NOTE: This post is not to punish ALL or even most inspectors. It's to clarify that if you inspect one of the homes I have listed be accurate or you will be called on it. My clients deserve it.
To start with let me offer that in every industry there are warts. I'm sure Real Estate Brokers make home inspectors as crazy as they in turn make me. Certainly the overwhelming majority of those inspectors are valued, experienced professionals that are an incredibly important part of the process of home sales. Unfortunately some inspection companies are now far more concerned about being sued than telling the whole truth. They add information to home inspections for example that are not about code violations, not about defects in a home, not about deferred maintenance. They're about nothing more than CYA. I for one am about ready to start denying these companies access to my properties. Examples? Sure. Here's one from this week from an inspection. "The chimney on this property didn't appear to be 12 feet in height which by current standards means it's not far enough above the roof line. This is improper.' What the clod inspector forgot to mention was that the home was 13 years old and the chimney was perfectly in code when it was built. Does the inspector want us to tear down a chimney on a gas fireplace and rebuild it despite it being correct for it's year built? I don't mind an inspector mentioning current code. Just be sure to also say it was correct for it's year built and no I don't give a damn about whether you want to do it that way or not. if you're calling out a defect, you had better provide all the facts if you want to ever inspect my listings again.
Here's another. 'It appears that the trim around the chimney appears to be rotted." It appears. In other words the inspector never even went up on the roof. It also just so happens that the trim around that chimney had been replaced and painted 75 days ago and because you didn't go up on the home in the rain you couldn't correctly assess it. I get we don't want you falling off but we also don't want you guessing. I'm sure the buyers AND the sellers don't want you guessing. If you can't correctly tell us you'll have to come back when it's dry. Don't have the time? For the $500+- you're making time if you hope to not have me telling everyone in the sun you're doing a terrible job for your clients.
Then of course you have the usual array of inspectors not being able to find light switches, not being able to make a high end sink faucet function, not knowing that the furnace was designed that way to code despite the fact you don't know any better. I don't care one bit you don't know how to operate certain amenities in a home. If you can't you shouldn't be there. Or at the very least you shouldn't be identifying ANYTHING as a defect if you don't actually know it's broken.
Here's the bottom line. BOTH home buyers and home sellers deserve correct assessments of properties when they go through the sale process. They also deserve a realistic, fully explained analysis. Not just one that keeps the inspector from legal exposure. I don't want you to be sued either but telling half the story just to keep yourself our of trouble is no longer acceptable. Don't tell me that a home doesn't have a battery back up on the sump system and that one needs to be installed. No it doesn't. That's a choice of the current owner and the future owner. Mr Home Inspector...keep your opinions to yourself if they aren't based on code or fact.