The new home inspection law HB1001 working its way through the PA legislature also calls for specific requirements for the home inspector’s report. In addition to requiring the report to be typewritten, a PA home inspector’s report must include all of the following:

  1. A description of the scope of the inspection.
  2. A description of material defects noted during the inspection, along with a recommendation that certain experts be retained to determine the extent of the defects. Also included shall be
    • A limitation on the liability of the home inspector
      for gross negligence or willful misconduct and
    • A waiver or modification of any provision of this corrective action that should be taken.
  3. If at the time of the inspection, there is visible evidence of the presence of interior mold, mildew or fungi, the home inspector must disclose in the home inspection report the visible evidence and the location and advise the client to obtain a professional evaluation.
  4. The following statements, set forth conspicuously:
    • A home inspection is intended to assist in an evaluation of the overall condition of the dwelling. The inspection is based on observation of the visible and apparent condition of the structure and its components on the date of inspection.
    • The results of this home inspection are not intended to make a representation regarding the presence or absence of latent or concealed defects that are not reasonably ascertainable in a competently performed home inspection. No warranty or guaranty is expressed or implied.
    • If the person conducting your home inspection is not a licensed structural engineer or other professionals whose license authorizes the rendering of an opinion as to the structural integrity of a building or the building’s other component parts, you may be advised to seek a professional opinion as to any defects or concerns mentioned in the report.
    • This home inspection report is not to be construed as an appraisal and may not be used as such for any purpose.

Coming up next: The home inspector and confidentiality.

The new home inspection law HB1001 working its way through the PA legislature codifies the home inspector’s contract with his/her client. Many inspectors already include these provisions but a couple important ones will now be required. Here’s the full list:

  1. Signature of client.
  2. Scope of home inspection.
  3.  Fee charged to client.
  4. Contact information of home inspector.
  5. License number of home inspector.
  6. A statement explaining the confidentiality between the home inspector and the client.

Two important prohibitions will also be required. The contract shall be unenforceable if the contract includes either of these two provisions:

  1. A limitation on the liability of the home inspector for gross negligence or willful misconduct.
  2. A waiver of any provision that the new law stipulates.

Next post: The Home Inspection Report

Soon to be voted on, HB1001 outlines prohibited acts that a licensed home inspector in Pennsylvania shall not engage in. They are summed up as follows:

(1)  Performing any repairs to a structure for an additional fee for which the home inspector has prepared a home inspection report within the preceding 12 months. Except for radon or wood-destroying insects work.

(2)  Inspecting for a fee any property in which the home inspector has a financial interest in the transfer of the property including commissions as an agent unless the financial interest is disclosed in writing and the buyer signs an acknowledgment of receipt of the disclosure.

(3)  Offering or delivering a commission, referral fee or kickback to the seller of the inspected property for the referral of business to the home inspector.

(4)  Accepting an engagement to perform a home inspection or to prepare a home inspection report in which the employment itself or the fee payable for the inspection is contingent upon the conclusions in the report, pre-established or prescribed findings or the closing of the transaction.

There is one notable exception –A home warranty company that is affiliated with or retains the home inspector does not violate subsection if the home warranty company performs repairs in accordance with claims made under a home warranty contract.

A good home inspector will have his own code of ethics to which he subscribes such as this.

Section 703 of proposed HB1001 outlines the specific degree to which a home inspector shall conduct his/her inspections. It begins with a general definition and proceeds to a very specific description, introducing a new responsibility for all home inspectors.

Section 703. Degree of care of home inspectors.

(a) General rule. — The home inspector shall conduct a home inspection with the degree of care that a reasonably prudent home inspector would exercise.

(b) Standard. — In ascertaining the degree of care that would be exercised by a reasonably prudent home inspector, the court shall consider the standards of practice and codes of ethics as established by the board by regulation.

(c) Immediate threat to health or safety. — If immediate threats to health or safety are observed during the course of the inspection and the home is occupied, the home inspector shall disclose the immediate threats to health or safety to the property owner and occupants of the property at the conclusion of the home inspection. Posting a notice on a form prescribed by the board by regulation on the front door of the occupied home in a position that ensures the occupants see the notice shall constitute proper disclosure.

 

The upcoming HB1001 will specify liability responsibilities and limitations for both inspectors and their clients. Among them are:

  1. The home inspector shall not be held liable for the contents or omissions of a home inspection report if relied upon by any individual or person other than the client as identified by the executed contract for the specific home inspection.
  2. The home inspector shall maintain insurance against errors and omissions and general liability, with coverages of not less than $250,000 per occurrence and $500,000 in aggregate and with deductibles of not more than $15,000.
  3. An action to recover damages arising from a home inspection report must be commenced within one year after the date the report is delivered regardless of when the claim is discovered by the client.
  4. The PA state licensing board will wield the broad power to revoke, suspend, limit or otherwise restrict a home inspectors license.