Texas lawsuit update

I see both points of the argument but lean towards James. I believe the confusion might be caused by the (any) inspectors desire to substantiate their opinions. Perhaps this is done to 1) help the seller and buyer understand the source of the opinion 2) give accreditation to the inspectors opinion thus avoiding follow-up calls 3) possibly to provide improved value perception (lots of words with pictures in the report).

In the example regarding combustion air.

  1. The inspector might: cite a reference code as supporting evidence; explain the ramification; suggest a repair method; provide pictures. All of which can be problematic.
  2. Do as James did with his language. I see this; have it checked out.

Some of the best reports I have seen were written on toilet paper.

Water heater – Shot. Replace
Furnace – Poor combustion air. Rusty burner. Appears unsafe. Replace
Roof – I am amazed it is not leaking. Replace it.
Foundation – Movement throughout. Get an engineer

$400 due on receipt.

On the other hand others spend 2 hours typing up 20 pages of baloney to justify the $400 they received. There is a balance in between. Find your path Jedi.

You arguments are at conflict with one another. It seems you are now arguing with yourself. At one point the contractor is accountable for the changes that he makes to a house and in the next paragraph you make the home inspector responsible for the incompetent work of a contractor, just because the inspector recommended making the house more energy efficient. You’re really, really are overreaching with this line of logic.

Sounds like in your opinion it’s best to not do home inspections at all or keep it as generic as possible

Is this what your report looks like?

In one of these instances you would be wrong and perhaps get sued for tortuous interference with a contract after you decided to stick to you opinion after the builder told the client it was acceptable.

This statement is simply untrue.

How do you know? Prove it.


Prove your statement, first.

The client paid for my opinion about the conditions within the home, which I provided. He did not pay for me to provide opinions that were approved or condoned by the builder.

If the builder made an error and the AHJ approved it…so what? I am not a code inspector. I have been paid by my client to observe and to report to him my opinions of what I observed. I will stand by my opinions in full disagreement with the builder.

The worst thing for me to do, however, is to abandon my correct position as a home inspector providing a report of his personal observations…and replace it by providing my own interpretation of “the code” and the decision that should have been previously made by the AHJ. That is the position for which I can be sued, for I was neither paid nor am I authorized by law to provide anyone with such an interpretation.

I would agree with Mr. Cahill in the sense that many home inspectors will try to use their knowledge of building standards in such a way as to impress someone with it…which can backfire. All we need to know and to report to our clients is that a certain condition is wrong and recommend to them that they have it corrected. That is what they get for $400.

The section you reference as a requirement to provide basis of opinion applies ONLY to foundations and not any other part of the Standards.

I can find no requirement, other than the foundation section, to provide a basis for the opinion. Mr. Willcox is discussing framing and not foundations in the section 22 that you posted. I believe he is wrong. That will make a good RFI question. Read the Standards once more and tell me if I am wrong. Feel free to tell me to piss off anytime.

The section you reference as a requirement to provide basis of opinion applies ONLY to foundations and not any other part of the Standards. My question applied to framing.

I can find no requirement, other than the foundation section, to provide a basis for the opinion. Mr. Willcox is discussing framing and not foundations in the section 22 that you posted. I believe he is wrong. That will make a good RFI question. Read the Standards once more and tell me if I am wrong. Feel free to tell me to piss off anytime.

This was the challenge you issued.

You might also note that I stated I was discussing what was in the affidavit not making an argument as to what was/was not in the SOP. The subject of discussion was the affidavit, not the SOP. If you want to say that the affidavit was incorrect in its assertion that the inspector was required to supply a reason, go for it.

If you wanted me to show you where the SOP requires that the inspector provide a reason for their opinion for “anything” which is what you demanded. I have done so.

So you agree then that the SoP do not require the inspector to provide a basis of opinion except in the foundation section and that regarding paragraph 22 Willcox is wrong?

If so thanks for the education.


Would you care to add your name to this RFI? I am sending it in soon.

The Standards state in the foundation section:

(3) generally report present and visible indications used to render the opinion of adverse performance, such as:

  • Does the SoP wording above serve to provide a basis for the opinion of adverse foundation performance?
  • Is the inspector required to provide a basis for their opinion anywhere else in the Standards other than the foundation section?

Until notice by TREC, the inspector is not required to provide a basis for their opinion other than as specified in the foundation section. If it is considered a required reporting item please provide the source used to make the determination.

Back to my original premise:

Making references to model building codes is not essential to documenting a home inspection, nor should it be considered taboo. There is no magic juju that suddenly puts the home inspector into the role of the AHJ or makes them implicitly responsible for any and all non-disclosed actual code violations in a home, simply because he/she used a reference to a model code as further explanation or as an authoritative source to support their expressed opinion.

I still have not seen any example of an instance where someone has been sued and lost for making appropriate reference to a model building code to support their expressed opinion (this does not include calling out “code violations”). Joe F makes an anecdotal reference to a situation in NY state, but hasn’t provided any specifics which would allow for verification that the situation was comparable or is merely rumor. We have seen a real example, where appropriate references to model building codes were effectively used to SUPPORT the home inspector’s case in a lawsuit (though John C. would contend that the premise of the supporting argument is flawed).

I contend that:

  • Any inspector should, at minimum have a foundational knowledge of model codes and the ability to research them. What do you think makes the advice offered by folks like Paul Abernathy and Jeff Pope so readily accepted, if not because of their grasp of the applicable standards and codes associated with the various topics about which they post?
  • Though not essential, there should be no fear in making appropriate use of model building codes, manufacturer’s installation documents, industry standards documents (e.g., APA, Air Diffusion Council, Texas Lath and Plaster Association, Masonry Veneer Manufacturers Association, etc.), ASTM standards or other authoritative sources in research or as references to support the opinions expressed in their reports.
  • I agree with Jim B in his argument that the HI is not the AHJ and should not be reporting “code violations” or “requiring” changes to a house.

Please note that I have consistently used the phrase “model building codes” which are broadly known and published, but may not represent the specific codes being enforced in any jurisdiction. It is the job of the AHJ to define the actual building codes to be applied and the method of verification and enforcement in their jurisdiction.

Without pouring over the SOP to verify, I think the answer is Yes (though I think it’s good practice in many instances).

Great. My only problem with Willcox 22 is that it could trend to that interpretation. I think its just a typo however.



Done. Their reply will be interesting. Be patient. It can take a while for them to answer.


A General Comment -

As most know, I’m in my 34th year of residential & commercial inspecting.

I seldom clutter up a report with references to support my statements. I seldom get asked to provide written support for my comments. Maybe its how I’ve written it, I don’t know OR really care.


  1. The 120,000 Btuh gas fired furnace and 50,000 Btuh gas water heater are installed in an enclosed room of about 8’ x 8’. There is no source of combustion air for the mechanical equipment other than the air in the room itself.

In my opinion, the amount of combustion air provided in a room of this size is inadequate. This can be a significant safety hazard. I recommend having a competent and licensed professional HVAC contractor calculate the amount of combustion air needed for the systems; then install the proper amount / type of combustion air sources at correct location(s).

While present I recommend the HVAC contractor service the equipment, and correct any other deficiencies as needed.


  1. [size=2]At the time this property was built (in the 1940’s), GFCI’s (ground fault interrupter circuits) were not in use at **“wet areas” **(wet areas are locations like kitchens, baths, exterior, garage, laundry, wet bars, etc). [/size]

[size=2]The electrical outlet(s) at the **“wet areas” **of the home did not have GFCI protection. Current safety standards recommend them at these areas. I recommend that the new owner have a licensed electrician install GFCI’s at all applicable areas as a safety improvement.[/size]

[size=2]OR [/size]

[size=2]3) [size=2]In my opinion, the foundation walls have significant inward movement (over 2" measured with a laser level), large horizontal and diagonal cracks in the concrete walls (some over 1/2" wide) and is not performing as intended. In my opinion repairs are needed. [/size][/size]

[size=2][size=2]Due to the various issues we observed at the foundation walls inside and/or outside, we recommend service and evaluation by a competent and licensed foundation contractor, OR a competent licensed structural engineer. Then have any recommended repairs or modifications performed.

Note: Please be informed that many licensed engineers ARE NOT structural engineers, and although licensed as PE’s (professional engineers) structural and soil issues may not be their strengths. Verify an engineers credentials carefully before hiring.

PS -

Forgot to mention … I am code certified in electrical, building, plumbing and mechanical. I teach code classes to home inspectors and train several cities code inspectors for them. As a home inspection trainer ALTHOUGH we DO NOT do code inspections MOST of the State Licensing Exams are heavily geared around code type questions.

So to make a short answer long … We DON’T do code inspections - But we DO code related stuff (we just don’t call it by the “C” word).

Joe Ferry is coming to Dallas and Austin to give his “Law and Disorder” seminar for home inspectors.

He will be in Houston July 22nd per today’s mail.

I previously attended a Joe Ferry “Law and Disorder” seminar and walked away totally amazed with a greater awareness of the litigation process and avenues of how to defend yourself.

I encourage every H.I. (and even attorneys) to attend his seminar. This is a seminar that once you take it you will want to go back again and again.

Law and Disorder: Survival Strategies for the Professional Home Inspector in a Litigation Nation at the Courtyard Austin Airport, 7809 E. Ben White Boulevard, Austin, TX 78741 on July 20, 2010 from 6:00 p. m. until 10:00 p. m.

Details on the Houston seminar should be forthcoming.

Jim writes:

Excellent post.