Are these decks beyond the scope of a home inspection?

If not, would you charge extra for it? What would your reaction be when you drove up and saw it? :shock:

I’d already be charging enough based on the square footage. I’d inspect it. My reaction would likely be “I’m going to be here for a while.”

I’ve inspected similar homes with decks & balconies like these. Why would this be “beyond our scope?”

My fees are based on the size of the home and would not increase due to what I can see in your photos.

Just read some training material from NC. (They require annual training.) Their deck training used those photos and recommended the following statements:

  • The inspection of the deck was found to be beyond the scope of the home inspection due to the size and elevation of the deck, it is recommended that a professional engineer be consulted for a complete structural evaluation.

  • This home has a large deck that should be inspected annually. Due to the size and elevation of the deck, it is recommended that a professional engineer be consulted for a complete structural evaluation annually.

Much of the training is excellent. If anyone wants to view it it is here:

Annual inspections by an Engineer??? Ridiculous…

Depending on the location of the building especially the ones in the photos I can see required annual inspections of the decks. Remember back to all the recent deck failures in the news and all the resulting deaths and injuries.

Also as what Mark and Jeff stated part of the building, part of the inspection. ‘Get comfortable gonna be here awhile.’

If NC states that decks of a certain size (or all) are beyond a scope of a Home inspection then lucky for the inspectors in NC. No such exclusions elsewhere that I know of.


There is no reason you couldn’t disclaim them (and anything else particularly unusual) on a separate document. Steal some disclaimers from 6.5.3.II. As part of this inspection I am not be going to…


My CE class is coming up in a few weeks…it is for the reasons who listed is why I absolutely hate going to them… I would rather watch paint dry then attend NC CE courses.

NCHIB is constantly contradicting itself… it gets worse every year.

Quite frankly I hold onto the following statement:
(b) * Opinions expressed by licensees shall only be based on their education, experience, and honest convictions

I personally would inspect the decks but then again I often exceed items simply because I feel I can back up my statements based upon the above statement… if I did not have that type of experience and education then I would hold onto some of the BS statements that the boards comes up with every year.


I don’t see specifically in the NC SOP where I can disclaim a deck because of it’s size or elevation. But, as with most SOPs, all we have to do is explain why something that is required to be inspected is not inspected.

Why would the elevation be an issue? You can get on them from the house, and you can inspect under them… what is the problem?

NC used some a poor choice of words in that training document. The first thing they need to work on is the SOP and then train to meet that. They are training us to exceed the SOP every year which is very good but legally improper.

Inspecting for total proper deck construction is beyond the skill set of most home inspectors. By law, all an inspector is required to do is look at the deck to see if it is in reasonable condition. Even when you see what looks like proper attachment to the house the main component of the house could come loose under high loading conditions. This is probably rare and would not even be found by an engineer unless he had access to the house during the construction phase. The public is slowly learning to have construction phase inspections done but many are still hung up on thinking the finish materials and cosmetic workmanship is the most important.

I have always reported deck issues that exceed the SOP but have a disclaimer that all items exceeding the SOP are an added value and do not change the base agreement.

I guess you can charge extra for the square footage of the deck space, but you’re looking for the same problems no matter what the size.

If baluster spacing exceeds modern standards and they’re all the same… it doesn’t matter how many miles of balusters there are, you should comment on it. The same with height, drainage, loose guard and handrails, etc.

It’s typical conditions unless you have a localized problem.

Here is one I did a few years ago with lots of decking and lots of problems…

July 14 2008 017.jpg

July 14 2008 016.jpg

Man… I love those houses out there. They’re really beautiful.


I think the question should be is it beyond your knowledge and comfort level. North Carolina in one of a few states that has given decks the attention they need. Most home owners understand the importance of a well built truss and the need to withstand wind loads, but don’t give a deck a second thought. Decks are a structural item that require special attention. As far as annual inspections for decks I don’t see the need for that but these houses are next to the ocean and salt water spray may warrant more inspections than normal.