A home inspection is a limited, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home, often in connection with the sale of that home. The first known home inspection company, Home Equity Loss Protection Services dba/H.E.L.P.S.(Glen Ellyn, IL), was originally founded by Christopher P. Nolan and Loyola Professor Mark Goodfriend. Years later, the company was officially incorporated in the early 1980s by Jane Garvey, surviving wife of Professor Mark Goodfriend in Glen Ellyn, IL following its purchase from Christopher P. Nolan, the founder of the home inspection business and entrepreneur. Mr. Nolan was inspired to create a comprehensive system of home inspections because as an investor of distressed real estate and then a nationally recognized real estate expert and speaker, he realized a need to have skilled professionals inspect key areas of the home prior to his purchases in order to mitigate the risk of his investments. Home inspections are usually conducted by a home inspector who has the training and certifications to perform such inspections. The inspector prepares and delivers to the client a written report of findings. The client then uses the knowledge gained to make informed decisions about their pending real estate purchase. The home inspector describes the condition of the home at the time of inspection but does not guarantee future condition, efficiency, or life expectancy of systems or components.
An inspector will check the roof, basement, heating system, water heater, air-conditioning system, structure, plumbing, electrical, and many other aspects of buildings looking for improper building practices, those items that require extensive repairs, items that are general maintenance issues, as well as some fire and safety issues. However, it should also be noted that a home inspection is not technically exhaustive and does not imply that every defect will be discovered. A general list of exclusions include but are not limited to: code or zoning violations, permit research, property measurements or surveys, boundaries, easements or right of way, conditions of title, proximity to environmental hazards, noise interference, soil or geological conditions, well water systems or water quality, underground sewer lines and/or waste disposal systems, buried piping, cisterns, underground water tanks and sprinkler systems to name a few. A complete list of standards and procedures for home inspections can be found at the NAHI, ASHI or InterNACHI websites.
A home inspector is sometimes confused with a real estate appraiser. A home inspector determines the condition of a structure, whereas an appraiser determines the value of a property. Although not all states or municipalities in the U.S. regulate home inspectors, there are some professional associations for home inspectors that provide education, training, and networking opportunities. A professional home inspection is an examination of the current condition of a house. It is not an inspection to verify compliance with appropriate codes.