I'm a Inspector in Sparks, Nevada and as a Home Inspector I think many of my clients and many Real Estate professionals would have a hard time describing exactly what a Home Inspection is. There is more to this than the standard description: To determine the property condition.
First off a Home Inspection is technical and complex. What the inspector finds is his opinion based on his training and knowledge so education is important in this field, but the Inspection is not done by an expert it's done by a generalist. Some items needing an expert opinion should be stated as such in the report. It doesn't mean anything is wrong it's just beyond the scope of this Inspection. The Inspection is not technically exhaustive and doesn't involve destructive testing. The Inspection is not to determine why or how something happened, nor the life expectancy or effectiveness of any system. The Inspector is not there to make repairs.
The Inspector should perform a fair and impartial Inspection with out any outside influences. The Inspector is there is identify problems using observation. The inspector is a generalist that observes the condition and operation of the home and its mechanicals. The Inspector will identify various things like shut offs, types of building styles and materials. The Inspector will visually inspect the foundation, roof, exterior, interior, structural, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, insulation, ventilation, built-in appliances and some other areas dependent on the house and inspection type. Since some parts and areas are not always visible the Inspection doesn't include those areas. The inspector can, if accessible, open any inspection/ access panels or covers.
The Inspector will generate a report based on the observations giving the condition of the property at that exact day and time. These maybe given to the licensed professional used to make the required repairs but it's not intended to be a repair manual.