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Common Terms

Here are some terms relating to your home inspection:

ACTIVATED: A device or system which is available for operation, i.e. the main water service valve is turned on to allow water to be available to a home.

ALLIGATORING: A condition of paint or aged asphalt brought about by the loss of volatile oils and the oxidation caused by solar radiation. Causes a coarse checking pattern characterized by a slipping of the new paint coating over the old coating to the extent that the old coating can be seen through the fissures. “Alligatoring” produces a pattern of cracks resembling an alligator hide and is ultimately the result of the limited tolerance of paint or asphalt to thermal expansion or contraction.

APPLIANCE: A household device operated by use of electricity or gas. Not included in this definition are components covered under central heating, central cooling, or plumbing.

BRANCH CIRCUIT (ELECTRICAL): Wiring that runs from a service panel or sub-panel to outlets. Branch circuits are protected by fuses or breakers at the panel.

CERTIFIED: Having a formal document testifying to qualification or completion of requirements.

COMPONENT: A permanently installed or attached fixture, element or part of a system.

CONDITION: The visible and conspicuous state of being of an object.

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

DETERMINE: To arrive at an opinion or conclusion pursuant to examination.

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 home owner maintenance.

ENGINEERING:  The application of scientific knowledge for the design, control, or use of building structures, equipment, or apparatus building structures, equipment, or apparatus.

ENTER: To go into an area to observe its visible components.

EVALUATE: To ascertain, judge, or form an opinion about an item or condition.

EXAMINE: To visually look. See, Inspect.

FUNCTION: The action for which and item, component or system is specially fitted or used or for which an item, component or system exists; to be in action or perform a task.

FUNCTIONAL: The action for which and item, component or system is specially fitted or used or for which an item, component or system exists; to be in action or perform a task.  No prediction, guarantee or warranty of future performance or operation is made.

HOME INSPECTION: The process by which an inspector visually examines the readily accessible systems and components of the home and operates those systems and components utilizing the Standards of Practice of the National Association of Home Inspectors as a guideline.

FURTHER EVALUATION:  Examination and analysis by a licensed, qualified professional, tradesman, or service technician beyond that provided by the home inspection.

INSPECT: To visually examine any system or component of a building in accordance with the Standards of Practice, using normal operating controls and opening readily openable access panels.

INSPECTED PROPERTY: The readily accessible areas of the building, site, items, components, and systems included in the inspection.

INSPECTOR:  A person hired to examine any system or component of a building in accordance with National Standards of Practice.

INSTALLED:  Attached such that removal requires tools.

LIFE EXPECTANCY: The average length of time an item or system will function properly before needing to be replaced

NEAR END OF LIFE SPAN: An item or system which appears to be near the end of its functional life, although it may be functioning at the time of the inspection, failure can be expected in the near future.

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

NOT INSPECTED: The item was not inspected due to inaccessibility, safety, personal items, temperature, weather conditions or the item is not within the scope of the inspection.

NOT OPERATED: The system or component was not operated due inaccessibility, safety, temperature, weather conditions or the item is not within the scope of the inspection.

OBSERVE: To see through visual directed attention.

OPERATE: To cause equipment or systems that have been activated to perform their intended function(s), such as turning on a water faucet, or turning up the thermostat on a heating system.

READILY OPENABLE ACCESS PANEL:  A panel provided for homeowner inspection and maintenance that is readily accessible, within normal reach, can be removed by one person, and is not sealed in place.

REPORT:  Communicate in writing.

REPRESENTATIVE NUMBER: A sufficient number of accessible items to serve as a typical or characteristic example of the item(s) inspected.

SAMPLE:  Random examples chosen by the inspector.

SERVICEABLE: No major problems were observed at the time of the inspection. The item was capable of being used although some signs of wear and tear may exist.  No prediction, guarantee or warranty of future performance or operation is made.

SIDING:  Exterior wall covering and cladding; such as: aluminum, asphalt, brick, cement/asbestos, EIFS, stone, stucco, veneer, vinyl, wood, etc.

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 inspection is technically exhaustive when it involves the extensive use of measurements, instruments, testing calculations and other means, performed by multiple individuals trained in different specific systems to develop scientific or engineering findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

UNSAFE:  A condition in a readily accessible, installed system or component that is judged to be a significant risk of bodily 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, armored cable,or knob and tube, etc.

WORN: An item or system which shows obvious signs and effects of use and may not function as new.

FOR ADDITIONAL DEFINITIONS SEE THE GLOSSARY IN THE NAHI STANDARDS OF PRACTICE