Can I Sue My Home Inspector ?

Home Inspector with Elliott Home Inspection

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

Copyright 2007 Barry Stone

Reprinted with permission of Inman News

Comments (176)


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 12:34 PM

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 11:24 AM
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 01:07 AM
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 10:05 AM
Nicole C.

I bought a house 6 months ago, and have already had 3 pipes the dead of 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 01:33 AM
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 12:46 PM
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 12:51 PM
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 12:55 AM
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 14, 2015 09:57 PM
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 14, 2015 10:16 PM
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 28, 2015 04:27 PM
Bob Elliott

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

Dec 29, 2015 01:53 AM

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 04:08 AM

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 04:21 AM

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 12:57 AM
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 01, 2016 10:15 PM
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 02:17 AM
Susan love

I want to know if I can sue a home inspector from passing a house that had black mold which in this case my daughter died of two years after living in the home

Mar 09, 2017 09:23 AM
Christy M.

My home inspector 'inspected' the wrong septic tank (there was a old tank cover in the yard-filled in with gravel) and didn't catch that they, in fact, built an addition onto the current septic, which is in need of replacement. Imagine my surprise when the septic was showing signs of needing to be pumped and finding out that to pump it involved cutting a 3x3 hole into the solarium. Oh and there's a ton of bats living in the attic. Ugh... can you say 'Money Pit?'

May 17, 2017 06:26 PM
Jason Melanson

what if the insurance companies inspector says after being asked by me if the propane fire place is to close to the wall he says no its fine when in fact was illegal because it was suppose to be 12 inches from side to combustible materials and caused severe smoke damage to my home im out for 6 months and also had a live 120v baseboard heater wire cut under my hot tub that was live and like that when i purchased the house is he responsible and is that lawsuit msterial and also no hand rail on deck and overloaded fuse panel?

Dec 18, 2018 06:57 PM