You Have a Choice in Home Inspections. Which is right for you?

Couple with KeyRecommending a home inspection company is a helpful and valuable service a real estate agent performs, howeverif not done objectively, it canlead to a real estate lawsuit.   The buyers expect that with the experience of the Realtor, comes knowledge of buildings and that they will alert you to potential problems.  When under contract, the Realtor wants to assist the buyers in the task of completing the home inspection contract contingency.  With that in mind, they provide the buyer with a particular home inspection companies and their phone numbers.  While generally, the Realtor is not liable for merely referring a buyer to a third party service provider, it is a frequent allegation when problems arise after the closing and the transaction goes south.  How does the Realtor avoid that liability?

The Realtor should:

  • Suggest three or more separate inspection companies to the buyer, encourage them to review each company on their own, and then leave it up to the buyer to select whom they want to use.  Be careful not to pressure them.
  • Remind the buyer that they can also select an inspection company you have not suggested.
  • Advise buyers to carefully read the inspection agreement prior to authorizing the inspection.  If a buyer reads the agreement, they will see the limiting factors (such as that the inspection is visual only) in advance.
  • And of course not accept referral fees from an inspection company.


In addition to the obvious recommendation to avoid referring a buyer to a specific company, the competency, ability to communicate and responsiveness of the home inspector is the best defense against this liability.  A Realtor should want their buyers to be fully informed about the property; those who aren’t will surely pose a liability.  A licensed Professional Engineer providing a home inspection is the choice for the most competent individuals.  An engineer can provide perspective of the issues, gained over many years of experience, as well as advice and practical solutions.  A Professional Engineer has the ability to provide structural and mechanical opinions (the domain of engineering).  Unlike the non-engineer home inspector and unless disassembly or invasive testing is necessary, an engineer doesn’t have to refer the buyer to yet another individual for an assessment of a component.  A well-written, narrative report which is unique to that home – not a checklist or notebook of generic information – provides buyers with the tools needed to make an informed decision.  Timely delivery of our reports is an understood necessity to ensuring the buyers can act within their contingency period. And, if questions do arise later on, an engineer is ethically bound to stand behind their services.

Many homeowners have been disappointed however, to learn that a home inspection is not a guarantee.  Even by the standards of the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers (NABIE), a basic home inspection is limited to visual evidence.  No destructive or invasive testing is performed.  The engineer uses his skill and expertise to render an opinion of the condition of the home, based on what he sees.  This is a skill developed over many years of experience working in the field.  And so, you can have confidence in that opinion.

A standard home inspection, as performed by Criterium Engineers is defined as:


But even engineers can’t see through walls or under household items that may be covering defects.  Things may only become evident when the home is vacant or the new homeowner undertakes some form of remodeling or renovation.

Other problems can occur in very short order.  Thus, what was fine the day of the inspection, now is defective or broken.  To prevent such surprises, get the inspection that’s right for you.

There are 4 basic types of inspections currently available in the marketplace.  The first might be termed, the Verbal Inspection.  A Verbal Inspection is provided by the inspector at the time of the inspection.  It is sometimes preferred by clients who are in a hurry and real estate agents who would like to quickly eliminate the inspection contingency in the purchase agreement.  A Verbal Inspection report is best considered incomplete.  You have no recourse for items that may be missed and do not have the benefit of the engineer or inspector’s considered opinion.  By that, we mean taking the time to reflect on what was observed, assemble all the pieces of the puzzle, to provide you with an accurate picture of the condition of the property.  Criterium Engineers does not offer verbal inspections.

The second type of inspection is the Check List.  It comes in many forms and it too is often delivered at the time of inspection.  As a result, it also has timeliness going for it.  The major shortcoming of the Check List inspection is that it does not accomplish the objective stated in our definition of an inspection: “. . .LEADING TO AN UNDERSTANDING OF THAT HOME.”  Check Lists are often just check marks or brief comments on pre-printed forms.  Sometimes, they are one line statements.  Another ties the brief report to a book of generic information on owning a home.  The problem with these reports is that they rarely convey complete information.  They make it difficult for you to form a knowledgeable opinion of the condition of the home.  Again, Criterium Engineers does not offer or endorse this type of inspection.

The third type of inspection is the Narrative Inspection report.  This is the standard report offered by Criterium Engineers.  The on-site inspection is followed by a detailed written report which summarizes the major systems and deficiencies (if any) found in the home.  The Criterium Engineers report also includes a Maintenance Plan tailored to the home to help prioritize repairs and put the condition of the home in proper perspective.  The report is typically available within one to three days following the inspection – after the engineer has had time to reflect on what he or she observed and assemble a meaningful report upon which you can base an educated decision.

For those home buyers that want that extra degree of knowledge and comfort, Criterium Engineers offers a fourth type of report: the Exhaustive Inspection.  The exhaustive inspection report includes all items in the Standards of Practice of the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers (NABIE).  It also goes beyond the standards by including analysis, invasive testing, and extensive, on-site evaluation.  An exhaustive inspection is preceded by an on-site walk through to identify those areas where further investigation/testing is needed.  The duration of an exhaustive inspection is likely to be four to eight hours and may extend to a second day, depending upon the size of the home and the extent of additional investigative activities.  Fees are based upon total hours expended.

Now you have a choice:  Criterium Engineers standard Narrative Inspection report – already the most complete in the industry, or our Exhaustive Inspection Report.  The choice is yours.

You need to be comfortable with your new home.  Our job is to help put your mind at ease.  Call Criterium Dudka Engineers 1 844 885-0153 and ask for the inspection report that best suits your needs.