Dear Barry,

As a home inspector, I’ve had a complaint from some of the agents who refer me to their buyers. They say I take too long to do my inspections. In order to save time, I don’t carry my cell phone, and I do minimal small talk with the clients. On average, I spend about 3 to 3 1/2 hours per inspection, including time to review the report with the buyers. This seems to be a reasonable and necessary time allocation for a thorough inspection, but not everyone agrees. What are your thoughts in this regard? – Ron

Dear Ron,

Home inspection is about total disclosure of property defects, not maintaining a time schedule. Most average size homes take approximately 2 1/2 to three hours to inspect, plus 30 to 60 minutes to review the findings. From this we can draw one of two conclusions: Either you and I are both inefficient in our use of time or a minimum time allotment for a thorough inspection is unavoidable. Obviously, we would tend toward the latter conclusion. Additionally, we could assert that agents who encourage timeliness at the expense of thoroughness during a home inspection are not giving priority to the interests of their clients. Just remind those agents that the extra minutes you spend could spare them thousands of dollars in needless legal fees for disclosure-related litigation.

Your priorities, my friend, are properly focused. You can’t cram a one-gallon job into a three-quart time slot. So don’t let yourself be pressured into changing course. The integrity of the profession and the interests of home buyers depend upon home inspectors with your attitude.

Dear Barry.

A home inspector I know was hired to inspect a brand new home, and now is having problems with the builder. The inspector reported several roofing defects, but the builder has now voided the roof warranty. According to the builder, the inspector should not have walked on the tiles, and he’s blaming the inspector for causing the reported defects. Is this standard procedure for a professional inspector walking on a tile roof? – Wayne

Dear Wayne,

Most home inspectors refuse to walk on tile roofs under any circumstance. The reason for this avoidance is illustrated by your friend’s unfortunate entanglement with the builder. Loose and broken tiles can be found on most tile roofs. When these are reported, they usually constitute a surprise to the seller, and this often raises the allegation (or at least the suspicion) that the damage was caused by the inspector. Therefore, to limit professional liability, most home inspectors will inspect a tile roof from the vantage point of a ladder or from the perspective of a good pair of binoculars.

The builder’s objection to foot traffic on the roof may be the fear of cracked or broken tiles. On the other hand, this may simply be an attempt on the builder’s part to skirt liability for roof defects. As to his voiding the roof warranty, that issue should be adjudged by the state agency that licenses building contractors. The builder may not, in fact, be at liberty to void the warranty.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at


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