The Importance of Due Dilegence for a Happy Home Purchase

home inspection services and due diligence
Due diligence will make you happy when purchasing a home!

I get asked all the time, “should I get the well checked out, should I get the septic inspected, should I get a camera inspection of the sewer pipe out to the street, what about the water, radon test, water test, asbestos?” Yes, Yes, Yes and yes and yes!  For most people the home is one of the biggest investments you will have.  Due diligence is essential to ensure your investment is sound and healthy.  Steps can be taken now to fix any issues. The seller can be asked to fix any problems or take money off the selling price.  Extra testing beyond the home inspection will cost more money and take longer to complete.  If you have to spend $1000.00 in testing and inspections this is nothing compared with the value of your home, your health and the value of your peace of mind.  In most cases you can just roll these extra expenses into your loan.  Anyway you look at it if there is any doubt about a system in the home you are about to purchase by all means get it checked out by a professional.  The home inspector will most likely only offer radon, and water testing.  The other tests will have to be conducted by other parties.  If you are buying an older home they will likely need more inspections.  Work with your realtor and set a realistic closing date so you can get all the inspections and tests done.  One test that may take a long time to get done is the septic inspection.  Depending on the time of year it may be weeks before a septic company is available to pump out the septic and perform their camera inspection.  Also, well companies may take a while to come and test flow rates and the well system. For maximum long term return on your investment, your heath and piece of mind, if in doubt get it checked out!

Asphalt Shingle Roof Defects

Roof defects are often a surprise to home owners.  It is an area of the home that is seldom thought of or looked at unless there is a problem.  Roofs in Montana are put to the test with high wind, extreme cold, extreme heat, dryness, harsh sun hail and rain. It is the intense sun and dryness that really take its toll. UV damage and drying out of the tars that hold the asphalt shingle together are major factors in premature shingle failure. The following are examples that I have found of common defects.

Here is a shingle roof from 1977.  It is 40 years old.  This one is a no brainier and was no surprise to anyone that it is bad.  It probably needed replaced about 20 years ago.  The roof now leaks in several places and water is showing itself on the interior ceiling.  These pics give you an idea of what happens to a roof if not replaced when it should be. These shingles are simply worn out with missing shingle stones, missing shingles, cracking, and curling.

Extreme Roof Wear
Worn roof found during inspection
Roofing beyond its years

The next picture is one you don’t see to often.  In this picture the framing or sheathing is pushing up the shingles.  This roof was relatively new but this area will likely age quicker as the shingles are under stress along this line.

high rafter showing

The next picture may be hard to see but that is exactly why it catches owners off guard.  Excessive shingle stone loss and where on the edges of the shingle.  At this point the shingle will age rapidly as the fiberglass fibers and asphalt are being exposed to the elements.  The shingle is becoming thinner and more brittle.

Shingle stone loss

The following pictures show what happen when shinlges have been abraded.  In this case this roof is in a high snow area where the roofs are periodically shoveled off.  The impact of snow removal tools creates spots that where and degrade quickly.  This roof also suffers from excessive shingle stone loss.

Wear from tool impact and age
Wear from tool impact and age
shingle abrasion and wear from impacts

Missing shingle tabs are another defect that can go unnoticed esecially on a high roof that is hard to see from the ground.  This creats a direct path for water entry  into the home as the roof barrier has been disturbed. The following are pictures of  missing shingles.

broken shingle tab exposing the fasteners
missing shingles
missing shingles

The following picture is something we don’t see very often in Montana.  Algal growth on a roof can happen here when the right conditions exist.  In this case this was a north facing wall with a west facing roof slope butting up to it. It was also shaded from a west facing wall.  There were many tall trees around the house as well.  Moss or plant growth can damage siding and roofing by getting behind the protective layers and drawing moisture into these spaces.  The can also physically lift and push, breaking the shingles.

algal growth on a roof

Some roof defects are easier to see from the attic!  The roof may appear ok from above.  The following are a couple of examples of roofs with issues seen from underneath.  The fist example was a roof truss that had experienced continual wetting and had severe rot and mold as a result.  The flashing on the roof was not sufficient to keep the water out because of a poor design on the roof.  The second example is actually a metal roof where the screws were misplaced, causing water to leak into the attic around the screws.

Defect found during home inspection
Rotten Truss
misplaced screw with water leak

Having a roof inspection is a vital part of a home inspection.  It is also important for any home owner to conduct one periodically to ensure the roof integrity and make necessarily repairs and replacements.  In this way the longevity of the roof can be ensured. Call today for a home inspection


Residential Inspection Standards of Practice

International Standards of Practice for Performing a General Home Inspection

Last revised June 2013


Table of Contents

1. Definitions and Scope

2. Limitations, Exceptions & Exclusions
3. Standards of Practice

3.1.   Roof
3.2.   Exterior
3.3.   Basement, Foundation, Crawlspace & Structure
3.4.   Heating
3.5.   Cooling
3.6.   Plumbing
3.7.   Electrical
3.8.   Fireplace
3.9.   Attic, Insulation & Ventilation
3.10. Doors, Windows & Interior

4. Glossary of Terms


1. Definitions and Scope

1.1.  A general home inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of the accessible areas of a residential property (as delineated below), performed for a fee, which is designed to identify defects within specific systems and components defined by these Standards that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector.  The scope of work may be modified by the Client and Inspector prior to the inspection process.

  1. The general home inspection is based on the observations made on the date of the inspection, and not a prediction of future conditions.
  2. The general home inspection will not reveal every issue that exists or ever could exist, but only those material defects observed on the date of the inspection.

1.2.  A material defect is a specific issue with a system or component of a residential property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property, or that poses an unreasonable risk to people.  The fact that a system or component is near, at, or beyond the end of its normal, useful life is not, in itself, a material defect.

1.3.  A general home inspection report shall identify, in written format, defects within specific systems and components defined by these Standards that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector.  Inspection reports may include additional comments and recommendations.

2. Limitations, Exceptions & Exclusions

2.1. Limitations:

  1. An inspection is not technically exhaustive.
  2. An inspection will not identify concealed or latent defects.
  3. An inspection will not deal with aesthetic concerns or what could be deemed matters of taste, cosmetic defects, etc.
  4. An inspection will not determine the suitability of the property for any use.
  5. An inspection does not determine the market value of the property or its marketability.
  6. An inspection does not determine the insurability of the property.
  7. An inspection does not determine the advisability or inadvisability of the purchase of the inspected property.
  8. An inspection does not determine the life expectancy of the property or any components or systems therein.
  9. An inspection does not include items not permanently installed.
  10. This Standards of Practice applies to properties with four or fewer residential units and their attached garages and carports.

2.2. Exclusions:

I. The inspector is not required to determine:

  1. property boundary lines or encroachments.
  2. the condition of any component or system that is not readily accessible.
  3. the service life expectancy of any component or system.
  4. the size, capacity, BTU, performance or efficiency of any component or system.
  5. the cause or reason of any condition.
  6. the cause for the need of correction, repair or replacement of any system or component.
  7. future conditions.
  8. compliance with codes or regulations.
  9. the presence of evidence of rodents, birds, animals, insects, or other pests.
  10. the presence of mold, mildew or fungus.
  11. the presence of airborne hazards, including radon.
  12. the air quality.
  13. the existence of environmental hazards, including lead paint, asbestos or toxic drywall.
  14. the existence of electromagnetic fields.
  15. any hazardous waste conditions.
  16. any manufacturers’ recalls or conformance with manufacturer installation, or any information included for consumer protection purposes.
  17. acoustical properties.
  18. correction, replacement or repair cost estimates.
  19. estimates of the cost to operate any given system.

II. The inspector is not required to operate:

  1. any system that is shut down.
  2. any system that does not function properly.
  3. or evaluate low-voltage electrical systems, such as, but not limited to:

    1. phone lines;
    2. cable lines;
    3. satellite dishes;
    4. antennae;
    5. lights; or
    6. remote controls.

  4. any system that does not turn on with the use of normal operating controls.
  5. any shut-off valves or manual stop valves.
  6. any electrical disconnect or over-current protection devices.
  7. any alarm systems.
  8. moisture meters, gas detectors or similar equipment.

III. The inspector is not required to:

  1. move any personal items or other obstructions, such as, but not limited to:  throw rugs, carpeting, wall coverings, furniture, ceiling tiles, window coverings, equipment, plants, ice, debris, snow, water, dirt, pets, or anything else that might restrict the visual inspection.
  2. dismantle, open or uncover any system or component.
  3. enter or access any area that may, in the inspector’s opinion, be unsafe.
  4. enter crawlspaces or other areas that may be unsafe or not readily accessible.
  5. inspect underground items, such as, but not limited to: lawn-irrigation systems, or underground storage tanks (or indications of their presence), whether abandoned or actively used.
  6. do anything that may, in the inspector’s opinion, be unsafe or dangerous to him/herself or others, or damage property, such as, but not limited to:  walking on roof surfaces, climbing ladders, entering attic spaces, or negotiating with pets.
  7. inspect decorative items.
  8. inspect common elements or areas in multi-unit housing.
  9. inspect intercoms, speaker systems or security systems.
  10. offer guarantees or warranties.
  11. offer or perform any engineering services.
  12. offer or perform any trade or professional service other than general home inspection.
  13. research the history of the property, or report on its potential for alteration, modification, extendibility or suitability for a specific or proposed use for occupancy.
  14. determine the age of construction or installation of any system, structure or component of a building, or differentiate between original construction and subsequent additions, improvements, renovations or replacements.
  15. determine the insurability of a property.
  16. perform or offer Phase 1 or environmental audits.
  17. inspect any system or component that is not included in these Standards.

3. Standards of Practice

3.1. Roof

I. The inspector shall inspect from ground level or the eaves:

  1. the roof-covering materials;
  2. the gutters;
  3. the downspouts;
  4. the vents, flashing, skylights, chimney, and other roof penetrations; and
  5. the general structure of the roof from the readily accessible panels, doors or stairs.

II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. the type of roof-covering materials.
III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:
  1. observed indications of active roof leaks.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. walk on any roof surface.
  2. predict the service life expectancy.
  3. inspect underground downspout diverter drainage pipes.
  4. remove snow, ice, debris or other conditions that prohibit the observation of the roof surfaces.
  5. move insulation.
  6. inspect antennae, satellite dishes, lightning arresters, de-icing equipment, or similar attachments.
  7. walk on any roof areas that appear, in the inspector’s opinion, to be unsafe.
  8. walk on any roof areas if doing so might, in the inspector’s opinion, cause damage.
  9. perform a water test.
  10. warrant or certify the roof.
  11. confirm proper fastening or installation of any roof-covering material.
3.2. Exterior

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the exterior wall-covering materials, flashing and trim;
  2. all exterior doors;
  3. adjacent walkways and driveways;
  4. stairs, steps, stoops, stairways and ramps;
  5. porches, patios, decks, balconies and carports;
  6. railings, guards and handrails;
  7. the eaves, soffits and fascia;
  8. a representative number of windows; and
  9. vegetation, surface drainage, retaining walls and grading of the property, where they may adversely affect the structure due to moisture intrusion.
II. The inspector shall describe:
  1. the type of exterior wall-covering materials.
III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:
  1. any improper spacing between intermediate balusters, spindles and rails.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. inspect or operate screens, storm windows, shutters, awnings, fences, outbuildings, or exterior accent lighting.
  2. inspect items that are not visible or readily accessible from the ground, including window and door flashing.
  3. inspect or identify geological, geotechnical, hydrological or soil conditions.
  4. inspect recreational facilities or playground equipment.
  5. inspect seawalls, breakwalls or docks.
  6. inspect erosion-control or earth-stabilization measures.
  7. inspect for safety-type glass.
  8. inspect underground utilities.
  9. inspect underground items.
  10. inspect wells or springs.
  11. inspect solar, wind or geothermal systems.
  12. inspect swimming pools or spas.
  13. inspect wastewater treatment systems, septic systems or cesspools.
  14. inspect irrigation or sprinkler systems.
  15. inspect drainfields or dry wells.
  16. determine the integrity of multiple-pane window glazing or thermal window seals.
3.3. Basement, Foundation, Crawlspace & Structure

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the foundation;
  2. the basement;
  3. the crawlspace; and
  4. structural components.

II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. the type of foundation; and
  2. the location of the access to the under-floor space.

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. observed indications of wood in contact with or near soil;
  2. observed indications of active water penetration;
  3. observed indications of possible foundation movement, such as sheetrock cracks, brick cracks, out-of-square door frames, and unlevel floors; and
  4. any observed cutting, notching and boring of framing members that may, in the inspector’s opinion, present a structural or safety concern.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. enter any crawlspace that is not readily accessible, or where entry could cause damage or pose a hazard to him/herself.
  2. move stored items or debris.
  3. operate sump pumps with inaccessible floats.
  4. identify the size, spacing, span or location or determine the adequacy of foundation bolting, bracing, joists, joist spans or support systems.
  5. provide any engineering or architectural service.
  6. report on the adequacy of any structural system or component.
3.4. Heating

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the heating system, using normal operating controls.

II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. the location of the thermostat for the heating system;
  2. the energy source; and
  3. the heating method.

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. any heating system that did not operate; and
  2. if the heating system was deemed inaccessible.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. inspect or evaluate the interior of flues or chimneys, fire chambers, heat exchangers, combustion air systems, fresh-air intakes, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, electronic air filters, geothermal systems, or solar heating systems.
  2. inspect fuel tanks or underground or concealed fuel supply systems.
  3. determine the uniformity, temperature, flow, balance, distribution, size, capacity, BTU, or supply adequacy of the heating system.
  4. light or ignite pilot flames.
  5. activate heating, heat pump systems, or other heating systems when ambient temperatures or other circumstances are not conducive to safe operation or may damage the equipment.
  6. override electronic thermostats.
  7. evaluate fuel quality.
  8. verify thermostat calibration, heat anticipation, or automatic setbacks, timers, programs or clocks.
3.5. Cooling

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the cooling system, using normal operating controls.

II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. the location of the thermostat for the cooling system; and
  2. the cooling method.

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. any cooling system that did not operate; and
  2. if the cooling system was deemed inaccessible.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. determine the uniformity, temperature, flow, balance, distribution, size, capacity, BTU, or supply adequacy of the cooling system.
  2. inspect portable window units, through-wall units, or electronic air filters.
  3. operate equipment or systems if the exterior temperature is below 65° Fahrenheit, or when other circumstances are not conducive to safe operation or may damage the equipment.
  4. inspect or determine thermostat calibration, cooling anticipation, or automatic setbacks or clocks.
  5. examine electrical current, coolant fluids or gases, or coolant leakage.
3.6. Plumbing

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the main water supply shut-off valve;
  2. the main fuel supply shut-off valve;
  3. the water heating equipment, including the energy source, venting connections, temperature/pressure-relief (TPR) valves, Watts 210 valves, and seismic bracing;
  4. interior water supply, including all fixtures and faucets, by running the water;
  5. all toilets for proper operation by flushing;
  6. all sinks, tubs and showers for functional drainage;
  7. the drain, waste and vent system; and
  8. drainage sump pumps with accessible floats.

II. The inspector shall describe:

  1. whether the water supply is public or private based upon observed evidence;
  2. the location of the main water supply shut-off valve;
  3. the location of the main fuel supply shut-off valve;
  4. the location of any observed fuel-storage system; and
  5. the capacity of the water heating equipment, if labeled.

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

  1. deficiencies in the water supply by viewing the functional flow in two fixtures operated simultaneously;
  2. deficiencies in the installation of hot and cold water faucets;
  3. mechanical drain stops that were missing or did not operate if installed in sinks, lavatories and tubs; and
  4. toilets that were damaged, had loose connections to the floor, were leaking, or had tank components that did not operate.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. light or ignite pilot flames.
  2. measure the capacity, temperature, age, life expectancy or adequacy of the water heater.
  3. inspect the interior of flues or chimneys, combustion air systems, water softener or filtering systems, well pumps or tanks, safety or shut-off valves, floor drains, lawn sprinkler systems, or fire sprinkler systems.
  4. determine the exact flow rate, volume, pressure, temperature or adequacy of the water supply.
  5. determine the water quality, potability or reliability of the water supply or source.
  6. open sealed plumbing access panels.
  7. inspect clothes washing machines or their connections.
  8. operate any valve.
  9. test shower pans, tub and shower surrounds or enclosures for leakage or functional overflow protection.
  10. evaluate the compliance with conservation, energy or building standards, or the proper design or sizing of any water, waste or venting components, fixtures or piping.
  11. determine the effectiveness of anti-siphon, back-flow prevention or drain-stop devices.
  12. determine whether there are sufficient cleanouts for effective cleaning of drains.
  13. evaluate fuel storage tanks or supply systems.
  14. inspect wastewater treatment systems.
  15. inspect water treatment systems or water filters.
  16. inspect water storage tanks, pressure pumps, or bladder tanks.
  17. evaluate wait time to obtain hot water at fixtures, or perform testing of any kind to water heater elements.
  18. evaluate or determine the adequacy of combustion air.
  19. test, operate, open or close: safety controls, manual stop valves, temperature/pressure-relief valves, control valves, or check valves.
  20. examine ancillary or auxiliary systems or components, such as, but not limited to, those related to solar water heating and hot water circulation.
  21. determine the existence or condition of polybutylene plumbing.
  22. inspect or test for gas or fuel leaks, or indications thereof.
3.7. Electrical

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the service drop;
  2. the overhead service conductors and attachment point;
  3. the service head, gooseneck and drip loops;
  4. the service mast, service conduit and raceway;
  5. the electric meter and base;
  6. service-entrance conductors;
  7. the main service disconnect;
  8. panelboards and over-current protection devices (circuit breakers and fuses);
  9. service grounding and bonding;
  10. a representative number of switches, lighting fixtures and receptacles, including receptacles observed and deemed to be arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI)-protected using the AFCI test button, where possible;
  11. all ground-fault circuit interrupter receptacles and circuit breakers observed and deemed to be GFCIs using a GFCI tester, where possible; and
  12. smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors.
II. The inspector shall describe:
  1. the main service disconnect’s amperage rating, if labeled; and
  2. the type of wiring observed.
III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:
  1. deficiencies in the integrity of the service-entrance conductors’ insulation, drip loop, and vertical clearances from grade and roofs;
  2. any unused circuit-breaker panel opening that was not filled;
  3. the presence of solid conductor aluminum branch-circuit wiring, if readily visible;
  4. any tested receptacle in which power was not present, polarity was incorrect, the cover was not in place, the GFCI devices were not properly installed or did not operate properly, evidence of arcing or excessive heat, and where the receptacle was not grounded or was not secured to the wall; and
  5. the absence of smoke detectors.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. insert any tool, probe or device into the main panelboard, sub-panels, distribution panelboards, or electrical fixtures.
  2. operate electrical systems that are shut down.
  3. remove panelboard cabinet covers or dead fronts.
  4. operate or re-set over-current protection devices or overload devices.
  5. operate or test smoke or carbon-monoxide detectors or alarms.
  6. inspect, operate or test any security, fire or alarm systems or components, or other warning or signaling systems.
  7. measure or determine the amperage or voltage of the main service equipment, if not visibly labeled.
  8. inspect ancillary wiring or remote-control devices.
  9. activate any electrical systems or branch circuits that are not energized.
  10. inspect low-voltage systems, electrical de-icing tapes, swimming pool wiring, or any time-controlled devices.
  11. verify the service ground.
  12. inspect private or emergency electrical supply sources, including, but not limited to: generators, windmills, photovoltaic solar collectors, or battery or electrical storage facility.
  13. inspect spark or lightning arrestors.
  14. inspect or test de-icing equipment.
  15. conduct voltage-drop calculations.
  16. determine the accuracy of labeling.
  17. inspect exterior lighting.
3.8. Fireplace  

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. readily accessible and visible portions of the fireplaces and chimneys;
  2. lintels above the fireplace openings;
  3. damper doors by opening and closing them, if readily accessible and manually operable; and
  4. cleanout doors and frames.
II. The inspector shall describe:
  1. the type of fireplace.
III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:
  1. evidence of joint separation, damage or deterioration of the hearth, hearth extension or chambers;
  2. manually operated dampers that did not open and close;
  3. the lack of a smoke detector in the same room as the fireplace;
  4. the lack of a carbon-monoxide detector in the same room as the fireplace; and
  5. cleanouts not made of metal, pre-cast cement, or other non-combustible material.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. inspect the flue or vent system.
  2. inspect the interior of chimneys or flues, fire doors or screens, seals or gaskets, or mantels.
  3. determine the need for a chimney sweep.
  4. operate gas fireplace inserts.
  5. light pilot flames.
  6. determine the appropriateness of any installation.
  7. inspect automatic fuel-fed devices.
  8. inspect combustion and/or make-up air devices.
  9. inspect heat-distribution assists, whether gravity-controlled or fan-assisted.
  10. ignite or extinguish fires.
  11. determine the adequacy of drafts or draft characteristics.
  12. move fireplace inserts, stoves or firebox contents.
  13. perform a smoke test.
  14. dismantle or remove any component.
  15. perform a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)-style inspection.
  16. perform a Phase I fireplace and chimney inspection.
3.9. Attic, Insulation & Ventilation

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. insulation in unfinished spaces, including attics, crawlspaces and foundation areas;
  2. ventilation of unfinished spaces, including attics, crawlspaces and foundation areas; and
  3. mechanical exhaust systems in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry area.
II. The inspector shall describe:
  1. the type of insulation observed; and
  2. the approximate average depth of insulation observed at the unfinished attic floor area or roof structure.
III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:
  1. the general absence of insulation or ventilation in unfinished spaces.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. enter the attic or any unfinished spaces that are not readily accessible, or where entry could cause damage or, in the inspector’s opinion, pose a safety hazard.
  2. move, touch or disturb insulation.
  3. move, touch or disturb vapor retarders.
  4. break or otherwise damage the surface finish or weather seal on or around access panels or covers.
  5. identify the composition or R-value of insulation material.
  6. activate thermostatically operated fans.
  7. determine the types of materials used in insulation or wrapping of pipes, ducts, jackets, boilers or wiring.
  8. determine the adequacy of ventilation.
3.10. Doors, Windows & Interior

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. a representative number of doors and windows by opening and closing them;
  2. floors, walls and ceilings;
  3. stairs, steps, landings, stairways and ramps;
  4. railings, guards and handrails; and
  5. garage vehicle doors and the operation of garage vehicle door openers, using normal operating controls.
II. The inspector shall describe:
  1. a garage vehicle door as manually-operated or installed with a garage door opener.
III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:
  1. improper spacing between intermediate balusters, spindles and rails for steps, stairways, guards and railings;
  2. photo-electric safety sensors that did not operate properly; and
  3. any window that was obviously fogged or displayed other evidence of broken seals.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

  1. inspect paint, wallpaper, window treatments or finish treatments.
  2. inspect floor coverings or carpeting.
  3. inspect central vacuum systems.
  4. inspect for safety glazing.
  5. inspect security systems or components.
  6. evaluate the fastening of islands, countertops, cabinets, sink tops or fixtures.
  7. move furniture, stored items, or any coverings, such as carpets or rugs, in order to inspect the concealed floor structure.
  8. move suspended-ceiling tiles.
  9. inspect or move any household appliances.
  10. inspect or operate equipment housed in the garage, except as otherwise noted.
  11. verify or certify the proper operation of any pressure-activated auto-reverse or related safety feature of a garage door.
  12. operate or evaluate any security bar release and opening mechanisms, whether interior or exterior, including their compliance with local, state or federal standards.
  13. operate any system, appliance or component that requires the use of special keys, codes, combinations or devices.
  14. operate or evaluate self-cleaning oven cycles, tilt guards/latches, or signal lights.
  15. inspect microwave ovens or test leakage from microwave ovens.
  16. operate or examine any sauna, steam-generating equipment, kiln, toaster, ice maker, coffee maker, can opener, bread warmer, blender, instant hot-water dispenser, or other small, ancillary appliances or devices.
  17. inspect elevators.
  18. inspect remote controls.
  19. inspect appliances.
  20. inspect items not permanently installed.
  21. discover firewall compromises.
  22. inspect pools, spas or fountains.
  23. determine the adequacy of whirlpool or spa jets, water force, or bubble effects.
  24. determine the structural integrity or leakage of pools or spas.

4. Glossary of Terms

  • accessible:  In the opinion of the inspector, can be approached or entered safely, without difficulty, fear or danger.
  • activate:  To turn on, supply power, or enable systems, equipment or devices to become active by normal operating controls. Examples include turning on the gas or water supply valves to the fixtures and appliances, and activating electrical breakers or fuses.
  • adversely affect:  To constitute, or potentially constitute, a negative or destructive impact.
  • alarm system:  Warning devices, installed or freestanding, including, but not limited to: carbon-monoxide detectors, flue gas and other spillage detectors, security equipment, ejector pumps, and smoke alarms.
  • appliance:  A household device operated by the use of electricity or gas. Not included in this definition are components covered under central heating, central cooling or plumbing.
  • architectural service:  Any practice involving the art and science of building design for construction of any structure or grouping of structures, and the use of space within and surrounding the structures or the design, design development, preparation of construction contract documents, and administration of the construction contract.
  • component:  A permanently installed or attached fixture, element or part of a system.
  • condition:  The visible and conspicuous state of being of an object.
  • correction:  Something that is substituted or proposed for what is incorrect, deficient, unsafe, or a defect.
  • cosmetic defect:  An irregularity or imperfection in something, which could be corrected, but is not required.
  • crawlspace:  The area within the confines of the foundation and between the ground and the underside of the lowest floor’s structural component.
  • decorative:  Ornamental; not required for the operation of essential systems or components of a home.
  • describe:  To report in writing a system or component by its type or other observed characteristics in order to distinguish it from other components used for the same purpose.
  • determine:  To arrive at an opinion or conclusion pursuant to examination.
  • dismantle:  To open, take apart or remove any component, device or piece that would not typically be opened, taken apart or removed by an ordinary occupant.
  • engineering service:  Any professional service or creative work requiring engineering education, training and experience, and the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical and engineering sciences to such professional service or creative work as consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning, design and supervision of construction for the purpose of assuring compliance with the specifications and design, in conjunction with structures, buildings, machines, equipment, works and/or processes.
  • enter:  To go into an area to observe visible components.
  • evaluate:  To assess the systems, structures and/or components of a property.
  • evidence:  That which tends to prove or disprove something; something that makes plain or clear; grounds for belief; proof.
  • examine:  To visually look (see inspect).
  • foundation:  The base upon which the structure or wall rests, usually masonry, concrete or stone, and generally partially underground.
  • function:  The action for which an item, component or system is specially fitted or used, or for which an item, component or system exists; to be in action or perform a task.
  • functional:  Performing, or able to perform, a function.
  • functional defect:  A lack of or an abnormality in something that is necessary for normal and proper functioning and operation, and, therefore, requires further evaluation and correction.
  • general home inspection:  The process by which an inspector visually examines the readily accessible systems and components of a home and operates those systems and components utilizing this Standards of Practice as a guideline.
  • home inspection:  See general home inspection.
  • household appliances:  Kitchen and laundry appliances, room air conditioners, and similar appliances.
  • identify:  To notice and report.
  • indication:  That which serves to point out, show, or make known the present existence of something under certain conditions.
  • inspect:  To examine readily accessible systems and components safely, using normal operating controls, and accessing readily accessible areas, in accordance with this Standards of Practice.
  • inspected property:  The readily accessible areas of the buildings, site, items, components and systems included in the inspection.
  • inspection report:  A written communication (possibly including images) of any material defects observed during the inspection.
  • inspector:  One who performs a real estate inspection.
  • installed:  Attached or connected such that the installed item requires a tool for removal.
  • material defect:  A specific issue with a system or component of a residential property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property, or that poses an unreasonable risk to people.  The fact that a system or component is near, at, or beyond the end of its normal, useful life is not, in itself, a material defect.
  • normal operating controls:  Describes the method by which certain devices (such as thermostats) can be operated by ordinary occupants, as they require no specialized skill or knowledge.
  • observe:  To visually notice.
  • operate:  To cause systems to function or turn on with normal operating controls.
  • readily accessible:  A system or component that, in the judgment of the inspector, is capable of being safely observed without the removal of obstacles, detachment or disengagement of connecting or securing devices, or other unsafe or difficult procedures to gain access.
  • recreational facilities:  Spas, saunas, steam baths, swimming pools, tennis courts, playground equipment, and other exercise, entertainment and athletic facilities.
  • report (verb form): To express, communicate or provide information in writing; give a written account of.  (See also inspection report.)
  • representative number:  A number sufficient to serve as a typical or characteristic example of the item(s) inspected.
  • residential property:  Four or fewer residential units.
  • residential unit:  A home; a single unit providing complete and independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.
  • safety glazing:  Tempered glass, laminated glass, or rigid plastic.
  • shut down:  Turned off, unplugged, inactive, not in service, not operational, etc.
  • structural component:  A component that supports non-variable forces or weights (dead loads) and variable forces or weights (live loads).
  • system:  An assembly of various components which function as a whole.
  • technically exhaustive:  A comprehensive and detailed examination beyond the scope of a real estate home inspection that would involve or include, but would not be limited to:  dismantling, specialized knowledge or training, special equipment, measurements, calculations, testing, research, analysis, or other means.
  • unsafe:  In the inspector’s opinion, a condition of an area, system, component or procedure that is judged to be a significant risk of 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.
  • verify:  To confirm or substantiate.


These terms are found within the Standards of Practice.  Visit InterNACHI’s full Glossary.

Home Inspections in Bozeman, Montana

Home Inspection in Bozeman will look at the home as a system
The Home System

Bozeman , Montana has become a very desirable place to live.  With a recent population growth in the Gallatin Valley of 3.6 percent the county ranks 24th  in growth across the nation.

Houses are being built at breakneck rate all over the valley.  There is a wide variety of housing stock available from turn of the century shacks to brand new Mansions with the paint still wet (literally).  There is a sort of frenzy in the air with buying, selling and building.  Navigating this frenzied environment can be a daunting task for everyone involved.  Buyers, Sellers, Builders, Real Esate Professional, Tradesman, everyone with a hand in the pot is busy.

If you are a buyer having a general idea of the housing stock in Bozeman can help you focus your search.  In general the central area from about Ace Hardware and radiating out for about one to two miles contain the older homes.  These are the homes that typically have the most defects, differed maintenance issues and code issues. In many cases they also have unconventional construction and materials.  Many of them may have very shallow foundations or no foundation at all. They present unique and interesting questions for home inspectors because they have to be assessed for what they are in the context and time in which they were built.  There may be many health and safety issues that must be assessed and reported.  If you head further out from the center the housing stock becomes a mix of old and new.  South of town there are many moderately old neighborhoods from the 60’s through the 80’s. West of Ferguson you will find many new neighborhoods, most of which are still being built up.  Newer homes will be less likely to have very much differed maintenance and in general will have very few code issues. However the quality of construction and over site varies widely and there can be many important issues with these homes that need to be addressed.

Choosing a home in the older part of Bozeman will have its advantages for walk-ability, bike-ability and a general feeling of being at the heart of it all. But these homes will come with there own set of unique and sometimes insurmountable issues.  Being out a bit in a more planned neighborhood will provide quieter neighborhoods with more open space.  These homes will be away from the pulse and action but will have less issues.  Whatever your preference having a home inspection performed will help you make a wise choice for you and your family.

The importance of water testing

Water is something that is easy to take for granted, especially here in Montana.  We have access to clear clean water, basically coming from its source in the mountains.  The cities treat water and most wells have acceptable water if not very good with excellent natural minerals. But all is not always well.  Old pipes can leach out heavy metals and ground water can become contaminated with nitrogen and bacteria. Some common contaminants that have been encountered in and around the gallatin valley are Chloride, Flouride, Sulfate, Iron, Nitrate/Nitrite and Bacteria/Ecoli. Other factors to test for are Coductivity and pH. Bozeman is next door to one of the largest calderas in the world, Yellowstone.  The area is rich in volcanic rock and minerals.  The Madison River which flows out of Yellowstone National Park is naturally contaminated with arsenic.  The water in the Three Forks area can have high levels of arsenic.  We all must drink water and it is convenient to be able to drink the water in our own home.  All of the above contaminants can be dealt with using the proper treatments.  The first step in treatment is testing so that proper treatments are utilized.  Most home sales involving a well will have a water test performed testing for Nitrates/Nitrites and Bacteria/Ecoli.  High levels of nitrogen are a sign of contamination from fertilizer.  The presence of Ecoli can be a sign of ground water contamination from neighboring septic or from animal feces. The presence of bacteria can mean the same thing as Ecoli or can just mean the water system is dirty and in need of cleaning.  Heavy metal testing should be performed if the house is old with original water pipes.  Lead and copper are the 2 most common contaminants originating from old plumbing. Call today for a discussion of your water testing needs.

Thermal Imaging and Log Cabins


Air leakage where wall meets log beam

Thermal Imaging can be very useful for log cabins.  Homes constructed with logs have numerous places for air to potentially leak from the home.  When air leakage is bad enough uncomfortable drafts develop and heat bills are high.  All the joints between logs and any change in direction of the wall have joints that need sealed.  Also the logs themselves can develop cracks (checks). Caulking and chinking dry up and logs change shape so a log home that was originally well sealed can become leaky.  With thousands of feet of potential leaky cracks sealing every joint can be an expensive and time consuming process.

Infrared imaging
Air leaks where framed wall meets logs

With thermal imaging the worst air leaks can be identified and dealt with.  Resealing every joint between every log may not be necessary.  Maybe only the corners and areas around doors and windows will need sealed.  Sometimes the air leaks have been present since the home was built and the log joints themselves are just fine.  Often times stick framed areas such as dormers and gable ends leak air where they meet the logs.  Also when tongue and groove wood is used over framed walls or ceilings there can be numerous air leaks at knot holes and board joints.

Air leakage where ceiling meets logs

Thermal imaging is a good way to reveal air leakage when combined with the blower door.  The blower door creates a negative pressure in the home which draws air in through the leaky cracks.  This will accentuate the areas where air is leaking to provide a more precise map for pinpointing areas of the home needing sealed.  Also the blower door will quantify the air leakage.  A goal can then be set for how much sealing needs done and how much energy savings can be obtained with the money needed to achieve the air sealing goal. A before and after  blower door reading can be recorded and the exact savings calculated after air sealing is conducted.

Air leakage at corner
Air leakage at corner

Thermal imaging is an excellent way to find air leakage in any home but becomes especially important in log home construction where thousands of feet of potential air leaks exist. Call today to talk more about thermal imaging and your home.


The Roof Inspection

The integrity of the  framing and the roofing surface are vital to the health of a structure.

Improperly installed roofing screws with sealant applied over them.

During the  inspection the attic is accessed to view the underside of the roof and the framing that supports it.  Any defects are noted in the report.

Damaged attic vent

Defects include broken or sagging framing, loose fasteners, damaged plywood, wet wood or water stains from leaks, mold, rusty metal, etc. The surface is also walked on or viewed from the edge of the roof to inspect for surface defects and wear.  Defects include excessive wear, holes, dents, missing components, improper roofing materials, rusty or missing flashing, dried or missing sealants, etc.  Another aspect of the roof that requires assessment is the ventilation.  If there is not enough ventilation the roof will trap heat in the summer.  This heat can damage the roofing surface and/or the support structure.  Also poor ventilation can result in high humidity in the winter with condensation and mold development.  The inspection will let you know how your roof system is performing so you can plan for the future either by making repairs now or having some time before anything needs to be done.

Improperly installed roofing screws causing water leak

Many types of roofing exist and all of them have there own unique strengths and weaknesses.  They all fail in different ways.  With knowledge of how these different roofing systems are put together we can better inspect the particular system that is encountered.

Thermal Image of wet sheetrock from leaking roof

Tools that may be utilized to inspect are a thermal camera, moisture meter, probe, or hammer and flashlight.  The most important tools are simply the eyes, hands, head and feet of the inspector. Experience and knowledge will lead the inspector on the correct path to discovering defects.  While walking on a roof the deck under the roofing material can be accessed for strength by gently bouncing on the areas between rafters.  The framing members will be probed and “wiggled”, the eyes will always be searching. In this way the inspection will provide the home owner or buyer vital information about the home. Call today for your home inspection




The importance of thermal imaging on flat roofs


I was reminded the other day of the importance of infrared imaging and flat roofs. The roof in this picture developed leaks even though it looked to be in fair condition. Infrared imaging showed that it was taking on water throughout. If infrared imaging had been conducted earlier and the roof problems addressed water damage in the building could have been avoided.

thermal imaging inspection
thermal image of flat roof

Commercial or residential buildings with flat roofs are especially prone to leaking.  Ice damning, snow load, ponding water, and Montana sun all profoundly affect a flat roof system.  Especially when the roof is older and the structure is not well insulated the ice buildup can be quite intense.  Because of the ice and snow buildup owners usually have to shovel the snow and ice off the roof.  Over time this damages the roof surface with abrasions. Also water will sit on a flat roof at low spots.  When water sits it has a chance to penetrate the roof membrane at any weak points.  With many bright sunny days in Montana we experience a lot of sun related damage to all roof systems.  Flat roofs are not exempt from this damage.

There are several types of flat roof systems and they are often hard to identify.  On older roofs there could be several generations of roofing material.  Older roofs used hot tar and felt.  Newer roofs are composed of a various membrane membrane materials or a “rubber” applied as a liquid.

Whichever type of flat roof system you have a Infrared Imaging inspection can help identify areas of concern.  These areas can then be addressed before water can penetrate and damage the structure.



Air tightness testing



Air tightness testing with blower door and duct blaster.

Are you a builder in need of air tightness testing to satisfy the local building department?  We are certified to perform these tests with the Building Performance Institute (BPI) We are also listed with the Bozeman, MT building department: blower door certified. You will receive a written report that can be give to the building department.  We will perform a total leakage test on the house using the blower door and a total duct leakage test using the duct blaster.


Call today to discuss your project.  Whether you are new to performance testing or are an experienced pro we will come up with a plan for your project.

Blower door testing for home air tightness.

Some builders are already adept at creating tight housing.  In that case I recommend doing a final test after the house is completely done.  Other builders may need a little help getting the house properly sealed. In that case I recommend doing some testing before finish materials are in place.

home air tightness testing
Blower door

The air leaks will be dealt with before finish materials are installed so the final test will be low enough to pass.

Duct Blaster Testing for forced air system air tightness.

Ducting that is installed in unheated space like attics will need to be tested.  The entire system has to be tested at once not just the areas in the unheated space. The duct test should be conducted after the entire duct system is roughed in and the air handler is in place.

duct air tightness testing
Duct Blaster

This will ensure access to all the ducting for further sealing if needed.  All the supply and return registers will be sealed off and the test fan installed in a return register.  The system will be depressurized and leakage calculated. A smoke machine can also be used to find leaks during the test, especially if the HVAC contractor is having trouble creating a tight  system. Call today:


Why this home inspector can help you.


Hell, my name is Aaron Mugaas.  I am the owner and inspector at Home Energy Solutions and Inspecting.

aaron-mugaas-crop I am hear to help you with your next home purchase! My home inspection services will provide you with vital information about the homes you are considering.  Why do I think I can help you?  That is a good question and this is why.  With over 1500 inspection services performed to date I have seen, discussed researched and reported on most of the issues that will likely be found in a house.  I have also taken over 500 hours of formal classroom training and have several certifications related to building science and inspecting.  Also I have been in the trenches of home building where I became a jack of all trades, learning from the pros about how houses are supposed to go together.  Along with experience, training, and certifications I will use special tools during the inspection. welcome-to-our-home-1205888__180My goal is to utilize all of the above to make your home purchase less stressful with information and advice. Call anytime and make that dream come true!


Aaron Mugaas  (InterNACHI certified,  Certified BPI building analyist)