STANDARDS OF PRACTICE

 

Introduction

 

The SASHI (South African Society of Home Inspectors), as a not-for-profit professional association, has adopted and adapted the standards of practice and standard operating procedures of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), which for many years has been setting the trend in the USA. Membership of SASHI is voluntary, and is open to private, fee-paid home inspectors (among others). SASHI's main objective is to promote professional excellence and uniformity of the home inspection service in South Africa.

 

The SASHI standards of practice are intended to assist the home inspector in his or her chosen profession. However, they also benefit the consumer. Since any industry requires its own set of formalised professional guidelines and qualifications, the consumer is entitled to demand this from the home inspection industry.

 

The standards of practice endorsed and promoted by SASHI help to ensure that the consumer who requests a home inspection gets a quality service. The standards of practice set out clearly what is expected from the home inspector in terms of what (s)he will be reporting on and what not. This allows the client to make an informed decision as to whether to call in a home inspector, and perhaps consequently whether to purchase the home under consideration. All parties can enjoy greater peace of mind knowing the exact state of the property.

 

The specifics: SASHI standards of practice

 

1.             Purpose and scope

2.             Structural system

3.             Exterior

4.             Roof system

5.             Plumbing system

6.             Electrical system

7.             Heating system

8.             Air conditioning systems

9.             Interior

10.         Insulation and ventilation

11.         Fireplaces and solid fuel burning appliances

12.         General limitations and exclusions

 


1                       PURPOSE AND SCOPE

 

The purpose of SASHI's standards of practice is to establish a minimum and uniform standard for private, fee-paid home inspectors who are members of the South African Society of Home Inspectors. Home inspections performed to these standards of practice are intended to provide the client with information regarding the condition of the systems and components of the home as inspected at the time of the home inspection.

 

The inspector shall:

 

Inspect:

·         readily accessible systems and components of homes listed in these standards of practice; and

·         installed systems and components of homes listed in these standards of practice; and

 

Report:

·         on those systems and components inspected which, in the professional opinion of the inspector and as visually evident, are significantly deficient or are near the end of their service lives;

·         a reason (if not self-evident), why the system or component is considered to be significantly deficient or near the end of its service life;

·         the inspector's recommendations to correct or monitor the reported deficiency; and

·         on any systems and components designated for inspection in these standards of practice which were present at the time of the home inspection but were not inspected, and a reason they were not inspected.

 

The SASHI standards of practice are not intended to limit inspectors from:

·         including other inspection services, systems or components in addition to those required by these standards of practice;

·         specifying repairs, provided the inspector is appropriately qualified and willing to do so; or

·         excluding systems and components from the inspection if requested by the client.

 

2                       STRUCTURAL SYSTEM

 

The inspector shall:

Inspect:

·         the structural components, including foundation and framing, by probing a representative number of structural components where deterioration is suspected or where clear indications of possible deterioration exist (except that probing is NOT required when it would damage any finished surface or where no deterioration is visible);

 

The inspector is NOT required to:

·         provide any engineering service or architectural service; or

·         offer an opinion as to the adequacy of any structural system or component, unless it affects the structural integrity of the superstructure of the dwelling.

 


3                       EXTERIOR

 

The inspector shall:

Inspect:

·         the exterior wall covering, flashing and trim;

·         all exterior doors;

·         attached decks, balconies, stoops, steps, porches and their associated railings;

·         the eaves, soffits, and fascias where accessible from the ground level;

·         the vegetation, grading, surface drainage, and retaining walls on the property when any of these are likely to adversely affect the building; and

·         walkways, patios and driveways leading to dwelling entrances; and

 

Describe:

·         the exterior wall covering.

 

The inspector is NOT required to:

Inspect:

·         screening, shutters, awnings, and similar seasonal accessories;

·         fences;

·         geological, geotechnical or hydrological conditions;

·         recreational facilities;

·         sea walls, break-walls and docks; or

·         erosion control and earth stabilisation measures.

 

4                       ROOF SYSTEM

 

The inspector shall:

Inspect:

·         the roof covering;

·         the roof drainage systems (guttering);

·         the flashings; and

·         the skylights, chimneys and roof penetrations;

 

Describe:

·         the roof covering;

 

The inspector is NOT required to:

Inspect:

·         antennae;

·         interiors of flues or chimneys which are not readily accessible; or

·         other installed accessories.

 

5                       PLUMBING SYSTEM

 

The inspector shall:

Inspect:

·         the interior water supply and distribution systems, including all fixtures and taps;

·         the drain, waste and vent systems, including all fixtures;

·         the geysers (indicating whether they work or not);

·         the vent systems, flues and chimneys; and

 

Describe:

the location of main water and main fuel shut-off valves.

 


The inspector is NOT required to:

Inspect:

·         the clothes washing machine and dishwasher connections;

·         borehole connections (if applicable);

·         the interiors of flues or chimneys that are not readily accessible;

·         wells, well pumps or water storage related equipment (including boreholes);

·         water conditioning systems;

·         solar water heating systems;

·         fire and lawn sprinkler systems; or

·         private waste disposal systems; and

 

Determine:

·         whether water supply and waste disposal systems are public or private;

·         the quantity or quality of the water supply; or

 

Operate:

·         safety valves or shut-off valves.

 

6                       ELECTRICAL SYSTEM

 

The inspector shall:

 

Inspect:

·         the exterior components of service panels;

·         a representative number of installed lighting fixtures, switches and plugs; and

 

Describe:

·         the location of the distribution board and main disconnect(s); and

 

The inspector is NOT required to:

Inspect:

·         any remote control devices;

·         any alarm systems and components;

·         the high or low voltage wiring, transformers, systems and components; or

·         the ancillary wiring systems and components that are not a part of the primary electrical power distribution system; or

 

Measure:

·         amperage, voltage or impedance.

 

7                       HEATING SYSTEM

 

The inspector shall:

Inspect:

·         the installed heating equipment (geysers); and

·         the vent systems, flues and chimneys,

in order to ascertain whether they are in working order or not.

 

The inspector is NOT required to:

Inspect:

·         the interiors of flues or chimneys that are not readily accessible;

·         the solar heating system; or

 


Determine:

·         heat supply adequacy or distribution balance.

 

8                       AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEMS

 

The inspector shall:

Inspect:

·         the installed cooling equipment (air-conditioners, whether central or otherwise); and

 

Report:

·         whether the energy source is not in working order.

 

The inspector is NOT required to:

Inspect:

·         electronic air filters; or

 

Determine:

·         cooling supply adequacy or distribution balance.

 

9                       INTERIOR

 

The inspector shall:

Inspect:

·         the walls, ceilings and floors;

·         the steps, stairways and railings; and

·         a representative number of doors and windows.

 

The inspector is NOT required:

Inspect:

·         the paint, wallpaper and other finish treatments;

·         the carpeting;

·         the window treatments;

·         the central vacuum systems (if any);

·         the household appliances;

·         garage door and garage door openers;

·         counter tops or cupboards; or

·         recreational facilities.

 

10                  INSULATION AND VENTILATION

 

The inspector shall:

Inspect:

·         the insulation;

·         the ventilation of roof space and foundation areas; and

·         the mechanical ventilation systems (if any); and

 

Describe:

·         the insulation; and

·         the absence of insulation.

 

The inspector is NOT required to:

·         disturb insulation; or 

·         determine indoor air quality.


 

11                  FIREPLACES AND SOLID FUEL BURNING APPLIANCES

 

The inspector shall:

Inspect:

·         the system components; and

·         the vent systems, flues and chimneys; and

 

Report:

·         Should the fireplaces and chimneys, in the inspector's opinion, be inadequate in the circumstances it must be reported.

 

The inspector is NOT required to:

Inspect:

·         the interiors of flues or chimneys;

·         fire screens and doors;

·         seals and gaskets;

·         any automatic fuel feed devices;

·         mantels and fireplace surrounds;

·         any combustion make-up air devices; or

·         any heat distribution assist whether gravity-controlled or fan‑assisted;

 

Not required to:

·         ignite or extinguish fires;

·         determine draft characteristics; or

·         move fireplace inserts or stoves.

 

12                  GENERAL LIMITATIONS AND EXCLUSIONS

 

General limitations

 

Inspections performed in accordance with the SASHI standards of practice are not technically exhaustive and will not identify concealed conditions or latent defects.

 

The SASHI standards of practice are applicable to buildings with four or fewer dwelling units and their garages, carports or outbuildings.

 

General exclusions

 

The inspector is not required to perform any action or make any determination unless specifically stated in the SASHI standards of practice, except as may be required by legislation.

 

Inspectors are NOT required to:

Determine:

·         the condition of systems or components that are not readily accessible;

·         the remaining life of any system or component;

·         the causes of any condition or deficiency;

·         the methods, materials or costs of corrections;

·         future conditions including, but not limited to, failure of systems and components;

·         the suitability of the property for any specialised use;

·         whether any deficiency or condition may affect the value of the property;

·         compliance with regulatory requirements (regulations, laws, ordinances, and so forth);

·         the market value of the property or its marketability;

·         the advisability of the purchase of the property;

·         the presence of potentially hazardous plants or animals including, but not limited to, diseases harmful to humans;

·         the presence of any environmental hazards including, but not limited to, toxins, carcinogens, noise and contaminants in soil, water and air;

·         the effectiveness of any system installed or methods used to control or remove suspected hazardous substances;

·         the operating costs of systems or components; or

·         the acoustical properties of any system or component.

 

Offer:

·         or perform any act or service contrary to law:

·         or perform engineering services:

·         or perform work in any trade or any professional service (such as electrical services, plumbing or pest control services), other than home inspection; or

·         warranties or guarantees of any kind.

 

Operate:

·         any system or component that is shut down or otherwise inoperable;

·         any system or component that does not respond to normal operating controls;

·         shut-off valves; or

·         any pool pump, Jacuzzi pump, borehole pump or any other motor, unless specifically requested to do so by the client.

 

Enter:

·         any area that is, in the opinion of the inspector, likely be dangerous to the inspector or other persons or damage the property or its systems or components; or

·         under-floor crawl spaces or roof spaces that are not readily accessible.

 

Inspect:

·         underground items including, but not limited to, underground storage tanks or other underground indications of their presence, whether abandoned or active;

·         systems or components that are not installed;

·         decorative items;

·         systems or components located in areas that are not entered in accordance with these standards of practice;

·         detached structures other than garages, carports or outbuildings; or

·         common elements or common areas in multi-unit housing, such as sectional title properties or cluster housing.

 

Not required to:

·         perform any procedure or operation that is, in the opinion of the inspector, likely to be dangerous to the inspector or other persons, or damage the property or its systems or components;

·         move suspended ceiling tiles, personal property, furniture, equipment, plants, soil, ice or debris; or

·         dismantle any system or component, except as explicitly required by these standards of practice.

 


GLOSSARY

 

Most of the definitions below are taken (with minor adaptations) from the ASHI standards of practice. They define terms used in the home inspection business.

 

Alarm systems

Warning devices, installed or free-standing, including but not limited to: carbon monoxide detectors, flue gas and other spillage detectors, security equipment, ejector pumps and smoke alarms.

 

Architectural services

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 for construction, including, but not specifically limited to, schematic design, design development, preparation of construction contract documents, and administration of the construction contract.

 

Component

A part of a system.

 

Decorative

Ornamental: not required for the operation of the essential systems and components of a home.

 

Describe

To report a system or component by its type or other observed significant characteristics to distinguish it from other systems or components.

 

Dismantle

To take apart or remove any component, device or piece of equipment that would not be taken apart or removed by a homeowner in the course of normal and routine homeowner maintenance.

 

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 specifications and design, in conjunction with structures, buildings, machines, equipment, works or processes.

 

Further evaluation

Examination and analysis by a qualified professional, artisan or service technician beyond that provided by the home inspection.

 

Home inspection

The process by which an inspector visually examines the readily accessible systems and components of a home and which describes those systems and components in accordance with these standards of practice.

 

Household appliances

Kitchen, laundry and similar appliances, whether installed or freestanding.

 


Inspect

To examine readily accessible systems and components of a building in accordance with these standards of practice, using normal operating controls and opening readily openable access panels.

 

Inspector

A person hired to examine any system or component of a building in accordance with these standards of practice.

 

Installed

Attached such that removal requires tools.

 

Latent defect

A condition that cannot be observed on visual inspection of a home and is due to faulty workmanship. It becomes apparent at a later stage and can result in significant damage to the home. Examples are rising damp, a structural crack or a rotten roof truss, which might result in damage to the superstructure of the home.

 

Normal operating controls

Devices such as thermostats, switches or valves intended to be operated by the homeowner.

 

Patent defect

A defect (whether structurally significant or not) that is visible to the naked eye at first glance.

 

Readily accessible

Available for visual inspection without requiring moving of personal property, dismantling, destructive measures, or any action which is likely to involve risk to persons or property.

 

Readily openable access panel

A panel provided for homeowner inspection and maintenance that is within normal reach, can be removed by one person, and is not sealed in place.

 

Recreational facilities

Spas, saunas, steam baths, exercise, entertainment, athletic, playground or other similar equipment and associated accessories.

 

Report

To communicate in writing.

 

Representative number

One component per room for multiple similar interior components such as windows and electric outlets; one component on each side of the building for multiple similar exterior components.

 

Roof drainage systems (guttering)

Components used to carry water off a roof and away from a building.

 

Significantly deficient

Unsafe or not functioning.

 


Shut down

A state in which a system or component cannot be operated by normal operating controls.

 

Solid fuel burning appliances

A hearth and fire chamber or similar prepared place in which a fire may be built and which is built in conjunction with a chimney; or a listed assembly of a fire chamber, its chimney and related factory-made parts designed for unit assembly without requiring field construction.

 

Structural component

A component that supports non-variable forces or weights (dead loads) and variable forces or weights (live loads).

 

Structural defect

A visually observed patent defect that affects or may affect the integrity of the superstructure of the dwelling.

 

System

A combination of interacting or interdependent components, assembled to carry out one or more functions.

 

Technically exhaustive

Involving dismantling, the extensive use of advanced techniques, measurements, instruments, testing, calculations or other means.

 

Under-floor crawl space

The area within the confines of the foundation and between the ground and the underside of the floor.

 

Unsafe

A condition in a readily accessible, installed system or component that is judged to be a significant risk of personal 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.

 

Wiring methods

Identification of electrical conductors or wires by their general type, such as 'non‑metallic sheathed cable', or 'armoured cable'.