I have always been extremely unsettled about home inspection reports that disclaim things to protect our litigation liabilities and excessive use of “investigate further by another contractor”.
To me, inspection reports become pages and pages of what the home inspector did not do /is not required to do. I was drafted into the home inspection industry from real estate agents that also felt the same way. Their question to me was, “what do you really do”?
I have been using Dominick’s Home Inspection Pro reporting software for some time, but have been uncomfortable with its output. I’m one of those guys that is difficult to pry away from Microsoft Word templates where I can make the output what I want.
Well, yesterday I reformatted my template from Home InspectorPro and am extremely satisfied with it (personally). I can fulfill my state of inspection requirements in a matter of minutes.
Please take a look at my template and help me critique this.
This may only work for those of you that have a home inspection law, but can also be used with the NACHI standards of practice.
What I did was to cut and paste the actual home inspection law for the State of Tennessee into my inspection report software. The context of the report and blue font is the actual state law. I added one photograph and one discrepancy example. Each discrepancy will be posted under each section of the report and posted to the summary page if properly classified.
My thinking is that someone has put a lot of thought into creating home inspection procedures. Why re-create the wheel? Why do I have to tell someone that I can’t see their septic system because it’s under the ground? Why do I have to tell someone that I couldn’t inspect their HVAC system, because it’s too cold outside, or because home inspectors aren’t qualified to do this in the 1st place?!
Why do we have to reinterpret what the standards of practice are?
Actually, they’re quite clear! Why should I disclaim anything or recommend further evaluation on something that I am not required to be responsible for in accordance with standards of practice set by the state or your home inspection Association?
Why do we have to answer questions that have not been asked?
Why do we have to answer questions that a bottom feeding lawyer may ask in court? This doesn’t keep you out of court!
So, with this in mind, take a look at the basic format of my report. The state law says that you can add or go beyond the “standards” and put anything you want to “voluntarily” in any report that can be easily added.
The first thing that a lawyer representing a client is going to present in court is your home inspection report. This point is to question your business practices in Association with what is expected. What is expected by your client? Or what’s expected by the state or standards of practice of your home inspection industry?.
If the state law is right smack dab in the middle of your clients forhead in blue-and-white text, how can they dispute anything?
Maybe I’m missing something, but this seems to be totally elementary!
If you would be so kind as to review this concept (after putting aside all that you have been taught and have observed from past example) and give me your feedback. I see this concept as being a cure-all for all the legal litigation problems faced by home inspectors.
Nobody wants to make this so simple because they make money off of you!
Blow smoke up your clients butt with all this disclaimer protection stuff, they will perceive what are doing and try to sue the pants off of you!
Your home inspection report is all about credibility. It’s about client expectation. Your client sits there in court and cries how they misinterpreted what you said because you didn’t do it appropriately or use the incorrect wording. This is happening. I was sued because the lawyer could only say “I wouldn’t have phrased it a different way”.
Well guys, the SOP or your state law tells to exactly how you should phrase it. When the state says you will describe, then you simply describe it as they state it in the law. If the client misinterprets you, they are misinterpreting the law (not your problem). If their attorney cannot reinterpret the law for the client and sues you anyway then they are being negligent and probably need to be reviewed by the Bar Association!
It’s my opinion that I can advertise this reporting system to real estate agents who really don’t want their clients to be overcome with irrelevant stuff, resulting in the loss of the sale. Without becoming “a bed partner” to the real estate agent, you can perform your obligations to the client without creating undue stress, to an overstressed homebuyer resulting in a loss of real estate transaction.
We need to remain focused, and we need to meet the expectations of our clients and not produce an unnecessary burden on the real estate agent, who is not responsible for what we do.
Please review this report here: