Hello I'm new to this forum , so a little intro . Been in business about 3.5 yrs , mostly one man show ,residential service calls , remodels , a few new houses , and (an occasional commercial job , profits go to irs ). I have recently had requests from buyers , sellers , and insurance companies to inspect home and provide a letter saying it is safe or " up to code " . What is the liability here , do we need a lawyer to look over paper or is there a way to word the letter so that I am not liable . After all , I can check panel , and crawl spaces but I can't see through walls (yet) Any advice would be helpful Thanks
The Home Inspectors who do the checks for buyers and sellers of real estate need to have rather substantial errors and ommissions insurance in addition to liability insurance and much more.
As mentioned above, check with the underwriters, your lawyer and perhaps an accountant, to make sure that it makes sense for your business to do these types of inspections.
More and more electrical contractors are being asked to do this. Because the insurance companies are demanding such inspections. It is my understanding that they do this to defer their liability or potential liability.
CYA - Cover your butt!
[This message has been edited by ExpressQuote (edited 08-07-2006).]
George Bernard Shaw said "It is easier to be critical than corect." A noted literary critic, he went on to proove his abilities as an author and playwrite as well. (Remember "My Fair Lady?)
I've been rather strident on the "home inspector' forums, insisting that the electrician is THE expert in this area. It seems unfair to be critical of HI's, and then to withold my expertise from those who need it.
I do agree for the need to have the appropriate E&O insurance. You also need to have a contract clearly stating your limitations, and responsibilities. HO's have disclaimers that make you wonder just what is left to be sold by them!
Thanks for the advice I'm not decided if I will take this sort of business but I will definitely contact my insurance company about my coverage in this area .Also legal advice about the wording . On the one hand I agree that we should be the authority , but I'm not sure it's worth getting into such a high liability area . Electrical fire seems to be the default answer for investigaters . Even if it was due to an appliance , seems it could open you up to a suit if you have signed off on the house . Worst case , I know , but something to think about .
Les, then why do we need licensed electrical inspectors?
Personally, I'd stay away from writing letters saying this is safe or not safe. I would let an inspector do it. The liability vs cost would be a huge factor. If I pay an inspector $100 to do it, he or his agency has the burden. That is what they do, and it keeps them employed.
I say the electrician is the expert, because it is HIS judgement that selects the materials and methods, HE does the load calculations, HE decides which circuits serve what, and HE puts it all together and makes it work!
Inspectors only check for code violations. They have no interest in design issues. And they sure can't tell you how to fix it!
Engineers are good at number crunching, but engineering schools pay NO attention to electrical work. "Electrical engineers" worry about micro-chips and control logic... not how the wires are assembled. (Over-simplified for clarity, not meant to offend!)
Finally, it is the construction trades -of which the electrician is one- who know how things are built, how they used to be built, and what is "normal."
Don't even get me going on home inspectors. All they check for is ungrounded or reverse polarity receptacles, and knob and tube wiring. Beyond that, they are incompetent at checking anything else electrical. I've even had one customer say that the home inspector put in his report that the home had a 200 amp service when it was only 100 amp. The 200 amp service influenced their decision to buy the home since they were planning to install electric heating. Of course, there was a disclaimer on the inspection report which prevented any legal action.
I do a lot of "visual" inspections and issue a letter along with recommendations. I word the letter carefully using statements such as "appears to be installed properly" rather than saying "has been installed properly". I also have a disclaimer on my letter.
The only way I will guarantee that the wiring is done safely and to code is if we wire it ourselves.
"Will it be cheaper if I drill the holes for you?"