The Agreement of Sale offers buyers and sellers the opportunity to protect themselves by making the purchases of the property contingent upon the satisfactory results of a property inspection. The Agreement of Sale requires that home inspections be performed by a “home inspector” as the term is defined in the Home Inspection Law. What limitations are imposed upon inspectors who are hired?
Inspectors are prohibited from providing specific estimates of the costs of repairs, whether verbal or in writing. Generally, inspectors and the companies that employ them, as well as other businesses or persons that control or have financial interests in the employing companies, may not perform or offer to perform any repairs to a structure with respect to which the inspector has prepared a home inspection report within the preceding 12 months.
Why? It’s not too difficult to envision (unscrupulous) inspectors preparing biased or false (inflated) reports or estimates for repairs, or to otherwise pressure homeowners into contracts with the inspector to repair defects the inspector discovered during the inspection. The Home Inspection Law provides additional protection to consumers by making such practices grounds for liability under the consumer protection laws.
As with many rules, there are exceptions. Inspectors can perform work related to radon remediation or treating wood destroying insects when these conditions are identified by the inspector. Additionally, estimates may be included in a home inspection report, provided (1) the report identifies the source of the estimate; (2) the estimate is presented as a range of costs; and (3) the report states that the buyer should get an estimate from a contractor who performs the type of repair involved. Importantly, even if an inspector does provide an estimate he cannot actually do the work.
The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® provided testimony in support of House Bill 1421 (Helm, R-Dauphin), which would license home inspectors, at a House Professional Licensure Committee meeting in the Capitol yesterday.