Many Chicago home buyers fail to understand the limited scope of home inspections. Are they a necessary part of the home buying process? Absolutely, but there are some facts you need to be aware of and you can’t always count on home inspectors to fill you in.
The bottom line is just because you’ve paid for an inspection from a reputable Chicago home inspector, you have no real remedy should this inspector fail to spot issues, problems, or defects with the property. This is because contracts used by home inspectors commonly contain a limitation clause which limits the inspector’s liability to refund of the home inspection fee. Such limitation clauses have been held enforceable by the courts.
As such, you can protect yourself by simply choosing to…
Read Your Inspection Contract!
The contract is going to spell out the scope of the inspector’s duties. Read your contract carefully as your understanding of the scope of the contract must be consistent with the written contract terms and issues covered in the contract.
If you think the typical contract requires that the inspector must take a microscope to the property and give it a thorough examination, you would often be mistaken. Most contracts used by home inspectors have clauses limiting their responsibilities, such as the following:
- The inspector will conduct a visual inspection of the property;
- The inspector does not disassemble equipment or walls or move things;
- The inspector may exclude inspection of those things that are difficult to inspect due to their location;
- The inspector report to be produced is not intended to imply that it covers every defect which was in fact discovered.
So just because an inspector lavished you with all sorts of technical or industry jargon, it does not mean that the contract will be so inclusive or that his/her inspection is going to be thorough.
Be aware that courts have consistently ruled in favor of contracts that define the scope of the inspector’s duties. There may be some relief if the limitations in the contract “don’t violate public policy.” Consequently, unless you can prove “willful and wanton, reckless or intentional acts” on the part of the inspector you have no case to pursue.
Three Other Specifics of Note:
- The inspection is only relevant to the current condition of the home. So if something goes wrong a month later, weeks after closing, the inspector is most likely not liable.
- The home inspection does not “verify compliance with appropriate codes.”
- Some inspection companies offer limited warranties so keep this in mind as you are shopping around.
Should your home inspection play a role in whether or not you purchase the home? Obviously, but you need to take it with a grain of salt and do your own homework. Do whatever it takes so that you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
If you don’t feel the inspection was thorough enough, see what other options you have to check all the home’s systems. There are lots of different examinations you can invest in, and oftentimes these investments could be considered potential asset protection that ward off lawsuits and real estate nightmares.
If you have questions about the meaning of the contract terms or the scope of the examination, you should contact a lawyer before you sign the contract.
If you need any help in this area, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Chicago law firm. We will ensure you are protected and assist you with your real estate purchase.