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SPECIALTY STANDARDS 

DRAFT
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF HOME INSPECTORS
Specialty Standards - March 2014
A. Purpose and Scope
1. The Specialty Standards of Practice (Specialty Standards) provide the minimum uniform
standards for performance of specialty inspections and for the content of a written home
inspection report for a home inspector who voluntarily uses these Specialty Standards.
2. The Specialty Standards define and clarify the purpose, conditions, limitations, exclusions, and
certain terms relating to a specialty inspection.
3. The Specialty Standards describe components and systems customarily included within the
scope of a specialty inspection.
4. The Specialty Standards apply to structures whose primary use is residential including single
family homes, multi-family homes, mobile homes, condominium homes, and modular homes.
5. The Specialty Standards apply to a limited visual inspection of readily accessible components
and systems identified in the Specialty Standards to determine if, at the time of the inspection,
they were significantly deficient or at or near the end of their expected service lives.
6. Inspections performed under these Specialty Standards are basically visual and rely upon the
subjective opinion, judgment, and experience of the inspector, and are not intended to be
technically exhaustive or invasive.
7. The National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. (NAHI) recommends that its members
perform specialty inspections in accordance with these Specialty Standards, the NAHI Code of
Ethics, and applicable law(s).
8. These Specialty Standards are not intended to prevent or limit an inspector from performing
additional or out of scope inspections.
9. If an inspector elects to exceed the Specialty Standards while inspecting a component or
system, there should be no expectation that the inspector will be required to exceed the
Specialty Standards when inspecting other components or systems.
B. General Limitations and Exclusions
1. Inspections performed under these Specialty Standards are not an expressed or implied
warranty, guarantee, insurance policy, or repair service contract, agreement, or instrument of
any kind concerning the adequacy, performance, or continued performance, of any component
or system, in, on, or about the property.
2. Inspections performed under these Specialty Standards are not to be construed to be a
compliance inspection of any code, governmental regulation, or manufacturer’s installation
instructions or procedures. In the event a law, statute, ordinance, code, or manufacturer’s
requirements prohibit an action described by these Specialty Standards, the inspector is
relieved of the obligation to adhere to the prohibited part of the Specialty Standard.
3. The inspector is not required to perform any task, make any determination, or report any
condition not specifically included in these Specialty Standards, except as may be required by
lawful authority.
4. The inspector is not required to:
NAHI Draft Specialty Standards – March 2014
a. Move personal property including furniture, stored items, or obstructions of any kind in
order to make a component or system accessible.
b. Lift or move floor, wall, or ceiling coverings or panels.
c. Access any area, component, or system, or perform any task which may, in the opinion
of the inspector, cause damage or injury.
d. Locate or identify any prior repair which hides prior damage or defects of any kind.
e. Report any cosmetic defect.
5. The inspector is not required to operate or inspect:
a. Recreational facilities or equipment.
b. Home security equipment or systems.
c. Audio/video equipment or systems and intercoms.
d. Remote control devices; unless the remote control is the only switch.
e. Computers, Wi-Fi, cable, phone, or satellite components, equipment, or systems
f. Elevators, chair lifts, and dumb waiters.
g. Electronically controlled gates, awnings, and storm shutters, decorative fountain pumps,
and photo electrically controlled devices.
h. Switches or valves which are not labeled or for which operating instructions are not
available or understood, or which are controlled by pre-programmed timers.
i. Equipment or devices which are shut down, winterized, disconnected from required
utilities, or which have been taken out of service in some other manner.
j. Property the inspector has reason to believe is common property of a homeowner’s
association, condominium, or other similar joint ownership arrangement.
6. The inspector is not required to determine or measure:
a. Indoor air quality.
b. The presence or absence of any form of microbial, biological, chemical, allergenic, or
toxic substance.
c. The presence or absence of hazardous vapors, liquids, gases, or particulates, or other
similar substances, including those associated with clandestine drug manufacturing.
d. The presence of termites or the extent of damage caused by termites or other wood
destroying organisms, rodents, or other vermin.
e. Pressure, suction, flow, volume, capacity, calibration, timing, temperature, efficiency, or
other operational characteristics or conditions except as may be specifically required by
these Standards.
f. The structural integrity of any component or system.
7. The inspector is not required to collect or report information from any source regarding:
a. Geologic, hydrologic, flood, seismic, electromagnetic, or environmentally hazardous
conditions.
b. Property lines, setbacks, easements, and encroachments.
c. Manufacturers’ recalls or conformance with manufacturers’ installation, service, or
operating requirements.
d. Past or current violations of codes, ordinances, rules, or regulations.
e. Real estate tax, insurance, appraisals, or banking matters.
8. The inspector is not required to:
a. Use any special tool or device, instrument, or testing equipment except as specifically
required by this Standard.
NAHI Draft Specialty Standards – March 2014
b. Offer any opinion regarding any matter which requires a license or certification the
inspector has not earned, or which exceeds the knowledge or understanding of the
inspector.
c. Test or operate any safety device including but not limited to smoke detectors, carbon
monoxide detectors, pressure relief valves, pool alarms, circuit interrupt devices,
overcurrent protection devices or disconnects including the main disconnect, main
water valves, fixture stop valves, float switches, gas valves, fuel oil valves, and fire
suppression equipment.
C. Reporting Guidelines
1. The inspector will prepare a written inspection report which:
a. Describes customary specialty inspection components present at the time of the
inspection by at least one of the following: the unique type, style, principle
characteristic, manufacturer, or other distinguishing feature.
b. Reports the condition of inspection components and systems.
2. If the inspector has concern that a component or system may be deficient or near the end of its
serviceable life, the inspector will:
a. Describe the condition and explain why the inspector believes the component or system
may be deficient, defective, hazardous, or near the end of its serviceable life.
b. Report the location of the apparent defect.
c. Recommend maintenance, repair, replacement, monitoring, or further evaluation.
d. Advise the client of the implications or consequences associated with not taking action
to correct, repair, monitor, or replace a deficient component or system, or of not having
it reviewed by a qualified person prior to closing of the transaction.
e. Recommend the kinds of maintenance persons, technicians, service persons, craftsmen,
or professionals who could provide a reliable evaluation and/or estimate for repairs or
adjustments.
3. The inspector will identify customary inspection components which were present at the time of
the inspection but were not inspected and the reason why they were not inspected.
Specialty Inspection Systems and Components
1. Household Appliances
1.1. Inspection Components – The inspector shall inspect:
1.1.1. Stove, range, oven, cooktop, warmer, and exhaust hood.
1.1.2. Dishwasher
1.1.3. Waste disposal
1.1.4. Microwave oven
1.1.5. Refrigerator
1.1.6. Wine chiller
1.1.7. Clothes washer
NAHI Draft Specialty Standards – March 2014
1.1.8. Clothes dryer
1.1.9. Kitchen and bath exhaust fans, and whole house attic fans
1.1.10. Central vacuum system
1.1.11. Ceiling fans
1.1.12. Garage door opener
1.2. Limitations – The inspector is not required to:
1.2.1. Turn On or Off any preprogrammed device.
1.2.2. Operate any appliance by use of a WiFi device.
1.2.3. Connect any appliance to a utility.
1.2.4. Move or disassemble any appliance.
1.2.5. Perform any diagnostic or calibration test or comparison.
1.2.6. Inspect or operate any trash compactor.
1.2.7. Inspect or operate any water filter or treatment device.
1.2.8. Operate any appliance when the operating procedures are unknown.
1.2.9. Engage any appliance Re-Set switch.
1.2.10. Operate more than one cycle of any appliance.
1.2.11. Operate any oven self-cleaning cycle.
1.2.12. Operate any extended cycle of any appliance.
1.2.13. Operate any remote control device unless it is the only switch available.
1.2.14. Operate any appliance which, in the opinion of the inspector, appears to be shut
down, damaged, or hazardous.
1.2.15. Operate any fire suppression equipment control.
1.2.16. Operate any portable or countertop appliance.
1.2.17. Operate a gas shut-off valve except to turn off the gas in the event of an
emergency
1.2.18. Determine if a microwave oven leaks microwaves.
1.2.19. Determine if any appliance is grounded.
1.2.20. Determine the condition of any walk-in cooler, freezer, or wine chiller.
1.2.21. Determine the terminus of any exhaust fan vent.
1.2.22. Determine that any appliance is installed according to or in violation of any code,
ordinance, rule, law, manufacturers’ instructions, or any other standard, or is the
subject of any recall notice of any kind.
1.2.23. Inspect or report the presence or absence of any appliance accessory such as
vacuum system hoses, wands, and attachments, clothes dryer and oven racks,
and freezer baskets or bins.
2. Dock and Seawall
2.1. Inspection Components – The inspector shall inspect:
2.1.1. Seawall, bulkhead, cap, and backfill.
2.1.2. Piling and posts.
2.1.3. Joists, stringers, and decking.
2.1.4. Tiebacks and anchors.
2.1.5. Flotation and water management devices.
2.1.6. Lifts, hoists, and davits.
2.1.7. Steps and ladders.
NAHI Draft Specialty Standards – March 2014
2.1.8. Fenders and cleats.
2.1.9. Electrical components.
2.1.10. Plumbing components.
2.2. Limitations – The inspector is not required to:
2.2.1. Enter or come in contact with water.
2.2.2. Operate any equipment which, in the opinion of the inspector, appears to be
damaged or hazardous.
2.2.3. Operate any tight valves or controls, or any valves or controls not labeled.
2.2.4. Operate any un-grounded or non-GFCI protected equipment or device.
2.2.5. Operate any lift, davit, or hoist, whether loaded or unloaded when operating
procedures or capacities are unknown by the inspector, or where cables are
frayed, booms are damaged, heavily rusted, or bent, or where motors seem to
be under unusual strain.
2.2.6. Manually override any device or equipment.
2.2.7. Locate any remote shut-off valve, electrical disconnect, switch, or re-set device.
2.2.8. Determine pressure, volume, capacity, load, calibration, or any other operational
characteristics of any equipment, device, or component, or through any or all
cycles or functions.
2.2.9. Determine the structural integrity or operational characteristics of any
component including, knuckles, fasteners, spools, reels, stops, brakes, cables,
lines, fenders, cleats, and bollards.
2.2.10. Determine the presence of voids behind or washouts below seawalls and
bulkheads.
2.2.11. Determine the presence of latent defects including those below water level and
those resulting from a poor angle of repose.
2.2.12. Inspect or re-inspect at different tides or water levels.
2.2.13. Inspect boat houses.
3. Pool and Spa
3.1. Inspection Components – The inspector shall inspect:
3.1.1. Pools and spas
3.1.2. Visible structural components
3.1.3. Pumps and filters
3.1.4. Heater
3.1.5. Pool cleaner
3.1.6. Electrical controls, wiring, bonding and grounding.
3.1.7. Mechanical controls and valves.
3.1.8. Plumbing components.
3.1.9. Steps, ladders, and railings; in-water benches, walk-ins, and hand holds; coping;
and edge tile at bench and step edges.
3.1.10. Lights, light niches, controls, and related equipment.
3.1.11. Pumps and blowers for air and water jets, swim jets, cleaning jets, and fountains.
3.1.12. Jump boards and slides.
3.1.13. Waterfalls and fountains.
3.1.14. Bottom drains and skimmers.
3.1.15. Safety barriers, fencing, gates, doors, and latches.
NAHI Draft Specialty Standards – March 2014
3.1.16. Deck and deck drainage.
3.1.17. Screen enclosures.
3.2. LIMITATIONS – The inspector is not required to:
3.2.1. Enter the pool or spa or come in contact with the water.
3.2.2. Test personal safety devices and components.
3.2.3. Test window and door alarms adjacent to the pool or spa.
3.2.4. Determine water chemistry.
3.2.5. Determine the presence or location of any leak, crack, or latent defect.
3.2.6. Turn On or Off any pre-programmed or remote control device.
3.2.7. Operate any device or equipment which, in the opinion of the inspector, appears
to be damaged, defective, or hazardous.
3.2.8. Operate any tight valve, damaged switch, un-grounded equipment, or non-
GFCI protected component.
3.2.9. Operate any device through more than one cycle or through an entire cycle.
3.2.10. Manually override any electrically controlled valve.
3.2.11. Operate any system in which various features are controlled by multiple pumps,
blowers, heaters, timers, or valves.
3.2.12. Operate any switch or valve which is not labeled.
3.2.13. Operate or inspect pool cleaning equipment or cleaning accessories which are
connected by hoses to suction ports.
3.2.14. Determine pressure, volume, capacity, flow rate, timing, or calibration of any
device, component, or system.
3.2.15. Determine the efficiency or effectiveness of any device or component including
drains, jets, nozzles, pumps, filters, heaters, blowers, and sensors.
3.2.16. Determine the continuity of electrically bonded components.
3.2.17. Determine if pool alarms are operable.
3.2.18. Inspect or operate any pool or spa equipment which has been shut down,
winterized, covered, empty, or when water quality is too poor to see the bottom
of the deepest part, or when a drain appears to be blocked or clogged.
3.2.19. Determine if a pool surface should be re-finished.
Glossary
Conventions:
Depending upon context;
And can also mean or
Will can also mean shall and must
May can also mean might
Singular can include plural
Accessible: A condition determined by the inspector which allows the inspector to safely observed a
component or system at arm’s length without the need to move obstacles, the need for personal
protection equipment, the use of special tools or equipment, contact with hazardous substances, or
the need for coded or keyed access, or access resulting in damage or requiring third party permission,
and other similar observation limitations. Readily accessible.
NAHI Draft Specialty Standards – March 2014
Activate: To enable devices, equipment, or systems to operate or work by using customary means
including opening main gas or water valves, fixture stop valves, or by energizing any portion of the
electrical system at a main disconnect, service disconnect, circuit breaker or fuse.
Additional Inspection Services: Those services not related to these Standards including but not limited
to inspections for wood destroying organisms, environmental sampling, engineering or architectural
services, energy auditing, surveying, appraisals, and any other similar service requiring specific
knowledge and training, certifications, and or licensure.
Adversely Affect: Constitute or potentially constitute a negative or destructive impact.
Area of Concern: A determination an average prudent home inspector ought to make regarding an
apparent defect.
Circuit Interrupter Device: Devices such as Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacles and
circuit breakers and Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breakers which are intended to stop the
flow of current in the event of a fault.
Condition: Mode or state of being; state or situation; essential quality; attribute.
Cosmetic: Of, relating to, or something done for the sake of the aesthetic appearance of a component
and not the serviceability or functionality of the component.
Cosmetic Defect: An aesthetic condition which does not interfere with performance.
Customary: According to custom or usage; founded on, or growing out of or dependent upon a
custom associated with a region or local practice; ordinary, usual, common.
Damage: Loss or deterioration which interferes with the serviceability or functionality of a component.
Defect: A deficiency in something essential to its customary and safe use. Significantly deficient. For
purposes of a home inspection, an apparent defect, a patent defect.
Defect (Latent): A deficiency which is not apparent by reasonable observation.
Deficient: Lacking a quality which allows an intended function. A defect.
Detrimental: Any condition which, in the opinion of the inspector, may likely be unsafe, unhealthy, or
in any way harmful to a person or a component of the property.
Describe: To distinguish one from another.
Door: A moveable member, together with its related hardware, casings, jambs, stops, glazing, trim,
and thresholds, used to close or open a passageway.
Engage: To supply electrical current to a circuit at an overcurrent protection device or service
disconnect, or to supply water or gas at the utility meter or primary valve. To activate.
Exceed the Standard: To use inspection techniques, tools, or equipment to provide more information
than could be provided by relying upon these Standards or to inspect items outside the scope of these
Standards, or to inspect components or systems which are not safely or readily accessible.
Excessive: Beyond what the observer would normally expect of similar items under similar
circumstances. Unusual.
Excessive Age: Beyond service life.
Floor/Sub Flooring: The horizontal structural member which may be or which may support the
walking surface.
Floor Covering: The wear surface installed upon the floor or sub-floor.
Foundation: The entire substructure below a building or building component, including the footing,
upon which the building rests.
Function: The action or purpose for which an item, component, or system is especially fitted or used
or for which it exists. To act or perform a task.
NAHI Draft Specialty Standards – March 2014
Functional: Performing or able to perform an intended task in a manner a similar component or
system of similar age, installation, and application would be expected to perform. Serviceable.
Working condition.
Functional Drainage: A subjective opinion regarding the uninterrupted movement of a liquid or of
solids suspended in a liquid from one place to another in a reasonable amount of time.
Functional Flow: A subjective opinion regarding the uninterrupted movement of a liquid from one
place to another in a reasonable amount of time.
Grade: The surface or slope condition of the ground.
Hazardous: A condition which in the opinion of the inspector is likely to be harmful, injurious, or
lethal.
Home: A dwelling unit installed on or constructed at a building site including a single family home,
manufactured home, modular home, or a specific dwelling unit located in a multi-family structure.
Home Inspection: The subjective process by which an inspector uses these Standards to look at and/or
operate the readily accessible and visible components, equipment, and systems of a home for the
purpose of determining and reporting the observed conditions.
Household Accessory: Non-essential items including but not limited to window and door coverings
such as drapes, blinds, curtains, valances, shutters, awnings, storm window panels, and solar
treatments: coverings such as carpets, rugs, floor tile, hardwood, and vinyl flooring; tub and shower
wands; area fans and portable single room heating and cooling units; countertop kitchen type
appliances; computer, programmed, or timer operated devices; built in ironing boards, intercom
systems, stair lifts, elevators, dumbwaiters, laundry and trash chutes, electronic air cleaners,
humidifiers, de-humidifiers, water purification devices , heat lamps, and similar devices.
Inspect: The act of looking at a component or system as outlined in these Standards for the purpose of
determining condition.
Inspection Components: Those systems and components which are customarily looked at during a
home inspection. The scope of the inspection.
Installed: To be put in an intended place and to be permanently or customarily connected to utilities
as necessary for the intended function.
Intended Function: A condition, use, operation, or purpose for which a thing is designed or employed.
Invasive: Opening, disassembling, or using force or specialty tools, or causing damage in order to gain
access to a sealed system or component.
Limitation: A circumstance or condition which restrains, restricts, prevents, or prohibits an action.
Limited Visual Inspection: To subjectively look at visible and readily accessible components and
systems of a home to determine apparent conditions.
Look: The process by which one uses one or more of the five senses of sight, smell, feel, taste, and
hearing to understand, sense, discern, or otherwise observe condition.
Normal: The generally expected condition.
Normal/Ordinary Wear and Tear: To be or to perform an intended function in a way a typical similar
thing of similar age, installation, and application would be expected to be or to perform under similar
circumstances.
Operable: Capable of performing an intended function. Not shut down.
Operate: To cause devices, equipment, or systems which have been activated to perform an intended
function.
Out Building: A freestanding structure not attached to the principle structure except by utilities.
Out of Scope: Components not listed in these Standards, or activities not required by these Standards.
NAHI Draft Specialty Standards – March 2014
Portable Appliances: Household and personal devices which, for matters of convenience, are designed
to be customarily disconnected from utilities and stored after each use.
Principle Structure: The home. In the case of a home in a multi-home structure, the interior.
Qualified Person: An individual who has knowledge, skills, training, and/or practical experience as well
as customary certifications or licenses as may be required to design, service, maintain, repair, replace,
or give advice regarding the condition or operation of a component or system.
of a component or system.
Report: The act of presenting the findings of a home inspection in written form. The written home
inspection document.
Service Life: Period of expected usefulness; at a minimum, service life may coincide with the term of a
manufacturer’s warranty.
Shut Down: The condition of a component or system when it has been deactivated by turning off a
main or stop valve, by disconnecting electrical service at a circuit breaker, fuse, or disconnect, or by
using other similar means to prevent the thing from operating at will.
Significantly Deficient: A subjective determination that a component or system is lacking a condition
or quality that prevents the component or system from performing in a manner a similar system or
component of similar type, age, wear and tear, installation, application and/or operation, would be
expected to perform. Defective
Signs: An indication or token based upon a limited visual inspection which points to a common sense
inference or conclusion.
Specialized Equipment: Any tool or device other than a customary hand tool which might be used by
an ordinary person.
Standard of Care: The average degree of skill, care, diligence, and scope of work exercised by other
inspectors in the same geographical area while performing a similar home inspection.
Technically Exhaustive: Requiring specialized equipment or instruments, measurements, calculations,
research, study, scientific findings, or formation of theories, conclusions, and recommendations based
upon these matters.
Test: To utilize specialized equipment or instruments, measurements, and calculations, and
comparison of findings to a recognized standard.
Unconventional: Not ordinary.
Visible: That which can be clearly seen without the use of special equipment or instruments and
without moving any object or restriction which limits observation.
Window: An assembly usually consisting of glazing, a frame, appurtenances, related hardware and
trim, installed in an exterior wall for the purpose of admitting light and/or air, or as an emergency
passage way.
Working Condition: A subjective determination that a component or system is able to perform a
selected function in a manner a similar thing of similar age, installation, and application would be
expected to perform under similar circumstances. Functional. Serviceable.
NAHI Draft

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