Legal Responsibilities.


Having a property inspection done by someone knowledgable in building construction and operating systems does one major thing for you.

It provides the ‘due diligence’ on the building. This means that you’ve had the house looked into to a reasonable degree beyond the features and other aspects of the house that make it attractive to you as you future home.

Some people (or some family members) won’t look beyond those features that they love or are impressed by. It doesn’t matter if it is the fireplace, the attached double garage or the granite counter tops. You just want it.

If you can afford it and all other conditions line up, you’ll probably make an offer on it. If you are experienced (or well advised) you’ll have a real estate agent acting for you (other than the selling agent) and you’re planning (or been advised) to have it inspected once the offer has been accepted.

This is the recommended and usual procedure. Large amounts of money and major life decisions are in play so the agents, mortgage specialists and notaries are involved to ensure that all the required steps are done, and done correctly.

The building inspector, however, has a different focus.
He’s only looking at the house. Nothing else.
He’s dispassionate about it. The inspector will be objective.

He’s neither buying it or selling it. He doesn’t love it or hate it. He has no feelings either way, but definitely interested.
Fascinated you could say, even fanatical about it, obsessively wanting to know and understand everything possible about that home.
But he can’t.

His service is reporting to his clients the factual conditions of the house. In theory, knowing everything would mean the most complete and accurate report. This is what a good inspector will strive for, but it is actually an unobtainable goal.

Normally he only gets to see the property once, for a short ‘snap shot ‘ of the conditions and can not take things apart.
He does not own the property and neither do the future buyers, his clients.
Sometimes the owners furniture and belongings obstruct or limit access, or there is only limited or no access to areas that should be accessible.

This limits the inspection to what is visible and actually accessible. A good report will note any or all instances where limits occur and recommend further inquiries be made of the owner/sellers or specific specialists.

However, this does not reduce the value of the inspectors report.
It is a visual inspection, necessarily based on those parts and components of the building that are accessible and visible.

That is not the whole picture though, as the inspector applies knowledge, training and experience to extrapolate the inspection information to an understanding of the house, its components and systems as well as the condition they are in.
And therein lies the value.

It will not be everything that could be possibly known or reported about the property, but it more than fulfils the ‘due diligence’ requirements so as to preserve the clients’ legal rights.
A court will be satisfied that reasonable measures were taken by the client to ensure that they were getting the house that they thought they were.

No matter how complete, how full or how detailed a home inspection report the inspector provides, it is still not everything that could be known about that house.
Despite the fact that he tries, no inspectors’ report is perfectly complete, technically exhaustive, or absolute.

An inspector who does his job, who informs you about the condition of the property and provides that ‘due diligenge’ for his client has done the service you hired him to do.

He has no legal responsibility beyond that. He is not liable, and has not assumed any liability or financial responsibility for the property.
So he should never be sued or held responsible for present or future conditions of the house and property.

An inspection is just that, an inspection. A knowledgeable look at (and report on) the property.
It is not a warranty or guarantee, nor can it be.

Yet, it is that ‘due diligence’ requirement that the prospective buyer needs.
A good report will empower that buyer with the information to make their decision, and does reduce unwarranted risks.

Some risk does remain.
Some problems or developing conditions can remain hidden, or not be revealed by the ambient conditions during the inspection.

Sometimes ‘hidden conditions’ are known to the sellers, in which case they have a responsibility to disclose that information or once discovered, may have a fiscal liability. But even the best intentioned seller may not have any knowledge of a problem that is developing.
So some risk to the buyer does remain.



Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post