The other day, I received a comment from Naperville, Illinois Home Inspector Carol Fisher to a recent post on how long inspectors need to hold on to inspection reports.

Carol, who posed the original question, wrote: “The answer you gave is safe.  Of course I would save my digital reports, but some of us have been out there in the dinosaur era when they weren’t digital. Plus even today I still have paper relative to each report that I still need to keep even if the inspection report is digital. I have 21 years of reports and I would like to get rid of some of them. There must be some limit of liability to this industry or case law that would help in validating a time frame.”

Point taken. I confess that, in responding to Carol’s original question, I hadn’t even considered that the legion of home inspection pioneers who created this industry generated their reports the old-fashioned analog way. I’ll try to rectify that oversight with this post.

As I have repeatedly pointed out on this site and in home inspector training seminars, claims that are made against home inspectors almost never have any validity. And the proof of that can generally be found in the inspection report itself. It is the inspection report that is of inestimable help to me in responding to claims on behalf of home inspectors. So hanging on to them for some length of time is a matter of considerable self-interest.

But how long do you really need to keep them?

I recently wrote that sixty percent of all home inspection claims are made within one year of the inspection and ninety percent are made within two years. You can well imagine how valid a claim could possibly be if the issue is not discovered for more than two years.

I also wrote that inspectors should contractually limit to one year the time in which a client can present a claim or be forever barred from doing so, thus avoiding forty percent of all potential claims.

Additionally, the statute of limitations on tort claims in most jurisdictions is two years.

So for the dinosaurs in my readership, you can probably safely jettison analog reports that are older than three years without much to fear.

Digital hipsters, for whom storage space should not be an issue, should follow my original advice and hold them forever.

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