Every Home Inspector should follow ethical guidelines. If the inspector is a member of a home inspection association or society as most are then he is expected to follow that groups code of ethics.
The same idea applies to many other professions. Doctors have their Hippocratic Oath. Law Enforcement Officers and Fireman also take an oath. The Ohio Association of Realtors members are expected to follow the Realtor Code of Ethics.
There are many good reasons for an inspector to hold himself accountable to an ethical code and probably as many reasons for a client to expect and need a Home Inspector to follow a professional ethical standard.
I do not know the whole history of Home Inspectors and the development of ethical standards but I do know that abuse by some early inspectors motivated the formation of professional groups and a corresponding code of ethics. Today most Home Inspector professional groups consider it unethical for an inspector, that may also be a contractor, to do construction work on a home within a year of performing an inspection on that home.
The story goes that some early (unethical) Home Inspectors would perform a home inspection for a disabled person or senior citizen and report that the roof or crawlspace or attic needed extensive repair when that was not the entire truth and then offer their construction services. You can see how this could become quite a racket.
It is also considered unethical for a Home Inspector to have any direct monetary ties such as kick backs to Realtors. When a Home Inspector contracts to inspect a home for a client he needs to have no other obligations or influences that may affect his judgments concerning the home. If a Realtor tells me that he has been using the same inspector for ten years and the guy does it dirt cheap it makes me wonder. How much time is the inspector spending at the home and how hard is he looking for defects?
Before you choose a Home Inspector check on a few references, look at his website and talk to him. Do your best to insure that you are getting an inspection that is worth something and not just a rubber stamp. A quality home inspection is worth the money. A quick home inspection by a Realtors buddy can sound like a good deal but may not be worth much in the long run. Your Realtors recommended Home Inspector may be an ethical inspector but it is best to do your homework before saying yes. You do have the option of seeking out and choosing your own inspector.
Everyone in a real estate transaction has their own interests as a priority. The seller wants to sell his house at the highest price possible in the shortest amount of time. The Realtors interests are similar. The buyer wants to purchase the home of his dreams for the lowest price possible and with the least amount of risk. The Home Inspector is the only player in this transaction that is acting as a consumer protection service.
A Home Inspectors duty is to use his experience and training to provide the client with a professional report, performed ethically, supplying the client with the best information and facts about the home to enable the buyer to make the best decision.