Good FYI article about your SOP

I found this article helpful and illustrates some good business practices.

“Out of Bounds: Claims Outside the Standards of Practice”


I read that this morning, pretty good article, Brian.

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From the article, here are some things I found to be of interest.

“Always note the inaccessible or dangerous areas in your report, referencing your SOP.”

“If you contradict your SOP by identifying and inspecting excluded systems, you may potentially weaken its ability to protect you.” It goes on “As Katen pointed out, most associations, state organizations, or state regulatory boards created their SOPs to establish a minimum standard for home inspectors. Thus, exceeding the SOP by some amount is expected. However, when exceeding their SOP, home inspectors walk a fine line between customer service and potential liability.”

As a home inspector, you walk a fine line. How do you give home buyers the experience they want while protecting yourself from potential claims? By appropriately setting buyers’ expectations, you can give your clients quality customer service while managing your risk.

Without a signed pre-inspection agreement, there is no consent or understanding between you and the client about the SOP you’re following. When you name your SOP in the agreement, provide a link (or other means) for your client to review them. Then, most importantly, have the client sign the agreement before the inspection.

Another important reason to review your SOP often is to recalibrate your inspections and your reports.

Good advice for states without licensing. If your state is licensed the SOP is mandated by that state.


This brings up something I have been pondering lately… I (obviously) have a pre-inspection agreement, but it is not always signed pre-inspection. I use Spectora, so the buyer cannot even access the final report until it is both signed and paid for. So I have never really made a big deal about it.

I do have an automated email and text that automatically go out 24 hours before the inspection, reminding of both, and it says I cannot do the inspection without it being signed, but I have never stuck to it. I stay so busy, I cannot just cancel the inspection, and re-schedule.

Ive been curious how others handle this. Do you still go to the inspection? Cancel? The majority of my buyers are never even at the inspection, and if they are, they come at the end

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I do not use Spectora and my inspection request is a form they fill out online. They cannot complete the form without agreeing to the pre-inspection agreement. I have never performed an inspection without the pre-inspection signed in advanced (or in wet ink at the time of the inspection for those that are not comfortable with online).


I pepper them the night before and morning of with emails and texts indicating that the agreement must be signed. They usually come through at the last minute. I have only had one that they signed after the inspection.

This is where the pre-inspection interview comes in handy. If I have any suspicions, I will start peppering them earlier than the night before.


You don’t have a pre-inpection agreement, then. It cannot be used to answer the question “What terms did the homebuyer agree to prior to the home inspection?” which is often critical, particularly when a limited liability clause is challenged.


I agree. I don’t like it and it makes me nervous when it gets too close, even when I know they intend to sign it but have extenuating circumstances.

Isn’t there something about making them sign under duress as well if you withhold the report unless they sign?

Do you use Spectora advanced? I dont, because I dont want to pay the extra fee, but it can send texts and emails automatically if the agreement isnt signed. It has alot more features, but I just have the one that goes out to everyone 24 hrs prior as a reminder regardless.

Yeah, which is what I am now worrying about. I have done multiple inspections that way, even though I have two texts and two emails that go out before the inspection starts, asking for payment and signing. One at scheduling, and one 24 hr prior. I guess I better pay closer attention.

No I don’t. But I always have an eye on my upcoming inspections and the status of the agreement and payment. If I see the agreement hasn’t been signed for the next day’s inspection, I manually send out a text and then an email if no answer.

In my example in the above post where they signed after the inspection, technically they actually signed during the inspection. I had talked to them on the phone when they scheduled and I knew they were legit but they didn’t tell me they were leaving on a camping trip for the weekend. My agreement/payment email went to their spam folder and it turned out they didn’t have cell service until they were heading home on Monday morning. As soon as they got my messages, they called and I was already an hour in to the inspection and feeling a bit nervous. Long story short, it all worked out and I was glad I didn’t cancel on them.


@dhorton2 I was looking at your site. You could put it right before your submit button and make where they cannot proceed without agreeing.

This is how we do it.

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That is a good idea, maybe I should make that a requirement to schedule online. But not sure how that would work with the pricing. If they fill it out online, it would have to generate a price first for the agreement. But there are several factors that I use that would make it hard to do automated pricing… How do you do that?

Most of my inspection request are phone calls which I then direct the client to the website to fill out the form, in which we have already agreed on a date and time and price.

When I receive the form out of the blue, I call the client and confirm everything.

I always always generate a follow-up email which confirms the inspection and terms of the payment.

(basically, I do not publish prices and at least one phone call is required to lock in an inspection)

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$100.00 DEPOSIT REQUIRED at booking! Payment of Deposit constitutes acceptance to all Terms & Conditions. Full payment due at end of inspection (same day).


Check with your state law. I believe Florida is the same as Illinois, and most other licensed states, that you must have a signed agreement Before the start the inspection. Otherwise it’s like Jim already noted, it’s worthless.

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We don’t require a signed PIA, but there is a statute requiring the client be sent certain items before commencing an inspection:

468.8321 Disclosures.—Prior to contracting for or commencing a home inspection, a home inspector shall provide to the consumer a copy of his or her license to practice home inspection services in this state and a written disclosure that contains the scope and any exclusions of the home inspection.


IMO an agreement doesn’t become worthless if not signed before the agreement. It’s just an avenue for someone to pursue to try to get out of it. And I think it’s a pretty small avenue at that. At some point people are held responsible for what they sign.

Small world - I actually know/know of Jim Katen the inspector quoted in the article. He’s been an inspector in Oregon for years. He’s got to be getting up there in years so I’d be surprised if he’s still doing much inspecting. I have a crazy amount of respect for him as an inspector/teacher but he can be kind of a cranky know-it-all. He’s chased many an inspector off the inspectorjournal message board he runs (owns?).

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It is in the state I serve, Illinois.
From the Illinois SOP

d) Home inspectors or home inspector entities shall enter into a written agreement with the client or duly authorized representative Prior to the home inspection that includes at a minimum: