Why Didn’t the Inspector Catch it?

“My contractor came over, and he said my home inspector should have caught this…”

This can be a very confusing situation for a homeowner. Usually the contractor is there because of some issue that has arisen, and in the course of the repair or replacement he may make a statement that puts doubt in your mind regarding the thoroughness of the home inspection.

Any time we receive a call like this, the first thing we do is review the inspection report. Quite frequently, the issue was either specifically mentioned in the report, or it was revealed as a direct result of one of our recommendations to have an item repaired and further assessed. That’s how the system is supposed to work, and those are easy.

The second case is a little more challenging but usually involves a passage of time or a change in conditions. For example, if we receive a call from an unhappy buyer a year after an inspection, and he is upset about a plumbing leak we “didn’t catch” it’s more than likely that the leak was not present at the time of the inspection. Those are easy also, but sometimes a buyer is convinced (usually by a contractor) that the inspector “should have caught it,” even though the contractor has no idea whether or not the condition existed at the time of the inspection.

The two cases above are considered “latent or concealed” defects and are specifically excluded from a home inspection. This makes sense to most people when they think about it: if an inspector cannot observe a defect (concealed), or it does not occur until after the inspection (latent), he cannot possibly have reported it. After all, inspectors cannot see through walls, and they do not have crystal balls.

The third case is an item that is outside the scope of the inspection. These are the result of either poor communication between the inspector and the buyer (the inspector did not educate the buyer regarding what a home inspection is and is not), or simple confusion of the buyer. At HomeTeam we are very proactive in telling the buyer verbally (when they call to order the inspection, and also at the inspection walkthrough) and in writing (they receive our standards of practice, they sign a contract detailing the scope, and the report also discusses the scope), and yet we sometimes get these calls. In some ways it is understandable: the homebuying process can be overwhelming and confusing. Nevertheless, as a buyer it is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL that you understand what a home inspection is and is not. Ask questions of your inspector to ensure you understand what is and is not included in the scope of the home inspection, and this understanding will significantly help in giving you the value and information you need from the inspection process.

In all cases, if you are unhappy because you think your inspector missed something, give them a call and invite them out to your home to have a look and to discuss. I know many of the inspectors in Louisville and Southern Indiana, and on the whole they are very sincere and ethical people. Of course things get missed sometimes, but if that ends up being the case, the professional companies will take of the problem.

As always, if we can be of help, give us a call at (502) 785-8142 or email us at Louisville@hometeam.com

Happy Home Buying!