Agents want home inspectors to hurry up
Q: As a home inspector in the Midwest, I've had a complaint from some of the real estate agents who recommend me to their buyers. These agents say I take too long to do my inspections. In order to save time, I don't carry my cellphone, and I do minimal small talk with clients. On average, I spend about 3 to 3½ hours per inspection, including time to review the report with the buyers. This seems to be a reasonable and necessary time allocation for a thorough inspection, but not everyone agrees. What are your thoughts about this?
A: The purpose of a home inspection is to disclose property defects, not to maintain a time schedule. Most average size homes take approximate 2½ to 3 hours to inspect, plus 30 to 60 minutes to review the findings with the buyers and their agent.
If a home inspector is under pressure from an impatient agent with one eye on the clock, rather than on the home being inspected, defects that need to be reported to the buyers are more likely to be missed.
Agents who encourage efficiency at the expense of thoroughness during a home inspection are not giving priority to the interests of their clients. They should be reminded that the extra hour you spend doing your work could spare them thousands of dollars in needless legal fees for disclosure-related litigation.
Your priorities are properly focused. You can't cram a one-gallon job into a three-quart container, so don't get pressured into changing course. The integrity of the profession and the interests of homebuyers depend upon home inspectors with your attitude and approach.
Q: A home inspector I know was inspecting a newly built home and reported several broken roof tiles. The builder blamed the inspector for walking on the tiles and has voided the roof warranty. Isn't it standard procedure for a professional inspector to walk on a tile roof?
A: Home inspectors have various opinions on this subject. Many refuse to walk on tile roofs under any circumstance in order to avoid problems such as the one you've noted. Loose and broken tiles, in fact, can be found on most tile roofs. When these are reported, they usually come as a surprise to the seller, or in this case the builder, and this often raises allegations or suspicions that the damage was caused by the inspector. Therefore, to limit professional liability, many home inspectors will inspect a tile roof from the vantage point of a ladder or by means of a drone.
In should be noted, however, that concrete tile roofs can easily withstand foot traffic without breakage. Clay tiles, on the other hand, are extremely fragile. Walking on those is definitely not recommended.
As for the builder voiding the roof warranty, that issue should be adjudged by the state agency that licenses building contractors. The builder may not, in fact, be at liberty to void the roof warranty on a new construction home.
• To write to Barry Stone, visit www.housedetective.com.
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