Scope creep

Hi Everyone,
My name is Mark. I have been a home inspector since 2005 and in construction off and on since 1970. Yes, I’m older than dirt. No archaeology please.

Is anyone else concerned about Scope Creep? And I don’t mean your infrared camera disappearing…

More and more it seems inspectors are forgetting the whole purpose of a home inspection…which IMHO, is to assist buyers in the purchasing decision and to keep them from making a major mistake or incurring significant costs for repairs/replacements.

Seems like more and more inspectors fancy themselves code enforcers and burn deals over little stuff that is easily fixed.
What say, fellow observers?

I say don’t sweat the small stuff but, I have one realtor who wants it all written down.

In general I am there to help the buyer make an informed decision and do so in 25 to 40 pages. No small stuff unless I’m asked.

So yes, I agree we should offer neutral non hero inspections.
You want a hero, call the Justice League.

Language is everything. Just as much as the actual inspection, the way the report is written and the words used should be at the top of the list for a good inspector. You can easily kill a deal with poor report language.

To insinuate in any way that we should leave out something because it doesn’t meet some preconceived idea of “significant cost” is worse yet. (Some states have certain requirements for reporting that may affect your report) A client hires us for information, nothing more, nothing less. How you inform the client of your findings is one thing. To not inform the client is quite another.

No offense, but a home inspection is none of those things. That means you’re right though about scope creep and home inspectors forgetting the whole purpose

We shouldn’t even be considering the purchase. Mistakes and good decisions are relative. I don’t know what either look like for my client, and I’m sure as hell not there to prevent anyone from incurring expensive bills. Everything can change after I leave and the bills can start rolling in.

I’m just there to inspect and objectively report the conditions that exist while I’m there.

I think what you are seeing is the new wave of inspector. They all offer roof warranties, plumbing warranties, buy back warranties, and whatever other warranties there are out there. There is no incentive to do a good inspection if you market all of this. Unfortunately the public buys this stuff and the find out the hard way most of it does not work.

This one does:

I live and work in “Litigation Central”, CA. I have a friend who sums up CA as the state in which you can sue someone over a soup sandwich.

I think the tendency is that as we are seeing more larger inspection companies they are using the warranty programs as a hopeful wall against litigation. So since the larger companies are doing it the single operator guys start offering to stay in the competition.

I don’t offer the warranties for sewers, roofs, etc. I do a thorough inspection and I do document everything. I was taught long ago if you don’t document it…It did not happen. If it is important enough to mention on site you better put it in the report.

I have a few rules. Two of them are. (1) I tell the client up front my job is to educate them on the condition of the home as of this moment in time so they can make an informed decision on their purchase. and (2) I tell REA it is not my job to tell a client if they should buy or not. I have an agent I have worked with for about 10 years. Always ask at the end in front of the client “if your son was buying this home would you say ok?” my reply for 10 years has been “My son is not buying this home” then look to the client “Do you have any questions for me or do you feel you have the information needed to make an informed decision?” It has become almost a tradition.

We can not be responsible for anything beyond their education. Some buyers are coming in on a shoestring and replacing a bad water heater may break the deal. Others come into a purchase with plans on spending tens of thousands of dollars on remodels and upgrades. I don’t care which end of the spectrum they are on the inspection is done the same way and they get the same information. That way I stay out of trouble.

Scope creep happens in every industry. If your experiencing scope creep you only have to look in the mirror to correct it. If you never knew the client’s name or met them you would likely do your report the same way each time and communicate your information the same way painting a picture to educate the client. If you’re in a licensed state like Texas, you are pretty much told what you’re going to do.

Stick to your SOP, if you go beyond do it consistently. At that point, it’s not scope creep it’s an expanded scope of practice.

Just one man’s opinion.

As far as how far to exceed the SOP is a balancing act. I go by customer complaints and how much time spent per inspection. We are a business so time is money and customer satisfaction is important. I tracked my compliants for about 10 years and corrected my inspection process or my offerings accordingly. When I got down to .3 of one percent complaint ratio, many years back, I no longer needed to track complaints.

I agree on the whole “code” thing. I have seen a lot more new inspectors jump on the forum and ask if this or that is to code. My first thought is who cares! Is safe? Is it working as intended? etc. It is fine to offer suggestions that could improve the living conditions or increase the safety of a home, but, to go around and state code is for a whole different time and place. That is just my opinion…

I agree that we should not be quoting code requirements or even mention them.

In another respect though, we look for safety items through out an inspection. A code requirement in most cases is a minimum safety standard.
An example of this would be a hand rail or guard rail for a deck. We know that for safety a 42" high guard rail and a hand rail between 32"-36"in height is required for stairs in Canada. Where did we get these measurements? It’s a minimum code requirement!!

It is ok to know the minimum code requirements. In fact I suggest you study them. what is not ok is to quote them in your report or express them to the client.


Our job is to inform them about the house.

Our job is not to know if it will be a mistake. What is a mistake for one person might be just the right house for someone else.

Our job is not necessarily if the buyer will incurring significant costs. Many times the buyers plan to renovate, and plan to invest significant costs into the home. But they still want an inspection to understand the scope of the work needed so they can budget accordingly.

What is “easy” is relative.

What is an easy fix for one person may be difficult for someone else.

I’ve had clients who think they need to call a specialist if there is one sprinkler not pointing in the right direction, and I’ve had other clients who had the expertise to level the home and start over.

Some clients want the house to be “perfect” some clients want a “project”.
Some clients hope there is nothing major that needs to be addressed, some clients just want the land the home is on and only got the inspection as negotiating leverage.

I had one client who seriously did not care there was a hole in the roof and it was raining inside the living room. “A simple roof repair” he called it. I had another client freak out over a bad shower divertor. What is important to one client may be a non-issue to someone else.

I’ve inspected high end kitchens in million dollar homes where the client wanted to gut a perfectly nice kitchen, and I’ve inspected very dated kitchens with crack tiles and other issues that the client called “a dream kitchen” who didn’t want to touch a thing.

The individual buyer decides what is “easy” and what is “hard”. I inform, document, and give advice when asked, but only they know what is a mistake and what is not.


Very well said, Ian.