Essential Home Inspection Terms

Advanced Home Inspections   |  

Every industry has its own language and terms. These words and phrases can be confusing to anyone who is not part of the daily operations of a specific industry, and the home inspection business is no exception.

To help you understand the terms, acronyms, and phrases regularly used by home inspectors especially in their inspection reports, Advanced Home Inspections has created this handy reference guide. Here you’ll find valuable information allowing you to comprehend and communicate your home inspection needs effectively.

Perimeter Drainage.

A perimeter drain is something that all homes should have, and it is designed to prevent water build up around your foundation. It is intended to collect water runoff from heavy rains, melting snow and direct it away from the building.


A foundation is the lower portion of a building structure that transfers its weight to the earth. Foundations are generally broken into two categories: shallow foundations and deep foundations. A tall building must have a strong foundation if it is to stand for a long time.

Building Envelope.

A building’s envelope is very important in creating proper insulation for the interior of the building. Additionally, good building envelopes prevent drafts and air leaks to allow better control of the air pressure inside as well as the temperature.

Fascia Board.

The fascia board is the long, straight board that runs along the lower edge of the roof. The fascia is fixed directly to the lower ends of the roof trusses and is typically an architectural detail. Water damage is a common issue with the fascia board.


A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is a type of circuit breaker which shuts off electric power when it senses an imbalance between the outgoing and incoming current. The primary purpose is to protect people from an electric shock caused when some of the current travels through a person’s body due to an electrical fault such as a short circuit, insulation failure, or equipment malfunction.

Ice Damming.

Ice damming is the buildup of ice and water at the eaves of a sloped roof. Melting snow on the roof refreezes at the roof overhang, causing the damming. Buildings with inadequate attic insulation or ventilation or with large roof projections beyond the exterior walls are more prone to ice damming.

Knob and Tube Wiring.

Knob and tube wiring is an early method of electrical wiring in buildings, in common use in North America from about 1880 to the 1930s. It consisted of single-insulated copper conductors running within wall or ceiling cavities, passing through joist and stud drill-holes via protective porcelain insulating tubes. This type of installation is considered outdated and may require evaluation by a qualified contractor.


The soffit is the finished underside of the eaves. It is a small ceiling-like space, such as the underside of a roof overhang. This area can often be blocked by insulation, proper soffit ventilation is essential for your attic space.

Vapor Barrier.

A vapor barrier is a building product installed at exterior walls and ceilings under the drywall and on the warm side of the insulation. It is used to prevent the movement of water vapor into walls and prevent condensation within them.


Vermiculite is a mineral closely related to mica, with the ability to expand when heated to form a lightweight material with insulating properties. Although not all vermiculite contains asbestos, some products were made with vermiculite that contained asbestos until the early 1990s.


HRV is a system that provides ventilation without the loss of heat or humidity, which could put stress on a building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. HRV introduces fresh air to a building and improves climate control while promoting efficient energy use.

Sump Pump.

An electric pump, usually installed in the basement or crawlspace to prevent flooding. It empties water from a "well or pit" where it is collected and pumps it to the outside of a home. Sumps pumps are usually required in areas with a high water table.


It is the displacement or distortion to parts of a building due to unequal compression of its foundation. Some settlement is quite normal after construction is completed, but unequal (differential) settlement may cause significant problems for buildings.


Wood Energy Technology Transfer Inc. is a non-profit training and education association. Through professional training and public education, WETT Inc. promotes the safe and effective use of wood-burning systems in Canada. Most insurance companies will want an inspection of any wood burning appliance by a certified WETT inspector.

Infrared Inspection.

Infrared thermography is equipment and methods, which detect infrared energy emitted from objects. It then converts it to temperature and displays an image of the temperature distribution. This method can be used for various non-evasive inspections.

If you’re looking for top quality home inspections in Campbell River, Comox, Courtenay BC, reach out to Shawn Culley at Advanced Home Inspections. We offer our services across Campbell River, Comox, Courtenay, Cumberland, Denman Island, Hornby Island, Fanny Bay, Parksville, Union Bay, Black Creek, Quadra Island, Qualicum Beach and Qualicum Bay. Over fifteen years of experience in carpentry enables us to deliver excellent home inspection services. We understand how climatic conditions impact homes and what it takes to minimize the problems.

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