October, 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 (RFIs) of our Code of Ethics. Two RFIs from earlier this year are answered below.

The first deals with the prohibition against repairs to inspected homes, and the second with our relationship with real estate agents.

Despite the significant differences between these scenarios, the committee’s responses to both situations assert the importance of our responsibility to our clients and the public to ensure the objectivity of our professional opinions.

Each month in Focus on Ethics, 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 when serious questions about the intent and applicability of the Code arise. The required 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

Ie050423  Upgrading an Inspected Home

Does the Code of Ethics disallow an inspector who is also a general contractor from upgrading only items found to be in need of repair, or does it include anything in a house that he or she inspected?

Response
1.F of the Code of Ethics states that “inspectors shall not repair, replace, or upgrade, for compensation, systems or components covered by ASHI Standards of Practice….” Any system or component that is covered in the Standards of Practice would be included in this prohibition, whether the item was found to be defective or not. The intent of the Code is to prohibit an inspector from performing any type of construction work for one year on systems or components that the inspector has inspected. The potential to profit from repairs or upgrades to inspected components could influence the inspector’s judgment regarding their condition. All parties to a real estate transaction must be able to have confidence that the inspector’s opinion has not been influenced and remains objective.

Request for interpretation

e051221 Referrals from Realtor® Partners

I am in a land development business with two Realtors®. Is it ok for me to accept referrals from them for my inspection business if I properly disclose the business relationship?

Response
There are many opportunities for ethical lapses in any business relationship. These are magnified when a business partnership is between a home inspector and a real estate sales agent; however, there is no inherent violation of the Code of Ethics involved in accepting referrals for inspection work from a business partner. Nonetheless, if you, or your development business, would stand to profit from a particular outcome of the inspection, the arrangement would violate the Code per 1.A. “Inspectors shall not inspect properties for compensation in which they have, or expect to have, a financial interest.”  The impartiality of the inspector, and consumer confidence in the integrity of the inspection is vital.