Inspector responsibility

If a home is below grade is a home inspector responsible to have this in inspection report?

I would want to because I would want to set my clients expectations on what I could and couldn’t inspect.

Why do you ask if it is a home inspector’s responsibility to have that in the report?

Were you out of town and didn’t know it was below grade or was there another reason that you could not tell it was below grade?


Please elaborate on exactly what you mean by below grade. I don’t want to make assumptions about the specific condition that you are referring to. A house with a basement is, by definition, below grade.

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No basement, I’m referring to the main floor being below grade

I wasn’t out of town but I didn’t realize it & now garage & back lanai has flooded a few times in 5 months, water is coming in from outside, had plumber out to snake drain… thinking these two items might be related. There’s no basement, this is main floor

Isn’t being below grade what makes it a basement, even if finished living space?

There’s no basement, the house was built below grade meaning the elevation of main floor is lower than the ground, hence the flooding of the garage & lanai

I suppose I’m still not clear on your use of “below grade”. If your garage is “below grade” then how do you drive your vehicle into it? A person can always walk into an “above grade” door and walk down steps but not so easy for cars.

By “below grade” do you mean that 1 - 3 sides of the home have soil up to the top of the first floor with one side having grade at the bottom of the first floor level?

Yes the soil on exterior wall is higher than Interior floor

Are you the inspector or the homeowner?

Typically, yes but there are many factors. Based on your description, assuming a slab on grade foundation, then none of the foundation would be visible from the exterior, at least in the areas that are below grade. There would be a step down, though it may be very small, into the house, The walls in these areas would extend into the soil or surrounding flatwork. Check your inspection report carefully for comments regarding grading and drainage, patio grade or slope and clearance to masonry, wood or whatever materials your exterior walls are constructed from. A visual inspection obviously cannot see what is going on with an underground drain, so an inspector performing a visual inspection could not verify proper or adequate exterior drain function. The report should state as much.

If your house has flooded 5 times in 5 months, it is an almost certainty that it had a history of flooding prior to your purchase. If the prior owner did not disclose previous incidents of flooding, then you may have a case for fraudulent disclosure.


What difference would that make?

Again what you are describing is essentially the entire first floor elevation from the floor to the ceiling is below grade on all 4 sides. I believe a picture(s) would greatly help your description and prevent anyone from trying to guess the actual conditions there. Can you provide pictures of home’s exterior?

Did the Inspector describe the foundation type?

Yes, with out a doubt!
The insurance company will prefer 6" above grade for the living space.
That why we take outside pictures of all sides of the home.

Homeowner. Got it!


Thank you, that’s what I thought. I can’t believe inspectors reported burnt out light bulbs but failed to report major structural issues, the fact that the washer is illegally discharging into the street & sink was totally clogged. I’m not worried about washer but I’m hoping plumbing issues aren’t recurrent due to elevation issues,
This is not an inexpensive issue

I don’t see it in the inspection report

A very distraught homeowner. This is going to cost thousands of dollars to fix

They took just a few pictures, never even hinted at any of the major issues, also never inspected irrigation, which was a $2000 extra cost. Ironically they are on Angies list, A+ rating from BBB, etc