The heart of the typical complaints stem from the legal requirements the state places on the inspector, specicially for being accountable for any errors and omissions made during the inspection. This forces the inspector to disclose even the slightest issues. Also, the state mandates compliance to national inspection standards. The inspector CAN NOT act as an expert at any given specific trade. If he feels that an issue exists, he must defer the buyer to an "expert" in the field. This is simply a company licensed in that field or possibly an architect or professional engineer.
One state, Tennessee, even specifically mandates that I DO NOT render any type of opinion on a critical subject such as pest infestation. Even if I find evidence that leads me to conclude a house is infested, I can not disclose my "opinion" to the buyer. I must simply recommend they contract a licensed exterminator to assess the home for pests!!! I can not state I believe it is infested, or that I have found evidence of a typical infestation, I only can recommend they contact a licensed exterminator for an inspection.
Sad state of affairs.
"Your outlets in the bathroom have reverse polarity"
Ok. what does that mean? What will it cost? Will it kill me? How do I fix it?
Which is why I show up for my clients inspections. I know the client won't ask the questions and I know the inspector might not properly explain their findings. I would hate to have a deal derailed by a $2.00 repair.
I'm also not fond of the "alarmist"... tell us what's wrong, and tell us what the solutions are... let US be alarmed, if necessary... but don't foment it.
Oh, and I almost forgot... don't treat the Realtor as the enemy!
First, home inspectors are paid to find problems. So even in the best of houses, there will be a long list of items--mostly inconsequential. (And I understand that--the buyer's paid $400 or so for an inspection and wants more than something saying the house is in good condition.) Those long lists of trivial items can scare off buyers. Now, if there are any serious problems or concerns, by all means put them down. That's your job. But sometimes it seems as if an inspector is searching around for something, anything, to list just to prove he's done his job.
Second, I've found that a lot of home inspectors come from one particular skill area--plumbing, electrical, construction, etc. And they're great at finding problems in that specific area. But sometimes they're not so good at finding problems outside of their area of expertise. And sometimes those are significant issues that the inspector is missing.
Hope that helps.
Perhaps my crystal ball does not work as well as does a home inspectors.