Inspecting “buildings with more than 4 dwelling units” SOPs

Hey there,

I want to see how other inspection companies are handling the inspection of buildings with more than 4 dwelling units. After all, the InterNACHI SOPs state that:
“ This Standards of Practice applies to properties with four or fewer residential units and their attached garages and carports.”

This is also similar to the verbiage that Arizona uses in our state standards where is states:

“ These Standards are applicable to buildings with four or less dwelling units and their garages or carports.”

So my questions are:

  1. When we inspect a “single unit” that is part of a 10 unit building, are we operating out of the scope of practice?

  2. When we inspect a “single unit” that is part of a 4 unit building, which is part of a 20 building apartment complex, are we operating out of the scope of practice?

  3. If the two above are true, should we be getting a different agreement signed by the client that has verbiage labeling the inspection as “beyond the scope of practice”?

I would also be interested to know what InterNACHI thinks of these questions?

I think everyone here likely interprets this as you can inspect any building with 4 or less dwelling units. (quadraplex, triplex, duplex) Or just one of those units. This also applies to townhomes or condo’s.

I suspect most of us will either modify our inspection agreement or our report to clearly state limitations/modifications to the SoP. Not sure how Arizona feels about this.

These are known as COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES (when inspecting more than 4 units in any single building).


Welcome to the forum, Dillon.
Property/Building with five or more units is considered commercial/residential.
Do the commercial prerequisite certification to start. You well require GL insurance.

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I’ll inspect 2-3 condos a day in one building of 300 condos.


Which is it? :roll_eyes:

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The REAL question is… does the building simply need to have more than four units, or, do five or more units need to be inspected? :wink:


I think the OP made a valid point. It is a bit ambiguous for those that hyper analyze, which is typical of a home inspector. (Reminds me of the GFCI section of the SoP which is terrible). But for some reason the 4 unit issue has always made perfect sense to me.


It helps to understand the difference between a person making a purchase for private personal use, versus an investor purchaser looking to flip or rent the units.


Thank you to all who answered. I understand the difference between commercial and residential and that anything over 4 units would be considered commercial.

What I am asking you to look at, is how vague the standard is structured especially in our state standards.

Again I will ask, what if I inspect a “single unit” that is located within the building envelope of a “4 unit building” and that “4 unit building” is located in a complex of 10 or 15 or 20 X “4 unit buildings”. Would that be considered residential?

The whole point of the question is to consider whether or not the standard is too vague and therefor opens us up to litigation if we are not using a different agreement.

And also, our state is trying to say that when we do training inspections for student inspectors in any building with more than 4 units, that it shouldn’t count as a training inspection (our state requires 30 of these training inspections prior to licensing).

So why would an inspection of a single unit located in a 4 unit building be any different than a single unit in a 5 unit building……?

The funny thing, is that I am also a professional firefighter, and we call apartment complexes “commercial” when in reality, they are just abunch of residences….

I agree. All I am doing is analyzing. And for good reason… our state is telling one of our students that 5 of their 30 required training inspections didn’t count because they were on “buildings with more than 4 units”, but if you look at the buildings, they are either 2 unit buildings, or 4 unit buildings in complexes of 15-20 buildings.

So I am looking at how to argue on my students behalf based on the verbiage the state used…


Thank you, but I already have a commercial inspection company and understand the differences in the standards…

If you read my original questions, I am asking you to decipher the verbiage used by internachi and by my state and see that there are a lot of “holes” to be poked in those statements regarding “…4 or less”


Damn. Those people denying the inspections must be miserable bureaucrats.


Sorry, Dillion. Seeing it was your first time posting I took it to mean you were a new inspector.

Please explain #1. What are you inspecting, just private areas?
If ’ inspecting common areas as well,’ where do you draw the line, as to not cross over to inspecting commercially on the building?

Privates areas only:
1: No.
2: No.
3: Moot.

I think you are referring to a condominium corporation. Divided co-ownership and undivided co-ownership.

In my neck of the woods, when you buy a condominium, you are likely buying a unit in a standard condominium corporation. This could be a building that is divided into condo units, row-townhouses or stand-alone townhouses.

Look at it this way. Instead of the building being tall, the building is long combining all attached shareholders units, separate individual habitable spaces.

I have done a number of commercial property inspections as you have described above. Two, Three or even four story commercial properties. In common, a combination of attached 2 unit or 4 unit apartments, separate individual habitable spaces, equaling more than 4. 4 + 2 = 6.

I typically ask the condo syndicate president, VP, Treasurer, or contracted contact person, how many total attached numbered units does the building have? I glean the building size on Google Maps, or visit the building in person. Those number goes into calculating the overall cost of the commercial property or any omitted portions therein.

Right. That is exactly how I figure out my pricing and get a plan for my commercial team as well. However… the question is still not being answered as to whether or not the Internachi and State standards are written too vague in anyone else’s opinion other than mine.

Trying to get some other opinions on that so I can take other views to the state…

Laws are meant to be vague. This gives lawyers (who probably wrote the laws) room to charge exorbitant fees (billable hours) and judges (many of whom are lawyers) room to make bad verdicts which can then be appealed by more lawyers.

…and if you make it to the top you can keep the job till you croak.


Realtors hire my inspectors daily for a single unit inspection. These are 600-1200 sqft (maybe larger),1-2 bedroom “units” where the single unit is apart of a single building with 4 or less units… that building specifically sits in a building complex of about 10-20 buildings. See this link for an example: 3150 E Beardsley Rd Phoenix, AZ, 85050 - Apartments for Rent | Zillow

Use the Residential SOP & Agreement

Use the Residential SOP & Agreement

You can try to complicate things all you want but if you’re inspecting a “single unit”, all the other numbers are meaningless.

I am curious, how does the state know this? Did they actually take the time to research the address of the property and find that out? Did they determine it from pictures or verbiage in the report? Is it possible the report doesn’t make the scope of the inspection clear?

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