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Should I be Concerned About Inspection Items Marked as Deficient?

There may be things in the home that were allowed when it was built, but are now considered unsafe. These things might not need to be updated if they were allowed when the home was built. However, if these things are found during the inspection, they will be reported as “Deficient (D)” because of the potential to cause injury or property loss. Examples of these conditions include:

  • malfunctioning, improperly installed, or missing ground fault circuit protection (GFCI) devices and arc-fault (AFCI) devices;
  • ordinary glass in locations where modern construction techniques call for safety glass;
  • malfunctioning or lack of fire safety features such as smoke alarms, fire-rated doors in certain locations, and functional emergency escape and rescue openings in bedrooms;
  • malfunctioning carbon monoxide alarms;
  • excessive spacing between balusters on stairways and porches;
  • improperly installed appliances;
  • improperly installed or defective safety devices;
  • lack of electrical bonding and grounding; and
  • lack of bonding on gas piping, including corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST)

Items Marked as Deficient: Should I be Alarmed?

Many inspectors, such as ourselves, advertise themselves as “non-alarming” but it’s important to be honest about genuine concerns related to health or safety. The language in this section mentions the potential for injury or property loss, which is noteworthy. “Non-alarming” shouldn’t mean withholding or downplaying genuine health or safety concerns. It’s important that these “deficiencies” are conveyed to the client.

NOTE: Items marked as deficient DO NOT require any party to make repairs or take other action. The decision to correct any deficiency identified in the report is up to the parties involved in the contract for the sale of the home.

An item being marked as “Deficient” should not be a cause for alarm. There is no ranking or order of importance of deficiencies, and each one is fixable. It is not mandatory for any party to make repairs, however, repairs or price adjustments are often negotiated between the parties.

Importance of Understanding the Inspection Agreement

The report may include an inspection agreement (contract), addenda, and other information related to property conditions.

Understanding the Inspection Agreement is crucial. This agreement is usually a separate document from the inspection report and outlines the relationship between the parties involved. While it is up to each inspector or inspection company to decide whether to require an Inspection Agreement, TREC rules mandate licensed inspectors to carry Errors & Omissions insurance, which usually requires the use of an agreement.

The agreement may contain key details such as:

  • Fees being charged
  • Cancellation policy
  • Scope of Services
  • Exclusions
  • Additional services being performed
  • Notice of claims
  • Limit of liability
  • Disclaimers

Another important role of the Inspection Agreement is that it can be used to obtain the client’s permission to share the inspection findings with the clients’ agent. TREC rules specifically state that inspectors are prohibited from sharing inspection findings without prior approval from the client. The only exception to this rule is that Inspectors may disclose immediate safety hazards to occupants of the property.

Make sure that you carefully read ALL this information (Agreements/Addenda/Inspection findings), have a clear understanding of each, and when in doubt, ask for clarification.


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