July, 2007

Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Focus on Ethics


The ASHI Code of Ethics Committee is charged with developing ethics education and awareness for ASHI’s membership and with answering Requests for Interpretation of our Code of Ethics. Two Requests for Interpretation (RFIs) submitted within the last year
are included here. The first deals with donations to real estate agent-sponsored events and the inspector’s proper relationship with real estate agents. The second deals with product sales to inspection clients and the resultant potential conflict of interest.

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 arise about the intent and applicability of the Code. The necessary form is available at the ASHI Web site under Downloads/ASHI Documents & Forms.

– Keith A. Oberg, Chair, 2007 ASHI Code of Ethics Committee

Request for Interpretation
e060913 Donating an inspection

A realty agent in my area has been diagnosed with cancer and the family has no insurance. They are having a get-together to raise money for her medical bills. An agent from her office asked if I would donate an inspection to be auctioned off and the proceeds go to her medical bills. Is this a violation of the CoE?  Also, I was thinking of running a promotion of donating $20 of every home inspection I would do for the next month as well. Is this a violation of the CoE?

Donations to charitable events organized by real estate brokers do not constitute direct or indirect compensation to realty agents. While this particular donation would inure to the benefit of a real estate agent, it is not connected to a referral from the agent and would not violate the Code of Ethics.

Request for Interpretation
e060923 Selling products to home owners

If an inspector offers to (and then does) sell a CO detector to a homeowner, is this a Code of Ethics violation?


The Code of Ethics does not prohibit inspectors from selling products to homeowners, so long as the inspector has not inspected the home. However, section 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, for one year after the inspection.” This provision of the Code helps ensure the objectivity of the inspection by forbidding the inspector from profiting from the finding of defects. If the carbon monoxide detector, or any other component, is included in a home inspection, selling such an item would represent a potential conflict of interest in violation of the Code. Inspectors should be careful to avoid any activities that could be perceived to compromise their objectivity.

ASHI RFIs Online and Searchable

Standards and Ethics Requests for Interpretation have been updated online in a more user-friendly format and a new search engine has been added. This recent improvement makes it easier to find the information you’re looking for. Chances are the question you have about the Standards or Ethics has already been answered and can be found online.

To look up your question, log in as a member on ASHI.org. Go to Resources and then to Interpretations. If you wish to file a Request, the link to the necessary form can be found there.

What are Requests for Interpretation (RFIs)?
ASHI members may file a Request For Interpretation (RFI) for either the Standards of Practice (SoP) or Code of Ethics (CoE) when an issue may seem unclear or undefined by the SoP or CoE. These requests will be reviewed by the respective committees and ASHI legal counsel.

Filing a RFI
The committees understand that you desire a quick response, but please be advised they have multiple requests and, because the SoP and CoE are vital to ASHI, interpretations must be performed with extreme care. Before filing an RFI, you are strongly encouraged to review past interpretations that are posted in their respective section, SoP or CoE. You may also perform a quick keyword search  in the search function that will search both sections.