January, 2020
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Are These Violations of the ASHI Code of Ethics?


Question: When an ASHI member performs a home inspection, what fee-paid services does item 1F of the ASHI Code of Ethics prohibit the inspector from performing?

Response: Item 1F of the ASHI Code of Ethics: “1. Inspectors shall avoid conflicts of interest or activities that compromise, or appear to compromise, professional independence, objectivity, or inspection integrity. … F. Inspectors shall not repair, replace, or upgrade, for compensation, systems or components covered by ASHI Standards of Practice, for one year after the inspection.”

The purpose of this prohibition is to ensure that a home inspection and a report are not used to generate compensation for certain services that represent a conflict of interest and could harm a consumer. These services involve repairs, replacements or upgrades that would be performed by an ASHI member on a home that has been inspected by that same ASHI member.

The ASHI member is prohibited from providing these services for compensation.

Compensation refers to any reward or consideration paid for services rendered, whether it is money or other compensation.

The prohibition refers to repairs, replacements or upgrades to all systems and components that are covered by the ASHI Standard of Practice (SoP), regardless of their condition. Services other than repairs, replacements or upgrades to systems and components covered by the ASHI SoP are not prohibited.

Repairs, replacements or upgrades to systems and components beyond the scope of the SoP are not prohibited.

The prohibition lasts one year. The one-year period begins on the day the home inspection begins and expires one year after the home inspection ends.

Question: Is it a violation of ASHI Code of Ethics, item 1C, to offer gifts of low monetary value (less than $15 such as movie tickets or carwash passes) to real estate agents as thanks for referrals or for the time spent at the inspection? Here are three examples for your consideration:

Example A: Provide movie tickets to real estate agents as thanks for their time at the inspection.

Example B: Provide movie tickets to real estate agents as thanks for the referral.

Example C: Offer to provide movie tickets to real estate agents for every referral they make.

Response: The committee finds that these offers do constitute a violation of item 1C of the ASHI Code of Ethics. 

Previous rulings have found that providing meals are a normal and accepted part of the business culture and do not constitute a form of compensation for future referrals; however, in each of the examples in which movie tickets are provided to the real estate agent, the tickets are offered as direct compensation for referrals. 

Even though the monetary value may be low, direct inducements for inspections are not allowed by the ASHI Code of Ethics. A home inspection is a part of a client’s due diligence in purchasing real estate. Acceptance of a referral by a client is a statement of faith by the client in the source of the referral. It is important to the client that there be no doubt that a referral for home inspection services is based on the quality of services provided. Offers of direct payments of cash or other items having a cash value in exchange for the referral will undermine the trust placed in the professionals involved.

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.