Enjoy this month's InterNACHI Inspector eNewsletter.


We often see clauses in inspection reports that take this form:

“No visible evidence of [insert applicable defect] was observed.”

Most people would construe such a clause to mean that there was no visible evidence of the defect. However, a lawyer representing a client in a suit against an inspector might construe it to be an admission by the inspector that there was or may have been visible evidence of the defect, but the inspector simply missed it. “No visible evidence observed” could also mean “Visible evidence not observed,” which, in turn, could mean “Visible evidence existed but it wasn’t observed.”

A court reviewing such language in a report may find that the language is ambiguous, and when a court finds an ambiguity in a document, the court will almost always construe the ambiguity against the party that drafted the document.

The last thing an inspector wants is a lawsuit in which the disgruntled client alleges that the defect was visible at the time of the inspection. Even if the inspector ultimately prevails, the battle may be costly.

The solution to this problem is to avoid using the word “visible” in your reports. Instead, write: “No evidence of [insert applicable defect] was observed.” Even better, use the active voice, rather than the passive voice, and write: “I saw no evidence of [insert applicable defect].”

Most lawsuits against inspectors revolve around whether an alleged defect was visible. “Visible” is a fuzzy, subjective adjective, particularly when used to describe what an inspector did not observe. To the extent possible, the inspector’s duty should be to report what he observed rather than what he did not observe, and that is how inspectors should write their reports.

From “No Visible Evidence” Language May Be Evidence Against You - InterNACHI http://www.nachi.org/visible.htm#ixzz1pohoNLQ9

Not one to play games I often write in reports as an example “No signs of water Intrusion visible at time of Inspection”.

The above comment is important as it may explain why a moisture meter was not used on a wall (example) since I use the meter only in areas where there are visible signs of water intrusion.

So I must disagree with this article.