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Uh, Oh! My Home Inspector Missed Something Big

By September 2, 2020Liability
home inspector missed something

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…

Document Information

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.

Determining Liability

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!


  • Todd Meister says:

    Hello and thank you for your help. I bought my house and took possession February 1, 2021. I knew that the home would require a good amount of work done. However I didn’t expect to have serious structural problems. while doing work in my crawl space I noticed that my main girder has been notched about 2/3 of the way through. In addition there are also 2, that I know of notched floor joist and 2 floor joist that have a 5-6 feet cut out completely. Nothing has been added to support any of these issues. These missing floor joist’s and girder are directly below the Bathtub and Toilet.
    These things that I’ve mentioned were all missed in my home inspection. There are a few other things that they missed as well but nothing Structurally dangerous.

    At the moment I don’t need help to fix the problems mentioned. I do need help finding who is responsible and how to get that party to fix these issues.

    Thank you.

    • Aaron Shishilla says:

      Hey Todd,

      The best thing to do is to contact your home inspection company. If they were reputable, they can guide you on if this is something they should have caught (and assist in repairs), or advise you on other steps if this falls out of their scope.

      I also would advise you to inquire about steps with your real estate agent.

      You may have to pay for repairs out of pocket, but inquiring with others may help.


  • Kim G says:

    Hello, I closed on my home October 1, 2020. The home was purchased 10 months earlier by a flipper and sat unoccupied for 10 years prior, therefore I made sure to hire an inspector. Only minor issues were noted on my report, my concern were big ticket items anyway. Since I moved in I’ve had one thing after another go wrong, I spent $2,000 on plumbers unclogging sewer & storm drains that kept backing up in my basement and another $9,000 replacing the sewer/storm drain pipes in the floor of my basement. After my plumbers came out, they noticed it was obvious there were problems before that were covered up by a painted floor and walls and noted there was recent work done on an area of the floor to fix a pipe, turns out it wasn’t even connected. There was no overflow drain on my tub, found out the hard way when water was leaking in my basement after my first bath. Just had a roofer out to give me an estimate and my roof has sections where the shingles aren’t even attached, just picked them right up. My inspector went on the roof and noted there was a patch job but it was done very well and I would get at least another 5 years out of my roof. I was able to look on the City website at one point where the neighbor called the City on multiple occasions to notify them the roof was missing shingles years prior. I assumed this was the patch that was performed. Do I have any recourse against the Inspector or the previous owner? The previous owner is a Realtor and is a career buyer/flipper/seller of homes.

    • Aaron Shishilla says:

      Hi Kim,

      I am sorry to hear about your situation. I would recommend documenting, speaking with your Realtor, and the home inspection company.

      From there, follow the steps outlined in your home inspection agreement and from what your Realtor/Inspector suggests. If the people you hired were reputable you should be in good hands.

      In some instances, you may want to consult with an attorney.

      Hope this helps,

  • Marissa Caldera says:

    Thank you for this information. We recently had a pest problem and called a pest control company to come to an evaluation. During this initial evaluation, it was found that multiple main joists in the house are compromised, one has a very large and noticeable crack. Our floor is wavy as well, same with the ceiling. The foundation is cracked and the cinder blocks are falling apart. None of this was noted on the inspection nor was the second crawlspace inspected. We have reached out to the inspection company and up until yesterday they were willing to work with us. However, the contractor needs to make sure that the building is structurally sound and needed an evaluation done by a structural engineer, when this was mentioned to the inspection company and we asked them to cover the fee as it is close in price to what they offered to refund us, they clammed up and said any further contact can be done through their attorney. What can we do?

    • Aaron Shishilla says:

      Hi Marissa,

      While I cannot tell you what you should do, I can make suggestions on what you COULD do. In my eyes, you could just take care of it yourself or consult with an attorney yourself. Unfortunately, I am not able to give you legal advice or give you advice in general based on a comment. Be sure to keep your Realtor in the loop as well as they might have some insights.

      Best of luck,

  • Mason Roman says:

    How’s it going, I purchased a house about 2 years ago 2019 and we noticed the rain will enter our basement every time it rained we didn’t think anything of it because the inspection report came back fine, so after tearing the panels out of the basement we found out that there was a major crack in the foundation that causes the water to get into out basement that now has created my whole basement to get mold all around. I now have to pay almost $25,000 in repairs for this damage. My question is can I contact the company that inspected it to report they missed this problem after 2 years of me living there ?

    • Austin Hintze says:

      Hi Mason, without knowing what type of training/experience that company has, or what standards of practice they follow, it’s tough for me to say if they should have caught that or not. However, it is worth mentioning though that a number of factors could have played into them not seeing it at the time of the inspection. It sounds like the issue wasn’t discovered until there was rain and panels were torn out. If there was no rain during the inspection, would there have been signs of previous water damage? Most inspections are also visual and non-invasive, which means the inspector would not remove panels, flooring, or anything like that during the inspection. So would they have been able to notice the issue visually at the time of the inspection without removing panels as you did after discovering the issue? You can certainly reach out to the company and see what they say, but those are just a couple of things to keep in mind during the conversation.