I am in escrow and recently got an inspection for the home. The report includes photos of the inspected items such as decking condition, roof, appliances showing a lit fireplace and stove, wall heaters etc. I discovered that the photos date back 6 months or more and were from a previous inspection report done by the same company on that same property. The language of the inspection comments is also lifted directly from the previous report with only a few exceptions. Is it okay for an inspector to do this?
I think using old photos is a foolish thing for an inspector to do because it brings the timeliness and accuracy of their report into question. I would not go so far as to say unethical unless I had evidence that they relied solely or heavily on an old report rather than doing a timely and thorough inspection.
It’s no surprise that the language is similar coming from the same company, since inspection software makes use of boilerplate comments for commonly-encountered defects. Even if it was a different inspector, companies tend to use a standardized set of narratives for all of their inspectors.
It would make sense for an inspector to use a previous report as a starting point for a new inspection to take advantage of the knowledge already gained.
The real question is - is the report accurate? Were the defects cited actually still present? Were there any defects that were missed? This last question is tough to answer because you are probably not trained to find defects.
My advice would be to call the company and calmly express your concerns about the timeliness and accuracy of the report given the fact that old photos were used in the report. At the very least, you should be given the opportunity to speak with the inspector who performed the inspection so you can gain some assurance that he performed a thorough inspection. If they get testy or overly defensive, that would seem to me to be an alarm bell.
Given the stakes, you might want to have another inspector from a different company over to be sure the other company didn’t just phone it in. It stinks to have to pay twice for an inspection, but it would bring either fresh revelations or peace of mind.
I agree with William. Personally, I would not use old photos in a new report. Another important question: Was the inspector onsite at all for your inspection? How much time did he spend on your home inspection? For me, an average home takes 3 hours. I would want to know if he did a fly-by because he felt over confident in having done the house previously. (For me, if I’ve inspected the house before, that’s not kept secret. But keeping it secret doesn’t in itself make it unethical. Now if the previous report was for the SELLER, that would be a conflict of interest and an ethical issue.)