Swimming pools are permanent fixtures. So why are they often excluded from a home inspection? It’s a matter of choice. In areas where swimming pools are nearly as common as mailboxes, inspectors might need to brush up on pool inspection skills. But for nearly everywhere else, it’s often safer to either perform a limited inspection or none at all.
According to the ASHI Standards of Practice, it’s perfectly acceptable for inspectors to exclude or disclaim swimming pools. Just be aware of your market, what it expects and whether you’re comfortable taking on the responsibility.
The Case for Inspection
In some parts of the country, it’s more unusual to see a bare yard than it is to find a swimming pool. And in those markets, ASHI Reporter says the majority of home inspectors might include pool inspections in the report. Demand plays a big role. The inspectors who meet demand will usually get more business.
Some inspectors work around this expectation by performing a limited pool inspection. It covers the high spots, such as the barrier or fence and its condition, electrical, pool interior and other basic features. Your inspection agreement should spell out in no uncertain terms what will and what won’t be inspected.
Be aware that charging extra for a pool inspection places you in a new liability category. The extra money can serve as an affirmation that you’re an expert. After all, why would you charge more if you aren’t? But if you’re perceived as an expert in pool inspections, you’re also held to a higher standard.
The Case for Disclaiming
Some things are more trouble than they’re worth. And that’s how some home inspectors regard swimming pools. If you work in a market where pools are uncommon, there’s no reason to feel compelled to include them.
Risk is a big reason to disclaim swimming pools. Your E&O insurance might spike or you might need to find a new insurer if yours won’t cover it. And the opportunities for liability are broad. A small crack below the water wouldn’t be easy to spot without diving in. Then there’s the pool’s water circulation and filtration system, special wiring requirements, and barrier laws that might vary by locale.
A special inspection by a swimming pool expert would give your client the information that’s needed, and in much more detail. It would let you off the hook. And if you aren’t an expert, you wouldn’t have charged more. So there’s no real loss of income, either.
Whether you inspect or disclaim, the customer should know your stance before the inspection begins. If you disclaim the pool, express that you’re not slacking on the job. And if you inspect, you will need a meticulously worded statement that covers what is and is not included.
It’s wise to get a lawyer’s advice or assistance with the statement. It should be reviewed, discussed and agreed upon before the customer signs. The fewer surprises the better. And if your inspection is not of the expert variety, explain that issues such as equipment operation and lifespan are best addressed by a swimming pool inspection expert.
Home inspectors never really know what they’ll encounter from one day to the next. But with solid training from ICA School, you’ll have the right foundation to make the right decisions. Enroll now and start learning at your own pace.