A home is much more than a house. It’s a place where you made laughed, cried, and made lasting memories.
When you’re ready to sell a house, things can get stressful. It’s not only hard to say goodbye, but you have to rely on professionals like the home inspector to ensure you don’t have any problems so you can get the best price for your home.
Unfortunately, humans make mistakes. And their mistake can cost you a sale or cause future legal problems.
When a home inspection doesn’t turn out the way you planned, it’s hard to know what to do. Which is why you should keep reading. We’re explaining what you can do about it.
What the Home Inspector Does
What is a home inspector? It’s a person who is usually hired by the buyer to provide an objective visual examination of both the physical structure and systems of a house they are planning on purchasing.
A home inspection begins outside the home. The inspector checks out the roof, foundation, exterior, and crawl space to see if there are any problems. Next, the drainage and gutter system are inspected.
Once inside the home, an inspector checks out the electrical, appliances, and plumbing to ensure they’re all in good working order. She or he will determine the ages of systems to see when, if any, will need to be replaced anytime soon.
Heating and air systems are inspected to ensure they’re in good working order. Once the inspector is finished, they’ll create a list of all items which were covered in the inspection.
How to Avoid Problems with Your Housing Inspection
Home inspections are usually done properly. Especially when you hire a reputable home inspector.
You can do that by hiring a firm that has been performing residential home inspections for a while. Check online for reviews and ask your real estate agent and/or lender for a referral.
Check to see if they are a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors.
But don’t stop there. Go one step further by asking the home inspectors you interview if they have a current certificate of insurance. A home inspection company should have both general liability and professional liability insurance.
You can even call their insurance company to confirm that their insurance coverage is still in good standing.
What a Home Inspector is Liable For
The professional liability insurance is what will protect you the most from any mistakes or problems that arise with your home inspector. And he or she is liable for missing any problems.
It doesn’t matter if the problem is minor such as a leaky faucet or major such as a massive mold infestation. Obviously, a minor issue is inconvenient but not really worth the time and effort it will take you to pursue it.
However, if the inspector fails to report that the furnace is old and probably needs to be replaced soon, that is an issue. That’s because if a buyer knows this information in advance, they can ask the seller to install a new furnace or receive credit for the cost of a new furnace.
Without that information, the onus is now on the buyer to purchase a new, and costly furnace. At this point, a buyer has every right to look to the inspector to reimburse them for this expensive mistake.
How to Prove Your Home Inspector Was Negligent
Negligence is defined as failing to act as a reasonable person would in the same situation and damages result. One way to prove negligence is to show that other reasonable inspectors would have discovered the defects.
You can prove negligence by hiring one or two other inspectors to get their opinions. If you have two other experts who examine the home and write up a report stating that the original inspector failed to discover a specific defect, you have evidence against the original inspector.
You can also photograph the affected area before any clean-up efforts are made. This will show the extent of the damage and provide you with clues to show old problems that caused the issue was visible when the inspection was performed.
Breach of Contract
Breach of contract is another way to take action against a home inspector who made a mistake. This is especially true if you had a written contract between yourself and the inspector stating she or he agreed to perform certain types of review which were never actually provided to you.
Perhaps you specifically asked them to look for mold. The inspector would be in breach of contract if, after the sale of the house, mold is found and a costly clean-up needs to be performed.
Consider Negotiating and Mediating to Resolve Issues
While it’s tempting to want to take someone who had done you wrong to court, the reality is that it’s costly, time-consuming, and stressful. Not just on the inspection company, but on you as well.
Instead, remember that the home inspection company would rather avoid a lengthy and expensive lawsuit. Especially since they’re publically filed which can cause further damage to their reputation.
Instead, contact your attorney to see if they’re willing to settle quickly and quietly out of court.
Look at Your Contract
Before your home inspection, closely look at the terms of your contract. Some contracts are written so that the inspection company is only liable for the cost of the inspection.
Since inspections often cost hundreds of dollars, getting that amount refunded won’t make much of a dent if the repairs cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Make sure there are no limits to the inspection company’s liability.
Ask to Be There
It’s a very smart idea for you to be there during the home inspection. Not only will you see for yourself what potential problems are, but you can also ask questions.
If the home inspector tells you they won’t allow it or tries to dissuade you from being there, consider it a red flag and find another company.
Learn More About Home Inspections
Hiring the right home inspector is easy when you know what you’re doing. When you’re ready to start the home-buying process, we can help.
Our blog has tons of articles to help you understand the entire process from hiring the right inspector to knowing what to do when you realize your dream house has tons of problems.
Click here to learn more about understanding your home inspection report.