A Glossary Of Essential Home Inspection Terms

Author: Drougas Inspections LLC | | Categories: Electrical Inspections , Home Inspection , Residential Inspection


Every industry has its own language and terms. These words and phrases can be confusing to anyone who is not part of the daily operations of a specific sector, and the home inspection business is no exception.

To help you understand the terms, acronyms, and phrases regularly used when seeking a home inspection, Drougas Inspections LLC has created this handy reference guide. Here you’ll find valuable information allowing you to comprehend and communicate your home inspection needs effectively.

We use the term receptacle for anything connected to an appliance or a device. Many people call it an outlet or plug, as it helps provide the power. A light fixture can be an outlet, while generators use an “inlet.”

A boiler does just that. It boils water to move hot water through the heating supply. Then there is a steam boiler that also boils water, but with a different way to supply. The one we have fun with is the furnace which is for air delivery. We will have a silly answer ready if a client asks us how the furnace is when they have a boiler.

Appears serviceable
It’s a phrase we have used in our reports for over twenty years to explain that a component, system, or device is doing what it’s intended to. I suppose it is another way of saying, “looks okay to me.”

Photos are examples
It’s a more recent phrase added, as we include as many as eighty to a hundred photos in a report. When there is a repeat in the type of issue, such as trim damage, siding damage, or wiring issues in an area, we limit how many photos we take as not to overload the report file size. Unfortunately, a past seller responded to a request by only repairing the areas we photographed. As a result of that, we had to add the words “photos are examples.”

Amps and Volts
We do get questions about the electrical system that sometimes confuse us. Such as “Is this house 100 amp or 120?” The main house Amperage would be 100, 150, or 200 most often. Then the panel can have 15, 20, 30, 40, 50 amp breakers for circuits (there are odd sizes, but we have mentioned these to highlight our point). The volts would be 120 and 240 amps, which in the past were called 110 or 220. The fact is that there is a difference based on standards. In some cases, we have to raise an eyebrow to decipher what combination of numbers we just heard.

This is something that throws people off when we use details. We tell them they need a graspable handrail. They look at the stairs and point to a “side” rail and say there is one. A side rail may not have a way to grab hold if one slips or falls back. Likewise, one can have a “hand” rail, but if it’s a two by six or some other odd shape, an individual can’t get their hand around it.

Our favorite test is to tell someone to go halfway up the stairs and let themselves fall back. The first thing they do is look to see what they can grab. Then it sinks in that there is no graspable handrail even though there is a side rail or some plank on the wall.

There is a difference between a double-pane (two pieces of glass) versus a Thermopane (two pieces of glass and a sealed gas chamber between the glass). Sometimes the seals of the latter fail and fog up, which doesn’t look so nice. But, we would argue it’s still an excellent window to separate people from the outside world. Keep in mind that newer windows are easy to have resealed, while older windows may be more cost-effective to replace altogether.

One of the typical comments we make is to get a proper doorstop, as we often see damage to a wall even though there is a stop on the hinge. Some may be fitted too tight, and they may punch a hole in a hollow-core door. Our favorite piece of advice is to go for the good old solid rod screwed to the baseboard or the door itself.

Home inspector
Yep, that’s what we are. We are not Code Enforcers or Town Building Inspectors. We don’t make repairs or service anything to “get it to work.” The State of NH does not allow us to quote costs to repair. We are not allowed to tear the house apart to see how wrong something is. We feel we are very good at getting into things and reporting details. But, we do have limits as to what we can do.

Readily accessible
When we started twenty-two years ago, we had a screwdriver and a flashlight. We still only have some essential tools. So when we say readily accessible, it must not require specialty tools. The things we are accessing must also be clear to get to as we don’t use hammers. 

We may determine that accessing an area is just too unsafe, such as an attic over 120 degrees or a crawl space with broken glass, boards with nails, or other dangerous debris. So when we say readily accessible, we should be able to walk right up to it. Maybe use a Philips or flat head screwdriver. Or otherwise, unclip or release a panel.

Where visible
This phrase shows up at the end of a few sentences, such as the plumbing appears serviceable where visible. While we realize that there is a larger percentage of the plumbing, wiring, and structure behind a wall, we only comment on what we can see.

We know some people go by north, south, east, and west. But, we prefer to use the terms front, rear, left, or right in our reports to describe directions. So, if we’re in a room, the front would be behind us. If we say front right window, don’t turn around unless willing to reverse left and right.

Minor vs. major
Certainly, it can be subjective. Minor trim damage to us could feel like a significant issue to a client. We try to use the word “minor” for everyday wear and tear. Even if replacing the component is an option. We step up to the “major” word when the damage is extensive, affects the use, is potentially hazardous, or would likely be out of the homeowner’s hands to correct. There can be a middle ground on some issues. It would then be up to the client to determine how much of a concern there is. They will always be able to ask follow-up questions in the event of confusion.

We appreciate that there are issues out there about equity. They seem to be trickling into our field, for example, using the term “single-family” for a home that may be for one person with no family. For now, we are listening and considering other terms of wording. But, we do still use the old fashion phrases in our reports.

Flooring type
In our reports, we like to list what type of flooring is in a room. Carpet and vinyl are pretty straightforward, and so is basic wood flooring. Although, it’s getting rather tricky with some of the new laminate, composite flooring. There are new styles of vinyl that are thick and of outstanding quality.

Some laminate wood is shaped and colored to look like tile. We try to find an edge to give an exact answer. Often just touching the floor is enough. But we are getting ready to add the word “Composite flooring” to our reports for when we cannot be 100% sure.

If you’re looking for a home inspection, reach out to the experts at Drougas Inspections LLC.

With over twenty-two years of experience in the home inspection sector, we pay close attention to detail when examining homes and offer comprehensive reports packed with photos of the different rooms. We specialize in radon testing, water testing, pest inspection, HVAC, septic and sewer inspection, plumbing, and electrical inspections. We offer our services across Southeastern and Central Eastern NH, including Lee, Londonderry, Wolfeboro, and Wakefield.

Please view our complete list of services here, or get in touch with us here.


Back to top of page