Are Home Inspectors Allowed to Make Repairs?
Home inspections are essential for buyers to identify any minor or major problems within a home before they make their final decision of buying one. A good inspector will examine specific home components and generate a home inspection report that will give you an idea of what areas are functioning properly and identify needed repairs.
After seeing the report, you’ll probably come up with a lot of questions such as: How much would all the necessary repairs cost? What does this mean? Which ones need to be prioritized? Can at least some of the repairs wait?
Perhaps, the biggest question would be: Is it a Home Inspector’s responsibility to do repairs?
Roles and Responsibilities of Home Inspectors in Real Estate Transactions
A professional home inspector is just one part of a team including real estate agents, mortgage lenders, title company representatives, and insurance agents. They all have distinct and legally prescribed roles in the operation.
Home inspectors are trained to identify the mark of defects and create a detailed report for the buyer so they can make an informed decision prior to the closing. Home inspectors cannot be proficient in only one aspect of construction. They must know all the components and systems with the same level of expertise.
Before a house goes up for sale, the listing agent advises the seller to complete a pre-listing inspection and this is where the home inspector may be involved. In this case, a home sells quickly for a great price if the report doesn’t show any major issues. If the report reveals that some repairs need to be done, it’s time for the seller to finish repairs ahead of time to avoid delaying the sale.
An inspector should never exaggerate an identified issue or the buyer might get a bad impression which could greatly affect their decision. Just as a good one should not understate an issue to avoid unplanned big expenses when moving in.
Take note that once the inspector’s responsibility is fulfilled, he or she should now be removed from the home-buying process. Remember that the home inspector cannot be hired to do any repairs for the buyer or the seller in the real estate transaction.
How to Avoid Conflict of Interest with Home Inspections and Repairs
Why can’t a home inspector just accept a repair request after identifying all minor and major defects?
It’s a clear conflict of interest accepting payments in repairing the same house they’ve just inspected.
As professional home inspectors, clients expect them to provide an unbiased home inspection report. Buyers can use any issues found as a negotiation tool to possibly get a price reduction or negotiate closing costs.
Once a home inspector is “double-dipping” or getting compensation to remedy a problem he has discovered, this may compromise their credibility.
Home inspectors need to maintain their good reputation, they must separate their home inspection services from any personal financial gain.
A lot of acclaimed home inspectors would never take advantage of their clients this way but to ensure that both parties are protected, states have specific laws prohibiting inspectors from doing repair jobs on a house they have just inspected. This will usually cover repairs within a year of the inspection, but these laws still depend on which state are you in.
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) states that for the same one-year period, a home inspector should not accept compensation for the repair of components covered in a home inspection. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) specifically prohibits activities that in any way compromise the inspector’s integrity, which includes not replacing, upgrading, or repairing any inspected property or its systems for one year after the inspection date.
For whatever reason, violating any of these rules will result in loss of integrity and financial harm to both parties.
What to do Next if an Inspected Home Requires Repairs?
After a home inspector is done with their inspection report, the buyer and seller should now reach an agreement on how to handle any repairs needed. These are the most common repairs done after an inspection:
- Safety issues
- Electrical hazards
- Structural defects
- Fire hazards
- Plumbing leaks
- Water heater replacements
- Pest or wildlife infestation
- Asbestos, radon, and lead paint
- HVAC and Chimney problems
- Roof damages
- Missing roof shingles
Many buyers might ask for some additional termite and/or radon inspections.
Great inspectors will note everything including uncommon issues as well as those that can easily be seen, so the list of recommended repairs is sometimes broad.
Post-Inspection Tips for Home Inspectors, Buyers, and Sellers
It would be best for buyers to refrain from asking the inspector for any recommendations for repairs or even cost estimates to avoid potential ethics violations. A better option would be to ask for help from your real estate agent instead. Your broker is compensated to provide you assistance in making your house market-ready and they should also provide you with all the information you need during the process.
For inspectors, you have to make sure that you don’t accept a job unintentionally to do repairs on a house you have inspected within the past year, and for this reason, it is necessary to keep good records of your clients. Make it part of your routine to check your records every time you receive a repair request, this would surely save your integrity and uphold your ethical obligations.