Should a home inspection checklist, physical and in the inspector’s hand, be a state-mandated requirement? Does a home inspection checklist guarantee thoroughness and accuracy? Is the degree of its use a valid criterion for choosing one inspector over another? These are reasonable questions, but they focus on the letter of the law or professional-client relationship, and it is much more important to concentrate on the spirit.
The home inspection checklist uses is a built-in aspect of the job. I know of no inspector who don’t use the checklists, though the forms may paper, electronic, or in the head. What is critical is that each home inspection conforms to certain content standards, both in terms of what is included and what is excluded, and to certain ethical standards designed to assure fairness and integrity.
The standards are essentially nothing more than the sets of checklists. One set covers dos and don’ts in business conduct, such as obligations having to do with the contract or inspection report. Another set covers ethical requirements, such as proper disclosures and avoidance of the conflicts of interest. A third set, and the largest, contains all the detailed items of what is inside and outside of scope for the procedure itself.
How are the standards translated into practice? Doesn’t the sheer volume of items mandate fastidious adherence to the list? Well, yes and no. The number of items is indeed great, and in fact, because the business is multi-faceted with lots of different regulations, commitments, and standards to keep track of at each step, there are actually several long lists to check. But once the inspector has a few dozen inspections under his belt, it all becomes second nature. His senses are infused with the spirit of the standards and he more or less automatically follows them with reinforcement each time he schedules a client, each time he completes a contractual agreement, and each time he writes a report.
Use of Home Inspection Checklist by the Client
There are of course differences among inspectors, even if each keeps within the standards. It might behoove the client to request a copy of an inspector’s checklists and to use them for comparison purposes rather than simply inspection cost. What’s to keep a prospective client from conducting his own evaluation based on the professional’s list? Nothing, except for adequate training, licensing, and bonding or other provisions for potential resources.
There is one more checklist relevant to the client, and that is the list of considerations before scheduling a real estate inspector. For instance, the inspector needs access to all spaces, he must have freedom from interference, and the utilities need to be on. As you can see, there are many details to be tended to for the real estate inspection to proceed smoothly.