January, 2008
You Tell Us
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Believes article is at odds with Standards of Practice


To the editor:

The article “Writing Dos and Don’ts” in the October Reporter is well done. It points out many of the mistakes a home inspector can make and provides suggestions for improvement. But some of the suggestions do not go hand in hand with the ASHI Standards of Practice.
For instance, “Never speculate on future life expectancy,” contradicts ASHI Standards. And, “Report those systems and components inspected that, in the professional judgment of the inspector, are … near the end of their service lives,” is open to debate. The current ASHI SoP may leave the inspector open for complaints and some clarity is needed.

Also, the article states, “Never operate outside your expertise or standard of operation. Do not comment on engineering issues if you are not an engineer.”
Wow! That is a tough one. According to the ASHI SoP, a structural component is a component that supports non-variable forces or weights (dead loads) and
variable forces or weights (live loads).

The inspector is NOT required to a. provide any engineering or architectural service or analysis; b. offer an opinion as to the adequacy of any structural
system or component.

The homebuyer hires the inspector to look at structural components. That act is argued by some to be engineering. Here is an example: The “Yes” example in the article about the crack concludes with an engineering recommendation. That’s easy. However, what does the inspector do or say when there is a crack, and he does not feel the engineer is needed? Did the inspector just perform an engineering function by reporting a crack and not deeming it adverse or recommending follow-up? Documenting a crack without an adverse statement is an implied structural warranty unless some responsibility is delegated to the clients to pursue follow-up investigation if they are concerned.

The article also mentions using a moisture meter. According to the SoP, inspections performed in accordance with these Standards of Practice are not technically exhaustive. The definition for technically exhaustive is: An investigation that involves dismantling, the extensive use of advanced techniques, measurements, instruments, testing, calculations or other means.

Now that the inspector has decided to go beyond the SoP by using a moisture meter, the question is, “Where is the thermal camera, carbon monoxide detector or other special tools?”

There are other points of discussion about the well-intended article, but the thing that caught my eye was the article and the ASHI SoP do not go hand in hand.

John Cahill
Cahill Inspection Services, Inc.
Plano, Texas

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