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North American Association of Home Inspectors

16192 Coastal Highway, Lewes, Delaware 19958


AHI Standards of Practice

The purpose of the AHI Standards of Practice is to establish a minimum and uniform standard for performing an inspection of a single-family to a four-family dwelling. The Standards set minimum requirements for describing and reporting conditions observed. The Standards define and clarify terms, procedures, scope, conditions, and limitations as they relate to an AHI home inspection and report.

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.
Automatic Safety Controls: Devices designed and installed to protect systems and components from unsafe conditions.
Client: A person who engages the services of a home inspector for an inspection assignment.
Component: A part of a system.
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 that would not be taken apart or removed in the course of normal maintenance.
Further Evaluation: Examination and analysis by a qualified professional, tradesperson or service technician beyond that provided by the home inspection.
Functional Drainage: Empties in a reasonable amount of time and does not overflow when another fixture is drained simultaneously.
Home Inspection: The examination and evaluation of the exterior and interior components of residential real property in connection with or to facilitate the sale, lease, or other conveyance of, or the proposed sale, lease or other conveyance of, residential real property
Home Inspection Report: A written evaluation prepared and issued by a home inspector upon completion of a home inspection that meets the standards of practice as established by AHI.
Household Appliances: Kitchen, laundry and similar appliances, whether installed or free-standing.
Inspect: The visual examination of readily accessible systems and components using normal operating controls and opening readily accessible access panels.
Installed: Attached in such a manner that removal requires tools.
Normal Operating Controls: Systems intended to be operated by the homeowner such as switches, faucets or thermostats.
Readily Accessible: Can be visually inspected without removing personal property, plantings, floor of wall coverings, dismantling components or risking the home inspector's safety.
Report: To communicate in writing.
Pre-inspection Agreement: An agreement signed by the client prior to the start of the home inspection that contains, at a minimum, the full name and address of the client, the address of the home to be inspected, the date and time of the home inspection, the price of the home inspection, and the scope and limitations of the inspection.
Representative Number: One component per room for multiple similar interior components, such as windows, doors and electric outlets, and one component on each side of the building for multiple similar exterior components.
Roof Drainage Systems: 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).
System: A combination of interacting or interdependent components, assembled to carry out one or more functions.
Technically Exhaustive: An investigation that would normally be performed by a professional tradesman that involves dismantling, measuring or testing components for acceptable operation range or code compliance.
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 system or component that poses a significant risk of personal injury or property damage during normal, day-to-day use.
Wiring Methods: The type of electrical conductors or wires used such as non-metallic sheathed cable, armored cable or knob and tube.

The purpose is to establish a minimum and uniform standard for the home inspection that provides the client with information regarding the condition of the systems and components within an agreed upon scope of the home inspection at the time of the inspection. The home inspector shall visually observe the readily accessible installed systems and components that are included in the scope of work unless the component or system is excluded by a signed written agreement with the client.

The Home Inspector shall not dismantle and/or move equipment, systems, furniture, appliances, floor coverings, finished or fastened surfaces or components, personal property or other items to conduct the home inspection or otherwise to expose concealed or inaccessible conditions, or perform destructive testing of any kind.

Systems and conditions that are not within the scope of the home inspection include, but are not limited to:

  1. Environmental hazards including the presence or absence of asbestos, lead paint, radon, or urea formaldehyde insulation
  2. Water or air quality
  3. Presence of toxic or carcinogenic matter emitted from the ground, building materials, presence in water, in air supply or from the operation of any equipment.
  4. Items that are obstructed, inaccessible or not in plain view.
  5. Mold or mold type.
  6. Animal or insect infestations.

The following components or systems also fall outside the scope of the inspection:
security systems; appliances; playground and recreational equipment; swimming pools; hot tubs/spas; lawn sprinkler systems; intercom and audio/video systems and below ground drainage systems; antennas; central vacuums; solar systems; water softeners and filters; wells; septic systems; latent defects; adequacy of system designs; zoning or building code compliance; and any items considered to be cosmetic in nature.

The written home inspection report is not intended to be used as a guarantee or warranty, expressed or implied, regarding adequacy, performance, or condition of any inspected building, system or component. Items inspected are not guaranteed to be defect-free, as problems may exist even though signs of such may not be present during the inspection.

The Standards provide minimum guidelines for the home inspector, and outline what the home inspector should inspect. The guidelines provide the minimum contents of a written report and are not intended to limit The Home Inspector from performing additional inspection services.

AHI members have demonstrated knowledge of residential home inspection by acquiring home inspector education/experience, have passed AHI's national certification test or another state or national exam, and certify that they have met applicable state licensing requirements or regulations. AHI professional members are designated full members after performing or participating in at least 100 inspections. Members are required to obtain continuing education to maintain their membership.

The scope of the home inspection includes the readily accessible and visible areas of the following systems: Site/ Grounds, Structural System/ Foundation, Exterior, Roof, Plumbing, Electrical, Heating System, Cooling System, Interior, Insulation and Ventilation, and Fireplaces / Solid Burning Appliances. The scope is not intended to prohibit the Home Inspector from performing additional inspection services, or from excluding systems or components by mutual agreement with the client.

The home inspector shall enter into a written agreement with the client prior to the home inspection that includes at a minimum, the date of the inspection; the name, address and license number of the home inspector (if applicable); the inspection fee for services performed; a statement that the inspection will be performed in accordance with these Standards; a list of the systems and components to be inspected; limitations or exclusions of systems or components being inspected; and the signature of the client and the home inspector.


  1. Inspect and describe the ground cover and vegetation, grading, surface drainage, and retaining walls on the property when any of these are likely to adversely affect the building;
  2. Inspect and describe walkways, patios (contiguous to the foundation), and driveways leading to dwelling entrances;
  3. Identify site conditions that are unsafe.

The Home Inspector is not required to:

  • Inspect property fences that do not adversely affect the building.
  • Evaluate the condition of shrubs, trees and other vegetation that do not adversely affect the building.


  1. Inspect and describe the condition of the visible materials of foundation walls and framing;
  2. Report the methods used to inspect the under-floor crawl space or basement, floor, wall, ceiling, roof, structure;
  3. Report the methods used to inspect the attic.

The Home Inspector is not required to:

  • Determine the adequacy of any structural system or component
  • Provide architectural or engineering recommendations.


  1. Inspect the exterior wall covering, flashing, 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 Home Inspector is not required to:

  • Inspect or report on free-standing decks or other structures that are not attached to the dwelling.
  • Report on the adequacy of storm windows or doors.


  1. Inspect the roof covering, the roof drainage systems (gutters/downspouts), the flashings, the skylights, chimneys, and roof penetrations; and describe the roof covering
  2. Report the methods used to inspect the roof (e.g. from ground, with binoculars, from ladder, etc.).
  3. Report the roof areas that could not be inspected.

The Home Inspector is not required to:

  • Walk on roof or perform any tasks that could be dangerous.
  • Certify that the roof is free of leaks.
  • Report on accessory items such as antennas or solar panels.
  • Determine or estimate the remaining life of roof covering.


  1. Identify the location of main water and main fuel shut-off valves, and describe pipe material(s) and size;
  2. Operate all readily accessible plumbing fixtures and faucets and observe functional drainage;
  3. Inspect vents, flues, and chimneys, the fuel storage and fuel distribution systems, drainage sumps, sump pumps, and related piping;
  4. Inspect the water heating equipment and describe type and capacity.

The Home Inspector is not required to:

  • Operate systems that have been shutdown or winterized.
  • Operate or test main or branch shut-off valves.


  1. Inspect the service drop, the service entrance conductors, cables, and raceways, the service equipment and main disconnects, the service grounding, the interior components of service panels and sub panels, the conductors, the over-current protection devices
  2. Inspect a representative number of installed lighting fixtures, switches, receptacles and ground fault circuit interrupters;
  3. Describe the amperage and voltage rating of the service, the location of main disconnects and sub panels, the wiring methods;
  4. Report on the presence of solid conductor aluminum branch circuit wiring where readily accessible, and on the absence of smoke detectors.

The Home Inspector is not required to:

  • Activate electrical systems or branch circuits that are not energized.
  • Test all switches, receptacles, or fixtures.
  • Move objects to gain access to electrical outlets or panels.
  • Operate overload protection devices except GFCI breakers.
  • Operate or test smoke detectors


  1. Inspect the installed heating equipment, the vent systems, flues, and chimneys;
  2. Report the type of fuel and heat distribution system;
  3. Identify the capacity and approximate age from manufacturer service panel;
  4. Operate and report the condition of thermostats
  5. Inspect and report the condition of a representative number of supply and return openings (if applicable).

The Home Inspector is not required to:

  • Operate a heating system when the operation could cause damage to the system.
  • Activate equipment that has been shut-down or will not respond to thermostat controls.
  • Examine equipment by any means other than the service panels provided by the manufacturer.
  • Report on the efficiency or adequacy of the system or its distribution method.


  1. Inspect the installed central and through-wall cooling equipment; and describe the energy source, the cooling method by its distinguishing characteristics.
  2. Report the equipment type, size and approximate age from manufacturer service panel
  3. Operate the equipment (weather permitting) by normal control controls and report the condition.

The Home Inspector is not required to:

  • Operate cooling equipment when the ambient temperature has been less than 65 Degrees F within the previous 24 hours.
  • Activate systems that have been shut-down or deactivated.
  • Report on the efficiency or adequacy of the system or its distribution method.


  1. Inspect the walls, ceilings, and floors, the steps, stairways, and railings, the countertops, installed cabinets, doors, and windows;
  2. Describe and report the condition and any defects or deficiencies;
  3. Report visible signs of water and moisture penetration into the building;
  4. Describe the style, size and location of an attached garage;
  5. Operate garage doors and garage door operators and report any defects or deficiencies.

The Home Inspector is not required to:

  • Move furniture or owners possessions.
  • Operate garage door openers that have been disconnected from a power source.


  1. Inspect the insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces, the ventilation of attics and foundation areas, mechanical ventilation systems and exhaust systems in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry;
  2. describe the insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces, the absence of insulation in unfinished spaces at conditioned surfaces.

The Home Inspector is not required to:

  • Enter crawl spaces with headroom less than two feet or where adverse conditions exist.
  • Enter attic spaces where the headroom is less than 3 feet.
  • Enter attic spaces where hazardous conditions exist.
  • Evaluate ventilation adequacy by any means other than visually.
  • Evaluate the efficiency of insulation other than by accepted thickness.
  • Operate sump pumps.


  1. Inspect the system components, the vent systems, flues, and chimneys;
  2. describe the fireplaces, solid fuel burning appliances, and the chimneys.

The Home Inspector is not required to:

  • Light a fire in the fireplace or ignite a pilot light.
  • Inspect the interiors of flues, fire screens, doors, seals, and gaskets.
  • Determine combustion make-up air devices or draft characteristics.

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