Legal Question


I’m looking for some advice on a home inspection matter, specifically about legal liability. I bought my home 18 months ago and have had 3 plumbing leaks because my home was built with Polybutylene plumbing. It is a mobile home, but is in otherwise good condition. Because of the frequency with which the plumbing is failing, I need to have the whole system replaced. I got three quotes from plumbers and all are over $2000. My home inspector described the plumbing system as “plastic” and never used the term polybutylene at all in his report.

I spoke with the inspector because I felt “plastic” wasn’t sufficient information, and now I have a $2000 repair on my hands. I said I’d rather not pursue legal action (I’m not a litigious kind of guy), but felt that some recompense from him was fair (1/3 of the price of the repair). His response was that “plastic” was standard practice and he has no responsibility by law or standard practice to go into more detail than that.

My question is, should I pursue this in small claims court, or is the inspector correct? Are there written standards of practice that would support my claim?

Any advice would be very appreciated! Thank you!

Must have hired the wrong inspector. Did you do your dillegence in finding an inspector? Who recommeded him/her?

Read every word on your reports, then decide which way for you to go. Read the agreement, SOP’s, and go from there. What state are you from? That will make a huge difference. What was negotiated in the closing? Did you buy the home AS IS? What did your agent say to do? Alot of questions need to be asked, and answered for you to decide how to proceed.

Did the inspector give you a copy of the standards of practice he follows, or is required to follow?

In my opinion he did a very poor job at properly identifying the plumbing supply lines.

I have NEVER used the word “plastic” in a home inspection report in regards to identifying the plumbing distribution or drain system.

Read this thread, even though it started a few years ago, there are recent post.

Do you put polybutylene in the Summary?](

What state are you in? NC, for example, requires home inspectors to report on the presence of PB and provides the exact language to be used.

If you are in a state that licenses home inspectors, you could file a complaint against him with the state agency and they may institute disciplinary actions.

Try this, first.

Mobile homes are very easy to re-plumb. If you got a $2,000 bid, check somewhere else. There’s probably less than $300 worth of materials in the job. You could even buy a crimping tool and do it yourself with PEX.

(4) General Limitations.

(6) General Exclusions.

(a) Home inspectors are not required to report on:

  1. Predict future condition, including but not limited to failure of components;

(10) Plumbing Systems.

(b) The home inspector shall describe:

  1. Water supply and distribution piping materials;

  2. Drain, waste, and vent piping materials;

(d) The home inspector is not required to:

  1. Inspect the system for proper sizing, design, or use of proper materials.

It says to describe, but does not say to analyze.

A very high percentage of Mobile Homes, RV’s and Mfg Homes are know to have PB piping.

Have you determined that the failure is from the material or it’s maintenance?

I have a mobile Home out back that had total CPVC failure.
I own it, and I can’t determine the actual cause.

(6) General Exclusions.
(a) Home inspectors are not required to report on:

  1. Life expectancy of any component or system;
  2. The cause(s) of the need for a repair;
  3. The methods, materials, and costs of corrections;

PB is in fact a plastic pipe.
So reporting pipe is plastic is not a gross mis-representation of the facts.

We have absolutely no idea where you’re from or what requirements are in place, so I suggest that you look at the situation at your state-level not at an international level such as here.

I use the word Plastic regularly when identifiying plumbing supply and drain piping in my report; I guess I must be doing a very poor job…

That’s how I describe it, to each his own.

Partner -

Identifying PB as simply plastic is about as sloppy as calling EIFS as Artificial Stucco. IT waves no RED FLAG for the client to pursue further evaluation or investigation. Small claims court could be a logical step.

PB and EIFS have been involved in many lawsuits and litigation all over the country. As a trainer and 35 year inspector I personally would call this as sloppy, weak, soft, or negligent.

If licensure state / File complaint with state home inspection board. Tell us what state you’re in and we may refer you to an expert witness in your area. If a home inspector does not know the potential significance of PB, OR can not recognize PB, OR will not identify PB for his clients he or she should either be out of this business AND/OR pay for the miss.

I agree with you. Plastic could be PVC, ABS, CPVC, PEX, OR PB. If I were buying a home with PB and my inspector didn’t inform me, I’d be pretty ticked. Likewise, if my supply pipes were PVC, I’d very much want to know as that is a code violation.

Well said.

If you do not know the difference in home building products, you should not be a home inspector. It is sad that minimum standards and state minimum license regulations allow for uneducated home inspectors to be in business. All the educational classes and tests you can take to be a home inspector will not allow you to be a good, competent home inspector.

After 10 years and 4,000 home inspections, I am still learning. Going on 100 inspections with another home inspector (CMI) should be required before going out on your own, IMO.

Any time you see PB water lines, you should inform your client accordingly. Print-off several articles and web sites and give to your client. Inform, document, let the buyer decide. Do not give your opinion on what to do. What Dan said.

Thank you for the replies everyone! I live in Pennsylvania, sorry for not including that info in the original post. The inspector was referred to me by my realtor, and I probably did a poor job in vetting his credentials because this is my first home. I certainly won’t make that mistake again!

Dan if you could refer me to an expert witness, I’d really appreciate it. And any advice on how to proceed (whether through a licensing board or through something like small claims court) would also be very appreciated! Thanks again everyone.

A legal question probably should be directed to someone that is trained in law!Simply your lawyer would be able to determine if you have probable cause to take this to court.Your inspector already had a chance to make it right with you and didnt,so he believes he did no wrong!The fact that you are after 2000 to plumb a trailer is a lot after 18 months,your inspector thinks you are gold digging. You are at a stalemate call your lawyer!

Where in PA?

I’m in Central PA, State College area. Ronald, I hear you, but I don’t have a lawyer so wanted to see if I could get a bit of advice/guidance before I take on that expense.

Okay, let’s put this train back on the track…

Sloppy reporting, inability to identify plastic types, inability to access piping for identification, whatever the reason is there is nowhere a requirement to analyze and identify and subsequently report what the type of plastic is present.

I don’t say that I do this. I identify the materials based upon permission to go beyond the home inspection standards of my state.

We have someone asking a question here who wants to know if his home inspector is required to identify the piping type.

Can anyone here post the requirement for identification and analysis of anything in a house during a home inspection?

Nobody really cares what any of you do, it’s what you’re required to do that we are discussing. If the state doesn’t say that you will identify the type of plastic, then plastic should be fine.

The state specifically says that you do not have to analyze. It does not say that you must identify. It does not say you must report; PB piping.

Just saying…

**NACHI standards of practice:

I. The inspector is not required to determine:

the cause for the need of repair or replacement of any system or component.

any manufacturers’ recalls or conformance with manufacturer installation, or any information included for consumer protection purposes.
determine the existence or condition of polybutylene plumbing.

Y’all just want to stir up the fire a get somebody in trouble? It could be you.

[quote=“Jason_Rodgers, post:1, topic:66975”]


I’m looking for some advice on a home inspection matter, specifically about legal liability. I bought my home 18 months ago and have had 3 plumbing leaks because my home was built with Polybutylene plumbing.


In Pennsylvania…
The Statute of Limitations to initiate litigation with regard to a Home Inspection is one year from date of Inspection.

Yourv time limit has passed…