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  #1  
Old 2009-11-19, 01:40 PM
thumper
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Default B.C. ruling worries Ottawa home inspectors

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/stor...bc-ruling.html

Ottawa home inspectors say a legal precedent set in British Columbia is threatening their livelihood and could make home inspections more expensive.

The B.C. Supreme Court last week ordered a home inspector to pay nearly $192,000 to a North Vancouver couple for a faulty inspection.

The inspector's estimate of $20,000 to repair a house was less than a tenth of the actual cost of $212,000. The court ordered the inspector to pay the $192,000 difference, saying he'd failed to inspect the entire home and should have advised the couple to hire a structural engineer before buying the $1.1-million property in September 2006.

Hendrik Hymans, who owns A to Z Home Inspection in Ottawa, said he often has a good idea of what a repair will cost, but he keeps this information to himself.

"I think [the B.C. inspector's] first mistake was giving a price on work that he wasn't going to end up performing," Hymans said.

Hymans has never been sued, but he pays thousands of dollars in legal insurance and expects those premiums will increase because of the B.C. ruling. Ultimately, that means Hymans won't be able to continue charging $375 for an inspection.

"If some other judgments like this come up and home inspectors get sued, you're going to be looking at a home inspection costing well over $1,000, which I don't think is a reasonable figure to pay."

Mark Hodgson, an inspector with The Full Storey Inc., has been sued twice out of 4,000 inspections he has conducted. While he didn't lose either case, he said the legal entanglements were stressful and expensive.

Hodgson said some homebuyers use their inspector as a form of insurance, bringing frivolous and even fraudulent lawsuits to cover the cost of renovations they knew they would need.

"There's so much litigation going on now in the home inspection industry that some of us just feel like a walking target, and it's only a matter of time before it happens."
  #2  
Old 2009-11-19, 03:56 PM
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mc_ottawa mc_ottawa is offline
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Really interesting stuff -

Although I believe the Home Inspectors generally do a great job, and really do help identify issues that home owners do not notice themselves, I wonder if it would be feasible or worthwhile to hold Home Inspectors to a higher standard of care.

Understanding that home inspectors are held accountable to the industry's recognized 'Standards of Practice', I wonder if Home Inspectors should be held more responsible.

For instance, if a home inspector completes a home inspection for an older home, and completely misses the asbestos in the roof - should there not be adequate recourse?

Just some food for thought.
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Old 2009-11-19, 04:06 PM
Summersidelined Summersidelined is offline
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What are your thoughts Inspector Phil?
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Old 2009-11-19, 05:46 PM
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An unfortunate reality of being a home inspector is that the public holds you to a high level of accountability which greatly exceeds the reward in terms of fees received for this service when balanced against the risk and punishment of litigation.

I have been pretty good at dodging the bullets -- to date no claims -- but I know a lot of very conscientious and competent inspectors that have taken litigation hits. Many times the actions are frivilous or unwarrented, but that does not remove the stress the inspector receives when going through legal actions. As an example, in the above action where the inspector was held accountable for a statement made during the inspection, is the punishment truly commensorate with the $300-$400 fee typically charged for the inspection?
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  #5  
Old 2009-11-19, 07:31 PM
foxborough foxborough is offline
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I think that home inspectors should be held to a very high level of accountability. I would like to have the inspection involve more than a visual inspection. I would like to see tests of various systems, tests of paint samples, radon gas and the like. Technology used to inspect electrical, plumbing, insulation, lot grading etc. I would also like for the inspector to note any changes and to verify whether permits have been issued.

I realize that there is an extra cost to this. I would rather pay my home inspector $$$ than the realtor. It isn't the realtor that is protecting my hide - it is my home inspector.
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Old 2009-11-19, 07:56 PM
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I know exactly what you're saying, and I agree 100% that to be more confident in the purchase of a resale home, that there should be more done to protect the interests of the purchaser. Yes, radon testing should be done; same with materials testing for presence of asbestos, air sampling for mold, examinations for insect infiltration, hydrostatic testing for water table; indeed all electrical outlets and fixtures should be opened and examined; the furnace should be checked for CO; a full examination should be performed on all load bearing components; an infrared examination should be performed on all interior and exterior surfaces; a blower door test should be conducted for air infiltration; water should be sampled for metals and toxins; etc.

Now propose this as a condition of sale during the purchasing of the home. You want to have all this testing done, some of which is invasive, and you are prepared to pay a good chunk of money for all these tests and evaluations. How much are you willing to pay to have the degree of confidence you are asking for?

Are you so sure that if you were the seller, you would want chunks of your house removed for testing by others? Are you so sure that even if you felt your house was in good condition that you would want infrared examinations performed? Would you be willing to let a radon canister be dropped off for a week or two so that the radon sampling can be completed? Do you want a drilling rig digging holes in your back yard?

A home inspection is to the condition of the home as a general physical is to the condition of your health. A GP will spend about 15 minutes with you, and in that time will offer an opinion on your health; if something needs attention, more intrusive and invasive examination may be required. A home inspector will perform a visual inspection of a home, and based on the findings from this examination, will offer an opinion on the condition. That opinion may deem that further action is required utilizing other specialists and technology.

I also perform commercial inspections. This is a far greater level of scrutiny than a home inspection. Certain commercial properties require bringing in other specialists as part of the inspection contract. A commercial inspection can take days to conduct. However, the fee for the inspection is commensorate with the degree of work and expertise required to complete the inspection. If applied to residential inspections, I would gladly do this work, as I would probably expect to be paid an average of $3000 per home, and I would finally have my weekends off.
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Last edited by Inspector Phil Acker; 2009-11-19 at 08:03 PM.
  #7  
Old 2009-11-19, 08:41 PM
mart242 mart242 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foxborough View Post
I think that home inspectors should be held to a very high level of accountability. I would like to have the inspection involve more than a visual inspection. I would like to see tests of various systems, tests of paint samples, radon gas and the like. Technology used to inspect electrical, plumbing, insulation, lot grading etc. I would also like for the inspector to note any changes and to verify whether permits have been issued.

I realize that there is an extra cost to this. I would rather pay my home inspector $$$ than the realtor. It isn't the realtor that is protecting my hide - it is my home inspector.
In this case, you higher
- a master electrician
- a master plumber
- a civil engineer
- a chemical engineer

At 100 - 200$ / hour, the bill adds up quickly but you'll get what you want.
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Old 2009-11-19, 09:23 PM
thumper
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mart242 View Post
In this case, you higher
- a master electrician
- a master plumber
- a civil engineer
- a chemical engineer

At 100 - 200$ / hour, the bill adds up quickly but you'll get what you want.
This is the way I think it should go, why trust a "home inspector" when most of them only have a few weeks of training and then they can give a "professional opinion".

Mike Holmes has a good grasp of the building codes but he himself will defer to a licensed plumber, electrician or an engineer. Brain Baeumler of Disaster DIY always gets a structural engineers opinion on structure issues.
  #9  
Old 2009-11-19, 09:29 PM
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Inspector Phil Acker Inspector Phil Acker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foxborough View Post
I think that home inspectors should be held to a very high level of accountability....
And we are. This us why in the news article above that the inspector has paid a high cost for an error on his part.

Can I tell you my greatest fear as an inspector? It comes down to being aware that in an inspection you will miss something you should have seen but didn't. Its a tremenous monkey to carry on your back every time you do an inspection. If I fail to serve my client to the best of my abilities, I have the tremendous risk of causing harm to the client I am bound to protect, and I have tremendous risk to being capable of continue to serve in my capacity as an inspector. The risk to me is my ability to pay my bills and care for my family. There is accountability in my field. As the general public, you may not be aware of it, but there are many in my field that have performed their duties in good faith, but paid a price that has cost them their capability to perform in this profession.

In the above message from Thumper, the message is implying that the general body of home inspectors have a limited amount of training. In Ottawa, the vast majority of home inspectors have professional credentials. Inspectors should be selected based on qualifications and recognition by an accredited body; selecting inspectors accredited by the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors is a good start. When accredited, an inspector is a "professional" and has the experience, training, and knowledge to offer "professional opinion" within the context of a home inspection.

An interesting thing happened last week. Mike Holmes was seeking my interest in becoming a "Holmes Inspector". He is seeking members of the OAHI to launch his home inspection firm in Ottawa. I wish him every success; be aware though that he is fishing in our pool of qualified inspectors. Put yourself in Mike Holmes shoes. Wouldn't you choose your inspectors to be the ones that are trained, experienced, and qualified. There is no other source of talent for the job other than our body of professional home inspectors. A Holmes inspection is done the same way to the same standards and has a similar requirement for reporting as there would be for any practicing OAHI inspector. He will not be having an electrician, plumber, structural engineer, roofer, heating specialist, etc. showing up for all his inspections.
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Last edited by Inspector Phil Acker; 2009-11-19 at 09:50 PM.
  #10  
Old 2009-11-19, 09:32 PM
thumper
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inspector Phil Acker View Post
I know exactly what you're saying, and I agree 100% that to be more confident in the purchase of a resale home, that there should be more done to protect the interests of the purchaser. Yes, radon testing should be done; same with materials testing for presence of asbestos, air sampling for mold, examinations for insect infiltration, hydrostatic testing for water table; indeed all electrical outlets and fixtures should be opened and examined; the furnace should be checked for CO; a full examination should be performed on all load bearing components; an infrared examination should be performed on all interior and exterior surfaces; a blower door test should be conducted for air infiltration; water should be sampled for metals and toxins; etc.

Now propose this as a condition of sale during the purchasing of the home. You want to have all this testing done, some of which is invasive, and you are prepared to pay a good chunk of money for all these tests and evaluations. How much are you willing to pay to have the degree of confidence you are asking for?

Are you so sure that if you were the seller, you would want chunks of your house removed for testing by others? Are you so sure that even if you felt your house was in good condition that you would want infrared examinations performed? Would you be willing to let a radon canister be dropped off for a week or two so that the radon sampling can be completed? Do you want a drilling rig digging holes in your back yard?

A home inspection is to the condition of the home as a general physical is to the condition of your health. A GP will spend about 15 minutes with you, and in that time will offer an opinion on your health; if something needs attention, more intrusive and invasive examination may be required. A home inspector will perform a visual inspection of a home, and based on the findings from this examination, will offer an opinion on the condition. That opinion may deem that further action is required utilizing other specialists and technology.

I also perform commercial inspections. This is a far greater level of scrutiny than a home inspection. Certain commercial properties require bringing in other specialists as part of the inspection contract. A commercial inspection can take days to conduct. However, the fee for the inspection is commensorate with the degree of work and expertise required to complete the inspection. If applied to residential inspections, I would gladly do this work, as I would probably expect to be paid an average of $3000 per home, and I would finally have my weekends off.
Lets say a home inspection is $500 and it takes 2hrs to perform, plus making the report which is a template anyways - lets say 1 hr - so 3hrs for $500 - that makes it $166 an hr.

Doctors don't get paid at this rate - how can you equate a home inspector to what a doctor is.

Home inspectors charge way too much for what they provide - which is what you said - " a visual inspection of your home"


Now Phil don't go spouting off all of your degrees - you know full well that most of the home inspectors have no background certifications aside from various home inspection certificate factories.

I just looked up two and none of them have anything more than being a member of a "home inspection certification factory".
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