A home inspector and a client reviewing a report. The inspector needs tips for avoiding omissions in home inspection reports

Tips For Avoiding Errors in Home Inspection Reports

By Published On: February 19th, 2024Categories: Home Inspection Career Guide0 Comments

Turns out, even the most meticulous and experienced home inspectors can miss a detail in their report and end up with a lawsuit on their hands! So how do you find the sneakiest problems in a home? And what should you do if you realize you’ve made a mistake? Here are our tips for avoiding omissions in home inspection reports. 

Key Takeaways  

What to Include in a Home Inspection Report 

Errors and omissions are issues, hazards, or safety concerns that are either not included or misrepresented in a home inspection report. They are the cause for the majority of all claims made against home inspectors — and over half of all inspectors have had a claim filed against them at some point in their career.  

To put it simply, omissions happen all the time. But there are some problem areas that could use special attention. 

Key Components in a Home Inspection Report 

Every necessary component of a home inspection is detailed in the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors’ (InterNACHI) Home Inspection Standards of Practice (SOP).  

This is not only a great resource for refreshing your memory, but also for creating a home inspection checklist. Using a detailed checklist on the job will help you remember each area and sneaky issue in a home, so you can rest assured that you mentioned everything in your report.  

  • Exterior 
  • Roof 
  • Basement, foundation, structure 
  • HVAC  
  • Plumbing 
  • Electrical 
  • Attic, insulation 
  • Windows, doors 
  • Interior 

The Most Common Omissions in Home Inspection Reports

Omissions happen to everyone. After all, problem areas can be hard to find, no matter how experienced you are. Here are some tips to help you cover your bases and avoid lawsuits. 

Water Damage 

Water damage can happen anywhere in a home, and it can be a sign of a big problem. Unfortunately, without tearing a house apart, you can’t always tell where the water is coming from. So, when you start noticing the signs of water damage, be detailed in your report. Never overlook a musty smell or a spotty ceiling. 

It’s your job to make the buyer aware of areas that aren’t up-to-standard, so even though you can’t rip down wallpaper to look for water damage, you should report all of the following: 

  • Incorrect faucet installation 
  • Loosely fitted and/or malfunctioning toilet 
  • Structural damage to the outside of a home 
  • Clogged gutters 
  • DIY fixes 
  • Musty smells 

Remember, the more thorough you are in your report, the better. Tools like a moisture meter will help you locate those hard-to-uncover areas, too. The less that gets by you, the better! 

Legal Tip: If something looks like it might need a specialist to diagnose an issue, report that, rather than suggesting your clients “monitor” a situation. That way, if a major issue comes up after a home has been purchased, there is evidence in your inspection report that you warned your clients and recommended they get help from an expert. 

Roof Damage 

It’s difficult and sometimes dangerous to fully inspect roofs, so it’s incredibly easy to miss serious issues like damaged shingles, flashing, and improper ventilation. If you don’t have the tools or ability to thoroughly inspect a roof, enlist the help of an expert. 

Remember, as a home inspector, you are never required to walk on any roof surface or remove debris that hides the roof surfaces. 

Legal Tip: Don’t have the tools to get a full view of the roof? Make a pre-inspection contract that’s specific about what you can and cannot inspect. Always make sure your client has read and signed your contract before you inspect their home. 

Foundation Weaknesses 

Foundation issues are easy to miss, especially if the area is obstructed by foliage or there are hidden problems in areas you can’t access. 

Look out for the following signs of foundation weakness: 

  • Wood contact with soil or near soil  
  • Any areas of active or potential leakage 
  • Any signs of notching, cutting, gapping, or other flaws in the foundation framing 
  • Cracking in sheetrock or brick 
  • Unlevel floors, out-of-square door frames 
  • Any areas that seem structurally unsound or unsafe 

Remember, understanding what an inspector doesn’t have to do is just as important as knowing what you do have to do. You should never put your own safety at risk for a job. Instead, refer to other professionals whenever necessary. 

Legal Tip: Photos are your friend! The more photos you can include in your report, especially of obstructed areas that prevent you from fully inspecting them, the better. Keep copies of the photos and reports so you’re prepared if and when faced with a claim. 

Plumbing Issues 

When it comes to plumbing, home inspectors most often miss hidden leaks and drainage issues. These are sneakier than water damage, but with tools like a moisture meter, you’ll have much better luck finding the problem areas. 

Inspectors are not required to inspect the following parts of a home (among others) and, for concerns in these areas, should refer clients to specialists: 

  • Water and sewer lines 
  • Wastewater treatment systems 
  • Washing appliances 
  • Lawn sprinkler systems 
  • Well pumps and tanks 

Legal Tip: Unfortunately, it’s common for inspectors to get meritless claims outside of their scope, especially when it comes to plumbing. Make sure to communicate clearly, both verbally and in writing, what the scope of your plumbing inspection involves and what it doesn’t, so you can avoid getting claims (and a bad rap) about missing details you’re not required to find. 

Tips For Avoiding Major Issues in Home Inspection Reports 

No matter your experience level as a home inspector, there are tricks you can use to set yourself up for success every time: 

  • Review the SOP before each inspection 
  • Create a home inspection checklist to use during your inspection 
  • Double check your reports before sending them to your client 
  • Include details and photos to be as informative as possible 
  • Stay up-to-date on industry standards, rules, and best practices 
  • Consult experts in specialized areas when you need a second opinion 
  • Recommend your client calls an expert when issues appear to need special attention 

How To Address Omissions in a Home Inspection Report 

Despite your best efforts, you realized you forgot to mention something important in a report. What now?  

Admitting a mistake and correcting it promptly is crucial for your credibility as a home inspector. So make sure to: 

  1. Document the omission as soon as possible, including all relevant details. 
  2. Notify your client. 
  3. Amend the original home inspection report with the details of the omitted piece by issuing an addendum or supplementary report. 

Worst case scenario, it’s always a good idea to carry Errors and Omissions Insurance. In case a claim is brought against you, you won’t want to be the one to foot the bill. Even in states that don’t require inspectors to carry it, you should always protect yourself with insurance.  

Prepare Yourself & Protect Your Business 

The better prepared you are for inspections, the better you’re able to protect your business – and your reputation! Train with a school that has the resources to prepare you for real inspections from the get-go. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to go with someone who can get you a deal on Errors and Omissions Insurance, too. 

About the Author: Lizzie DesRosiers

Lizzie DesRosiers is a Content Specialist with AHIT and The CE Shop. She is an expert in home inspection, appraisal, and real estate. Along with bringing her knowledge of the field to each piece, she prides herself on sharing information that is thoroughly researched and easy to absorb.

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