June, 2019
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Are These Violations of the ASHI Code of Ethics?


Can inspectors encourage other inspectors in their area not to use pricing as a competitive tool?

Considering Item 1 of the ASHI Code of Ethics, “Inspectors shall avoid… activities that… appear to compromise professional independence…,” is it acceptable for me to work in my local area to encourage other inspectors not to use pricing as a competitive tool, but to rely on their professionalism to sell their services? I would not try to set prices, but I would try to influence others in the profession through educational efforts, such as our chapter magazine.

Response: The provision of the Code addressing professional independence does not really apply to your question. In the context of the Code, professional independence means freedom from the improper influence of the inspector, caused by potential conflicts of interest that could result in a lack of objectivity or inspection integrity.

Item 3 of the ASHI Code of Ethics states: “Inspectors shall avoid activities that may harm the public, discredit themselves, or reduce public confidence in the profession.” There are many dos and don’ts regarding when and how competitors can generally discuss pricing of services. These guidelines are beyond the purview of the ASHI Code of Ethics Committee. An improper discussion can result in substantial penalties. Therefore, unless legal advice is obtained, such discussions are discouraged, even if the parties involved have the best of intentions.

Is advertising in a real estate broker’s “office vendor book” a violation of the ASHI Code of Ethics if half of the advertising fee ($50) is for expenses to help cover the costs of an office Christmas party?

Interpretation: The payment of a fee to advertise in a real estate broker’s publication is not, in itself, a violation of the ASHI Code of Ethics. As long as there is no “pay-to-play” arrangement, whereby a member pays a fee to be the exclusive recipient of referrals, and provided the opportunity to advertise in the publication is available to any inspector who may be interested in doing so, then no violation exists. This helps protect the integrity of the inspection for the benefit of the consumer.

Can an inspector donate to a REALTOR®
related charity? As part of a Board of REALTORs® effort, members were asked to contribute to a charitable activity in memory of a REALTOR® member. Is it acceptable for me, as a home inspector, to donate a set amount for each inspection I perform during this activity?

Response: Donating money to a REALTOR®-supported charity may encourage some REALTORs® to refer business to the donor; however, this does not represent direct or indirect compensation to any REALTOR® involved in such sales, and thus, it is not a violation of the ASHI Code of Ethics.

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.