I have a line on my inspection report that says: " An 'unseen dangers' specialist should be able to find unseen dangers in this property. However, the author of this report was not retained to do so and issues no opinion on these unseen dangers.' "
Yes, it's vague. Yes, it's CYA. It was suggested to me many years ago by an insurance agent and a lawyer affiliated with my home inspector association. And because of that verbiage in my report, all of myself and both agents involved with any home that I inspect are covered by my policy.
Why? Because, obviously, home inspectors have been sued, or the attempt was made to sue, over their not finding or mentioning theretofore unseen dangers in or around a home during the home inspection. That's the litigious world we live in, right?
I don't know if all home inspectors have such insurance coverage, but I do.
But yesterday I got an interesting email from an agent for whom I had done an inspection recently. She was forwarding a comment from the listing agent essentially asking where an "unseen dangers" specialist could be found.
While I originally thought the comment a bit flip, it probably was useful!
It got me thinking.
Perhaps I could make a change to the report to reflect what the term "unseen dangers" might represent.
And, thinking about it, this is what I came up with.
What do you think?
" An “unseen dangers” specialist should be retained to determine if there are any unseen dangers in or around this property. As odd as it sounds, unseen dangers can include many things – microbial contamination, chemical residues from something like a meth lab or other dangerous activity, bed bugs, lice, fleas or mites, environmental pollution or wastes, electro-magnetic proximity, etc. This list is not inclusive of all such possible and unseen risks. It represents suggestions as to the kinds of things that are not researched, inspected or included on the report. If there is a fear that any such dangers might exist, Jay Markanich suggests that a specialist be retained to perform the desired inspection. However, the author of this report is not a specialist in these regards, and issues no opinion on any such unseen dangers. "
Those are all things that clients have contacted me about following home inspections over the years. I had a client once who angrily called to say that someone in his neighborhood told him it used to be a dumping site for nuclear waste and that I should have warned him! He said that I have responsibility to investigate all neighborhoods for such things before I do the inspection! There was no way nuclear waste would have ever been dumped in that neighborhood, but he was convinced by one comment!
I had another lady call me to say she "thought" the house they bought might have bed bugs and was very angry with me.
Yes, the list is not, and cannot be, exhaustive.
So, should I include the verbiage in my report? It is a bit more explanatory.
My recommendation: while it's impossible to CYA completely (!), if is it necessary to explain everything, or include whatever might protect in the event of a later finding, it might be circumspect to explain the reasons for some verbiage included in contracts or reports. What do you think?
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560