Can I Sue My Home Inspector ?

By
Home Inspector with Elliott Home Inspection
http://actvra.in/cnc

To anyone who wonders why that Home Inspector is so critical of the property they inspect.

A special thank you to Elaine Baker of Inman News who gave me permission to reprint this informative article.

 

Inspector's in the House

By Barry Stone

Distributed by Inman News

About Barry Stone

Can I sue my home inspector?

By Barry Stone

March 06, 2007

Dear Barry,

I've read several of your columns where readers ask if they have grounds for suing a home

inspector. Your answer always seems to be "no." Could it be that you're providing cover for fellow

inspectors? --Jock

Dear Jock,

You have apparently read some, but not many, of my columns on home inspector liability and

suability. Many readers have written to complain about their home inspectors and to inquire about

inspector liability. When asked if a home inspector can be justifiably sued, my answer has

sometimes been yes and sometimes no, depending on the situation. If you've read only the "no"

columns, you've gotten the wrong impression.

Most home inspectors will be sued at some time during their careers. To quote a common saying

in the business: "There are two kinds of home inspectors -- those who have been sued and those

who will be." There are, however, specific circumstances that determine whether a home

inspector is truly liable for a disputed claim.

When property defects are not reported during home inspection, the inspector is liable if the

defects are within the scope of the inspection and were visible and accessible at the time of the

inspection. For example, a leaking drain below a sink would be within the scope, and in most

cases would be visible and accessible. A damaged roof would also be within the scope, and with

some exceptions would be visible and accessible. An inspector who fails to report defects such

as these could be subject to a lawsuit. However, if the bathroom was filled with storage so that

the inspector could not inspect below the sink, or if weather conditions on the day of the

inspection prevented the inspector from walking on the roof, the inspector would not be liable, if

(and this is a big if) the inspection report clearly states that these areas were not inspected and

that further inspection is recommended prior to close of escrow.

Conditions not within the scope of a home inspection are typically itemized in the inspector's

contract and in the report. These include conditions that are not visible or accessible because

they are underground or contained within the construction of the building. Other exclusions

include structural and geological engineering, infestation by wood-destroying organisms (such as

termites), low-voltage electrical systems, septic systems, water wells and more.

Home inspectors typically include language in their contracts that limit the chances of being sued.

These include mediation and arbitration clauses (not enforceable in all states). They also may

include specific monetary limits on liability (also not enforceable in all states).

Home buyers, however, can undermine a valid claim against a home inspector by repairing the

defect before the inspector has been notified about the problem. Home inspectors should have

the opportunity to view disputed defects, to discuss whether they are was within the scope of the

inspection, whether they were visible on the day of the inspection, and whether they existed on

the day of the inspection. Inspectors who are liable should be allowed to hire a repair contractor,

to make repairs themselves, or simply to pay the costs of repairs.

If a home inspector is notified by the home buyer but fails to respond or to accept reasonable

liability, pressure should be brought to bear, even if that means being sued. This has been my

recommendation in many past columns and will continue to be my advice to home buyers whose

inspectors are professionally negligent.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at www.housedetective.com.

Copyright 2007 Barry Stone

Reprinted with permission of Inman News

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Rainmaker
73,897
Bob Elliott
Chicago Property Inspection
Elliott Home Inspection

Mary ,no professional Inspector would predict how long a furnace will last.

They can give you a list of average life expectancy but that is far as it goes.

Do you have it in writing he says it will last 8 years ?

The average furnace is predicted to last anywhere from 15 to 25 years and a Inspection is a snapshot in time meaning good on the day it was inspected as there is no way to predict the future.

Has a mechanic ever said "the car will last 8 more years" as an example of how silly that would be.

You can find a list of average life expectancy by going to the internationalassociation of home inspectors site at the link here.......http://www.nachi.org/life-expectancy.htm

December 10, 2012 07:05 PM
Anonymous
Zina Reyes

Hi,

I have a question regarding my home inspection. I purchased my property over 2yrs ago and since purchasing my property, I've found several things that should have failed the home inspection. My roof is one of the main issues and the home inspector never said I needed a new roof. There were wires that were out of place in my basement that should have never passed inspection. There is visible wood damage that shows there is a major leak in my basement right under the front stairs. The electrical work is very very poor. Everytime I have someone come in to look or fix something, they ask me if I had an home inspection and when I say yes, they are shocked. There were several things wrong with this property. I would also like to know if I can go after the previos owner as well. I am from Philadelphia, Pa.

 

January 17, 2013 09:58 AM
Rainmaker
73,897
Bob Elliott
Chicago Property Inspection
Elliott Home Inspection

Not a Lawyer as I always mention however can you prove there were major issues and the owner knew about them ?

Bear in mind Contractors always throw the last guy under the bus but anything visible should be reportable by the inspector.

You need to check and see if you can file a claim of negligence and be prepared for court if it comes down to it with documentation .

Can you prove issues were visibel at time of the inspection and not hidden behind storage items for instance ?

2 years is a long time to wait so better check with the state if he is Licensed and be prepared for your claim to be scrutinized.

As always call the Inspector up,tell him what was found and when.That is your first chore.He may have an answer or he may even agree to settle but you must go there first by picking up the phone.

 

January 17, 2013 09:39 PM
Anonymous
Jay Lockaby

I bought a house in 2007 before I started working overseas and each time I've come home I've noticed things with the residence that draw concern. The house was new, built by the seller. As with most families we painted the interior which was all white and concealed alot of descepancies with the interior walls, blemishes and bowing. I removed the carpet on the second and third floors and found the floors to be "bucked". We can walk down the hallway on the second floor and some of the lights on the first floor will go out. I had the lower heat pump replaced last year and the company that installed the unit advised that the wiring under the house was horrible, stated most of it was wired "backwards" and he was suprised we didn't have $500 dollar power bills. I've also found buried shingles in my yard that the previous owner left along with other materials from his previous house that burned ( bad run-off from rain has uncovered them over this past year). I was able to confirm that the previous residence burned and this new one was constructed in the same place. This week I had some trees cutdown and the man cutting the trees asked if I was able to get insurance on my house and asked why. He informed me that when the house was being built it was just pieced together with what appeared to be scrap wood and he didn't think a residence built with uninspected wood could be insured. Obviously none of these issues were ever disclosed and my limited amount of time at home, probably 200 days in the last five years has limited my exposure to these issues. I'm checking with my local government agency to see who inspected my house during it's building phase, plus I'm looking to hire an independant inspector to do a thorough inspection to the extent of removing siding to check the status of the framework. Have I exceeded my limitations to pursue a course of legal action? I feel that the builder is just as guilty, if not more so, than the inspector. I'm from Aiken, SC

February 11, 2013 05:46 PM
Rainmaker
73,897
Bob Elliott
Chicago Property Inspection
Elliott Home Inspection

Hi Jay

The sad fact is most AHJ (authorities having jurisdiction) inspectors have zero liability.

They keep me in business.

February 15, 2013 08:02 PM
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