QDEAR BARRY: As a home inspector, I've had a complaint from some of the agents who refer me to their buyers. They say I take too long to do my inspections. To save time, I don't carry my cell phone, and I make minimal small talk with the clients. On average, I spend about 3 hours per inspection, including time to review the report with the buyers. This seems to be reasonable and necessary for a thorough inspection, but not everyone agrees. What do you think? -- Ron

ADEAR RON: Home inspection is about total disclosure of property defects, not a time schedule. I find that most homes take approximately 21/2 to 3 hours to inspect, plus 30 to 60 minutes to review the findings.

Either you and I are inefficient in our use of time, or that's how long a thorough inspection takes.

Obviously, we tend toward the latter conclusion. Additionally, we could say that agents who encourage efficiency at the expense of thoroughness during a home inspection are not giving priority to the interests of their clients. Just remind those agents that the extra minutes you spend could spare them thousands of dollars in needless legal fees for disclosure-related litigation.

Your priorities are correct. Don't let yourself be pressured into changing course. The integrity of the profession and the interests of homebuyers depend upon home inspectors with your attitude.

DEAR BARRY: A home inspector I know was hired to inspect a new house and now is having problems with the builder. The inspector reported several roofing defects, but the builder has voided the roof warranty. According to the builder, the inspector should not have walked on the tiles, and he's blaming the inspector for the defects. Isn't it standard for an inspector to walk on a tile roof? -- Wayne

DEAR WAYNE: Most home inspectors refuse to walk on tile roofs. Your friend's problem illustrates why. Most tile roofs have loose or broken tiles. When these are reported, it's usually a surprise to the sellers. They often allege, or at least suspect, that the damage was caused by the inspector. Therefore, to limit professional liability, most home inspectors will view a tile roof from a ladder or with a good pair of binoculars.

The builder's objection to foot traffic on the roof may be fear of cracked or broken tiles. However, he may also be trying to skirt liability for roof defects. As far as voiding the roof warranty, that issue should be considered by the state agency that licenses building contractors. He may not be allowed to void the warranty.

Barry Stone is a professional home inspector. If you have questions or comments, contact him through his Web site, www.housedetective.com, or send mail to 1776 Jami Lee Ct., Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, Calif. 93401.

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