When purchasing a home, it is a good practice to have a professional inspect the house before closing. Many homes are sold “As Is”, which is to say that the seller makes no assertions as to the condition of the home. Moreover, additional disclaimers of warranties are made, all in an effort to make the prospective buyer perform their due diligence without recourse against the seller. It recently came to my attention that the very inspector retained by a buyer also makes every effort to minimize the “product” offered by them. In other words, the inspector attempts to limit their exposure for missing defects that should be obvious to those in their profession. The most offensive way of attempting to avoid responsibility to the buyer is to insert contractual language trying limit their responsibility to the amount of their fee. A lot of these inspections cost less than $500.00.
However, consider the occasion when they fail to discover signs of prior water damage. These signs are also possible predictors for past or current mold damage. The cost of mold remediation is very high, often costing tens of thousands of dollars. After the mold litigation in the 1990’s, most homeowners insurance policies exclude mold remediation costs or limit the exposure to these costs to a relatively small amount (at a significant additional premium). If the seller is protected by an “As Is” contract or deed, the buyer’s inspector’s exposure is limited, and the policy does not cover these costs, what does the new homeowner do?
The house inspectors with whom I am familiar and have, in fact, used myself, are excellent. But these are highly reputable and are “accountable” for their work product. Read your contract well and don’t agree to limit their exposure to the fee they charge. Make sure they have appropriate liability insurance!
Fountain, Bruce & Mellencamp, PLLC is based in The Woodlands, Texas and handles legal matters for it’s clients including Insurance, Business Law, Real Esate/Construction Defect, Family Law, Transportation and Aviation law. The firm is rated AV Preeminent by the oldest peer reviewed company in the United States. For information or questions, call (281) 296-6500 or see our website @ www.fbmpllc.com