by Nick Gromicko, CMI®
We encourage inspectors to include a link to InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice (or the relevant state SOP) on their websites. This simple modification to your website may prove useful if an unhappy client ever sues you or threatens legal action.
At least 95% of the complaints we see against home inspectors arise because their client did not understand the limited scope of the inspection. Clients often mistakenly believe you will inspect for code compliance, structural integrity, mold, and so forth. Some even assume that the home inspection constitutes some kind of warranty against future problems, which is also not true.
The InterNACHI agreement makes clear that you will perform the inspection in accordance with InterNACHI’s SOP (or your state’s SOP). InterNACHI’s agreement even includes a link to the SOP so your client cannot later claim they did not understand the limited scope of the inspection, particularly what you will inspect and what you won't inspect, as well as that the inspection report is based on your findings during your inspection, and does not warrant or guarantee any condition for a future time.
In addition to using a written agreement that clearly sets forth the limited scope of the inspection, you may want to include a link to InterNACHI’s SOP on your website. One reason is because the Standards of Practice is a living document; that is, minor modifications are made from time to time to update information, correct errors, etc. But the primary reason to include a link is because most of your clients will find you online, and if an unhappy client ever sues you, the fact that you included a link to the SOP on your website will help demonstrate that they knew -- or should have known -- of the limited scope of the inspection even before they hired you.
Your lawyer will love you for including a link to the SOP on your website. By doing that, you will be able to prove that the client was informed at least TWICE about the limited scope of your inspection – once when they saw your website, and again when they signed your agreement.
So, do everything you can to both manage your clients' expectations and limit your own liability. Add a link, and prevent a stink!