Glossary of Terms

American Institute of Inspectors Standards of Practice

  • Automatic (System) Safety Controls: Devices designed and installed to protect systems and components from excessively high or low pressures and temperatures, excessive electrical current, loss of water, loss of ignition, fuel leaks, fire, freezing, or other unsafe conditions.
  • Central Air Conditioning: A system that uses ducts to distribute cooled and/or dehumidified air to more than one room at a time, and which is not plugged into an electrical convenience outlet.
  • Clearance to Combustibles: The distance between a heat producing appliance, chimney, chimney connector, vent, vent connector, or plenum and other surfaces. Also, in garages, the distance between the floor and an installed source of ignition.
  • Component: A permanently installed appliance, fixture, element, or part of a system.
  • Cross Connections: Any physical connection or arrangement between potable water and any source of contamination.
  • Dangerous or Adverse situations: Situations that pose a threat of injury to the inspector, and those situations that require use of special protective clothing or safety equipment.
  • Dismantle: To take apart or remove any component, device or piece of equipment that is bolted, screwed, (or fastened by other means), that would not be removed by a homeowner in the course of normal household maintenance.
  • Eminent Hazard: A hazard to the safety and/or health of persons that will happen unless corrective action is taken on the condition noted. This hazard requires the Inspector to notify the client and/or agent and may require the Inspector to take temporary corrective action.
  • Engineering: Analysis or design work requiring extensive education, training, preparation and experience in the use of mathematics, chemistry, physics, and the engineering sciences.
  • Functional Drainage: A drain is functional when it empties in a reasonable amount of time and does not overflow when another fixture is drained simultaneously.
  • Functional Flow: A reasonable flow at the highest fixture in a dwelling when another fixture is operated simultaneously.
  • Further Evaluation: Examination and/or analysis by a qualified professional, licensed tradesperson or technician beyond the scope provided by the Home Inspection.
  • Home Inspection: The process by which an Inspector provides a limited visual examination of the readily accessible systems, components and structures of a property and which describes those systems, components and structures, in accordance with these Standards of Practice, in a written report that summarizes the conditions observed.
  • Household Appliances: Kitchen, laundry, and similar appliances are not included in these Standards since a visual inspection may not indicate the effectiveness of their operation.
  • Hazard: Danger to the health and/or safety of people.
  • Identify: Report in writing a system or component by its type, or other observed characteristics, to distinguish it from other systems or components used for the same purpose.
  • Inspector: Any person who examines any component of a building, through limited visual means and through normal user controls, without the use of mathematical sciences, in accordance with these Standards of Practice.
  • Installed: Attached (connected) to the structural, mechanical, plumbing or electrical system of the house such that the item installed cannot be removed without the use of tools.
  • Normal Operating Controls: Homeowner operated devices such as a thermostat, wall switch or safety switch.
  • Observe: The act of making a limited visual examination.
  • Operate: To cause systems or equipment to function with normal operating controls.
  • Potential Hazard: A hazard to the safety and/or health of people that has a good chance of occurring if corrective action is not taken on the condition noted.
  • Primary Windows and Doors: Windows and exterior doors that are designed to remain in their respective openings year round.
  • Readily Accessible: Available for limited visual inspection without requiring moving of personal property, dismantling or destructive measures, or any action which will likely involve risk to persons or property.
  • Readily Openable Access Panel: A panel provided for homeowner inspection and maintenance which has removable or operable fasteners or latch devices in order to be lifted off, swung open, or otherwise removed by one person (without the use of tools) and its edges and fasteners are not painted in place. Limited to those panels within normal reach or from a 4-foot stepladder, and which are not blocked by stored items, furniture, or building components.
  • Recreational Facilities: Spas, saunas, steam baths, swimming pools, tennis courts, playground equipment, and other exercise, entertainment, or athletic equipment.
  • Representative Number: For multiple identical components such as windows and electric outlets – one such component per room. For multiple identical exterior components – one such component on each side of the building.
  • Report: The Inspection Report is a written document prepared for a fee and issued after the property inspection. It identifies the systems, components and structure and summarizes the observed conditions noted during the evaluation process of the property.
  • Roof Drainage Systems: Gutters, downspouts, leaders, splash blocks, and similar components used to carry water off a roof and away from a building.
  • Shut Down: A piece of equipment or system is shut down when it cannot be operated by the device or control that a homeowner would use to normally operate the equipment or system. If the safety switch, fuse, or circuit breaker is in the “OFF” position, the Inspector is NOT required to operate the equipment or system.
  • Solid Fuel Heating Device: Any wood, coal, or other similar organic fuel-burning device, including but not limited to fireplaces, whether masonry or factory built, fireplace inserts and stoves, wood stoves (room heaters), central furnaces, and combinations of these devices.
  • Structural Component: A building component which supports interior or exterior finish materials or other building components.
  • System: The sum total of the components that function as a whole (such as Electrical System, HVAC System).
  • Technically Exhaustive: An inspection is technically exhaustive when it involves the extensive use of measurements, instruments, testing, calculations, and other means to develop scientific or engineering findings, conclusions, and recommendations. This is beyond the scope of a normal Property/Home Inspection.
  • Under-floor Crawl Space: The area within the confines of the foundation and between the ground and the underside of the lowest floor structural component.
  • Water Supply Quality: Water quality is based on the bacterial, chemical, mineral and solids content of the water.

Copyright, 1993 (Revised 2002; approved by the Board of Directors June 2002)
All Rights Reserved

Published by:

The American Institute of Inspectors, Inc.
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Lower Lake, CA 95457

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