Home Inspectors and PIA’s
When we schedule our inspections, we have a checklist of items that we go through to ensure that we deliver a consistent experience every time. Confirming the date, time, address are all important items. There is one additional item that is extremely important but is often looked at as a cumbersome task that is optional. That task is getting our Pre-Inspection Agreement (aka PIA) signed.
The PIA is far from optional!
The PIA is one of the key elements in our process. A signed agreement is required as a part of our state license and is also required by our insurance company. The agreement outlines what is included with our service, but also general items that are not included.
Several items are frequently discussed when we are scheduling inspection appointments. These discussions give us and our clients a better understanding of what to expect with the inspection. Clients often ask if we include any evaluation of environmental items such as lead paint testing and risk assessment, radon testing, asbestos testing, or mold on the premises. These are generally not included in home inspection services. However, some of these services can be added depending on the service, the fee, and whether the inspector has a license or credential to perform the service.
There are many other items that are inspection related and may or may not be included with the service. Setting these expectations before the inspection is started is important.
Why does the agreement have to be signed prior to the inspection?
Quite simply, the PIA is signed ahead of time because it’s the law. In addition, it makes good sense. If somebody is spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a service, it only makes good sense to make sure that everyone is in agreement prior to starting.
Trust is our goal. As we have written in previous articles, real estate transactions happen very quickly in our market. The goal of the PIA is to have a “meeting of the minds” prior to the start of the inspection. If there is not this “meeting of the minds” and the client or inspector chooses to walk away from the inspection service, there is precious little time for a buyer to make other arrangements. Having the agreement reviewed and signed in advance avoids this difficulty. We often give clients the option to review and sign the PIA days prior to the actual inspection time. That way, if we do not agree on what the scope of the inspection is, they can find another inspector. No Harm, No foul.
“No soup for you!”
If we cannot get the PIA signed before the inspection starts our inspectors are instructed to NOT proceed with the inspection. In those cases, we will have to reschedule the appointment. NOT GOOD!Dunsing Inspection’s Policy (and a state law!)
If we have an inspection scheduled and arrive at the property without a signed PIA, we may have a problem. As noted above, the state law requires the PIA to be signed before the start of the inspection. While we often call, text, or email to remind people of this requirement, sometimes people do not respond. In those cases, our real estate professional colleagues can give the client a “nudge” to expedite things.
In cases where a client has simply not seen our PIA, our inspectors are prepared to get it signed on the spot. However, if a client is not present at the inspection, this complicates things. Again, we cannot perform any portion of the inspection prior to having this document signed. Others who are a party to the real estate transaction (real estate agents, attorneys, etc.) can help to remind the purchaser that the road to closing on their new property includes a lot of signatures. This includes the home inspection agreement.
If we cannot get the PIA signed before the inspection starts our inspectors are instructed to NOT proceed with the inspection. In those cases, we will have to reschedule the appointment. NOT GOOD!
We try to keep things simple. The PIA that we use is as short as we can comfortably use to explain the inspection process. It is fair to all parties and clearly shows what is and is not included. Which would you rather have, an inspection that you feel forced into having done, or one that is carefully and systematically explained before-hand?
By Jamie Dunsing- Professional Inspector since 1989