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Today’s PHW Inspections Question: Why do some Home Inspectors always feel they HAVE to find something?
I have had to answer multiple versions of this question several times in my career. I have trained and mentored several Home Inspectors, and this is something I have always discussed with them. I personally have never felt the need to justify my job by calling out a deficiency that was not there. Home Inspectors are experienced, trained professionals who have a thorough understanding of construction, building codes, and potential issues that can arise in a home. The role of a Home Inspector is to conduct a thorough assessment of a property’s condition. When we conduct our inspections, the primary goal is to identify material defects, safety concerns, or potential problems in a property.
- Material Defects: Are identified as a problem that is significant enough to affect the value of the home or to pose a safety hazard.
- Safety Defects: This would be a deficiency that could pose a risk of injury or potential death to the occupants of the home.
- Potential Problems: Experienced inspectors have encountered a wide range of issues over the course of their careers. This experience helps them recognize common problems and identify potential red flags that could cause problems in the future. These problems may not be immediately obvious or even noticeable, but they could become more serious over time.
It is rare but there are homes out there that could be considered as “Unicorns”. This is when a Home Inspector doesn’t find any deficiencies inspecting a home because that home has been properly maintained, cared for, and updates were professionally done to meet current safety requirements. Inspectors find these homes from time to time and not necessarily with new homes. As a Home Inspector there is no better feeling than telling the home buyer “I have no defects to report, enjoy your new home!”
Not all Home Inspectors are created equal. Some Home Inspectors lack experience and may sometimes feel a sense of pressure to find issues during their inspections due to various factors. Here are a few reasons why inspectors might feel compelled to find something during inspections:
- Client Expectations: Buyers often hire Home Inspectors with the expectation that they will identify potential problems. When pressured this could create a subconscious bias for inspectors to uncover issues to meet client expectations and make something out to be bigger than it is.
- Demonstrating Expertise: Some less experienced Home Inspectors may want to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in the field. Finding defects can showcase their skills and reinforce their role as professionals who provide valuable insights.
- Market Pressure: In competitive real estate markets, buyers might have limited options and limited time to make decisions. Inspectors might feel that identifying issues quickly is essential to prevent buyers from losing out on properties due to time constraints. The problem with this is the inspector doesn’t put enough thought into what they are seeing, turning a minor cosmetic issue a major problem.
- Client Satisfaction: Some inspectors might think that clients will be more satisfied if they identify a certain number of issues, assuming that this validates the inspection process and justifies the fee. This type of inspector over inspects and desensitizes the real deficiencies.
- Ethical Dilemmas: Inspectors might struggle with ethical considerations if they suspect an issue but cannot definitively confirm it. In such cases, they might feel the need to err on the side of caution and report the suspected issue. This CYA inspecting is not necessary as long as the inspector inspects report according to their State or Associations Standards of Practice.
Professional home inspectors should always prioritize accuracy, objectivity, and integrity in their work. The home inspection is to provide an unbiased assessment of the property’s condition. Reputable inspectors understand that their role is not to manufacture issues but to provide a clear and honest evaluation to help buyers make informed decisions. If you encounter an inspector who seems overly focused on finding problems, it’s a good idea to engage in a conversation to understand their approach and ensure their professionalism.
Here are some tips for choosing a home inspector:
- Get recommendations from friends, family, or Realtors.
- Check with your state’s licensing board to make sure the inspector is licensed and insured.
- Interview inspectors before deciding.
- Ask for references or check ratings on their Google/Bing business pages and check them.
By following these tips, you can increase your chances of finding a qualified home inspector who will help you protect your investment.
In closing, not all home inspectors are created equal. By nature, everyone has different opinions, skill levels, expectations that are managed by the home inspector when creating the Home Inspection Report. No home inspection can be duplicated. A home inspection report not only has the opinion of that inspector, but the house, client and Realtor have some input into the process that when put together creates the individual experience of that specific home inspection.