Bad Home Inspection: How do we report him?

Q: We had a bad home inspection before we sold our rental property. Our buyers’ inspector came out to our property to do the inspection. I don’t live near the home and wasn’t there for the inspection. 

I went to the house a week later. I discovered the inspector had turned off the electric line to the air conditioning unit (which he reported was not cooling), the water heater and the outdoor sprinkler system. This seems really suspicious to me.

He also reported he couldn’t get on the roof because it wasn’t safe. And yet he noted in his report that the roof needed to be replaced. I had two other roofers get on the roof after I received this report. They both said it was fine and they noted that the roof had no structural problems. How do I report him or contest his report?

Bad home inspection caused damage

A: We agree. The inspector’s behavior is confusing. But, let’s start at the beginning.

Typically, sellers don’t attend a home inspection. The buyers and their agent will usually attend and, frequently, the listing broker will be there as well. Savvy buyers will follow their inspector around during the inspection, pay close attention, ask questions and even take notes and pictures.

Buyers should attend the home inspection to learn about the home

Why? Houses can be complicated. New houses can be confusing. So when you have someone whose job it is to inspect the property, it’s a nice opportunity to learn how the house works, where the mechanical systems are and whether the systems have been maintained. For example, it could be useful to know where the water main is and how to turn it off in an emergency.

So what about your inspection? You didn’t attend but presumably the buyers and/or the agent did. But that doesn’t explain why the electricity was turned off to the air conditioning unit, water heater or sprinkler system. If the electricity was off before the inspector got there, then it makes sense that those systems (and others) weren’t working.

Bad home inspector turned off mechanical systems

Why would he turn it off and leave it off? That makes no sense, but frequently home inspectors make mistakes and shut things off inadvertently. And, if two roofing companies said your roof is fine and has no structural problems, it’s likely he never made it on the roof either.

So, either the inspector made bad assumptions about the roof, made a bunch of mistakes or he’s lazy and didn’t do the work he should have.

Seller didn’t pay bad home inspector

But, you didn’t pay the inspector. The buyers’ did. So, their money is on the line. Unless you have damages caused by the inspector’s mistakes or bad behavior, it’s up to them to file a complaint. If they’re satisfied with the report, fine. They can come and ask you to fix the things noted in the inspection report and you can refuse or refute them with the reports provided by your own contractors. You’ll negotiate. Or, not. They’ll buy the house anyway, or they won’t.

Bad home inspection? No good place to report inspector

There’s really no satisfying place to report a bad home inspector. Typically, inspectors are licensed by the state in which they operate. You could try to report them to the agency that licenses them, but there may be no procedure to do so. You could report them to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), or another nonprofit trade association – if the inspector belongs to one. If they don’t, then you can’t.

But even if they do belong to ASHI, the organization isn’t in the habit of policing its wayward members.

Can you give a poor review to bad home inspector?

Which takes us back to the beginning of your email. You’ll tell your listing agent (if you have one) that this inspector is a bad apple. She’ll tell the buyers’ agent and hopefully that inspector won’t be recommended for future jobs. You could give the inspector a poor review.

Professional home inspectors, like everyone else in the real estate industry, live and die by their reputations. They build their business based on referrals from satisfied buyers, sellers and agents. If they do a lousy job, or make a lot of mistakes, or cause damage, then the customers in their world complain. And, their world grows smaller.

Bad home inspections limit future referrals and business

It’s not a satisfying answer, we’re sure. But we hope your home hasn’t sustained any permanent damage. While you don’t live close to the property, perhaps you’ll make sure your listing agent attends any future showings or inspections.

Do I really need a home inspection?

When we were buying our first home, the home inspector failed to close the main electrical box properly. That mistake caused the power to go off in the home. The sellers ended up losing all of their food in their refrigerator and requested that we reimburse them for the cost of their loss. It was several hundred dollars. We paid for it, because our inspector caused the problem.

We could have gone after the inspector for that but didn’t. In hindsight, we should have requested that the home inspector reimburse us for that loss. If your buyers’ inspector caused damage to your home, these buyers should pay up for their inspector’s mistakes.

Good luck selling your home.

Read more about home inspections:

Can I Report My Home Inspector to ASHI?

What Does a Home Inspector Do?

Home Inspections: Home Inspectors Make Mistakes

3 Issues Standard Home Inspections Don’t Typically Catch



©2023 by Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency. A1603