Whose fault is it?

Over 5 years ago I joined the Disciplinary and Professional Practices (DPPC) of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors. (OAHI). I joined this Committee as I felt this is where I would see the Good, The Bad, and definitely the UGLY. Due to circumstances, I became the Chair of this Committee and have been in this position since.

I recently received a complaint about a Home Inspection firm and the report that went with it. The complainant sent a quote that is still on the inspectors website that states:
“You should expect quality and integrity in a normal home inspection. You can do better than accept “opinions” in place of evaluations. You can expect a home inspector to give you a thorough assessment of every single part of any home and help you understand what it means.”

Supposedly after purchasing the home, the purchasers had drainage issues. After consulting a plumbing firm, they were told “The plumbing is nowhere near code and your health was at risk from a buildup of sewage gases.” They were advised they need to replace the entire waste venting system.

Who was at fault? Basically everyone has some fault here.

First: The inspection company. Their claim that “you can expect a home inspector to give you a thorough assessment of every single part of any home” is wrong. No one can see what is not visible, and this needs to be explained to the client thoroughly. For them to claim that they can see everything, leaves them wide open for exactly this situation.

Second: Most reasonable people can see that there are limitations. Some, of course will refuse to accept this and foolishly believe that an Inspector has X-Ray vision and should be able to see what is buried in a wall or other items that are simply not accessible or visible. I have had people ask me what is behind a wall and expect me to open a hole to view, based on information from some statements made in a Television show.

Third: The plumbing firm claiming the item is not up to code. Once building code changes, as it does every few years, what code do you apply during an inspection or assessment of a building? The answer is : NONE. Any home owner has a legal right to change anything they want and to tell them they are violating a code is wrong. It is their home. Not to mention, the item may not be up to code by today’s standards, but that item was actually up to the code at the time of building. And of course many times a Contractor will tell a client they need to replace everything and embellish the repair.

While there may be the Contractor who blows an issue up to make themselves look good or simply because they know they can get more money from an unsuspecting client, there are just as many Contractors who are honest and advise the client of a dangerous situation as they know situation is actually never done correctly in the first place and should be done professionally.

Items such as when I recently saw a house where the owner had installed new sconce lights along the walls of the rec room that really looked impressive. However when I caught a glimpse of the stereo speaker wire they had used, then this becomes a serious electrical issue that needs repaired. however I still cannot quote “Code”. But this is a high priority repair on my report.

(And of course it now becomes a picture for my “Fail List”, and you would go through withdrawal if I do not send pictures that make us all shake our heads. )


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