The inspection agreement is a good place to start adjusting unrealistic expectations. We need to make sure the client understands the scope of the inspection and the fact that it is a sampling exercise. While we are going to look for major issues in the house, there are tons of minor defects you would find if you spent days in the house. We tell our clients that we will come across lesser problems while we are looking for big ones. As a courtesy, we will include those in the report, but they should not mistake our home inspection report for a comprehensive list of minor home defects. We tell clients that we will miss some issues that we could have seen, because of this sampling exercise. We also tell clients that problems can crop up quickly, and it is often hard to know whether a problem that is clearly evident today existed three months ago.
We try to reinforce this at the beginning of the inspection, throughout the inspection and in the written report. Sometimes we are successful, but not always. In fairness to our clients, if we don’t try to set the appropriate level of expectations, they will default to an unreasonable and unlimited set of expectations, because people believe what they want to be true.
Not an insurance policy: We often tell people that a home inspection is not an insurance policy. Anyone would be foolish to offer an insurance policy on anything that could go wrong with a home with no exclusions, no deductible, and a one-time premium of a few hundred dollars. That is not what a home inspection is all about.