Cosmetic vs. Structural Defects
It is not uncommon for an inspection report to disclose what would appear to be “minor” or “cosmetic” defects to a prospective buyer. While cosmetic defects are typically included in an inspection report as a courtesy (and the repairs of such are not incumbent on the seller), they are also included because they may indicate a more serious problem. For example, although ceiling stains may only need repainting, such stains may also be indicative of past or current leakage, either at the roof or the plumbing system. Further evaluation of such conditions is often warranted. If an inspection takes place during dry weather, it is not always possible to determine whether rain leakage will occur, but specific review of roof surfaces above ceiling stains is a critical part of a detailed inspection.
It is also a common misconception that a professional home inspector should look for and only identify structural conditions. A home inspection is not just a “structural” inspection. In a strict sense, the word “structural” is very limited in its scope, referring primarily to issues involving foundations, framing, and ground stability. A home inspection, however, encompasses far more issues than these, including but not limited to the plumbing, heating, and electrical systems, fireplaces and chimneys, roofing, built-in appliances, exterior surface drainage, general occupant safety issues, and much more. The primary scope and purpose of a professionally conducted home inspection is to provide a thorough diagnosis of the current condition of its readily accessible systems and components and to identify any significant defects visually discernible by means of a written report wherein additional evaluations and corrective work may be recommended by appropriate qualified specialists. To limit the scope of a home inspection to purely structural considerations is to drastically reduce the accepted standards of practice of a physical inspection.
President, Jabuka Home Inspections