May, 2019

Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors


Are These Violations of the ASHI Code of Ethics?

JAMISON BROWN

Does an ASHI member violate the ASHI Code of Ethics by being named a “Preferred Vendor” on a real estate firm’s website and by having a direct link on the real estate firm’s website to the ASHI member’s home inspection company website?

Interpretation by the ASHI Code of Ethics Committee: No, unless the inspector has control over the link, pays for either the link or for being named a “Preferred Vendor,” or if the relationship between the inspection company and the real estate firm conflicts with the Code by being a quid pro quo.

A real estate agent in my area has been diagnosed with a serious illness and the family has no insurance. A gathering has been planned to raise money for her medical bills. I was asked if I would be willing to donate an inspection to be auctioned off at the event, with the proceeds going to the agent’s medical bills. Also, I was considering running a promotion during the next month in which I would donate $20 of every home inspection I do to this same cause. Do either of these violate the ASHI Code of Ethics?

Interpretation: Donations to charitable events organized by real estate brokers do not constitute direct or indirect compensation to real estate agents. Although this particular donation would benefit a real estate agent, it would not violate the Code because it is not connected to a referral from the agent.

Does an ASHI member violate the ASHI Code of Ethics by advertising in a real estate agency’s publication or a real estate broker−specific publication?

Interpretation: No, purchasing advertising is not, in and of itself, a violation of the Code of Ethics. It is not improper to advertise in a publication unless the content of the advertising or the relationship of the inspector and the sponsor(s) of the publication violates the Code.

Can a home inspector offer to sell a carbon monoxide detector to a homeowner? 

Interpretation: The ASHI Code of Ethics does not prohibit inspectors from selling products to homeowners, as long as the inspector has not inspected the home. However, Section 1.F. of the ASHI Code of Ethics states: “Inspectors shall not repair, replace, or upgrade, for compensation, systems or components covered by ASHI Standard of Practice, for one year after the inspection.”

This provision of the Code helps ensure the objectivity of the inspection by forbidding the inspector from profiting from the finding of defects. If the carbon monoxide detector, or any other component, is included in a home inspection, selling such an item would represent a potential conflict of interest in violation of the Code. Inspectors should be careful to avoid any activities that could be perceived to compromise their objectivity.

Know the Code: The ASHI Code of Ethics can be found at this link: https://www.homeinspector.org/Code-of-Ethics



Jamison Brown is the owner of Home Inspections by Jamison & Company, Poquoson, VA. Before becoming an ASHI member in 1988, Jamison was a project manager, and supervised the construction and remodeling of more than 10,000 housing units for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Jamison is a former member of the Carpenters and Joiners of America, and a former licensed plumber in the state of Virginia. He is a member of the International Code Council, International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) and a certified member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). He has been a member of ASHI’s Technical and Membership Committees, and was chair of the CEPP Committee. Currently, he chairs the ASHI Code of Ethics Committee. Jamison has personally inspected more than 18,000 residential and commercial properties. Contact him at jamison.brown@gmail.com.