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Home Inspection Transitioning to Lawsuit

Home Inspection Transitioning to Lawsuit

Home Inspection Transitioning to Lawsuit

I did a structural inspection of a residential home recently. I created a report stating observations, conclusions and recommendations.
The prospective buyer was my client. The buyer used the report as leverage to try to barter the seller down on price. The seller refused
so the sale fell through.

The seller then calls me (my client sent him my report with my contact info on it) and basically rips all of his frustration out on me and threatens to sue me for swaying the sale with my report.

My report was the typical 'facts only' report, and I'm happy to stand on it in a court of law, as I write all my reports with that thought in mind.
I realize that you are not lawyers (thank goodness) but just curious if this has happened to anyone else before, and how that panned out etc.
and what your take is on the risk associated with this (sale falling through and then suddenly becoming the 'target' of someone's wrath) and home inspections.

Thanks in advance

RE: Home Inspection Transitioning to Lawsuit

No direct experience with this, but I always assumed this was the reason why the 'Disclaimers' section of a home inspection report is always longer than the 'Findings' section.

RE: Home Inspection Transitioning to Lawsuit

The seller is just blowing hot air. When he calms down, he will realise he will be throwing good money after bad if he sues.

RE: Home Inspection Transitioning to Lawsuit

Agree with hokie66 and JAE. A lawsuit has to have a reasonable basis. If you stuck to the facts and made a reasonable interpretation of those facts in your recommendations, don't worry about it.

RE: Home Inspection Transitioning to Lawsuit

I've seen engineers sued on home inspections but only for items that were unobservable and found after the fact. In this case the contract language got this thrown out early on on two counts; clause about scope of inspection limited to observable items only and clause limiting damages to fee paid. Engineer refunded fee and the case never went to court. The owner did end up getting a letter of guidance issued to the engineer from the state board stating that home inspections were not "engineering". Longer story about that (it was BS) but the whole experience led me to believe that there isn't enough money in home inspections to justify it.

Professional Engineer (ME, NH, MA) Structural Engineer (IL)
American Concrete Industries

RE: Home Inspection Transitioning to Lawsuit

Just in case the fit hits the shan, make sure you've put the photos, notes and all other documentation of your findings on this on in a protected and backed up storage.
While arranging this, of course, make sure that all of your documents, photos, etc. ever taken are also in this protected storage, for the same reason!


RE: Home Inspection Transitioning to Lawsuit

He probably wouldn't fare well anyways, but depending on your state it may not even be technically possible for the seller to sue you since you have no contractual relationship. They'd have to go after the buyer for dropping out due to a (in their opinion) crappy inspection and then buyer would have to go after you for damages.

Of course not all judges abide by that.

RE: Home Inspection Transitioning to Lawsuit

I do these "inspections" quite often but I never call them inspections. Yes you are a licensed engineer but you are not doing actual design work or inspecting work that has been designed and constructed to code. You are giving them your professional opinion to the best of your knowledge and belief based on your observations only.

I had A very similar situation where I represented the buyer and he walked after I did my observations and report. The seller and his broker called me all pissed off saying the house is 100 years old and is still standing so it's fine. I first asked if they read my report then I asked them why the covered up all the large cracks and removed all the doors. I'm pretty sure they knew there was major foundation issues but they were pissed the deal fell through and were taking it out on me.

Just make sure you have all the standard clauses in your agreement/report and you should be fine.

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