I think an SOP sets the minimum standard of care that we are supposed to provide and I don’t see an issue with an inspector going beyond the SOP as long as the inspector is legitimately working to complete as thorough an assessment of the property as he or she can.
Many professions have levels of practice that are considered the minimum standard of care and they don’t prohibit a practitioner from going beyond that if the practitioner is qualified to do so and is doing so in the interest of the consumer that the standard is meant to protect. Would you want a surgeon working on you to work only to the minimum standard of care or would you want that surgeon doing his best to fix everything that’s wrong?
In the Texas case, the buyer’s advocate, the inspector, was hired by the buyer and contracted to do a thorough inspection of the home. It appears from the report that the inspector did as thorough a job as he possibly could and did not do less than was expected of him by the terms of his contract. Whether he actually unlawfully “practiced” engineering is another issue; but if he didn’t do any less than he was expected to do, and he wasn’t intentionally out “to get” the seller, I don’t see where the seller has a right to sue him for tortious interference.
Think about it, if he wins this case, what’s to stop an auto dealer, when a customer walks, from suing a mechanic that looked at a car for defects on behalf of the buyer? Will brokerage houses be able to sue competing houses’ brokers when their advice causes clients to switch who they do business with? The list goes on and on.
It’s interesting that a lawyer would sue a home inspector for this; after all, lawyers, like inspectors, are hired to be their clients’ advocates. Lawyers, like home inspectors, are paid for their opinion and advice. Have any of you ever heard of a business suing a customer’s lawyer for tortious interference when/if a customer sues the business for negligence or decides, based on the lawyer’s legal advice, to stop doing business with that firm?
Ever heard of a seller suing a realtor because the realtor, who is also the buyer’s advocate, decided halfway through an inspection that the house had too many issues and recommended that the client bail out of the deal rather than go forward?
Someone said that the seller eventually sold his house for the price he’d listed it for initially. If he did, where’s he been damaged? This is a ticked-off seller bearing a grudge and nothing more. One hopes that the jury can see that or that the attorney acting for the inspector will make them see it clearly.
ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!
Mike O’Handley, LHI
Your Inspector LLC.
Wa. Lic. Home Inspector #202