Is a home inspection a warranty?

A professional home inspection is an examination for and documentation of specific systems and components for specific conditions which are adversely affecting the normally intended function or operation of the systems and components inspected. It is intended to develop information which can become part of an overall risk reduction and risk management plan.

A warranty is a pledge made by the original manufacturer of a product to repair, replace, or correct specific deficiencies in their product if such deficiencies occur within a stated period of time. It can also be a pledge made by the provider of a service to perform that service in a specified manner. The term “warranty” is often confused with insurance plans offered for sale to home buyers. In order to avoid confusion, the term “insurance” is used here when discussing “home buyers’ warranties.” Such insurance typically covers certain components or occurrences and contains deductibles and disclaimers regarding the items covered. Typically, a fee is paid by the insurance company to the individual or company that offers these home “warranty” policies. Therefore, if an inspector offers to sell a buyer such insurance, that inspector is working for someone in addition to the buyer and is no longer a disinterested third party. There is an old saying that no one can serve two masters – and inspectors are no different.

Professional home inspectors do not offer such products or services. If buyers desire the kind of insurance that these plans or policies provide, they should consult their real estate professional or insurance agent and should carefully read any such policies to be certain that they meet their specific needs.