Is this inspector liable?

Aside from being an inspector, I am also a contractor who does home repairs. The home I’m working on is a mid '50s modern classic–4800 square feet. The owners bought it and took possession last April. There are five bathrooms, three of them have only showers, one has a tub and one is a guest bathroom. They all have that great tile work you can find from this era.

The basement shower is directly below an upstairs shower. When I was in the lower bathroom I noticed some movement from the the ceiling of the shower and it turned out to be water dripping through a crack in the tile, which I guessed was coming from the shower above it. I notified the owners and they had a plumber come and open up the tiles on the ceiling. Turns out the upstairs shower pan was leaking. There also appeared to be dry rot and structural damage to the supporting wood members.

I asked the owners if they had an inspection done before they bought the home and they showed me the report. There was no mention of filling the shower pans to test for leaks. There was also no mention of the defective shower valves and the fact that the hot and cold was reversed on one. It turned out the second main floor shower pan also leaks into the garage.

As you might guess, repairing all of this is expensive. I feel the inspector dropped the ball on his inspection because he didn’t fill the shower pans to test for leaks. Consequently, the owner didn’t have the opportunity to negotiate the home purchase based on this information.

Is this inspector liable?

Technically, neither the NACHi nor the ASHI standards of practice require testing of shower pans.

Although local laws, licensing requirements, if the inspector was also performing a WDO inspections, and such may vary.

When buying my 1st house, it was the Pest Inspection company that determined if shower pan leaked, and not the home inspector.

What does the SOP of the inspector say he is required to inspect?

Some inspectors fill the pans and others don’t.

Don’t be in such a rush to throw him under the bus like most contractors try to do.

My PIA and report disclaim the inspection and reporting of shower pans as the undersides are not visible for inspection and not part of the visual home inspection.

As for the hot and cold reversed, shame on them.

My reports state “water tested-OK” for showers & tubs, if that’s the case at that time.
Thermal scan & moisture meters.
The manner of the test is not stated in writing although it is beyond the SOP.

Sounds like all the damage was hidden, no X-ray vision allowed.

If they took possession seven months ago, what’s been going on all this time?
Why were the valves defective? What does that mean.
It would be to the inspector’s favor if the hot/cold reverse was discovered, looks much better for him.

There are many factors to consider here.
Filling shower pans not SOP, thats been noted by others.
And filling them for how long? Who knows if it would turn up after a ten minute
test or a one hour test?

Was the home occupied at the time of the inspection?
What if it had been empty for some time?
Kind of difficult for a leak to manifest itself during a home inspection if everything is dry.

If the pan had been leaking for a long time then why wasn’t it visible?

My point here is there is no right or wrong answer so pinning the blame on the inspector is not so easy.

Um no he’s not. Are you really an inspector? I think not.

First, I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus. I’m asking a question that pertains to our profession. Second, Juan, here is my State of Oregon CCB# 204557 well as my State of Oregon OCHI# 1804. I was required to have a contractors license in order to get my OCHI certification. It took me a year. Please treat me with respect and I will do the same to you.

Here is what the Oregon SOP says about plumbing:
812-008-0208 - Plumbing*
(1) The Oregon certified home inspector shall observe:
(a) Interior water supply and distribution system, including
piping materials, supports, and insulation, fixtures and faucets,
functional flow, leaks, and cross connections;
(b) Interior drain, waste, and vent system, including traps,
drain, waste, and vent piping, piping supports and pipe insulation,
leaks, and functional drainage;
© Hot water systems including water heating equipment,
normal operating controls, automatic safety controls, and
chimneys, flues, and vents;
(d) Above ground oil storage and distribution systems
including interior oil storage equipment, supply piping, venting, and
supports; leaks; and
(e) Sump pumps and sewage ejection pumps.
(2) The Oregon certified home inspector shall describe:
(a) Water supply and distribution piping materials;
(b) Drain, waste, and vent piping materials; and
© Water heating equipment.
(3) The Oregon certified home inspector shall operate all
plumbing fixtures, including their
faucets and all exterior faucets
attached to the house except where the flow end of the faucet is
connected to an appliance or interior faucets not serviced by a
(4) The Oregon certified home inspector is not required to:
(a) State the effectiveness of anti-siphon devices and anti-
backflow valves;
(b) Determine whether water supply and waste disposal
systems are public or private;
© Operate automatic safety controls;
(d) Operate any valve except toilet flush valves, fixture
faucets, and hose faucets;
(e) Observe:
(A) Water conditioning systems;
(B) Fire and lawn sprinkler systems;
© On-site water supply quantity and quality;
(D) On-site waste disposal systems;
(E) Foundation irrigation systems;
(F) Whirlpool tubs, except as
to functional flow and functional
(G) Swimming pools and spas; or
(H) Solar water heating equipment.*

I’m also dealing with another client who’s inspector missed significant picture window leaks that caused some rot. The inspector agreed he missed it and his E&O insurance is taking care of it. Remember, I’m also an inspector. I don’t have a lot of experience and so I’m depending on honest feedback from NACHI members.

As an inspector, I want to do the best possible job for my clients and I also want to avoid situations like this.

Where does it say anything about filling the pan? He only has to observe functional draining. Was it draining? Yes. Move on.

Just because he did not mention in the report about filling fill the pan or not does not mean anything. You would need to ask him.

Was the home empty when it was inspected?
Was this a tile pan or fiberglass or plastic pan? You said ceiling tile but nothing about the pan.
Don’t forget that an inspection is non invasive and it may have taken more than filling the pan to get what you observed unless you know more than what you have indicated.
Lots of questions need to be answered just sayin.

This is in my plumbing section of my report.

FL state standards of practice do not require the inspector to evaluate or inspect:
(a) Wells or water storage related equipment;
(b) Water conditioning systems;
© Solar water heating systems;
(d) Fire sprinkler systems;
(e) Private waste disposal systems;
(f) Irrigation system(s).
The inspector is not required to:
(a) Test shower pans, tub and shower surround for leakage;
(b) Operate safety valves or shut-off valves;
© Determine whether water supply and waste disposal systems are public or private;
(d) Determine the quantity or quality of the water supply, or if the function flow at the time of the inspection or thereafter will meet the
client’s needs.

My PIA is subject to our Florida SOP, Most states I believe have adopted the NACHI SOP. Our state is really close to it with some tweaks.

First, this was a home built in 1954 therefore the shower pan was a lead sheet with wire reinforced mortar and tile on top. There was an OBVIOUS crack more than 12" long with signs of water staining around it on the ceiling of the lower shower. It looks like SOP’s generally sign off on filing the pan but this was something that should have been noted, in my opinion.

The inspector, who was “recommended” by the real estate agent, is employed by the buyer to point out visible defects and this one was pretty obvious. If he would have stuck his head in the very accessible (and paved!) crawlspace he would have been able to see it was all copper piping and most likely had reached the end of its useful life as well. 60 years for copper is about it. These are things I feel clients should know. They hire us because of our expertise when it comes to the systems that make up a home–right?

Maybe I shouldn’t have used the word “liable,” but here is an ASHI article on the subject. This inspector is a member of ASHI but not NACHI.

Oh boy, 60 year cu pipes also. Is that an active leak hazard or somethin?

You’re full of it. How do you know it was obvious when he inspected the home. Copper pipes most likely at the end of their useful life? Like I said, I think you’re pulling our chains.

I agree. As you said earlier Benjamin sounds more like a lawyer then he does a home inspector student.

Well–there’s some good insights here from other inspectors. Thank to those who brought up some good points. To those of you who haven’t matured enough to carry on a conversation without name calling and innuendo, I wish you the best in your endeavors.

Juan, we’re on Candid Camera? :wink:

Good luck to you in your “inspection career”.

Drop in from time to time to fill us in on how you are doing. Let us know how you get thrown under the bus by another contractor that goes to do work at a home you inspect.

We are so sorry we don’t measure up to your standards.


I’m actually doing well with my inspection business. Clients like me and I get a lot of referrals. I don’t know why I’m listed as a student and I see I have my full name spelled out too, which makes me look more pompous than I already am, but hey, I’m one of you guys now. I see you’re all playful after a hard day at work. Juan–BTW your chain isn’t long enough to pull. Go get your tweezers and magnifying glass.