It is very important for clients to understand what they should expect from a home inspection. Home inspectors are perceived as stuffing their reports full of “disclaimers” to cover their butts.
In fact, these “exclusions” that are in our reports should be considered very useful to home buyers. They are put into the report so that buyers know what home inspectors are NOT evaluating. They have to be there because buyers do not read the inspection agreement, they do not read the standards of practice, and they do not want to hire other specialists. They want an inexpensive, general evaluation, and expect it to find everything and guarantee it for life.
For example, it is important for a home inspector to state in the report that they are NOT taking mold samples, soils samples, etc so that the client knows it. It is important to let the buyer know that no warranties are provided so that they can get one.
Home inspectors need to be very clear about what they are providing, and they must be very clear about what they are not providing. It is simply good customer service.
I’m not exactly sure what that means, but the point is that too many inspectors try to sell themselves as invincible. Then the general public has the wrong perception of us. Collectively, we need to be very clear about what we can do and what we don’t do.
I see inspectors who claim that their IR camera gives them “x-ray vision”. That sets the wrong expectations for clients.
It’s taken me a number of years before I realized that, if possible, I like to explain what an inspection is and what it is not.
Not only for the buyers, but this last year seems to be a year of people throwing each other under the bus. In general, when we throw each other under the bus, we throw anyone involved in the transaction under the bus, hence the “shotgun” term. If you don’t know what that means, good for you! Inexperienced folks seem to think that diverting responsibility to others clears them, when in fact, you are expanding upon a situation and likely expanding the situation itself.
Disclaimers are a bit puffy, and it’s actually one of my goals to refine some of my reporting methods, but it’s necessary to remind our clients in writing and in person what we do.
If at the end of an inspection, your client asks you if you’ve looked at the Alarm system or Cable TV outlets… you didn’t do a very good job of explaining what you’re looking at.
Your agreement should state what an inspection is, and it’s limitations. The agreement should be presented, understood, and read by the buyer before the inspection begins. Your web site should also state what an inspection is, limitations, SOP, etc.
The inspection at the home being inspected is an inspection; not an educational class. Nothing gets done properly from ones who fail to read the instructions.
I agree in part. As much faith as we would like to have in our inspection agreements, they mean very little after the fact. I feel it is important to have the scope of work right in the report. If you are not inspecting something, write it in the report. If there is no AC present, write it in the report.
That way there is no chance of a judge throwing out the contract because the client didn’t read it. Or worse, a third party who gets their hands on your report. They have no contractual arrangement with you.
By signing it (PIA) they are saying they read and understood the contract. As for as a third party that is irrelevant, at least in Illinois, the report is solely for the person(s) whose name is on it and the PIA.
I also have a short line in my agreement and in my maintenance tips that warn buyers about the limits of home warranties. Because of what I do and what I state in my reports and web site, this year alone, I have only received 13 call backs after inspections, most of which are clarifications.
The more simply stated the languages are, the more people will understand it. Keep it as simple as possible. Do not say too much. Short, sweet.
We reference the SOP’s in several areas of the report, but we don’t reproduce it in every report. It would be about 12 extra pages. I do print a copy of the agreement with each report.
We have several pages at the front of our inspection report that define the scope of work, how to read the report, what is Infrared - and what it is NOT. That is right up front so they know what follows.
With regards to the contract, a small claims court judge can simply disregard it. Clients come up with all sorts of excuses like they didn’t have time to read it, you didn’t give it to them before, they didn’t understand it, their spouse didn’t sign it, etc. I would not depend on our inspection agreement for protection in small claims court.
My clients all get copies of the SOP, agreement, and the report and maintenance tips/book on site. All inspectors should consider doing this. It is also all on my web site, and the site and documents are all dated. Most judges will then know who is really at fault for not knowing about a home inspection before hand.
Just go to www.calif3d.com and purchase the NACHI SOP forms sets and have your report with the SOP’s built into and a base for your report. That way client cannot ever say they did not get a copy of your SOp’s