The Most Common Errors and Omissions Committed by Inspectors
There are some items that turn up as consumer complaints against an inspector that may not be valid
There are times that items in the report are ignored by a buyer. This can happen because the buyer or Realtor just does not understand the importance of an issue. Purchases are often made on an emotional level, and the reality of a problem does not register until after the closing. When reality of the expense is upon the new homeowner, the problem is often blamed on the inspector, even though the condition was accurately reported
There are Issues that are not black and white. Older homes cost less than new homes because there are things in various states of wear. An example of this can be a 20 year old roof. There has never been a defined point where a roof must be replaced. A roof may be worn with curling and turning shingles, but is not leaking. The inspector should report that condition. Two months after a closing a roofer can come along and convince a new homeowner that the roof should be replaced NOW. The contractor wants to make the sale, and can blame the condition on the home inspector
If the inspector did check the roof and accurately report the condition, it is not an error or omission by the inspector.
Seller Dishonesty is Often Blamed on Inspectors
The bargain in the Home Inspector Law relating to the disclosure is this: A seller is required to tell the truth in the disclosure, under penalty of legal consequences. A seller is able to say that a problem is corrected, and the buyer and inspector must accept that statement unless there is evidence to the contrary. Just as there are laws against murder, they still occur and there are consequences for that crime.
There are times that a seller disguises a problem. This is when inspector experience can be an asset. A seller can have a sewer cleaned out prior to an inspection so that the water doesn't back up in the basement on the day of the inspection. Two weeks after closing, it can back up again. Experienced inspectors may know to lift a floor drain cover for tell tale pieces of debris from sewage backups, or recognize evidence of other cover ups. However, a home inspector is not responsible for seller dishonesty.
Items Outside of the "Standards of Practice" are not inspector errors or omissions
There are limitations on what a home inspector is responsible to find. The inclusions and exclusions are spelled out in the various associations "Standards of Practice".
Examples of items outside of the Standards of Practice are ancillary inspections such as mold, radon and pest inspections. Areas inside the home that are not considered a part of the standard home inspection include sewers, hidden wiring and pipes, accuracy of controls such as thermostats, adequacy of heating and cooling systems to meet the heating and cooling loads, items covered up by the seller.
The major limitation on home inspector responsibility is "the conditions in the home at the time of the inspection". As an example, if a hot water tank is operable the day of the inspection, but fails the day a homeowner takes possession, the inspector is not responsible for that failure.
Cosmetic issues are not to be a part of a home inspection. If the cosmetic problems are the result of an underlying structural or mechanical problem, those are to be included in the inspection. Examples of these are loose drywall tape or marks on a wall should not be included. Marks from leaks are an underlying problem and should be reported.
Often, based on observations, additional inspections are suggested. Mold testing is a common example. If those recommendations are ignored, it is not an inspection error or omission.
For copies of Standards of Practice
ASHI Standards of Practice
NAHI Standards of Practice
InterNACHI Standards of Practice