Interior only home inspectionMany home inspectors offer what is called an “interior only” home inspection for condos and townhomes. Oftentimes, the cost for an interior only home inspection is less than a full general home inspection since it takes less time to inspect and report on an interior only inspection. These types of inspections are meant for condos or townhomes where there is an HOA (homeowners association) that is responsible for any maintenance, upkeep, repairs or replacement outside of a designated part of the property.

In many cases, the designated part of the property falling under the owner’s responsibility is usually within the interior walls of the home, and the designated parts of the property falling under the HOA’s responsibility can include housing parts and systems such as roofing, exterior siding, central heating and cooling or plumbing and sewer lines. They can also include any parts and systems within the crawlspace and attics of a home when present, such as insulation and ventilation, drainage, and other mechanical/electrical systems. This, however, can differ according to the rules and regulations set forth by each individual HOA.

Townhome inspection

Don’t select an “interior only” inspection for a townhome.

The rules and regulations for HOAs are referred to as Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). HOAs also have bylaws dictating the structure and regulation of whatever business entity that it is set up as, such as a nonprofit corporation. Usually, the CC&Rs will be the main source of information dictating the distinction between a homeowner’s or HOA’s responsibilities.

When buying a property that has an HOA, working with your realtor is essential for proper interpretation of the CC&Rs and bylaws as they will usually be more versed in how all those things work. Home inspectors will not have access to all these rules and regulations and therefore are not able to distinguish which parts of the property are the client’s responsibility or not. Home inspectors will only inspect a property from an objective perspective, so CC&Rs and bylaws are not considered.

High rise condo

High rise condos can be “interior only”

So what does this all have to do with why you shouldn’t select an “interior only” home inspection? Well, some people make a decision to not have the roof, exterior, attic, or crawlspaces inspected when buying a townhome or condo with these property components, since the inspection cost is less, and they are under the impression that these systems are under the responsibility of the HOA. However, these systems can easily negatively impact the habitability, comfort, efficiency, enjoyment, health, and safety of the home if there are issues present. That is why we also encourage our clients to have the full property inspected (rather than “interior only”) when buying a townhome or condo within a residential structure. If problems are found, and repairs are needed, the homeowner can notify the HOA so that the issues can be resolved.

So how about why you should select an “interior only” home inspection? If you are buying a condo or townhome in a multi-family commercial building, such as a condo in a high-rise building, that does not have a crawlspace or attic, then the interior only inspection is the correct choice.

Please check out the video below to learn more about condo and townhome purchases.