When is a Florida home inspector “appropriately qualified” to render an opinion, make a recommendation, or predict failure of any building component? Unfortunately, most real estate agents and home inspectors alike have no clue even though it is clearly defined by the Florida statute (FAC 61-30).

Home Inspectors Over-Stepping Their Qualifications

Many home inspectors violate the statute daily when they perform services or make predictive statements without being “appropriately qualified”. Here are some examples of this:

  • The home inspector uses a moisture meter without specific training.
  • The home inspector predicts future failure of a component without specific trade knowledge or evidence of failure, i.e., “the copper piping is 30 years old and copper piping is known to have internal corrosion issues and therefore it should be replaced”.
  • The home inspector estimates the age of any building component, i.e., “I estimate the roof covering to be 8 years old and I predict it has 15 years of useful life remaining”. There is simply no way an inspector can support that.

The Florida Standards of Practice for a Home Inspection are outlined in FAC 61.30.801-.811. This is the law which defines:

  • What is covered in a home inspection.
  • What the home inspector is required to inspect and to report on.

Differentiating Between What Home Inspectors Can and Cannot Do

A home inspector is granted a license to conduct fee-paid home inspections based on minimum qualifications. The law states if a home inspector exceeds these standards, they must be “appropriately qualified” to do so. What this means is, if a home inspector exceeds the Standards of Practice, they must hold additional qualifications to do so. Additional qualifications would mean the home inspector must have documented and verifiable training or additional licensure in a higher trade such as holding licensure as a General Contractor, Plumber, etc. A home inspector is considered qualified to report on obvious, visible defects but they are not qualified to render an opinion on repairs. Here are some examples:

  • The home inspector may report visible stucco cracks, but the inspector cannot opine on the severity.
  • The home inspector may report visible evidence of piping leakage, but they cannot determine if the piping should be replaced.
  • The home inspector may report the damage to roof coverings, but they cannot estimate the age or useful life remaining.
  • A home inspector may report structural cracking in a foundation or visible damage to floor joists, but they cannot provide a structural opinion of the dwelling.
  • A home inspector may report on the type of electrical wiring or the absence of GFCI outlets, but they cannot render a building code opinion regarding the safety of the material or any code requirement for upgrades.

In short, a home inspector is a “generalist” who, by state licensure, is qualified to report on visual defects and to recommend further evaluation by qualified trades when defects are found. By state law, a home inspector conducts a visual, non-technical, non-invasive inspection of installed components that are visible. A home inspector is not qualified to conduct technical evaluations which may require trade licensure.

Given the restraints on what a minimally qualified home inspector can provide, what is the value in hiring a home inspector?

A home inspector should have enough experience to identify potential concerns that may alert you to unknown obsolescence or defective components. Many home buyers are not knowledgeable of home repair and maintenance costs and discovering defective roofs, HVAC systems, and plumbing systems after closing can be a shock.

In fact, most home inspections return a value far greater than the cost of the inspection. It is not unusual for a potential home buyer to find out the home may need thousands of dollars in repairs or that it may not qualify for homeowner’s insurance coverage.

If you could invest $400 – $500 on average to save $10,000 or $20,000, most people would agree that is a good investment. Sometimes, the home inspector may prevent you from making the single biggest investment mistake of your life.

What if I want more from my home inspector? What qualifications should I look for?

While many home inspectors only have a basic home inspector license, some have additional licensure and certifications which can save you time and money if additional evaluations are warranted. Your real estate agent may not make the best referral for your due diligence protection. In fact, agents rarely do. Agents often choose their home inspection referrals on popularity and association rather than qualifications.

I have met few real estate agents who have even read the state Standards of Practice for a home inspection, yet a home inspection is part of over 86% of all residential real estate transactions. If you don’t believe me, ask your agent what is included in the Florida Standards of Practice for a home inspection or ask them what qualifications and experience their referrals have. If you are not satisfied with the answer, you may want to search for your own home inspector.

You should seek out the most qualified home inspector you can find

Look for a home inspector who has licensure beyond that of just home inspection. Important qualifications may include:

  • Certified General Contractor or Building Contractor: They can identify and recommend repairs.
  • Licensed Mold Assessor: They will be able to evaluate mold and moisture concerns.
  • Licensed Pest Control Operator: They can identify pest, rodent, and termite concerns.
  • Level II EIFS/Stucco Inspector: They can identify concerns with EIFS and stucco wall systems.

Hiring a qualified home inspector will save valuable time and money and give you the best possible inspection. You will pay a little more initially for a well-qualified inspector but generally, you will save the expense of having to hire 3rd-party inspectors when the basic home inspector “recommends you seek further evaluation” or worse, provides you with unqualified opinions.

How Property360 Can Help

Property360 is a multi-disciplined property inspection firm offering residential and commercial building inspections across Florida. We are licensed and insured to conduct mold/indoor air quality investigations, EIFS/Stucco inspections, insurance inspections, and HR7020 balcony inspections. We are one of the oldest and most qualified inspection firms having conducted thousands of inspections since 1986. Contact us at (904) 503-9808 to schedule your inspection, or visit us online to request your inspection today!

360PestControl is a full-service pest and termite service company with offices across Florida. Visit www.360pestpro.com.

You don't have to choose the most qualified inspector, but it does help!