As a firefighter, I’ve long operated with a strong sense of ethical obligation. There is no aspect of our job as firefighters that’s ever done just to get it over with; everything has to be done correctly and completely, from fighting a fire to treating a patient to cleaning the bay.
So the ethics required to be a home inspector are very familiar to me: to do the job thoroughly and accurately, using my skills and experience, without outside influence or ulterior motive.
In fact, as a member of the National Society of Home Inspectors (NSHI), I’m asked to uphold a full Code of Ethics surrounding professional conduct, the inspection and report, and the disclosure of any possible conflict of interest. (You can read the NSHI’s complete code of ethics here.)
Some things you should know when you hire a home inspector, as pertains to our ethical practices: My clients and I will have a written agreement before I do the inspection. That way everyone knows exactly what to expect, and we all have a clear outline of the scope of the inspection.
My inspection will not include environmental hazards, mold or other toxic materials in the building, water, air or ground. I also don’t report on appliances, zoning compliance or cosmetic features.
I don’t accept commission, compensation or allowances for real estate transactions, and I don’t accept payment from more than one person for the same job unless everyone knows and agrees on the situation. This is to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, so that no one can imply that my inspection report was influenced by anything other than my expertise.
I will not advise you whether or not to buy the property I inspect. I don’t have a stake in any real estate transaction, only in an accurate description of the state of the home.
I suppose these rules might feel restrictive to someone who was looking to game the system for a cheap buck. But in my business, the Code of Ethics frees me from having to worry about substandard service or unfair practices. I know exactly where I stand and what my job is, and my clients know it, too. It eliminates uncertainty and gives the process a beautiful neutrality. All that’s left for me to do is fully perform the inspection and fully report what I find.