A home inspection is conducted by a professional inspector. The inspector evaluates the home’s condition. The inspector then prepares an inspection report. The report notes improvements to the home, and items that need repair.
What Does a Home Inspector Do?
Home inspectors look for issues with various home components. Issues may include:
- Whether toxic mold may be present in the basement;
- Whether a furnace is working;
- Whether the home has an infestation (termites or rodents) problem;
- Whether the heat and air conditioning are functioning properly; and
- Whether the home has an operating carbon monoxide detector
Homeowners inspect a variety of systems and areas, including the plumbing, walls, ceiling, fences, foundation, staircases, roof, and chimney, to determine if there are any issues with operation or structure of the home.
As the inspector inspects these various items, the inspector makes note of what issues exist. The inspector then prepares an inspection report, and delivers the result to the individual (buyer or seller) who hired the inspector. The report may contain recommendations for how to remediate the issues that are found, such as “fix A/C filter,” or “install alarm.” When a homeowner inspects a home, the inspector also notes whether improvements have been made to the home.
An inspector’s report typically does not give an estimate of the home’s value. Rather, the value is determined by another individual known as a home appraiser. The appraiser determines home values by looking at a home’s condition, local crime rates, school quality, and values of similar homes in the location.
Because not all home inspectors are required to be licensed or certified, some inspectors have more expertise than others. A home inspector who is not certified in mold detection and remediation may conclude the house has a mold problem. A homeowner can then hire an inspector who is certified in that field to evaluate a mold problem is present.
How Extensive is a Home Inspection?
Inspectors typically look for non-trivial issues. This means they do not inventory every single flaw in the home’s appearance or systems. Instead, they look for problems that a reasonable average) homebuyer might find significant, when deciding to purchase the home.
Inspectors also look for problems that might constitute a violation of local housing codes, which may require, for example, that certain alarms be installed. Generally, the more through the inspection is, the more the inspection costs. The cost of the inspection also depends upon how old the home is, and how big it is.
What is the Importance of a Home Inspection?
Home inspections allow buyers and sellers to go through a sale while having relevant information about the home’s condition. Buyers want to review inspection reports before purchasing a home. Under the law, if an inspection report reveals an issue with the home, the buyer can insist on remediation of that issue before purchasing the home.
Buyers therefore often include a provision in the contract for the sale of the home that makes conducting an inspection a condition of the sale. This provision can require that if repairs are needed, the repairs must be paid for by the seller before the purchase. The provision may also give the buyer the right to not go through with the sale if the seller does not make the repairs.
What is a Home Inspection Lawsuit?
Home inspectors are required to perform their work in a competent, non-negligent fashion. If a homeowner prepares a report that is inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading, the individual relying on the report (buyer or seller) may file a lawsuit against the home inspector. Home inspectors may be sued in a civil lawsuit for the following:
- Failing to properly report the condition of the home: An inspector may fail to account for home improvements, or may fail to make a thorough comparison that would have revealed defects or the need for repairs. Failure to thoroughly evaluate a property may cause a buyer to rely on an inaccurate report when choosing to purchase the property.
- Failing to act independently: Although buyers and sellers may both hire inspectors, an inspector always has a duty to prepare a report that is not misleading. This means the inspector may not deliberately misrepresent the condition of the home.
If an individual can prove in court that their reliance on an inspection report caused them to sustain financial damages, the judge can order the inspector to compensate the individual for those damages.
If an inspection report is discovered to be significantly misleading, the buyer may ask the judge for an injunction, which is an order for the judge preventing the sale from going forward.
What are the Alternatives to a Home Inspection Lawsuit?
Instead of suing a home inspector, an individual who receives an inspection report containing material (significant) errors may choose to hire a different inspector to obtain a “second opinion.”
An individual can also choose to mediate a dispute before a neutral mediation. Binding arbitration is another way of pursuing a claim against an inspector.
Do I Need the Help of a Lawyer for a Home Inspection Lawsuit?
If you believe you have sustained financial damages because of an inspector’s report, you should contact a real estate lawyer. An experienced real estate lawyer near you can evaluate the facts of your case and can advise you on how to proceed.