Please List examples of problems that caused actual lawsuits

Originally Posted By: csewell
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I am relatively new at home inspecting and really don’t like the thought of being sued. I have E&O insurance, a great inspection agreement that was reviewed by a lawyer in my state, and the Texas TREC rules that spell out what is excluded from inspections to help protect me; however, I would like to know what types of things inspectors are being sued for (excuse the dangling participle, but it sounds better that way).

Therefore, is there a site where one can find and access existing lawsuits?

Also, would those of you who read this and know of some actual cases, please post some brief information on them -- specifically, what problem occurred?

I know of only one locally where there was a severe case of water damage and mold on the other side of a wall behind a commode -- the carpet was rotten and loose with mold underneath and inside the wall and a second problem with a large hornets nest in the living room. I don't see one missing the wet and rotting carpet but the nest was possibly behind a couch.

Charles Sewell

Originally Posted By: wcampbell
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Charles, check out this site.

This Ole House-Home Inspections
William A. Campbell TREC # 6372
Serving the Texas Coastal Bend
(361) 727-0602 (home)
(361) 727-0055 (office)
(361) 229-4103 (cell)

Originally Posted By: csewell
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Boy, that guy was pissed, and rightfully so! I really liked his comment on not relying on the realtor for a recommendation for an inspector.

Thanks again,

Charles Sewell

Originally Posted By: Scott Patterson
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You can be sued for almost anything. I am involved in two separate cases as an expert witness (defending the home inspector) and in both of these cases the home inspectors reports have gotten them into trouble. One report is the “Fill in the Blank” report and the other is a similar report but the home inspector made it up based on several other reports.

In each case if they had taken pictures they would have had less exposure and might not have been named in the law suit. On the other hand everyone that was involved in the transaction was being sued.

Both left out key parts of the inspection, IMO. They left it up to the person reading the report to understand that if it was not listed in the report it was not inspected.

An example of this is a home that power attic vent fans. They might have said the attic has vent fans. That's great but were the fans working at the time of the inspection.

Another example is; Wood floor has water stains. That's all that was said about the wood floors. Did not say a word about the leaking window and the rotting sill plate under the house!

Writing a good report and communication are so important when it comes to avoiding litigation. If you are using a "Fill in the Blank" report or a homemade report you might as well hang a target on your back. I have seen this time and time again.

Invest in a good reporting system that is proven and used by many inspectors in the profession. We have several available to us. I have used the 3-D report for many years and have been happy with it.

Originally Posted By: Tom Logan
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Scott P,

Well said.


Originally Posted By: Mike Parks
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Not taking your time to do a proper inspection.

Being afraid of saying I do not know.

Stepping outside of your experience.

Having a pissed homeowner calling in someone to follow you.

These are only a few mostly electrically related. How many of these would you have put in your report?

As stated above pictures are worth $$$$$.

Mike P.

Originally Posted By: jmyers
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Don't I know you from Mike Holt?

Joe Myers

Originally Posted By: roconnor
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Know what you are doing, and perform a thorough inspection. If you dont miss things, particularly obvious big ticket items, then it is only an outside chance that you will be sued.

Robert O’Connor, PE

Eagle Engineering ?

Eagle Eye Inspections ?

NACHI Education Committee

I am absolutely amazed sometimes by how much thought goes into doing things wrong

Originally Posted By: dbowers
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The 1st 10 years I did Home Inspections, I never heard the word “lawsuit”

in relation to HI’s. We used a 1 paragraph disclaimer about what we did or did not do. In 1985 I saw my 1st “Pre-Inspection Agreement” at a seminar in Boston. I couldn’t believe anyone would sign it - it was almost 3 paragraphs long. Well as we all know thats old history. Today my Inspection Agreement has grown to 1 1/2 pages and I wouldn’t inspect my best friends house without one being signed - “BEFOREHAND”.

I've never had a lawsuit, but I've done expert witness either for or against other Inspectors over 23 times. A couple of lawsuits I've been part of in the past 3 years alone include:

(1) The roof was snow covered. The buyer was present. The inspector said and wrote that the roof was not inspected due to 6" of snow on it and recommended inspection prior to closing.

They didn't do that. They had problems. The seller had moved out of state. Their attorneys position was they were just naive 1st time buyers, they didn't know how costly repairs could be or that there could be costly defects under the snow coverage - heck it was only 9 years old.

(2) They got the house inspected in January (23 degrees outside). In May when they turned the A/C on it didn't work (compressor was grounded). The HI's report said it was too cold to test the A/C. The service company told the buyer any competent HI could/should have tested it for a short.

(3) The HI's report, inspection agreement and standards said he didn't inspect pools. The buyers moved in and the pool shell leaks ($37,000 to fix). The seller had moved to Germany. Their attorneys position was the inspector inspected the patio around the pool, the electrical outlets around the pool, the lights on the patio, etc - so being naive buyers of a $625,000 house they assumed the pool was also inspected.

(4) The HI's report reported there were signs of water leakage in the basement and the grade was poor and recommended correcting the grade and drainage as needed and monitoring the area in the future. They corrected the drainage issues and the 1st time it rained hard the basement leaked again. The cause - Stopped up foundation drain tile and a high water table.etc, etc.

Bottom Line is you can't afford to be nice. In probably 65% - 70% of the lawsuits I see, the Inspector discovered a problem and reported it to the buyers. In most of these suits - looking backward in time he/she may have been able to word the report differently to provide himself better protection, but the bottom line was there is a problem and the buyers are trying to get someone/anyone to pay for it as long as its not themselves.

In the remaining 30% - 35% of the case I get involved in its about equally divided between the "Inspector Blew It" & "Gray Area's" (maybe he could or could not have discovered it - but its not 100% black & white).

Dan Bowers (Kansas City)

Originally Posted By: jhagarty
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Joseph Hagarty

HouseMaster / Main Line, PA

Phone: 610-399-9864
Fax : 610-399-9865

HouseMaster. Home inspections. Done right.

Originally Posted By: KipHamilton
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Hi Dan!

What were the outcomes of the "Cases" you mentioned?