The Real Estate Professional’s Guide to Professional Home Inspections
Bob Vaught (602) 290-5904
Over the past two decades
professional home inspections have become a part of most residential
real estate transactions. Today,
they are a part of the sale of most pre-existing homes and, with
increasing regularity, a part of the sale of newly constructed
homes. This steadily
growing demand for professional home inspection is due to home
buyers’ desire to manage the costs associated with home ownership
and maintenance as well as to the need to reduce the potential legal
exposure of all of the parties directly involved in the sale of a
home. The challenge for
real estate professionals and home buyers alike lies in how to
recognize and identify competent professional home inspectors.
What is a professional home inspection?
A professional home
inspection is a primarily visual examination of the visible, safely
accessible, and readily accessible components of the interior,
exterior, structural, roof, electrical, heating, cooling, and
plumbing systems of a home for specific conditions that are
currently adversely affecting or which have the potential to
adversely affect the normally intended function or operation of
those systems and their related components.
The systems and their related components included in the
inspection are typically those specified either by state statutory
and regulatory requirements or by the internationally recognized Standards
of Practice of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).
The information that
is developed in the course of conducting a professional home
inspection is documented in a written report along with
recommendations for appropriate actions to address the conditions
noted in the report as well as any maintenance information the
inspector may choose to include.
The report will also note the locations of the main water,
electrical, and fuel gas service shut-offs and include descriptions
of certain materials and methods of construction. Because the written report is the property of the
inspector’s customer, it is given only to the customer or to
others specifically indicated by the customer.
home inspectors may also provide other services (often under
separate contract) such as testing for radon gas, testing for mold,
inspection of swimming pools, and other services and inspections
which are not part of established professional inspection standards.
Who are professional home
inspectors are highly educated, trained, and skilled observers and
educators who possess broad technical knowledge about the systems
and components of a home and the skills necessary to apply that
knowledge. At present
(2005) about twenty-eight states have some form of regulation of
home inspectors ranging from simple registration to extremely
restrictive requirements. However,
the majority of the states that have chosen to regulate home
inspectors do so through some form of registration or licensing that
requires meeting specific experience and education criteria; testing
of specific minimum technical knowledge and skills; and adherence to
a standard of practice.
inspectors know that even the highest degree of technical knowledge
and skills alone are not sufficient. Knowledge
and skills have to be integrated with a clear understanding of the
human side of the inspection process - and there are no regulatory
requirements, registrations, certifications, licenses, or other
credentials that attest to an inspector’s understanding of the
“psychology” of that process, that measure an inspector’s
“people skills.” Professional
home inspectors recognize that the human side of the inspection
process is as important as the technical knowledge and skills side. They
intuitively understand the “psychology” of the home inspection
process and apply it to their work along with their other skills and
Professional home inspectors are highly skilled
speak for themselves and a competent inspector knows how to
it’s not enough just to be a skilled listener; a competent home
inspector is also a master interpreter who knows how to translate
the information the home provides so that buyers clearly understand
the information that the inspector has developed in the course of
inspectors wear only one “hat,” so to speak, and that hat says
doesn’t say “Code Enforcement,” “Hired
“Self-Important / Big Ego,” “Real
Estate Negotiator,” “Appraiser,”
or “I Know Everything.”
Professional home inspectors are disinterested third parties.
They understand that they have specific contractual,
fiduciary, ethical, and, in some instances, regulatory obligations
to their customers as well as ethical and legal obligations to the
other parties to the transaction.
While they assist buyers in understanding the condition of a
home and how to maintain it, they also know that they are not
qualified to give opinions regarding the value of any property or
the advisability or inadvisability of purchase.
A professional home inspector is not a party to the real
inspectors do not offer to perform modifications or corrective
measures to address any conditions determined in the course of
performing an inspection. If
a real estate professional or a buyer needs the names of qualified
professionals to perform any work, inspectors who choose to provide
guidance in this area should provide the names of at least three qualified
individuals or companies or suggest using the telephone book Yellow
Pages under the appropriate heading.
Do inspections kill deals?
No! An inspection
performed by a competent professional home inspector never “kills
a deal.” If a real
estate transaction is terminated as a result of the information
developed in the course of a competent professional home inspection,
the home has spoken for itself and blaming the inspector is
the inspector is like shooting the messenger because the message is
unpleasant or unwanted. Statistics
repeatedly show that, as a percentage of total number of residential
real estate transactions, the number of transactions that are
terminated as a direct result of a competent professional home
inspections is extremely low. It is also worth keeping in mind that in many states, buyers
can use the home inspection to terminate a contract to purchase a
home. Some buyers may have a “hidden agenda” to terminate a
contract before an inspection ever takes place and may simply use
the inspection to do exactly that.
Because the home
inspection profession is regulated in some states and not in others,
home inspectors’ credentials will vary.
In states that regulate home inspectors, all professional
home inspectors should meet all of the requirements of the state in
which they perform their work.
In states that do not regulate home inspectors, there are
other criteria that can aid real estate professionals and home
buyers in identifying competent home inspectors.
Training and Experience: This
may include a state mandated educational program in states that
regulate home inspectors as well as an inspector’s background in
architecture, building trades, engineering, or specific non-mandated
educational and training in the field of home inspection..
Inspectors may also have “time under their belts” having
been self-employed or employed by a home inspection company as a
home inspector for a period of time.
However, it would be a mistake to assume that a home
inspector who is just starting out could not perform a competent
home inspection. A
well-trained “new” inspector may be just as technically
competent, methodical, patient, and careful as an inspector who has
been inspecting for a longer time because the new inspector really
wants to do a good job and the knowledge and skills he or she has
recently learned are still fresh.
who has belonged to a professional association knows that membership
in a professional association does not automatically equate with
competence. What anyone
gets out of an association is strictly dependent on the individual.
It is important to remember that the primary functions of any
professional association are to promote the profession, to protect
the association’s members, and to educate the association’s
members. The benefits that accrue to the public that is served by the
members of professional associations can be real and quite useful,
but they are tangential and secondary to the primary functions that
serve the association members.
There are numerous
professional associations for home inspectors at the state,
national, and international levels.
Perhaps the oldest and most widely recognized is the American
Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).
ASHI has done a remarkable job of self-promotion but it is by
no means the only professional association providing benefits to
home inspectors and to the public.
There are others such as the National Association of Home
Inspectors (NAHI), the National Association of Certified Home
Inspectors (NACHI), and the Canadian Association of Home and
Property Inspectors (CAHPI) as well as individual state associations
such as the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA).
Each of these associations has its own membership
requirements, continuing education requirements, standards of
professional practice, and code of ethics.
Of these, the
standards and codes of ethics are the most important.
Standards of professional practice provide minimum
requirements and guidelines members are to follow in the performance
of home inspections as well as both general and specific limitations
and exclusions for inspections.
Codes of ethics outline and delineate a member’s ethical
duties and obligations to customers and to the public.
It is important to note that the standards of professional
practice and the codes of ethics of virtually every professional
home inspector association as well as those adopted under individual
state regulatory requirements are, with only minor exceptions,
professional home inspectors state in their promotional materials
and inspection contracts that their inspections are performed in
accordance with any one of these standards of professional practice
and codes of ethics, then they are meeting the same inspection
standards of most states and professional associations regardless of
whether or not they belong to a professional association.
There are other
professional associations to which some professional home inspectors
belong such as the International Code Council (ICC), the
International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), the
International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO),
and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). All of these
make available to their members valuable information and educational
programs that directly enhance a professional inspector’s
knowledge and experience.
In the final
analysis, a professional home inspector’s credentials are only as
good as the inspector. Even
membership in multiple associations cannot by itself make a poor
inspector a good inspector and, conversely, an inspector can be a
consummately competent and professional home inspector without
belonging to any professional associations.
should be assessed on the basis of a whole picture of the individual
inspector, not simply on one or two aspects.
inspectors be engineers?
The training and
experience of professional engineers is necessarily narrow and
highly specialized. In
many states the governmental agency that regulates the practice of
engineering has the power to suspend or revoke the licenses of
professional engineers who are found to be performing services
beyond their competency, training, or education.
This means that engineers cannot provide engineering
evaluations of the multiple diverse systems in a home unless they
are specifically educated, trained, and experienced in the
evaluation of each of those systems.
How important are language,
perspective, and people skills?
All are of paramount
home inspectors are reporters and educators who work solely for
their customers and, as such, have an obligation to their customers
to present the information developed in the course of an inspection
with impartiality and with proper, honest perspective.
Their job is to inform their customers, not to alarm them.
They will typically indicate the relative degree of
importance of the conditions they observe by recommending that a
particular condition simply requires monitoring, or is a normal and
expected maintenance condition, or that it requires immediate
attention due to safety considerations or to reduce the potential
for further complications or damage.
The language that
inspectors use when speaking with their customers is critical to
providing proper perspective during the inspection process.
Using the right terms and language allows buyers to make
informed decisions for which they feel responsible; using the wrong
terms and language can lead buyers to make uninformed or even panic
decisions which, if they later regret, they may “blame” on
someone else. By using
incorrect or improper language, an inspector can inadvertently,
unintentionally, but quite effectively make decisions for buyers.
inspectors don’t use the terms “defect,” “deficiency,” or
“problem” to describe the various conditions they observe in the
course of an inspection. If
these terms are used, regardless of whether the conditions observed
are all minor, by the end of the inspection the house will be
perceived by the buyer to be full of “defects,”
“deficiencies,” or “problems.”
inspectors use the neutral term “condition” to describe their
observations and assign a specific and
of importance to the conditions they find in the course of the
language, exaggeration, and editorializing have no place in a
professional home inspection. Professional
home inspectors understand the potential effect of extravagant
language and overstatement such as, “I’ve
never seen anything this bad! This place is a real firetrap!”
and they avoid using such language.
They also describe improper or incorrect work simply
descriptively as “non-professional” - not as “amateur” or
In the course of
conducting a home inspection an inspector determines that there are
specific wiring conditions needing attention inside of the main
electrical distribution panel.
In this example we’ll use “overfusing” (undersized wire
for the ampacity rating of a given circuit breaker) and “multiple
tapping” (two or more wires connected to a circuit breaker
terminal that is designed and intended for only one wire) as the
perfectly normal for the buyer to ask why such conditions are
important and why they merit inclusion in the written inspection
considering the effect of his or her answer, the inspector says, “These
defects are real hazards.
It’s shoddy and amateur
work. They’re problems
that can cause a fire or electrocute
someone,” then the buyer is much more likely to become unduly
anxious or uncomfortable with the home and unnecessarily alarmed
about the specific electrical conditions.
In this example, the
terms “defects,” “hazards,” “shoddy,” “amateur,” and
“problems” imply a defective, hazardous, and shoddily
constructed house built by amateurs.
The terms “fire,” and “electrocution” are alarming
words; they conjure up images of the house in flames.
People do not listen well or make reasoned decisions when
they are distracted with worry about other things, in this case,
things that simply require calm consideration, not alarm.
Now, consider the following answer to the same question:
However, if the
inspector thoughtfully explains that, “There are two primary issues
associated with incorrect electrical conditions
– overheating and shock.
However, there’s no evidence at this time to indicate overheating
has occurred and these particular conditions
don’t pose the potential for shock. These conditions
are relatively common and
are consistent with non-professional
work done after the house was originally completed by someone not
familiar with proper electrical installations.
can typically easily be corrected by a qualified electrician,”
the buyer will be much more likely to calmly accept the information
and have a realistic perspective regarding the conditions being
In this second
example, the careful consideration of terminology demonstrated in
the use of the terms “issues,” “conditions,”
“overheating,” “shock,” “common, and
“non-professional” provides an answer that is not alarming or
exaggerated. It clearly
and calmly describes common conditions that can be easily remedied.
It puts them in perspective and leaves the buyer ready to
move on with the rest of the inspection.
What about building codes?
Building codes are
primarily life / safety codes.
Having a good working knowledge of the various building codes
is an asset to professional home inspectors because it gives them a
broader understanding of the life / safety issues which may bear on
some of the conditions they come across in their work.
Since many of the conditions that professional home
inspectors observe and document in their reports have potential
safety implications, it is not uncommon for those conditions not to
conform to a specific portion of a particular building code as well.
However, this congruency between a condition that a
professional home inspector observes and non-conformance to code
does not mean that professional inspectors are performing “code”
inspectors know that they are not performing
inspections for compliance or non-compliance with any governmental
codes, ordinances, or regulations.
Therefore, professional inspectors don’t use terms like
“non-complying,” “illegal,” “is not permitted,” “is
not allowed,” “violates code,” or “does not meet code”
because these are all authoritative terms that imply that
inspections include evaluating the home for code compliance.
Homes built under
earlier building standards and codes are not required to continually
be brought into conformance with newer codes as such codes are
adopted by the jurisdictional authority any more than cars
manufactured in past years have to continue to meet changing Federal
Department of Transportation requirements.
Just as a buyer of an older car might find it relatively
inexpensive and easy to install seat belts but not air bags or
anti-lock brakes after buying the car, so might a buyer of an older
home find it relatively inexpensive and easy to install smoke
detectors but not a fire suppression sprinkler system after
purchasing the home. Therefore,
many professional home inspectors refer to guardrail component
spacing or to the lack of smoke detection devices, Ground Fault
Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) devices, self-closing devices on
garage-to- house doors, and similar items in older homes under the
heading of “Elective Upgrade.”
“Elective Upgrade” designates any condition noted in the report
which is intended to be considered as a suggested improvement that
Customers may wish to consider performing as part of upgrading the
subject property after they own it. Elective
Upgrade conditions do not constitute deficiencies. As with any modifications to the subject property, all
elective upgrades should be performed by qualified
individuals or companies and in accordance with all applicable
standards and governmental codes, ordinances, and regulations.
inspectors typically educate buyers regarding relatively simple and
reasonably cost-effective upgrades at the same time making it clear
that homes are not “deficient” or substandard in any
manner because they do not have certain components or systems that
may be present or even required in newer homes. They emphasize that
there is no requirement that older homes be upgraded to meet
current standards. Therefore,
if buyers wish to modify a home or its systems to meet current
standards, such work would constitute “elective upgrades” to be
implemented by them, at their option and cost after they own the
home. This important
concept is one that real estate professionals can also explain to
buyers prior to the home inspection.
about cosmetic conditions?
Other than when
inspecting newly constructed homes where systems and components are
expected to be in “new” condition, professional inspectors
typically do not inspect for or report on cosmetic conditions such
as torn screens, minor paint chipping, dented door knobs, or other
conditions of normal wear and tear.
Remember, inspectors are working under both time and cost
constraints. If they
spent the valuable time for which the buyer is paying looking for
cosmetic conditions, they would have less time to inspect the major
systems of a home for more important and potentially costly
What about insurance?
Currently the Board
of Technical Registration for the State of Arizona requires that
home inspectors meet the following requirements: Provide evidence of
ability to obtain financial assurances as provided by subsection B
of this section.
Within sixty days after certification, a home inspector
certified pursuant to this chapter shall file one of the following
financial assurances pursuant to the rules recommended by the home
inspector rules and standards committee and adopted by the Board.
Errors and Omissions insurance for negligent acts committed
in the course of a home inspection in an amount of two hundred
thousand dollars in the aggregate and one hundred thousand dollars
A bond in the amount of twenty five thousand dollars or proof
that minimum net assets have a value of at least twenty-five
A financial assurance mechanism with a value of at least
twenty five thousand dollars recommended by the home inspector rules
and standards committee and approved by the Board of Technical
If a home inspector loses or otherwise fails to maintain a
required financial assurance the certification shall be
automatically suspended and shall be reinstated if a financial
assurance is obtained within ninety days. If a financial assurance
in not obtained within ninety days the certification shall be
Even though, almost
all inspectors’ contracts limit their liability to the cost of the
inspection, most reputable inspection companies will carry Errors
and Omissions insurance. You should be asking that your home
inspector have E&O insurance that extends coverage to you as a
referring agent or broker for added protection.
insurance coverage that I.Q. Home Inspections carries is sponsored
by the (NARREP) National Association of Residential Real Estate
Professionals insurance program that extends coverage to you as
agents and brokers
Should inspectors rate homes?
Every home stands on its own merits.
Professional home inspectors do not “rate” homes they
inspect and a home cannot not “pass” or “fail” an
home inspectors know that most homes have been lived in.
Normal wear and tear and even some deferred maintenance are
to be expected. Professional
inspectors don’t “rate” or “grade” homes on an arbitrary
scale or against some ideal standard of condition or maintenance.
All homes “speak for themselves;” it takes a competent
professional inspector to know how and for what to listen.
Do inspectors provide cost
estimates for corrective work?
Generally, they do
not. It is not the job
of inspectors to provide cost estimates for work which will be
performed by other qualified
individuals or companies. Some
inspectors who have enough experience may choose to verbally discuss
“ballpark” cost ranges for certain work with which they are
familiar, but even general contractors use professional estimating
guides and obtain competitive bids before providing the costs
associated with specific work.
When buyers ask inspectors to provide costs, they are asking
inspectors to place a value on another individuals or company’s
labor and materials. In
some instances, additional and unanticipated costs may arise from
previously hidden conditions which are discovered in the course of
performing corrective work.
Are previous inspection reports
Typically, they are
inspection reports are not reliable sources of information not only
because they have been performed for other parties and also because
they often do not contain current information.
Parties such as lending institutions, relocation companies,
or governmental agencies will have interests which are very
different from those of a home buyer.
In addition, conditions may have dramatically changed since a
previous inspection was conducted.
Buyers should always
have a professional inspection performed specifically on their
behalf. Only in this
way can buyers be assured that they are receiving information on the
current condition of the home and its systems and only in this way
can they receive the advantage of maintenance and care information
that is provided specifically for them.
Is a home inspection a warranty?
A professional home
inspection is an examination for and documentation of specific
systems and components for specific conditions which are currently
adversely affecting or that have the potential for adversely
affecting the normally intended function or operation of the systems
and components inspected.
It is intended to develop information which can become part
of an overall risk reduction and risk management plan.
A warranty is a
pledge made by the original manufacturer of a product to repair,
replace, or correct specific deficiencies in their product if such
deficiencies occur within a stated period of time.
It can also be a pledge made by the provider of a service to
perform that service in a specified manner.
“warranty” is often confused with insurance plans offered for
sale to home buyers. In
order to avoid confusion, the term “insurance” is used in this
brochure when discussing “home buyers’ warranties.”
typically covers certain components or occurrences and it contains
deductibles and disclaimers regarding the items covered.
Typically, a fee is paid by the insurance company to the
individual or company that offers these home “warranty”
policies. Therefore, if
an inspector offers to sell a buyer such insurance, that inspector
is working for someone in addition to the buyer and is no longer a
disinterested third party. There
is an old saying that no one can serve two masters – and
inspectors are no different. Professional
home inspectors do not offer such products or services.
If buyers desire the
kind of insurance that these plans or policies provide, they should
consult their real estate professional or insurance agent and should
carefully read any such policies to be certain that they meet their
“warranties/certifications” at no additional cost?
The easiest way to
answer this question is to ask yourself, “When was the last time I
got something for nothing?” Such
warranties and certifications are primarily marketing devices.
When read carefully, they often provide little or no
inspectors offering these will not certify a component unless they
are absolutely certain that, given the age and condition of the
component, no conditions (outside of the specifically disclaimed
conditions) could possibly occur.
with inspectors who sell insurance or provide “free”
certification programs, ask them about their loss ratios as well as
their reserves for claims and request documentation of such
information before considering engaging their services.
Should home inspection companies
They should guarantee that they will perform their
inspections in accordance both with a specific standard of
professional practice and the terms and conditions of their written
inspection agreement and scope of work.
Because professional inspectors cannot predict the future,
they should not be expected to provide any guarantees regarding the
continued performance of or the efficiency of any system or
Why are specific items excluded in
It is not uncommon
for professional home inspectors to specifically exclude inspection
of items such as swimming pools, hot tubs, household appliances
(kitchen appliances, central vacuum systems, etc.) active and
passive solar space heating and domestic hot water heating systems,
lawn sprinkler systems, intrusion detection and alarm systems, and
fire and smoke detection and suppression systems.
Typically, they also specifically exclude services such as
testing for lead and asbestos, or other environmental testing.
All standards of practice for professional home inspection
exclude such items and services.
This is not because
professional inspectors are not competent and qualified to inspect
such items or perform such services.
Rather, it is because competent inspection of these items and
performance of these services requires significant additional time
and highly specialized training.
Some services such as pest infestation inspection and
treatment require specific governmental licenses and mandated
A thorough and
competent visual inspection of the visible, safely accessible and
readily accessible components of a swimming pool for conditions
which are currently adversely affecting or that have the potential
to adversely affect their normally intended function or operation
may require as much as 1½ to 2 hours with fees starting at $100.00
per hour. Some systems
such as lawn sprinkler systems and swimming pools may be deactivated
for extended periods of time.
home inspectors may choose to include certain items or services that
are typically excluded and others may offer inspection of
specifically excluded items under separate contract or they will
direct buyers to individuals or companies qualified
to perform such services.
If inspectors were
to spend the additional time required to perform a thorough and
competent inspection of typically excluded systems, they would have
less time to inspect the major systems of a home for more important
and potentially costly conditions unless they significantly
increased their fees. If
buyers desire information regarding the condition of excluded
systems as well as specific operation and maintenance information,
it is more cost effective for them to engage the services of the
individuals or companies that have been servicing and maintaining
such systems for the current occupants.
professional inspectors maintain liberal follow-up policies
regarding telephone or in-office consultation with customers after
inspections, reinspection of corrective measures resulting from
information developed during inspections is typically not offered.
This is because qualified
individuals or companies are expected to evaluate the conditions
noted in the inspection report and make any appropriate and
necessary corrections in accordance with all applicable industry
standards and governmental codes, ordinances, and regulations.
What about systems that are shut
off or de-energized at the time of the inspection?
inspectors will not turn on or restore service to any system that is
shut off or not in service at the time of the inspection. Inspectors will not light standing pilot lights, energize
electrical circuits that are shut off or out of service, or operate
any water or gas in-line shut off valves.
In order to inspect the plumbing, heating, cooling, and
electrical systems of a home, the electrical service, water service,
and gas service must be on and operational at the time of the
What about systems or components
that cannot be inspected due to inaccessibility or unsafe
inspectors perform their inspections under limitations of safe and
ready accessibility of the systems and components they inspect.
If inspection of any systems or components is obstructed or
limited by the presence of personal property, pets, or due to
weather or any other conditions of inaccessibility, or if, solely in
the professional opinion of the inspector, it is not safe to inspect
any systems or components, those systems or components will not be
inspected. The inspection report will identify any such systems or
components, describe the unsafe conditions or the specific
conditions that limited accessibility, and will state that they were
not inspected due to unsafe conditions or due to inaccessibility.
should be present at the inspection?
It is typically best
if only the buyer(s) and the inspector are present at the
the buyer is typically paying for the inspection and, therefore, for
the inspector’s time and knowledge.
Professional home inspectors encourage their customers to
attend the inspection. When
buyers attend inspections the potential for misunderstanding and
miscommunication is significantly reduced.
At the same time, it allows the buyer obtain full advantage
of the maintenance information most inspectors provide as part of
their inspections as well as to ask questions of the inspector in an
uninhibited and unhurried atmosphere – without feeling pressured.
If it is absolutely
necessary for a real estate professional to be present at the home
being inspected, it is best that he or she not follow the inspector
and buyer around during the inspection.
Again, it allows the buyer to speak freely with the inspector
and, at the same time, the real estate professional avoids the
temptation to comment on or to editorialize about things the
inspector points out to the buyer.
Such commentary or editorializing could later be construed by
a buyer suffering “buyer’s remorse” as an attempt on the part
of the real estate professional to gloss over or downplay conditions
that the inspector has observed and thus, to influence the buyer’s
decision to purchase the home.
While it may not
always be practical, it’s better for sellers and occupants to be
away during the inspection and, in most cases, sellers or occupants
are not present during the inspection.
The inspection is the buyer’s time to really become
familiar with the home under the guidance of the inspector.
Buyers typically feel more at ease when they’re free to ask
the inspector questions or to make comments and observations in an
uninhibited atmosphere. If
there is a need to leave special instructions for the inspector,
they are best communicated through the real estate professionals or
written instructions can be left for the inspector.
If a seller or
occupant must be home during the inspection, once more, keep in mind
that the buyer is paying for the inspector’s time and expertise.
A seller or occupant who follows along or “chats” with
the inspector or the buyer consumes both the buyer’s and the
inspector’s time and it may make the buyer uncomfortable.
It’s always best if sellers or occupants go about their
normal daily routine and allow the inspector and the buyer to
proceed through the house unaccompanied and uninterrupted from start
Do home inspectors return to
professional home inspectors will not return to any property which
they have previously inspected for the purpose of reinspection to
verify that any conditions documented in the course of the original
inspection have been modified or corrected or that any remedial
measures have been performed. This
is because professional home inspectors recommend that all
modifications, corrective measures, or new work undertaken on any
component or system be performed only by qualified individuals or companies and that only new, appropriate or
specified materials be used. Further,
that all work be performed in a workmanlike manner and in accordance
with all appropriate applicable industry standards and governmental
codes, ordinances and regulations.
Finally, subsequent to completion, it is recommended that all
such work be documented by work orders, invoices, or receipts from
the individuals or companies which performed the work as well as by
copies of all signed off building permits and lien releases when
There is no reason
for a professional home inspector to return to reinspect.
It’s not cost-effective and inspectors do not want to
assume any liability for conditions that they have previously
identified and for which they have recommended specific action by
qualified individuals or companies.
What about payment?
While the form of
payment inspection companies accept varies among inspection firms,
payment is typically due upon completion of the inspection.
In order to maintain their position as impartial third
parties with no ties to the sale of the properties they inspect,
most inspection companies do not defer payment until the closing of
the real estate transaction or of escrow.
When payment for the inspection is in any way contingent on
the closing, it creates the appearance of a potential conflict of
interest for the inspection company.
In addition, most inspection companies are small businesses
that do not want to increase their costs by having to “chase”
accounts due. Such
costs would have to be passed on to their customers in the form of
higher inspection fees.
What about buyer concerns and
questions after the inspection
Specific concerns or
questions that a buyer may have subsequent to the inspection should
be addressed directly to the home inspector by the inspector’s
customer, the buyer. The
vast majority of concerns and complaints regarding home inspections
turn out to be based on buyers who fail to thoroughly read the
inspection report and to follow the directives outlined in the
contract for the home inspection is with the home inspection company
and no one else. Therefore,
it is inappropriate for buyers to expect real estate professionals
to contact home inspectors regarding concerns or complaints.
When a buyer attempts to bring pressure to bear on a home
inspector by communicating through a third party such as a real
estate professional without first speaking directly with the
inspector, it is typically because the buyer does not really believe
that her or his concern or complaint is valid.
Communicating with a professional home inspector through an
intermediary without first having spoken to or met directly with the
inspector involves parties in the discussion who have neither the
need nor the contractual right to participate.
What about report formats?
There is no one
“right” inspection report format.
Some professional home inspectors produce a report in a
checklist with narrative format while other inspectors produce
computer generated reports. Any
inspection report should reflect that the inspection has been
performed in accordance with a standard of professional practice and
should cover all of the components and conditions present in the
home and listed for inspection in that standard. Reports should be user friendly, that is, easy to read and
understand by buyers, real estate professionals, and sellers.
The information should be well-arranged, clear, provide
perspective, and any recommendations should be clear and direct.
While some reports
may also include a summary, it is extremely important that buyers
not read just the summary but that they read the entire report
before making any decisions that may be affected by the information
contained in the report. Only
by reading the entire report can they get the full benefit if the
inspection and report.
Can real estate professionals
prepare buyers and sellers for a home inspection?
Absolutely, in fact,
it is always beneficial to do so.
Real estate professionals should encourage buyers to attend
home inspections. Having
buyers present significantly reduces the chances for
misinterpretation and miscommunication regarding the nature and
degree of importance of the conditions documented in the inspection
report. In addition,
most professional inspectors provide useful home maintenance and
care information to their customers in the course of conducting
Giving buyers a copy
of “The Consumer’s Guide
to Professional Home Inspection” and sellers a copy of “The
Home Seller’s Guide to Professional Home Inspection” will
also help buyers and sellers understand the home inspection process
as well as what is and is not included in a professional home
While it is of
utmost importance that professional home inspectors act as
completely independent third parties with no interest in the actual
transfer of a specific property, it is to everyone’s benefit for
real estate professionals, professional home inspectors, appraisers,
lenders, title company professional, and insurance professionals to
recognize and understand the importance of each to the home buying
and selling process.
buyers to schedule their home inspection as soon as possible after
acceptance of their offer to purchase the home in order to give both
them and their inspector maximum flexibility in scheduling. During periods of heavy real estate activity, it is not
unusual for inspection companies to be “booked up” as far as
seven days in advance.
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