Glossary of Terms

Confused by some of the terms used in your home inspection report? This glossary cover frequently used terms by many home inspectors in an inspection report.

  • accessible:  In the opinion of the inspector, can be approached or entered safely, without difficulty, fear or danger.
  • activate:  To turn on, supply power, or enable systems, equipment or devices to become active by normal operating controls. Examples include turning on the gas or water supply valves to the fixtures and appliances, and activating electrical breakers or fuses.
  • adversely affect:  To constitute, or potentially constitute, a negative or destructive impact.
  • alarm system:  Warning devices, installed or freestanding, including, but not limited to: carbon-monoxide detectors, flue gas and other spillage detectors, security equipment, ejector pumps, and smoke alarms.
  • appliance:  A household device operated by the use of electricity or gas. Not included in this definition are components covered under central heating, central cooling or plumbing.
  • architectural service:  Any practice involving the art and science of building design for construction of any structure or grouping of structures, and the use of space within and surrounding the structures or the design, design development, preparation of construction contract documents, and administration of the construction contract.
  • component:  A permanently installed or attached fixture, element or part of a system.
  • condition:  The visible and conspicuous state of being of an object.
  • correction:  Something that is substituted or proposed for what is incorrect, deficient, unsafe, or a defect.
  • cosmetic defect:  An irregularity or imperfection in something, which could be corrected, but is not required.
  • crawlspace:  The area within the confines of the foundation and between the ground and the underside of the lowest floor’s structural component.
  • decorative:  Ornamental; not required for the operation of essential systems or components of a home.
  • describe:  To report in writing a system or component by its type or other observed characteristics in order to distinguish it from other components used for the same purpose.
  • determine:  To arrive at an opinion or conclusion pursuant to examination.
  • dismantle:  To open, take apart or remove any component, device or piece that would not typically be opened, taken apart or removed by an ordinary occupant.
  • engineering service:  Any professional service or creative work requiring engineering education, training and experience, and the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical and engineering sciences to such professional service or creative work as consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning, design and supervision of construction for the purpose of assuring compliance with the specifications and design, in conjunction with structures, buildings, machines, equipment, works and/or processes.
  • enter:  To go into an area to observe visible components.
  • evaluate:  To assess the systems, structures and/or components of a property.
  • evidence:  That which tends to prove or disprove something; something that makes plain or clear; grounds for belief; proof.
  • examine:  To visually look (see inspect).
  • foundation:  The base upon which the structure or wall rests, usually masonry, concrete or stone, and generally partially underground.
  • function:  The action for which an 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:  Performing, or able to perform, a function.
  • functional defect:  A lack of or an abnormality in something that is necessary for normal and proper functioning and operation, and, therefore, requires further evaluation and correction.
  • general home inspection:  The process by which an inspector visually examines the readily accessible systems and components of a home and operates those systems and components utilizing this Standards of Practice as a guideline.
  • home inspection:  See general home inspection.
  • household appliances:  Kitchen and laundry appliances, room air conditioners, and similar appliances.
  • identify:  To notice and report.
  • indication:  That which serves to point out, show, or make known the present existence of something under certain conditions.
  • inspect:  To examine readily accessible systems and components safely, using normal operating controls, and accessing readily accessible areas, in accordance with this Standards of Practice.
  • inspected property:  The readily accessible areas of the buildings, site, items, components and systems included in the inspection.
  • inspection report:  A written communication (possibly including images) of any material defects observed during the inspection.
  • inspector:  One who performs a real estate inspection.
  • installed:  Attached or connected such that the installed item requires a tool for removal.
  • material defect:  A specific issue with a system or component of a residential property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property, or that poses an unreasonable risk to people.  The fact that a system or component is near, at, or beyond the end of its normal, useful life is not, in itself, a material defect.
  • normal operating controls:  Describes the method by which certain devices (such as thermostats) can be operated by ordinary occupants, as they require no specialized skill or knowledge.
  • observe:  To visually notice.
  • operate:  To cause systems to function or turn on with normal operating controls.
  • readily accessible:  A system or component that, in the judgment of the inspector, is capable of being safely observed without the removal of obstacles, detachment or disengagement of connecting or securing devices, or other unsafe or difficult procedures to gain access.
  • recreational facilities:  Spas, saunas, steam baths, swimming pools, tennis courts, playground equipment, and other exercise, entertainment and athletic facilities.
  • report (verb form): To express, communicate or provide information in writing; give a written account of.  (See also inspection report.)
  • representative number:  A number sufficient to serve as a typical or characteristic example of the item(s) inspected.
  • residential property:  Four or fewer residential units.
  • residential unit:  A home; a single unit providing complete and independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.
  • safety glazing:  Tempered glass, laminated glass, or rigid plastic.
  • shut down:  Turned off, unplugged, inactive, not in service, not operational, etc.
  • structural component:  A component that supports non-variable forces or weights (dead loads) and variable forces or weights (live loads).
  • system:  An assembly of various components which function as a whole.
  • technically exhaustive:  A comprehensive and detailed examination beyond the scope of a real estate home inspection that would involve or include, but would not be limited to:  dismantling, specialized knowledge or training, special equipment, measurements, calculations, testing, research, analysis, or other means.
  • unsafe:  In the inspector’s opinion, a condition of an area, system, component or procedure that is judged to be a significant risk of 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.
  • verify:  To confirm or substantiate.

For more terms, Visit InterNACHI’s full Glossary.