Home Inspection Sense

July 30, 2005

Bob Kille Acuspect Home InspectionThis seems to be my week for complaint calls. Received another one on Monday, this one involves a copper-piping leak under the slab of a home built in 2000.

My client let me know straight off on the phone call that he was a homicide detective somewhere in California. This of course was to set the tone of the conversation and his position of authority. According to his lawyer’s (yes that’s plural), the homeowners insurance policy he has will not cover the claim so he is contacting me, the home inspector of record, to get information as to my insurance.

My firsts response to this was to restate that the type of inspection that he paid for was a visual inspection of the property valid only for the day of the inspection. Further, I explained that a home inspection is in no way a home warranty and assured him that even if I had E&O insurance they would not cover a NON-VISIBLE condition, even if discovered a day after the inspection.

A few half-truths here, I had occurrence insurance at the time of this particular inspection but no longer carry it. Which means that his home is still covered by my past E&O insurance policy. I now have the minimum state coverage of a $25,000 bond. I tried this tact (no insurance) because most lawyers won’t take a contingency case unless there’s deep pockets somewhere.

That leaves the complaintant with the hourly cost of retaining legal council for a case that may not be the best. Generally, if the case isn’t over $10,000 in damages and the case is not strong most of your better legal councils will tell their clients to forget it. However, if you have insurance the lawyers will make the claim and the insurance company will settle (non visible or visible condition) before legal expenses mount up.

The cost of a legal defense even in a frivolous suit can quickly become more than the actual claim. Both sides know this and this fact is why you will always pay your deductible in almost every claim, valid or not.

This particular train of thought, why a lawyer would choose not to take a case, is the basis for my asset protection strategy (no insurance, family trust, small asset list and corporate status). This complaint will make a good case study. I’m waiting with baited breath for the next phone call relating to this home inspection complaint. Will common sense win out?

Copyright © 2005 by Bob Kille. To read other home inspection related articles or to view home inspection software and book publications by Mr. Kille, click on this link. www.inspectorsuccess.com

The “Perfects” Home Inspection

July 29, 2005

Bob Kille Acuspect Home InspectionSome things just don’t go away the way there supposed to unless you’re extra vigilant in their disposal. This post may sound familiar as today’s topic stems directly from the posts “Being Right & The Rest of the Story”

So why I’m I back posting on a supposedly finished relationship with Mr. & Mrs. Perfect? We’ll I’ll tell you, instead of slam dunking the ball when it was above the rim I let it come down to meet me for an easy lay-up. No killer instinct I guess. I think we all know how the story goes, yep, I dropped the ball.

Here comes another new office policy: never show up to a complaintants home without a waiver & release and blank check tucked in your back pocket. Strike your deal and seal it with a signature right then and there. Don’t be complacent and wait for a repair estimate or bill. Better to guesstimate and err a bit on the high side to get them to sign the wavier and accept the check. You’ll sleep better, I know.

So what happened you ask, it went something like this. It’s been a few weeks now and the “Perfects” haven’t sent me the bill for the stucco repair. That sort of lulled me into thinking that there not going to try and stick me with the unwarranted repair after all. Not so, the call came today and not only do they want way more than the agreed upon maximum ($500), but they have now added to there complaint list.

When the home was inspected it had a brand new coat of paint at the interior, its been raining lately and stains are now showing up at the window sills in the corners. They feel that a good inspector should have been able to detect the flashing problem by looking really close at the new paint. Exactly their words, I kid you not.

Next it seems that their sliding glass door makes a sound when it’s opened, apparently catching a bit on a warped track. This isn’t there only complaint about the door, no, it now seams as there is moisture between the panes. They have received an estimate from Home Depot for $1,000.00 for the complete replacement of the 30 year old sliding glass door assembly.

Rapid fire now, here comes a repair bill ($175.00) for the front door threshold that leaks. This was described and detailed in the report as a minor condition as the stain to the surrounding walls were very small (about an inch to each side) and no apparent rot was observed. They had the threshold removed because of its dirty/stained appearance and low and behold they found out there was a small amount of rot found on the bottom side of the trim and threshold. They felt that my report failed to adequately warn them about unseen rot at the stained locations (sounds like an attorney doesn’t it)

Last but not least, the stucco repair bill that I had been waiting to receive for the last 3 weeks exceeded $700.00 not the $150.00 to $250.00 that I had estimated. The increased cost was because they had the whole wall re-stuccoed and painted to make sure no one could tell the wall had been patched.

The “Perfects” suggest over the phone (speaker phone, two of them talking at the same time) that their attorney is now involved and that they are now seeking total reimbursement for the above costs known and unknown (attorney). It was extremely difficult not to lose my cool, I’m sure my voice betrayed me a bit as it went up an octave.

How did things end up? Not as bad as it could have and not as good as it should have. I explain to them as nice as I could that I didn’t owe them anything for the stucco damage (a small two foot long, six inch wide area damaged by an irrigation emmitter) as it was hidden by vegetation at the time of inspection, to which they expressly disagreed. I went on to explain to them that a home inspection is not a home warranty and that the glass was inspected at the time of inspection and was in good condition; remember this complaint was made 3 months after the inspection.

Next I tackled the door catching a bit at the track by saying that this is an older home and in my opinion for its age it was in generally acceptable condition just as the report describes. I surely didn’t owe them a brand new door was my stance. The door threshold may have only needed a bit of caulk, as 30 years of weather had not visibly rotted the surrounding frame. As to the window flashings I suggested that it was a matter between the seller and the buyer, as leakage was not disclosed in the seller’s disclosure.

After bringing them back a bit to reality, I proceeded to let them know I was still willing to work with them in the spirit of customer satisfaction, but couldn’t in good conscience buy them a new door assembly or door threshold and or make their entire 30ft exterior stucco wall appear brand new because they didn’t want ANY sign of repair.

They played their lawyer card and I played my more than generous card. We settled on $750.00, the wavier went out today certified mail. I pray that this is the last post associated with the “Perfects”.

Copyright © 2005 by Bob Kille. To read other home inspection related articles or to view home inspection software and book publications by Mr. Kille, click on this link. www.inspectorsuccess.com

Home Inspection Payouts/Buyoffs

July 11, 2005

Bob Kille Acuspect Home Inspection Nothings ever a 100%, my business philosophy for home inspections is to pay anytime a client has a complaint whether I’m at fault or not if its under $500.00. This does three things, first it protects my referring realtor from any negative backlash and second, it allows me to immediately move on mentally instead of brooding, thirdly I won’t have negative comments being made about me. Mostly, I like to think about the payouts as a type of positive advertising in the relatively small community of realtors that I work with. This policy has gained me several realtors who actually told me the reason for choosing my company was exactly that. They heard I would take care of most anything complained about. Yes, that means I pay for things outside the scope of a home inspection. Yes, it means that I pay out if someone “feels” something should have been discovered even if covered. So I pay promptly and admit that the condition might have been discoverable or the lapse in communication was my fault. Which brings me to today’s post.

Received a call from a very distraught and upset client, I posted on his case in “Being Right” just a week ago. So, the rest of the story as Paul Harvey would say, goes like this. The realtor calls and gives me a verbal tongue lashing for giving into the customer’s demands so easily as this has emboldened the customer into thinking that he might be able to get some funds out of the other parties involved in the transaction. Namely him. The client may not be particularly rational in his demands, according to him, he “felt” as if the realtor made light of what was needed to bring the house up to his “standards”. He went on to tell me all about the “perfect” house they sold to move here. So, if I’m hearing this correctly, the reas0n the client is upset is that the house needed more work and money that what the realtor had told them to expect. This would be a somewhat valid complaint if your “standards” were perfection and quality. They basically gutted the house as nothing could be saved. This cost more than the repairs that were suggested by the realtor and my report. G0 figure. The report did list all the defects, minus one that was covered by vegetation, however the client felt that the realtors and I conspired against him in the estimates for repair. Of course I never give estimates for repair or replacement for that matter and reminded him of that at our last meeting, not that it mattered to him.

This was a 30 year old home and my client told me that I had failed to mention that the roof had been patched in the home inspection. He told me that he would not have bought the house if he had known this all important, crucial fact. Not that it leaked or anything its just that the interior ceiling patch was noticable. And this failure has caused him great pain and suffering. He actually said that. Like that would have been the reason to pull out and not the other 25 defects listed in the summary. I have since started noting in my report (not in the summary) any obvious patching to the interior ceilings and roofing materials.

So what I gather from the realtor is that the client is writing letters to the better business bureau, the board of realtors and has consulted his lawyer. I’m sort of out of this I hope, thanks to my business policy. Can’t wait till he signs the wavier and release form so there’ll be an end to this story, at least for me.

Copyright © 2005 by Bob Kille. To read other home inspection related articles or to view home inspection software and book publications by Mr. Kille, click on this link. www.inspectorsuccess.com

Inspecting Nothing

July 5, 2005

Bob Kille Acuspect Home InspectionTypically in new home construction inspections you basically have 3 types of clients; the panic client, the referred client and the worried absentee client. Last weeks call was from an absentee client who has a foundation ready to be poured and she’d like to have it inspected. Get this, her biggest reason for calling me was that the builder was unresponsive to her inquires. Wouldn’t return her calls? She told me that she felt that the builder could no longer be trusted. This is exactly what happens to you if you don’t get back to a client who calls with a question or compliant. Anyway, I explain to her that the foundation inspection on a post tension slab not only has a county inspection but a special inspection by a certified post tension installer as well. That the need for a private construction inspection may well be overkill on this foundation, but if it would make her feel better about the quality of work I would gladly go to the site and document the present conditions.

The “conditions”, well lets just say I won’t be using the above reasoning of overkill. Lets see, uncompacted and loose fill at the footing in several areas, rebar less than 3 inches from the soil at several locations, dobie chairs knocked over at several locations, dead ends not secured as required (2), cables closer than 6 inches to the forms and at least 6 cables so crooked it looked like five year olds put them in place.

After submitting my report to the client she was rightfully upset and called her sales rep demanding that the issues be corrected before the foundation is poured. This is the 1st of July, 1:00pm Friday. The pour is scheduled so were told at 5:30 to 6:00am on the 5th of July. Almost no time really to get the corrections made. The next call I get is from the office of the post tension special inspector who demands to know my qualifications for doing this type of inspection. So I tell him, I’m a recognized author of reporting software that deals with the installation of post tension cables and went to the post tension institute in Phoenix, which certifies special inspectors such as himself. That seemed to tone him down a bit and we discussed the report findings. He said he’d have a look. Whatever that means.

I just got back from the re-inspection of the foundation and I can now tell you what “have a look” means. Nothing. The pour was scheduled for 5:30am; they started the pour at 4:30am, yes its still dark at 4:30am. I arrived at exactly 5:00am to do the re-inspection only to find that the garage slab was the only thing left visible. Guess what, the only two conditions at the garage left visible were still uncorrected. What do you think was corrected in the rest of the slab? Nothing is my guess. Why move the pour schedule up to 4:30am?

I’m starting to believe in this women’s intuition thing, could she be right not to trust this builder? Or is this just another communication chasm that we so frequently run into with builders who look upon private inspectors with disdain as if were the ones causing the problems. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to say to my client, she spent $$$.00 to make sure the job was done right and got “Nothing” for her money. Anyone with any thoughts about what her next course of action should be? Please leave a comment.

Copyright © 2005 by Bob Kille. To read other home inspection related articles or to view home inspection software and book publications by Mr. Kille, click on this link. www.inspectorsuccess.com