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Home inspector out $13,000 for leaky foundation advice

January 25, 2018   by Greg Meckbach

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A home inspector was successfully sued for more than $13,000 in British Columbia for not advising buyers of a leaking Chilliwack home to fix foundation cracks.

In a ruling released Monday, Provincial Court of British Columbia Justice Kenneth Skilnick ruled that Mr. Home Inspector Ltd., through its agent Lee Fearnley Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd., failed to meet the professional standard of care required of home inspectors.

Mehran Ziragi Moghadam and Shirin Roohijahroomi hired Mr. Home Inspector before buying their house in 2015 from Tamiko Charlton. The actual inspection was done by Lee Fearnley.

Moghadam and Roohijahroomi lost their lawsuit against Charlton as the seller of the home. They alleged Charlton misrepresented the true state of the home but Justice Skilnick found no evidence to support their case.

B.C. was the first province to introduce mandatory licensing for home inspectors in 2009. On April 3, 2017, Ontario also passed legislation requiring home inspectors to be licensed and to have proof of liability and errors and omissions insurance.

In B.C., the Home Inspector Licensing Regulation requires inspectors to state in their contracts whether or not they will look for mold or asbestos. In the report that Fearnley provided on the home that Moghadam and Roohijahroomi bought, Fearnley noted he did not provide a “visible mold evaluation.”

Moghadam and Roohijahroomi took possession of their home in October 2015. In November, they noticed a musty smell in the basement and discovered water pooling in a corner.

The following February, Fearnley returned to the home. The new owners let him cut away some drywall. After turning on a hose they determined that water was getting through the foundation crack.

Fearnley had mentioned the foundation crack in a report, but he did not consider it to be a “significant problem,” Justice Skilnick wrote in Moghadam et al v. Mr. Home Inspector et. al.  Fearnley had recommended that the cracked foundation be “monitored” and noted there was a “chance of water damage” to the building and its contents.

“There appears to be a glaring omission in the recommendation of Mr. Fearnley that the situation should be merely monitored, as opposed to sealing the cracks,” Justice Skilnick wrote. “The former approach suggests a course of action that the homeowner should wait for damage to occur first, while the latter suggests that the homeowner should take pre-emptive action to prevent the damage occurring in the first place.”

The buyers retained a different home inspector as an expert witness. That witness testified that Fearnley failed to emphasize the impact and severity of cracks in the foundation. Concluding that the water entered the home through those cracks, the plaintiffs’ expert testified that the home was in an area of B.C. that was “pretty much a rainforest,” and so, when a foundation cracks, it is “bound to leak when rains return after summer.”

The defendant’s lawyer argued that “little weight” should be placed on the evidence of the plaintiffs’ expert witness because that expert did not actually inspect the property. But Justice Skilnick found that the home buyers’ expert’s conclusion was “logical,” given the climate in B.C. Justice Skilnick added that Fearnley’s work “does not appear to be in keeping with the duty of a reasonably prudent home inspector to make recommendations to correct or monitor” a deficiency found in a home.

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10 Comments » for Home inspector out $13,000 for leaky foundation advice
  1. Dan Brown says:

    So with stupid clients you have to not only tell them a crack could cause water damage, you also have to tell them to fix it.

    • Gina Toupin says:

      Thats why you hire a property inspector. Because you, the buyer, are not an expert and are unable to access if the property is in good repair or has issues that have to be dealt with and/or will need expensive repairs in the future. So do the job you’re hired to do and get paid to do. Or you deserve to get sued.

  2. Don’t agree with the judge, its not like they didn’t know about the cracks. But who can argue with our courts……lesson learned, all cracks of home with now be noted as “must be sealed”….

    An ontario home inspector

  3. Jim H says:

    “Foundation crack. Chance of water damage.”

    Case closed.

    Stupid judge. Stupid home buyer.

  4. Mark Merrel says:

    Bad judgement. The inspector found the crack and informed the buyer of potential implications: “water damage”.
    Stupid home buyers perpetuate the stigma that home inspectors are stupid. READ YOUR REPORT!

  5. Dave says:

    While you can fix a foundation crack, you can’t fix stupid. Buyer’s were informed but didn’t do anything. Home Inspection is not the same as fortune telling.

  6. Ches Graham says:

    I’m not sure how this would get to court. $13,000 is not half of the legal cost. Insurance should have settled and the inspector would be able to say your covered and move on.

  7. Brian Fortin says:

    Outrageous. The inspector had to REMOVE drywall to find where the wall was leaking, which means he was unable to inspect the finished basement foundation. He could not have known the crack went all the way through the foundation. He saw no evidence it was leaking at the time of the inspection. He warned them it could leak some time in the future. Guess what? It did.

    “A home inspection is a visual NON-INVASIVE inspection …”

    This was a lousy decision.

  8. Guy Durette says:

    Crystal ball, crystal ball….tell me the future and I won’t have to be a home inspector. Clearly identified and predictions are not part of any SOP. Clearly clients are not informed on what a home inspection is and isn’t.

  9. Maria Burdekin says:

    For the amount these inspectors get paid for a few hours work all there findings should be detailed. This includes advice on what should or what may have to be done to fix an issue. There hired to help buyers. And many new buyers are young an inexperienced not dumb. We had an inspector that did not spot an illegal fire insert in a basement suite. If he had of bent down and actually looked he would have seen all the issues. Cost us 5000.00 to fix so our family would not die in a house fire. We found after tenants left when we were cleaning. Im not an inspector but combustibles like plywood, insulation, gypsome board all around the insert should have tipped in off. He never even looked. Took his 600 bucks and ran. And that’s not all he missed there are even more issues.

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