What is the Difference Between a Building Inspection and a Home Inspection?

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If you’re buying a home, you may have heard of Building Inspections and Home Inspections. It’s important to know the difference, because some people mistakenly believe that one can take the place of the other. Both Building Inspectors and Home Inspectors do important work involved with the condition of a home, but each have a different job and purpose. Matter-of-fact, building inspectors and home inspectors have two separate licenses and cannot technically do the job of the other.

So, what are the differences?

Building Inspectors check for compliance with building codes. They look at how every piece has been installed to make sure it’s following the codes developed by the International Code Council. Building Inspectors do not test what has been installed. It’s a visual inspection and utilities are usually not turned on until after the Building Inspector has approved them. Just because a home is built to code, doesn’t mean that the home is well-crafted, because codes only focus on the minimum needed for the health, safety, and welfare of residences. Doors can be hung crooked and tile can be poorly grouted, but the home will still pass code, because cosmetic issues are not code issues.

Home Inspectors test all of the systems of the home. They test water fixtures, light switches, cooking appliances, garage door openers, water heaters, etc. They also crawl under the house and into the attic, and look at the roof. A good rule of thumb – if they can see it, they will inspect it. So, they can inspect the condition of drywall, but nothing that’s in the wall (they’d have to damage the wall to do that).  Exceptions include anything that may require someone specialized, like a chimney or a gas log fireplace operating incorrectly, and areas showing signs of pests, like termites or rodents.

Building Inspections take about 30 minutes. The inspector walks through the home and makes note of the visual appearance of installed pieces. They do not crawl under the home or into the attic, they don’t walk on the roof, and they’re often very limited on the time they can spend at each property.

Home Inspections take 2.5-4 hours depending on the size of the home. A lot more is looked at and tested in a Home Inspection, and that takes time.

Building Inspections are completed during construction. Home Inspections are executed well after construction is completed. That’s after utilities have been turned on and, oftentimes, after the home has already been lived in. So, Home Inspectors are able to tell you more about the home than a Building Inspector.

Finally, Building Inspectors usually work for a local government agency. A Home Inspector works for you. At the end of the Home Inspection, you will be provided a thorough report of the condition of each system and all major features.

If you’re buying a home, make sure that you have a Home Inspection. Not only does it point out issues that may be wrong with the home, but can often forecast potential future issues. When you buy a home, you’re making a long-term investment and you want to be thoroughly educated about the home you are buying. Plus, sellers are often willing to make repairs in order to get the home sold and a Home Inspection will bring to light any needed repairs.

Do you have a question about Home Inspections? Would you like us to refer you to a reliable and friendly Home Inspector we’ve worked with in the past? Just let us know! Give us a call at 910.202.2546 or send us a message through our Contact page.

About the Author
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meghanriley

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Meghan is the Client Care Coordinator for The Cameron Team and a published author of two young adult books.