It’s been said that home inspectors take on unnecessary liability if they step too far into referrals and recommendations. The home inspection is all about giving customers information about the condition of a house. Recommend a system replacement or estimate costs and the customer could make a buying decision based on your opinion.
That said, it’s always safe to refer customers to a system expert. You might have total confidence that a roof is beyond repair. After talking with a roofer, your client will also know, and you’ll be off the hook.
Here are 8 recommendations that you shouldn’t hesitate to make.
#1: Talk with an HVAC Technician
The air handler is rusty, the air filter hasn’t been changed in at least a year, and there’s an unhealthy screech when you adjust the thermostat to force the system to cycle on. There’s no doubt that the HVAC system needs attention as soon as possible. In your opinion, it probably needs replacement. Refer your customer to an HVAC technician for a comprehensive evaluation and, if necessary, a replacement quote.
#2: Let a Roofing Contractor Prepare an Estimate
Missing shingles are a bad sign. If there’s water in the attic, you already know what will probably happen next. The home needs a roof replacement or at least an extensive repair. Inform your customer of the damage that you found and ask them to talk with a roofer. That way, you won’t be responsible for a high or low quote, and your customer will have a better idea about whether to proceed or back out of the sale.
#3: Have Mold Professional Tested
Black speckles on a wall and chronically damp conditions indicate that there’s mold afoot. It’s black in color, but is it the notorious black mold that puts health at risk? The only way to tell is through testing. Log the mold with a description and photographs, then ask your customer to have the mold scientifically tested. It might be dangerous, but then again, it might not.
#4: Ask the City or Utility Company About Responsibility for a Leak
Leaks on the main water supply line are never a happy discovery. Neither are breaks in the sewer line. Tree roots, ground settling, freeze and thaw conditions and many other culprits can damage the plumbing to and from a house. But the only way to know who’s responsible is the utility company. In one location, the home buyer might foot the bill. In another, the utility company might take responsibility.
#5: Have a Chimney Pro Evaluate Repair or Replacement Costs
If there’s damage inside the firebox, missing or crumbling chimney mortar and creosote seeping out between the bricks, it’s safe to explain the damage to your customer. But a chimney professional will provide an in-depth inspection and give the buyer a realistic damage assessment. Some chimneys are so unsafe that the only way forward is demolition.
#7: Find an Electrician Who’ll Quote Upgrades or Re-Wiring
Hardly any home system is as mysterious as the electrical wiring. Most of it is hidden inside walls. While faulty circuits, missing GFCI protection and unlabeled breaker boxes are within your scope of work, there may be much more going on under the surface. An electrician will let your customer know if the home needs a few repairs, minor upgrades to meet the needs of modern technology or a whole rewiring job.
#8: Talk With an Abatement Company About Hazardous Materials Removal
You know that asbestos isn’t threatening if it’s sealed or contained. But your customer might want nothing to do with the substance, no matter its condition. The same applies to lead-based paint, and both are common in older houses. Homeowners can legally perform lead or asbestos abatement on their own, at least in many markets, but it’s safer handled by a professional.
Some home inspectors don’t hesitate to talk about repairs, replacements and the costs that go along with them. But if the buyer makes a decision to buy the house or walk away from the deal based on your advice, it could come back to haunt you. The safest approach is to alert the customer to the defect and recommend an in-depth investigation by a contractor who knows the system.
Are you still on the fence about becoming a certified home inspector? Why not check out a free course demo and learn firsthand what makes ICA School a leading home inspection education provider?