Most home buyers know a little about what home inspectors do, but the details can be confusing. It’s probably been years since the last time they hired an inspector, if they’ve ever hired one at all. That’s why some folks aren’t sure about the difference between an appraisal and an inspection. It’s also why they might ask you to repair defects that you find during an inspection.
Even if you have an extensive background in construction, accepting repair jobs from your customers constitutes a conflict of interest. That’s why it’s frowned upon in many states. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) prohibits it for at least one year after the inspection.
With a pre-inspection agreement, you can clear up confusion about your scope of work as an inspector and your limitations as a repair person before the inspection date arrives.
Why Repairs are Such an Ethical Dilemma
At first blush, the customer’s point of view about repairs makes sense. Most home inspections happen shortly before the closing date. Time is short, and you’re one of the few people (perhaps, the only person) whose loyalty lies solely with the buyer. If you provide a thorough home inspection and they’re happy with your work, you could earn their trust.
As a buyer, it’s logical to ask the person who found a defect to make it right. After they close on the house, they might hope to see you again, this time with a toolkit. Unfortunately, that puts your customer at risk.
An unscrupulous home inspector can report all manner of home defects, some of which aren’t real. The buyer might never know the difference. If the inspector takes on repair work, he or she has effectively created a new income stream out of thin air.
How to Help Customers While Protecting Your Business
Although you probably won’t offer repair services, you can still help your customers. There’s no reason to leave them hanging with a plumbing leak or an electrical problem.
Some home inspectors take a hard-line stance against influencing a customer’s decisions in any way. That’s why they don’t do repairs or make contractor referrals. However, some inspectors think referrals are good business.
In your line of work, you probably know experts or you’ll get to know them over time. You can refer home inspection customers to an electrician, plumber, or roofer whose work you know and trust, and you can do it with a clear conscience. The ASHI rules say it’s perfectly fine.
Few life events rival the stress of buying a house. It’s a confusing time, and it’s also an expensive one. When home buyers hire a home inspector, they count on expertise and professionalism. When you follow through, it’s natural for them to trust you. You can support that trust without compromising your ethical code by acknowledging their dilemma and guiding them to someone else who can help.
If you’re ready for a new career, ICA School is ready to help. Our home inspector education program meets the licensing requirements of most states and lets you study at your own pace. Enroll now and get started today.