You break it, you buy it

Why home inspectors take blame for issues they didn't cause

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Dear Barry, As a home inspector for many years, I've been caught in the "you-broke-it, you-pay-to-fix-it" bind. My question is simple: When is a home inspector responsible for things that break? Tile roofs are not designed to be walked on, so a home inspector should pay for tiles that break under foot. But I've been asked to repair wood trim because I pushed my finger through some dryrot. I've paid for faucets that would not turn off after being operated, for a garage door that disconnected from its track when I tested it, and for a casement window that fell from its frame when opened. Is it right for home inspectors to bear the costs of such repairs? --Marshall Dear Marshall, Your dilemma is the common experience of most home inspectors. Nearly all can relay stories of unfair liability for fixtures that chose to leak, break, disassemble or otherwise fail to function the moment of the inspector's touch. There was the main water-shutoff valve that wouldn't reopen a...