Featuring America's Home Inspector: Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Barry Stone

The House Detective by Barry Stone, Certified Home Inspector

Dear Barry: Home inspectors are often accused of negligence when excessive weather conditions prevent them from inspecting some areas of a home. For example, a home inspector might not inspect an attic when the outside temperature is over 100 degrees. If problems in the attic are discovered at a later date, is it unfair to hold the inspector liable?  Gloria

Dear Gloria: Weather conditions often prevent home inspectors from completing portions of an inspection, and liability can be a problem in some of these instances if undisclosed defects are discovered at a later date. Rain, for example, can prevent a home inspector from walking on a roof. Snow can prevent an inspector from even seeing a roof. And hot weather, as you suggest, can prevent inspection of an attic. However, in each of these instances, the need for disclosure does not end with a disclaimer in the inspection report.

In the case of an overheated attic, the inspection report should recommend further evaluation of the attic prior to close of escrow. If the attic is too hot in the afternoon, it will probably be much cooler the following morning. A home inspector who is concerned about the interests of customers will make that kind of recommendation. This applies to other situations, as well. Wet weather, cold weather, storage of personal property, inaccessibility, or other issues can prevent the completion of an inspection. Home inspectors should always recommend further evaluation when conditions that prevent a full inspection have been eliminated. This approach serves the disclosure needs of homebuyers and reduces the liability of home inspectors.