What are Home Inspectors Not Allowed to Do?

exterior inspection

Introduction to Home Inspection Limitations

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is a visible examination of the home. It is important to note the word “visible”, and also further note that the inspection is only a snapshot of the home at a given time. Therefore, as Realtors and buyers, we should understand that a home inspector is only able to see what you see. Furthermore, more likely than not, you typically can view the house for much longer, rather than a home inspector’s typical 2-4 hours on site.

However, a home inspector does have knowledge, experience, and tools to help him/her evaluate certain components and know where to look for issues.

Now that you know what a home inspection is, what are home inspectors not allowed to do since an inspection is only a visible snapshot of the home?

Not Allowed to Risk Safety

If anything is deemed unsafe, an inspector must not inspect that portion of the home. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Ponding water in a crawlspace
  • Animals in the attic
  • Exposed wiring in the attic

Non-Operational Systems

If the home’s systems are not readily operational, such as a pool heater, A/C, or oven, an inspector is not allowed/does not have to try to operate the system. A home inspection is not technically exhaustive in this instance, meaning the inspector cannot spend 15 minutes taking apart an HVAC unit in order to understand why it is not working.

Touching/Repairing Certain Items

Most home inspectors will try not to touch or operate certain items they do not have to. For instance, taking off an electrical panel is critical to determine the electrical health of the home.

On the other hand, shutting on/off plumbing shut-offs next to toilets or under sinks may not the best idea. Operating shut-off valves is not required in a home inspection, and often times, operating shut-offs can break them causing them to leak.

Furthermore, if we talk about taking off outlet covers, technically a home inspection is visual so this does not need to be done.

Home Inspector Standards of Practice for the State of Tennessee

Ultimately, a Home Inspector’s Standards of Practice tell us what is required of a home inspection. Tennessee has home inspector licensing, they have minimum SOP’s, however, home inspector associations have SOP’s that are considered to be of “higher standard.”  Below are the details of to be licensed in the state of Tennessee as well as other valuable information.



Home inspectors in the state of Tennessee are regulated by the Department of Commerce and Insurance.

They have a very helpful “How to Get a License” page that gives the following requirements:

  • At least 18 years of age
  • High school or GED
  • 90 hours of a commissioner-approved training program
  • Pass the NHIE
  • General liability insurance of at least $500,000
  • E&O Insurance (no minimum)

Forms and Downloads can be found here.

Contact Info:

Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance 

500 James Robertson Pkwy
Nashville, TN 37243

Phone: (615) 741-2241

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