Every industry has its no no's. Home inspecting as a profession is no different.
Certainly, no list of anything is definitive, but can I suggest seven deadly things a home inspector can do?
- MISINTERPRET - Home inspecting is about gathering information. It is very important that the information one gathers is correctly interpreted. A leak stain can sometimes come from many different things. A stain in an upstairs bedroom ceiling might manifest in one spot, but the source can be far away. Or it might be an exploded soda can! Tools, like a Thermal Infrared Camera, can reveal colors that may or may not indicate a problem. A home inspector has to be thoroughly trained in many things and understand many industries in order to properly interpret a finding during an inspection.
- MISUNDERSTAND - Closely related to the first sin, things aren't always as they appear. What you see might not be what you get. But very important - the client is the process during a home inspection. It is very important to understand the client's needs and concerns. And clients aren't always as understanding of what they see or what the inspector says as a home inspector might think, so communication is crucial. Communication is a two-way avenue.
- MISTAKE - Even something as small as a typo on the report can become something big. Words mean things and so, during the inspection, what is said must be said properly. That "sump pump" might be an "ejector pump" for the bathroom, and has to be explained for what it is. If the amperage is not stated clearly on the panel box or main breaker, be sure what is said to be the amperage is correct. Which leads to the next sin:
- MISSTATE - one very important aspect of a home inspection is what happens after wards. The report is probably one third of the home inspection (after construction knowledge and client education). It has to be right. It has to be understandable. It has to accurately describe what it is trying to convey. Be sure that when something is an inspector's opinion, it is expressed as such and/or reported the same. Like it says above, words mean things, so the proper words and proper wording is essential. And we inspectors put down our reports electronically and on paper for all to see and for all time. It has to be right.
- MISQUOTE - Again referring to the report, if an inspector is going to quote a code, or a phrase from a manual and cite the reference, it has to be correct. References to websites or other URLs have to be exact! Some builders are getting finicky and are requiring a code reference to be included in the report when something on their house is cited by an outside inspector. I notice they don't require that of the County Inspector, but that is just me.
- MISREPRESENT - An inspector needs to truthfully state who he is, what his certifications are, his licensing agencies or organizations. If not, that is something that will bite quickly and hard. His appearance and professionalism should also represent who he is, reflect well on his industry and even the Realtor who referred him! An inspector wants to be referred to others and be called on again and again. We are all missionaries for something and certainly professionalism should be one of those things we convey!
- MISS - Nobody is 100%. No where and no how. But, unfortunately, a home inspector is expected to be! Don't miss anything! Anything! Sometimes a little thing can blow up to become a bigger-than-it-needs-to-be thing. There is always somebody looking to blame others for whatever happens later and a home inspector has a big target on the back of his logo-festooned shirt! Most people are in their house for a long time. So don't miss anything! This is a very hard sin not to commit however...
My recommendation: While this might not be THE definitive list of seven home inspector sins, it sure is a good start! These lists could go on for a while. After all, this list just describes the M's!! If any of these seven sins is a problem for you, may I suggest sincere repentance and a change of heart or mind. Seek out an industry professional in the know and learn how corrections can be made! And let's be careful out there!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560