Rare is a home inspector training Law and Disorder Seminar that does not have a few – and often several – casualties of war among the attending home inspectors – the multi-front war between them, their unreasonable and unrealistic clients, their referring real estate agents and, all too frequently, their insurance companies. They all seem to think that it is the inspector’s responsibility to “make things right”, even if he has no culpability whatsoever, which, in my experience, he almost never does. Here’s why.

Almost every home inspection claim will fall into one of the following six categories.

1. A claim for something that cannot possibly be determined by a home inspection: Boundaries, Title, Encumbrances and the like.

2. A claim for something that is outside the operative Standard of Practice: mold, underground tanks and the like.

3. A claim for something that was concealed at the time of the inspection: by furniture, carpeting, or finished work.

4. A claim for something that was disclaimed in the inspection report due to inaccessibility: roof covered by ice and snow, for example.

5. A claim for something that was discovered by the inspector and reported by him. Really!

6. A claim for something that was operating/functional at the time of the inspection but ceases to be so some time after the inspection.

And what those six categories of claims have in common is this: they are all eminently defensible. The problem is that clients and not infrequently their real estate agents, as well, often regard that as a mere technicality that should not prevent the home inspector from paying to have their underground storage tanks removed, their worn-out heat pumps replaced, or their backed-up septic tanks unclogged.

And, of course, it is one thing for clients and real estate agents to think that way, quite another for an insurance company to do so. Yet, that is the tale I hear time and time again from inspectors who come to my home inspector training. Companies continue to pay bogus claims because it is “cheaper” than defending them. You don’t have to be Buckminster Fuller to conclude that that is a business model that is doomed to failure.

Yet that is the bizarro world that home inspectors inhabit.

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