CREIA Explains the Role of a Professional Home Inspector


September 2003 (Palm Springs, Calif) — The California Real Estate Inspection As (CREIA) wants homebuyers and home sellers to understand the role and services to expect when retaining the services of a professional home inspector.

The home inspector is a generalist who observes a home’s systems, structures and components and identifies material defects. The inspection is neither technically nor physically exhaustive. The inspector operates components and systems that can be done so with normal user controls and as conditions permit, but the inspection is limited to those specific systems, structures, and components that are present and visually accessible. 

In addition to not being able to report on conditions that cannot be seen because they are concealed within the construction, buried beneath the ground, hidden behind personal property, or otherwise unobservable, there are limitations imposed on home inspectors. For example, in California, home inspectors do not inspect for termites and other wood destroying organisms, as this practice is reserved by law for licensed pest control operators. Other common limitations involve engineering standards, geological stability, environmental hazards, zoning designations, lot line placement, low voltage electrical equipment, product recalls, and other specific “expert only” matters. The purpose of a home inspection is to report significant defects from a practical standpoint, not as they relate to codes and regulations. 

The inspector will issue a report describing the findings and any material defects. A material defect is a condition that significantly affects the value, desirability, habitability or safety of the home. Style or aesthetics are not considered in determining whether a specific system, structure, or component is defective. The inspection report is not meant to be a seller’s repair list. For example, in most instances it is not customary to demand that sellers repair minor defects such as door and gate problems. 

If the inspection report contains information that is not understood, the client should contact the inspector for further explanation. The best way to be informed about a house is to attend the inspection. Neglecting to attend a home inspection can be a big mistake, often giving rise to needless questions and misunderstandings. It is also a great way to learn how to operate your systems as well as finding out about their current condition. A complete inspection report can assist buyers with future maintenance scheduling.

Most importantly, make sure you retain the services of a qualified, professional home inspector. To locate a qualified CREIA inspector near you, call CREIA at (800) 388-8443, or visit their website at Since 1976, CREIA, a non-profit voluntary membership organization has been providing education, training, and support services to the real estate inspection industry and to the public. Inspectors must adhere to CREIA's Code of Ethics and follow the Standards of Practice developed by the association. These Standards of Practice have been recognized by the State of California, and are considered the source for home inspector Standard of Care by the real estate and legal communities. 

CREIA requires its members to successfully pass a comprehensive written examination of property systems and complete 30 hours of continuing education each year. Members can accumulate credits through various sources of education including monthly chapter meetings, conferences, and other approved activities. CREIA keeps records to ensure that members are complying with the requirements. Educational topics cover a variety of technical subjects including updates and advances affecting the profession of real estate inspection. CREIA is dedicated to consumer protection and education.