As a home inspector myself, I will be the first to admit that home inspectors are human and can make mistakes.
Even the most experienced home inspector who is always on their A game can miss something.
So how does it happen? What should you do? Is there a chance you can get this resolved? And how do you protect yourself? Let’s talk about that.
How Do Home Inspection Mistakes Happen?
It’s important for you to understand how mistakes happen in the first place. Also, you should consider asking yourself whose mistake is it, if anyone’s!
Home inspection mistakes by the home inspector typically happen from the following circumstances:
- Lack of home inspector training/experience. (Most Common).
- The home inspector was off-routine or distracted. (Least Common).
- Something was in the way or blocking their view. (Common).
In contrast, in some cases it is nobody’s fault and it is just bad luck. For example, if you get a roof leak after you move in, did the inspector miss the roof leak, or did the roof leak appear after the inspection?
In these cases it can sometimes be difficult to prove so reading the entire home inspection report is CRITICAL.
Let’s say you have read your inspection report from front to back and you think the problem was there when the home inspection took place. How did this happen?
Lack of Training & Experience
A good way to look for this is just by checking their online reviews, website for credentials, or asking the home inspector how many homes they have inspected.
To elaborate, inspector trainees at Waypoint Property Inspection go through a rigorous on-the-job training program for about 2-3 months before they can inspect on their own.
This means they end up inspecting about 120 homes (not counting previous experience) before going out on their own to inspect. Even then, the new inspectors are limited to the types of homes they can inspect (newer homes only) until they are qualified to do more.
Therefore, be sure to thoroughly ask questions to your inspector about where they have received their training and certifications. Online schooling coupled with a few ride alongs is not enough.
Home Inspector Routine
When you get to be a seasoned home inspector you tend to just run on auto pilot.
You walk your route and your eyes just automatically pick up everything that is wrong. It’s kind of awesome, but at the same time I see defects in every home I look at now.
Anyway, when your auto pilot gets interrupted you can tend to look away from what is important. So, when inspectors are looking away from what they are doing, or get distracted, they might miss the stain on the ceiling or the crack around the window.
Fun fact: humans cannot multi-task. Your brain is literally just switching from task to task very quickly and it’s actually less efficient.
Something that can disrupt the inspectors flow is being interrupted by questions, or having people hover around them. It’s important that all of your questions get answered, but if you stop the inspector every 5 minutes to ask something, you could be causing more harm than good.
This is why we recommend you bring a notepad, or use your phone, to write down all of your questions. At the end of the inspection the inspector will review the findings and this is a great time to get all of your questions answered.
Items Blocking Their View
We’ve had it happen many times where a garage is full of the seller’s furniture, lawn equipment, etc.. This prevents our inspector from being able to see every part of that garage, and in some cases may prevent them from being able to access the electrical panel, water heater, or air handler.
Although it doesn’t happen often, sometimes the seller may be using “stuff” to try to cover up issues that they don’t want the inspector to see.
My dad is a home inspector in Florida too with Honor Services. He has actually been an expert witness for many home inspection related cases.
While he cannot give specifics, yes, sometimes it was the inspectors fault.
On the other hand, some sellers will fix grading/vegetation before the inspection or move personal belongings to cover stains, mold, etc. Some sellers have flat out admitted to doing this during their disposition, and in rare occurrences the agent has known about it too.
The best home inspection companies (like Waypoint 😎), understand that the seller may have items in the home that limit the inspector’s access. We ask the seller to remove personal belongings from key inspection areas, we notate inaccessible areas in the report, and we are trained enough to realize when something looks recently repaired/patched.
You may also want to read what are home inspectors not allowed to do.
What Does This Mean For You?
Hopefully with this information you might be more understanding of how home inspectors miss big items in the first place.
If something has happened to you, try to think:
- Was my inspector reputable and experienced?
- Did my inspector have constant interruptions?
- Did I read my entire report?
- Is it possible the seller had personal belongings in that area?
- Did something look recently repaired/patched?
Asking these questions to yourself are critical. Before we get to the next step of what to do about it, it is important you have control of your emotions during this time.
While most Realtors and home inspection companies understand this is a very stressful time, people are human just like you.
What To Do If You Believe Your Home Inspector Missed Something Big?
Okay, so you truly believe the inspector might have missed something big.
The first step is to speak with your Realtor regarding the situation. They can typically provide guidance on next steps or what to do.
For example, just because your A/C breaks after you move into the home does not mean it is your home inspectors fault. Moreover, they might tell you your warranty company will just take care of it for you.
Speak With The Inspection Company
Next, if your Realtor states you should speak with the inspection company, then contact them and give them as much information as possible. Be courteous and helpful.
Most inspection agreements will state that if there is an issue after the inspection, you need to give them access to the home to reinspect.
Then depending on the circumstances, home inspectors may want to come out to your home to evaluate what is going on and compare it to the original report. This way home inspectors can say yes, this is something we missed, or no, there was no way for us to know about that because of XYZ…
Just as the home inspector is doing, you should be documenting information. You should have the inspection report, the agreement, and photos of everything afterwards.
If the home inspection company is reputable and it was their fault, they will own up to it.
From there, they may make a claim with their insurance company or decide to pay out an agreed upon amount to fix the problem.
If the home inspection company decides it is not their fault and you still truly believe they should have caught something, then you can go about pursuing further action as you see fit.
Keep in mind that it is very important to document, as it is very difficult to claim something was there at the time of inspection, was in the inspector’s view, and was not covered in their report.
How To Avoid Problems After The Home Inspection?
We would never only want to be reactive to situations, we should strive to be proactive!
So, here are my tips to avoid problems after the home inspection.
- Choose a reputable company with a good reputation that you can see for yourself. You may want to do some research on your own in addition to the recommendations you get from your Realtor.
- Make sure the inspection company provides you with a service agreement and read it in it’s entirety.
- Attend the inspection. This way you can watch the inspector work, find items on your own, and ask the inspector questions!
- Read your entire report! I know it may be technical in some cases, but the summary of findings is ONLY the summary.
If you believe your home inspector missed something big, the best course of action is to remain calm and try to work it out with the home inspection company.
If you did your due diligence and were proactive by choosing a reputable company, attending the inspection, and reading the entire report, the home inspection company will own up to any mistakes they made.
Keep in mind, things break in a home and it comes with home ownership.
While home inspectors try their best to find everything that needs repairs or replacing, it may not always be possible.
If you have a question, please comment below!