Question: When we purchased our home in Ahwatukee, the home inspector recommended by our real estate broker did the home inspection. The home inspector charged us $450. In the home inspector’s report, the home inspector said that the roof was “acceptable.” After we closed on our Ahwatukee home, however, we immediately noticed leaks in the roof during even a light rain. Three different roofing companies have said that the roof is in terrible condition, and that the home inspector should never have stated that the roof was “acceptable.” The cost for a new roof will be $12,000. The home inspector admits that he was careless, but says that liability against him is limited to the $450 limit of liability stated in the agreement for the home inspector report. Can our home inspector “screw up” and still only be liable for $450? If so, do we have any claim against our real estate broker for referring us to this home inspector?
Answer: First, Arizona law permits a home inspector to limit in writing any liability for a negligent home inspection report to the amount charged for the home inspection report, for example, the $450 that he charged you. Second, you generally would not have a claim against the real estate broker for referring you to the home inspector just because the home inspector negligently failed to discover the problem with the roof. You might have a claim against your real estate broker for referring you to an incompetent home inspector, however, if the real estate broker knew or should have known that the home inspector was incompetent. I would suggest that you contact other real estate brokers and other home inspectors to see if this particular home inspector has a reputation for being incompetent. In addition, you might check the court records to see if this home inspector has prior lawsuits for “bad” inspections.