A home inspector is required by statute to do a reasonably competent and diligent inspection. This means he is required to describe any condition of the house that, if not repaired, will have a significant adverse effect on the house value. Home inspectors are not required to give opinions on the life expectancy of any part of the house, the cause of any problem or any specific method of making the repair. Home inspectors are not required to disturb or move personal items including furniture, nor perform any procedure that may cause damage to the house or any part of it. They are not required to predict what may happen in the future, including whether a particular component of the house may fail.
It is very important for a person who hires a home inspector to read the home inspector’s report. It is the report that will govern any future liability of the home inspector. Home buyers should specifically look at the home inspector’s report for areas of concern, particularly if the home inspector recommends that another expert or third party reviews a specific aspect of the house.
A home inspector may not give anyone else your report without your consent. Home inspectors cannot receive compensation from more than one party to a transaction without the written consent of all parties to the transaction. A home inspector, in his/her contract, may not issue a disclaimer limiting the home inspector’s liability.
Home inspectors are only liable for their conduct if a lawsuit or arbitration process is commenced within two years of the date of the home inspection. That means that if the home inspector inspected your house over two years ago, you cannot file a lawsuit or a claim against that home inspector.
Many home inspectors have arbitration clauses in their contract. This means that a lawsuit cannot be filed against the home inspector, but a claim must be brought through an organization which handles arbitration. In arbitration, an arbitrator evaluates the conduct of the home inspector. Arbitrators determine whether the home inspector did anything wrong, and may award damages if the arbitrator believes the home inspector’s action caused a loss to the home buyer.