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
77,397
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property 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.

 

Jan 17, 2013 09:39 PM #155
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

Feb 11, 2013 05:46 PM #156
Rainmaker
77,397
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Hi Jay

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

They keep me in business.

Feb 15, 2013 08:02 PM #157
Anonymous
Anon101

Hi, I have a question..
I bought my house two years ago (August 10, 2012) and am in PA. We are in escrow so we had a home inspection and the inspector reported several things wrong. The seller fixed all of the things and we had a second inspection to make sure everything was up to code...Unfortunately, my porch which is built over a coal cellar has caved in... When I went through the porch we realized that it was built with styrofoam as a base, chicken wire and then an inch of concrete..
When standing in the coal cellar and looking up, you can see that the porch was poured on styrofoam thus making it unsafe and not permitted. I am wondering if we can go after the home inspector for repairs? I feel badly, but he should have seen the poor conditions in which the porch was built on and required that the seller fixed it.

Jul 15, 2014 07:34 PM #158
Anonymous
lewis

Crawl space sump pump drain system. The home inspector advised me of a sump pump in the Crawl space, but failed to see and mention in his report that the sump basin has no drain lines attached or installed . In other words ground water come up thru footers and cement blocks ,then runs and pools up in low spot in the crawl ,because there's no drain lines to catch and carry the water to the sump pump

Mar 06, 2015 07:24 PM #159
Anonymous
Connie Hainsworth

Hi, my daughter bought a house last march and has found out recently the air conditioning unit was not installed properly so the thing blew, also there is a leak in the water cleaner and the there was no insulation under the bathroom/laundry room which is causing the pipes to freeze. The; inspector missed all of this. Is there anything she can do? This is about $10,000 to $120000 worth of repairs.

Apr 24, 2015 08:07 AM #160
Anonymous
chris hatch

We recently have been trying to sell our house and the inspectors for the potential buyers have found rot and termites. The rot looks to have been here longer than we have lived here. Don't know what to do

Jun 23, 2015 05:05 PM #161
Anonymous
Nicole C.

I bought a house 6 months ago, and have already had 3 pipes burst...in the dead of Summer...in the SC heat. They have been plumbing pipes to different parts of our house each time; An outdoor spicket, an upstairs bathroom and now the downstairs bathroom. Each time a plumber has come out, under our home warranty, they repair the immediate leak and suggest re-piping the entire house because "the pipes are no good, this will continue to happen." Our home warranty will only fix the leak, no property damage and our homeowners insurance will fix property damage (with a $1,000 deductible) but will not cover any of the repair work. There was no mention of our pipes at all on our home inspection, no suggestion that they would be a potential problem or to replace them. Is there any recourse at all or are we just out of luck?

Sep 09, 2015 08:33 AM #162
Rainmaker
77,397
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Not sure how anyone can predict if and when a pipe will bust .My guess is these are Galvanized pipes.

Inspectors have no duty to predict how long anything will last however it is good practice for a Inspector to mention potential issues and that is part of why it is important to hire the right guy.

Certain clients are regular investors and do not need education on basic facts however clients who know little about systems my benifit from special statement inserts such as below........

Galvanized is common to older structures however you should be warned that over time they have a tendency to corrode internaly and decrease the diameter of the pipe which in turn will decrease the water flow.

 

The above is a excerpt from one of my many reports with special tips included to help in the evaluation process.

 

The is no standard to include them as we are looking at conditions visually and as they exist at the time of Inspection.

If a HVAC unit is 15 years old it has reached life expectancy yet does a Inspector say replace it ?....if it works  ?

 

Often there is a fine line between what is and what should be reported which is why you want a guy that can spend time to talk with you and explain areas of the home that go past a simple report.

Oct 04, 2015 07:46 PM #163
Rainmaker
77,397
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

I am not always checking this thread right away even though it seems popular so if you are in a hurry pleas econtact me personally but again be aware solutions are difficult from a distance without all the facts and hearing from both sides.

Bear in mind I am not a Lawyer or giving any legal advice as well.

Bob [ condo bob]

Oct 04, 2015 07:51 PM #164
Anonymous
Ashley Z

I bought a house and just closed a week ago. last night, we discovered that the pipes of baseboard heating in the basement is slowly leaking. The pipes are located at the bottom of the drywall, thus the water leaking through the walls and wet the half of the carpets of the basement. some part of it has black modes grew. Our inspector did not find this issue when he testing on the heating. So does inspector responsible for the damage? or should we sue him for the damage?

Thanks! Ashley

Nov 10, 2015 08:55 AM #165
Anonymous
Shelly Harrelson

I knew I would be replacing the shingles, made financial arrangements. Contractor was stunned when he found wetness all over the flooring of the attic, the insulation was soaked, the sheetrock for my ceilings, the insulation, the plywood, every bit of material all the way to and including every truss had to be replaced. Many tens of thousands of dollars I had not anticipated spending!. Sucks to be me, more importantly, it will suck to be my home inspector when I sue his insurance for negligence. Didn't he see the obvious, in plain sight mold? Didn't he see the obvious in plain sight wetness? Didn't he check a moisture reader on the ceilings after visibly seeing and reporting verbally to me as I stood there, an obvious drip from a roof truss/rafter in the attic...huh?? Blind home inspector also missed the mold at the edges of the attic access door. Really?? His belly had to actually rest on the opening to use his flashlight in the dark attic. And didn't see the mold that came off onto his shirt? NONE of this, except the obvious drip, was reported. My lawyer is receiving the home inspector's report today. I will be reporting back to you on the progress of the lawsuit...or not.

Dec 15, 2015 05:57 AM #166
Rainmaker
77,397
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Sorry to see this.Did he show up wearing dark sunglasses and holding a cane ?

 

Dec 15, 2015 06:16 AM #167
Anonymous
Scott Hansen

Recently in last 3 months bought a mobile home. It was inspected for an earlier buyer one month before i bought it. The inspection missed two items. First the front stairs are not within code and stepping heights are very different which I broke my ankle going down. Second the bedroom I am in had a sewage drain coming out of the wall in the closet and when the trap dried out I got pretty sick and still feel the effects of sewer gas poison. The inspector noted it looked added on and to check for permits. Should he have not inspected the inside off an add on closet

Dec 29, 2015 12:27 AM #168
Anonymous
Bob Elliott

The pipe in the closet may have been standpipe for a washer you never installed. Post a picture.

Dec 29, 2015 09:53 AM #169
Anonymous
Tammy

I bought an older home in Iowa with a finished basement come to find out that none of my windows open? I thought that was a fire hazard for escaping?

Jan 11, 2016 12:08 PM #170
Anonymous
g

I hired a home inspector with a great rep and hefty inspection fee. He said my furnace was old but working fine. He took a picture of it, as its in a walk-in closet type room not a small attic. Gas company saw my furnace and immediately red-tagged it as its a Premier (Consolidated) furnace and was recalled in 2001, known to cause fires, and the company went BK. When I notified the inspector of this, he said he couldn't see the brand name of it b/c there were boxes in the way (he never wrote that there were boxes in the way in the inspection report). He also put in a generic "Service and review of entire HVAC system is recommended. This is recommended partially because there is no evidence of service in the past year, or lack of visible current service records, vent installation, horizontal furnace, other findings in this report, and age of equipment" He puts this for every single item in my home. However he does not connect it to it being a recalled furnace that is known to cause fires. His "servicing" is not the same thing as being able to use the furnace. He also didn't put in that it wasn't fully accessible due to boxes in the report or during the walk through. He didn't want to help pay for cost of new furnace or meet me in the middle, I plan to take legal action, do I have a case? Had I known it was recalled, I would have been compensated by the seller or new furnace put in. I have consulted with realtors and real estate lawyers and they say its negligence and I have a strong case.

Jan 15, 2016 12:21 PM #171
Anonymous
kj

just bought a house in NC. Inspector missed:
1.duct runs shredded open. These runs are visible as soon as you crawl into crawlspace.
2. mold/mildew growing on windows and in closet
3. electric in house was NOT grounded. states in report that it is.
Any recourse???

Feb 01, 2016 08:57 AM #172
Anonymous
darlene somerville

Hello, I just renovated a house for re-sale in NH. The prospective home owners had an inspection and decided to back out of the contract. I got a copy of the report and out of the 18 items he listed of major concern, 10 of them were wrong. We can back it up by the town inspections, which we had to pass to get our occupancy permit.

Can I sue for mis-representation of our property?

Feb 02, 2016 06:15 AM #173
Anonymous
Christine Ward

I purchased a home and two months later was informed my home owners would be cancelled if roof repairs were not done. Any advice on if I can hold the inspector liable for this would be appreciated. The whole roof needed replaced. ( In Pa.) Thank you.

Feb 29, 2016 10:17 AM #174
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Rainmaker
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Bob Elliott

Chicago Property Inspection
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