September, 2006
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Focus on Ethics

KEITH OBERG

The ASHI Code of Ethics Committee is charged with developing ethics education and awareness for ASHI’s membership and answering Requests for Interpretation of our Code of Ethics. Two Requests for Interpretation (RFIs) from earlier this year appear below. The first seeks to clarify ethical issues surrounding the inclusion of cost projections in inspection reports. The second RFI involves the delicate balance between protecting the privacy of our clients and satisfying our responsibilities to the law. Specific state laws may come into play in both of the scenarios below. Home inspectors should be aware of state laws regarding the operation of their business.


In each of our monthly Focus on Ethics articles, we present one or more RFIs and the responses developed by the committee since the new Code of Ethics was approved. Our membership is encouraged to submit RFIs to the committee if serious questions about the intent and applicability of the Code should arise. The necessary form is available at the ASHI Web site under Downloads/ASHI Forms & Documents.

—Keith A. Oberg, Chair 2006 ASHI Code of Ethics Committee


Request for interpretation

Including Estimates in Report
Is there any ethical problem in including written repair or replacement estimates in our reports?

Response
Including written repair or replacement estimates in inspection reports does not violate the Code of Ethics. The Code states that “Inspectors shall not repair, replace, or upgrade, for compensation, systems or components covered by ASHI Standards of Practice.” However, this does not preclude an inspector from providing a projected cost for a repair to help a client gain a sense of the financial impact of a defect, so long as providing such additional information falls within the inspector’s area of expertise, per 2.A in the Code, and so long as the estimate does not constitute an offer to perform the work. It is important to note that some states have restrictions on the type and nature of such projected costs that an inspector may provide.   

Request for interpretation

Disclosing Results in Court
If I am subpoenaed to testify in court, am I violating the Code if I do not have my client’s permission to disclose items included in the report?

Response
Disclosing inspection results without the permission of the client is a violation of this Code of Ethics. However, the inspector must honor proper legal process. When
feasible, the client should be informed about the subpoena in case he/she wishes to contest it. The inspector could also legally contest the subpoena if he/she so chooses.