After spending 2-1/2 to 3 hours with your Home Inspector you decided to firm up the offer on your home.  Months later, after moving into your dream home, you discover some additional problems.

Not everything can be discovered during a few hours of a home inspection.  Some roofs or basements only leak when specific conditions exist.  Some problems may only be discovered when carpets are lifted, or furniture moved out.  Shower stalls may leak when people are in the shower, but do not leak when you simply turn on the tap. These problems may have existed at the time of the inspection, but there were no clues as to their existence.  We cannot foresee a future problem, move obstacles, or dismantle anything in the home we are inspecting.  We are generalists.  That is why we may recommend a heating contractor, roofer, electrician, plumber, etc., who are specialists in their field, to predict the problem.

The intent of the inspection is not to find the $100 problems; it is to find the $1000 problems.  These findings are what affect people’s decisions to purchase.  Any minor problems identified were discovered while looking for more significant ones.  If we spent 45 minutes disassembling the furnace, or 30 minutes under the sink, we would certainly find more problems, but the inspection would take several days and would cost considerably more.

Our advice represents the most prudent thing to do.  Most contractors are reluctant to undertake such minor repairs.  Contractors’ opinions often differ from ours.  Consequently, they won’t want to undertake most minor repairs because of high liability when they could redo the job for more money and reduce the likelihood of a callback.  The homeowner usually believes the experts’ advice they received, even if it is contrary to our advice.

Last Man In Theory

This brings us to the “Last Man In” theory.  This occurs when an inspector recommends a further evaluation of a particular component in the home and the last man in blames the inspector for not catching/recognizing a serious defect.

For example, one of our inspectors came across some ungrounded circuits during the electrical testing in a home inspection.  When he opened a junction box (which is not a requirement in the home inspection standards of practice), he noticed that there was brand new wiring.  He advised the realtor and clients that a further evaluation should be conducted by licensed electrician as it seemed that there was perhaps an issue with the wiring.  When the electrician did his inspection, he found active knob and tube wiring in one junction box.  He then opened up all the walls and saw that wires that were cut and a section of new wiring was connected to old active knob and tube wiring.  He then convinced the other parties that the home inspector should have caught this.

As a home inspection is a visual, non-invasive examination of the home, how can an inspector be held liable or responsible for not knowing about the new wiring behind the walls without opening them up? He doesn’t have x-ray vision!  The only reason this defect was caught was because the electrician opened up the walls.  In this particular scenario, the wiring behind the walls is known as a latent defect. Refer to our Patent vs Latent Defects article for more information.

In conclusion, a Home Inspection was performed to eliminate major risks and to educate you.  It should not be considered an insurance policy.  The premium that an insurance company would have to charge for a policy with no deductible, no limit and an indefinite policy period would be considerably more than the fee we charge.  It would also not include the value added by the inspection.

We hope we’ve given you something to consider.