Home inspectors are a subset of the larger field of constructions and building inspectors. Many home inspectors work directly for local governments who require the inspection of new homes and the periodic inspection of older homes for sales or tax purposes. Some home inspectors work for private home inspection companies, lawyers, insurance companies, and real estate offices. A few home inspectors are self-employed and work as independent contractors. The main duty of home inspectors is to physically observe the condition of homes. This requires close examination of all aspects of a home including the foundation, walls, floors, ceilings, roof, frame, electrical, plumbing, insulation, and much more. As home inspectors observe the conditions of a home, they record it in a notebook, on charts, or with diagrams.
A home inspector’s work is not limited to single-family homes. They inspect apartment buildings, condominiums, and commercial buildings, also. Home inspectors look at new buildings and old. The buildings are inspected to ensure they are up to local building codes and as a condition of sale. It is estimated by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) that a full 77 percent of homes sold in the United States and Canada go through an official home inspection prior to sale.
Asbestos and Home Inspection
Because home inspectors frequently visit old buildings they are at risk of exposure to asbestos. Asbestos was banned in the 1980s for use in new homes and construction, but many older buildings still have asbestos and asbestos-containing materials inside. The most common use of asbestos in older homes and buildings that home inspectors come into contact with is asbestos insulation. Not only was asbestos used as insulation in the walls and ceiling, it could also be found on older heaters and boilers. In buildings with boilers, additional asbestos can be found around the hot pipes leading directly out of the boiler and around the hot pipes of radiators throughout the building.
Asbestos was used not only for its properties of insulating from heat, but it was used for its properties to insulate against electricity. Electric boxes and wiring in older homes often contain asbestos. Asbestos was also used in a number of other building materials including tiles and textured paint. Since home inspectors come into direct contact with such a high number of old buildings, the chances of their exposure to asbestos are great.