:

1. Move any personal items or other obstruction(s) such as, but not limited to: furniture, floor or wall coverings, window coverings, snow, ice, water, debris, and foliage which may obstruct visibility or access.

2. Determine causes for the need of repair or replacement, or specify repair or replacement procedures or materials.

3. Determine existence of latent deficiencies or defects.

4. Dismantle any system, structure, or component, or perform any intrusive or destructive examination, test or analysis.

5. Obtain or review information from any third-parties including, but not limited to: government agencies (such as permits), component or system manufacturers (including product defects, recalls or similar notices), contractors, managers, sellers, occupants, neighbors, consultants, homeowner or similar associations, attorneys, agents or brokers.

6. Activate or operate any system or component that is shut down or does not respond to normal user controls, nor access any area or operate any component or system which may jeopardize the safety of the inspector, or any other person or thing.

7. Research the history of a property, report on its potential for alteration, modification, extendibility, or its suitability for a specific or proposed use or occupancy.

8. Offer any form of guarantee or warranty.

9. Examine or evaluate the acoustical or other nuisance characteristics of any system, structure, or component of a building, complex, adjoining properties, or neighborhood.

10. Operate or evaluate any recreational system, structure or component.

11. Operate or evaluate low voltage electrical (less than single-phase line voltage, typically 120-volts), antennas, security systems, cable or satellite television, telephone, remote controls, radio controls, timers, intercoms, computers, photo-electric, motion sensing, or other such similar non-primary electrical power devices, components, or systems.

12. Use any special equipment to examine any system, structure, or component of a building.

13. Probe or exert pressure on any component, system or structure.

14. Examine or evaluate fire-resistive qualities of any system, structure or component of the building.

15. Examine every individual component of a system or structure, where such components are typically replicated, including, but not limited to: doors, windows, switches and receptacles. A representative sampling may be performed in order to examine such systems, structures, or components of a building.

16. Determine the age of construction or installation of any system, structure, or component of a building, or differentiate between original construction or subsequent additions, improvements, renovations or replacements thereto.

 

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IV - GLOSSARY of TERMS

*Note: All definitions apply to derivatives of these terms when italicized in the text.

Accessible: Can be approached or entered by the inspector safely without difficulty or damage to the system, structure, or component.

Appliance: See "Component."

Appropriate persons: An individual other than inspector herein, qualified by virtue of special knowledge, training or resources to further examine a system, structure, or component, as in the manner of a specialist.

Basic operation: The fundamental function of a component or appliance (e.g., the bake and broil elements of an oven), but not those ancillary to its use (e.g., an oven self-cleaning cycle or timer, thermostat or clock).

Building: The primary building subject of the inspection, designed and erected for the purpose of human occupancy or use (e.g. dwelling).

Built-in: See "Permanently installed."

Component: A permanently installed appliance, fixture, element, or part of a system.

Condition: The plainly visible and conspicuous state of being of a material object or thing.

Cross-connection: A connection between two otherwise separate systems, one of which is potable water and the other waste, sewage or other source of contamination.

Destructive: To demolish, damage, or probe any system, structure, or component, or to dismantle any system or component that would not be taken apart by an ordinary person in the course of normal maintenance.

Determine: To arrive at an opinion or conclusion pursuant to examination.

Disconnected: See "Shut down."

Dismantle: See "Destructive."

Functional Drainage: The emptying of a plumbing fixture in a reasonable amount of time, without overflow when another fixture is drained simultaneously.

Enter: See "Accessible."

Evaluate: To assess the systems, structures, or components of a building.

Evidence: Plainly visible and conspicuous material objects or other things presented to the senses that would tend to produce conviction in the mind of an ordinary person as to the existence or non-existence of a fact.

Examine: To visually look for and identify material defects in systems, structures, or components of a building through a non-invasive, physical inspection.

Fixture: See "Component."

Function: Performing its normal, proper and characteristic action.

Functional flow: A reasonable flow of water supply at the highest and farthest fixture from the building main when another fixture is operated simultaneously.

Further evaluation: A degree of examination beyond that of a typical and customary non-invasive physical examination.

Inspection: The act of performing a real estate inspection.

Inspector: One who performs a real estate inspection.

Intrusive: See "Destructive."

Malfunction: Failure to perform its normal, proper and characteristic action.

Material defect: (Refer to Section I, "Definitions and Scope" Paragraph B).

Normal user controls: Devices that would be operated by the ordinary occupants of a building, requiring no specialized skill or knowledge.

Operate: To cause systems or equipment to function with normal user controls.

Operational: Systems or components capable of being safely operated.

Permanently Installed: Fixed in place (e.g. screwed, bolted, or nailed), as distinct from components, systems, or appliances considered portable or freestanding.

Primary building: A building that an inspector has agreed to inspect, excluding all accessory buildings with the exception of the primary parking structure.

Primary parking structure: A building for the purpose of vehicle storage associated with the primary building.

Real Estate Inspection: (Refer to Section I, "Definitions and Scope" Paragraph A).

Report: The inspection report is a written document prepared for a fee and issued after a real estate inspection identifying and describing the inspected systems, structures, and components of the building and identifying material defects discovered therein.

Representative sampling: A small quantity of components of any system or structure enough like others in its class or kind to serve as an example of its class or kind.

Shut down: Turned off, inactive, not in-service, non-operational.

Special equipment: Any tools or devices other than those normally used by an inspector to perform a typical and customary non-invasive physical examination of the systems, structures, and components of a building, including, but not limited to: levels, probes, meters, video or audio devices and measuring devices.

Structure: An assemblage of various systems and components to function as a whole.

System: An assemblage of various components to function as a whole.

Technically exhaustive: A comprehensive and detailed examination beyond the scope of a real estate inspection which would include, but would not be limited to: specialized knowledge or training, special equipment, measurements, calculations, testing, research, or analysis.

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