Can we inspect ADU's?

I’m going to be asking a lot of questions on this forum since I don’t have any study partners to prep for my exam. My question is that I know we’re not supposed to inspect any detached structures other than garages and carports, does this mean that we can’t inspect ADU’s or pool houses acting as a mother-in-law suite?

Who says you’re not supposed to inspect other detached structures? I inspect all types of buildings, commercial buildings, barns, pole buildings, chicken coops, or even an outhouse if the client wishes! Just make sure to charge appropriately.


Say’s who??


Agree with Ryan, but to clarify his comment…
All detached structures are not considered a part of the home, thus are not typically included with the home inspection. Most inspectors will charge an additional fee for the accessory structures, as most often they add considerable time to the inspection, and ‘time is money’!!
This is a good example of “setting expectations” and the “Scope” of the inspection prior to having the client sign any agreement. ALL of those ‘extras’ need to be listed in the Agreement!


Not required v. not allowed commonly get confused. You’ll find both in most SOPs and it’s good to know the difference. I did a whole presentation with another inspector on this topic to our local association a few years back.

Detached structures get inspected at an additional fee! Make sure you tell the client up front.

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Is there an SOP you follow? :slight_smile:


Nope. Just “wing” it. :rofl:



We inspect ADUs, pool houses, etc, darn near every day.

But not having to means we can skip garden sheds, tree houses, and similar things.


That’s what I do, even if the garage is detached. If there are any additional structures on the property apart from the house itself, I will charge a fee for each one. The bigger the structure, the higher the fee.

Like @rkenney said, be sure to tell the client up front. I even have a clause in my inspection agreement that states the inspection fee is subject to change, to cover additional structures that were bigger than anticipated or for add ons while I’m on location.

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Thanks everybody for your feedback. It does make sense and I can’t wait to start working in the field!


First off, we need to know what State you intend to work in, just in case there are some actual rules.

ADU’s are separate legal residences where I work, as such they are not detached structures at all, they are simply residences.

Where you do face a choice is inspecting legally established vs. unpermitted accessory dwellings. Here’s where it gets trickier. Did someone slap some drywall onto a garage and thrown granny or some college students in there? Was there a permit? Was it inspected? Was it built to code? Is it failing?

You’ll (hopefully) spend a lot more time on such issues and should charge accordingly. The risks to you are greater, and the need for a buyer to know is greater as well. I generally start by pulling permit records.

I strongly recommend that new inspectors decline properties with dodgy second units.

I’m in Washington state. Thanks for your advice I’ll look more into it as I pass my test and get more experience

Gregory, pick a team and jump in. All of us have chosen InterNACHI, even if for different reasons, but I think most of us will say that you get far, far more bang for your buck with NACHI than any of the other organizations. Once you’re a member, you have access to a wealth of education and training to help you with passing that test and more.


I will thanks Lon