Often people have a misconception about what an inspection is all about or what it is intended to provide. First of all, no inspection should be considered to be a guarantee of finding all defects. In the real world this just cannot be accomplished. Inspectors do not have the option of probing into finished surfaces or concealed areas.
What we look for are indicators of some condition that may raise a question or concern of a past or current situation. Some conditions may only present themselves only occasionally such as flickering lights or waste line back ups. It's every inspector's hope that such situations crop up during the inspection but we're not always that lucky.
The inspection is not intended as a code compliance evaluation.
Building codes by the way are minimum standards and can vary widely by state, country and even village. There are also new versions of each code that are generated from time to time. Keeping up with all them is next to impossible. So we look for conditions that meet national standards as well as what we call "best practice".
Our inspection is based upon the conditions as they exist at the time of the inspection. We cannot warrant that conditions will not change after our evaluation.
In our inspections we are primarily concerned with issues that have to do with safety and/or significant repair cost. Much of what we find we consider to be normal wear & tear items that would be corrected after settlement. These are not conditions that would necessarily warrant a request of the seller to repair. Such issues are secondary to us, ones that we do not give as much attention to when we go through a home. For example, the need for some minor grouting or caulking in a shower stall would be minor. On the other hand, loose tile and indication of water damage in the wall would be of more concern and be a reasonable request of the seller to correct.
We have no authority to enforce standards but rather to merely point out conditions as they exist and make recommendations. We will recommend repair to minor grouting in the shower stall just as we would for a leaking roof. Our goal is to help our client distinguish between the significant needs of the home and those that are more commonplace.