There has been much said in the press over recent years about what happens when conflicts of interests run rampant. The most prevalent are the ones surrounding the Universities and Medical professional that, respectively, perform study work on drugs or dispense drugs that are made by large Pharmaceuticals. Any search on the internet for “conflict of interest” “medical” “drugs” will bring forth reams of information about how Conflicts of interest can produce misleading information.
The Home Inspection and related services arena is not that different. With a home inspection some conflicts are easy to identify. If a Home Inspector is also a general contractor, and the Home Inspection “uncovers” concerns that require a general contractor to fix, that an easy find. Definite conflict of interest.
Likewise, if a Home Inspector finds a problem, and then recommends a contractor who can “fix” the problem, while at the same time getting a “kick-back” from the recommended contractor, again, easy find. Conflict of Interest.
That’s why, despite all the bad press Home Inspectors get in the news media, the professional ones abide by such stringent Codes of Ethics.
I am frequently asked during inspections whether I perform work on homes and properties I inspect.
My answer is a resounding NO!
It’s not because I don’t want to. I mean who, in their right mind, would turn down the opportunity to have a chance to make extra money? It’s just that as part of my certifications I signed up to codes of ethics that each requires me to have no conflict of interest with my clients. For example: My Certified Master Inspector Certification demands that “The Certified Master Inspector® will have no conflict of interest with the client, nor will the Certified Master Inspector® accept or offer any third-party commissions, rebates, profits or other benefits.”
My Infra-Red, Mold, Radon and Commercial Inspection certifications all have similar clauses.
Unlike other Professions that allow a conflict of interest on the condition that such a conflict is disclosed either verbally or in writing, I, like many other Home Inspectors, am prohibited from having a Conflict of Interest disclosed or otherwise.
What does this mean for my clients?
This means that when I am contracted to perform a service, whether it is a Home or Property Inspection, or Mold, Asbestos or radon sampling, I am truly independent of any outside influence, and can focus solely on what I am being contracted for.
In the case of Mold, Asbestos or radon inspections it doesn’t matter whether or not I find, or don’t find, situations of concern. I do not perform the remediation, so my focus is on ensuring I get the most accurate result, and provide the most informative information for my clients. Likewise, once a remediation has been completed, I have no allegiance to the remediation company, so again and clearance testing is independent. If the remediation wasn’t completed properly, my clients will get to know.
My Home and Property Inspections are the same. My focus is on the home. I want to be sure I have identified all material defects that can be found with the home such that either the seller or the buyer can make their decisions based upon my findings, not on some subjective but persuasive statement that is made by a “professional”, trades-person or other contractor that stands to make a profit from providing work on or a service with respect to, the property.
So next time you want to have your home inspected for Mold, don’t go to a Mold remediation company. When you want someone to sample for airborne or Bulk Asbestos, don’t call in the very company that stands to make a profit from removing it. When you think you might be in an area that is liable to have high radon levels, don’t call in a radon mitigation company to test for radon.
Get your home independently tested, and if you are unsure about the inspector you are choosing to perform the inspection, ask them what code of ethics do they abide with. Ask them to prove it with their certification. Ask them who does the sampling and if the laboratory analysis is performed by a qualified independent lab.
While there are a number of reputable companies that maintain strict conflict of interest policies around their inspection, sampling, analysis and remediation processes, the temptation to “earn a bit on the side” is often overwhelming and true impartiality seems to be harder to find.
After all, would you trust a doctor to dispense a drug to you knowing that that same doctor had just been sent on an all-expenses paid cruise, or would you trust the research of a University on a drug, when the research and other faculty facilities were funded by the very company that makes the drugs?
Ask your inspector this one simple question:
“If you find a problem with the inspection, are you going to be able to fix the problem or tell me the name of one person who can?”
If the answer comes back “Yes”, maybe you should think twice about using that inspector.