Many homebuyers rely on inspections to find existing and potential future problems with a house they’re serious about purchasing. And while it’s important to keep in mind that inspectors probably won’t find every single thing that’s wrong with the home, it is fair to expect them to identify the major problems. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Here’s what to do if you find yourself in that situation.
What to do if your home inspector missed a major problem
Even if you do everything right and take all recommended precautions, it’s possible that you could end up finding a significant problem with your home after closing that your inspector had somehow missed. Maybe it’s the roof, or termite damage, or a structural issue: Whatever it is, it’s not something you expected to deal with in your new home.
Your first instinct may be to contact the seller or a real estate attorney, but according to David Reiss, a professor specializing in real estate law at Brooklyn Law School, it’s nearly impossible to prove that the seller knew about the problem after the fact—making the costly legal fees a gamble. “Bottom line: You would probably need pretty clear facts on your side to win,” Reiss told Realtor.com in an interview.
Instead, your best bet is to contact your home inspector as soon as you come across the problem. The more time that passes between the initial inspection and reporting the issue, the harder it will be to prove that it’s something the inspector actually missed.
“When speaking with your inspector, specify what you think was missed or overlooked,” Hubert Miles, a licensed home inspector, writes in a post for HomeInspectionInsider.com. “Ask them to explain why it wasn’t included in the report and if it’s something that should have been addressed.”
Your inspection contract should outline your options for recourse if the inspector missed a problem—including specifying whether the inspector has liability insurance.
“Adequate insurance coverage protects the inspector and their clients in case of errors, omissions, or negligence during an inspection,” Miles explains. “It also provides coverage for any resulting damages or financial losses.”
That said, the terms of insurance policies vary, so you’ll need to check the details to find out if your issue is covered.