Part II Worst Inspection Report

January 22, 2006

Bob Kille Acuspect Home InspectionAs promised, the rest of the “Worst Inspection Report”.

In the last post on this topic I eluded that the report format was basically a check box with some arcane letters standing for a particular condition. When a notable defect or condition was encountered the inspector added a corresponding color-coded comment. The rest of the text of the report was mostly disclaimers and minor adjuncts as to how the inspection was performed.

So, what happens with this type of report is that, the reader quickly surmises that all he has to do is read any colored comment and he’ll have assimilated the germane issues of condition prior to escrow. What you have to remember though, is what effect color and font type/size has on the reader. The buyer as most realtors recognize is already in a state of buyer’s remorse and is looking for either a confirmation that the choice was a good one or an easy way to keep looking without explaining his fears. The (RED) color coding may not seem like a grievous error on its own but added together with the rest of the mistakes makes mountains out of mole hills.

The rest of the mistakes? Well, I didn’t spend too much time unwrapping this story but in the few moments I did leaf through the report the following small errors caught my eye.

First thing I noticed right off was that the summary was at the end of the report and in the same red ink to further inflame the buyer’s psyche. These along with the small italic text (10pt), which can only further frustrate someone who’s anxious and has poor eyesight.

Also included in the report were pages such as “Crawl Space” when none existed. And weird comments such as “Did not walk flat roof – viewed from ladder with binoculars”

The next objection I had was that some of the comments had two recommendations listed instead of one. Comments should always follow the: Observed, Warning & Recommendation sequence for the observed condition condensing any recommendations into one statement such as: “Further review is recommended for a better understanding of repair/replacement costs and/or present condition”. Recommending how to fix or repair something should be avoided.

I only know the following because I was asked to perform the same inspection just days after this inspector made his appearance. The inspector missed broken seals at 3 large thermo panes and an improper roofing tile installation at the ridge.

Try to make your reports follow a logical sequence in plain type large enough for the average 60 year old with as little red ink as possible. If you include a summary, be sure its placed at the beginning of the report. The sum of the parts always adds up to the whole, and if the whole experience of using your service isn’t outstanding in the opinion of both the buyer and Realtor, your days are numbered.

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.

Worst Inspection Report Award

December 17, 2005

Bob Kille Acuspect Home Inspection Not long ago I was giving some advice to a new inspector after an ASHI meeting, seems he was having trouble like most new inspectors getting business and he was losing money. I gave him some of my best stuff (raise your prices) and at the end of the conversation he asked me if I would look over one of his reports and let him know what I thought.

Well, I just had to say yes as he had been telling me all about how much this report cost to put together ($26.00). Yes, that’s American green backs. A small fortune if your doing any kind of business, to give you an idea it would cost me $15,600 just for reports if I was to use what he’s put together.

Time just kinda slipped by and I didn’t get to his report in the fashion I had envisioned. Here’s what happened and I hope you pay attention to this poor guys mistakes.

I received a call from a realtor I hadn’t heard from in a while, she was a good for three or four inspections a month in the past and I was really happy to hear from her. Thought that I’d lost her. Happens.

She wanted me to come and inspect a property that had just been inspected by another inspector, who by the way killed the deal. She now had a new buyer and wanted to make sure that a repeat of her last experience was not forthcoming. She also wanted to discuss the last inspectors report as it seemed very out of the norm to her.

So I’m at the house and see the last inspection report on the counter (guess who’s) and I ask how it was that the home inspector in question got the job. Turns out that he joined the local chamber of commerce, sat in on a meeting, won a door prize of $50.00 in gas coupons from our realtor. In a stunning moment of clarity he promptly types up a $50.00 off your next home inspection coupon and mails it to our realtor with a note of thanks.

As you can imagine, she was very impressed and thought she’d pass the coupon on to her buyer. Basically, she was going to give our new home inspector a chance to get her business. And boy did he BLOW IT! Not even a pretty binder was going to help him now.

Fresh from school or perhaps an inspection conference, our new home inspector has come equipped to evaluate the homes electrical circuits with a new fangled device called a Sure Test Circuit Analyizer. Somehow all of the circuits in this 5 year old tract house were faulty and the house was a fire hazard waiting to go up in smoke at anytime.

At least that’s how the red inked comment that took up one full page made the house look to the buyer, and to me as well. A full page of red ink, might as well been his own blood for what it cost him.

No, it’s not over. This is just the start of this inspectors woes. Tune in to my next post and we’ll continue with our worst inspection of the year award.

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.

Least Restrictive Wording

December 11, 2005

Least Restrictive Wording

A fellow home inspector related the story of a complaint letter received from his client complaining of deteriorated burnt adobe brick exterior. The letter detailed how many bricks were bad and their location according to the Brick Adobe Company who was retained to do an evaluation after close of escrow.

The home inspection report did reveal that a few of the bricks had some minor spalling and recommended further review of the building’s brick by an expert for a better understanding of the repair/replacement cost and present conditon.

In the letter received, the client explains that he did not have an expert evaluate the building as recommended as he relied on the word “few” in the inspection report to mean 3 bricks and that 3 bricks were not sufficient in his mind to call in an expert and pay yet another inspection fee.

In his mind the “least restrictive” wording of the comment lets him decide if the recommendation needs to be followed without consequence to himself as the informed client.

This story gets a little better, as it turns out the client is a Lawyer. The client asks that our inspector pay the $8,750 somolians for the Brick Adobe Company estimate of repair. The repair includes a 3,500 dollar weather sealing for the brick as the Brick Adobe Company assures the client that the inspector should have called for sealing of the brick in his report. Isn’t that the way it always goes?

So what happened? The inspector did exactly what he should have done, he communicated with the client immeadiately and informed him that he would take a look at the effected areas. He then called a fellow inspector with tons of experience and hired a qualified evaluation from another expert, The Adobe Doctor.

Turns out that most of the effected brick was in the fencing. Fencing according to the Arizona Standards of Practice is not included in the scope of a home inspection and of course the report specifically states this fact but then makes the fatal mistake of commenting on its condition as generally acceptable.

Commenting on the condition of anything not in the scope of a home inspection pulls it into the scope and once inside the scope an inspectors inspection of the item must rise to the level of a professional (for hire) inspection.

This is a good story thou, as it turns out the company our inspector hires for the second opinion just 2 years ago repaired and resealed the entire building. There’s still 2 years left on the warranty! What luck.

Our inspector is now armed with what in most people’s minds a very good case against any payouts, right? Wrong. Our client the Lawyer, knows that any action he takes will cost our inspector 2k minimum just to put up a defense. He also knows that the insurance company will settle any claim out of court for less than 5k.

Stay tuned, I’ll let you know what happens

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 this

Examination By Peers

October 28, 2005

Bob Kille Acuspect Home InspectionYesterday I had the opportunity to take a review by peer exam for the Arizona ASHI master inspector program. The program is not yet in place and the exam was only a trial so that the chapter could get some experiences in how best to proceed with the program.

My self and two others took the exam which consisted of; doing a home inspection, relating the major defects in an oral exam and then a small question and answer session followed by a show and tell photo exam.

The oral exam was a bit more difficult than I thought it would be. Many of my disclaimer types of comments are written in my report and I couldn’t recall exactly what they said when asked because I wrote them once a long time ago and really haven’t been asked about them since.

Even some of the terms I was using in my oral exam didn’t match what I had written. It’s kind of a high-pressure question and answer with the examiner playing stupid if you didn’t qualify what you were saying in layman’s terms.

The assumption that your client understands what you’re saying just because his head nods is probably a mistake. I think we get caught up in using the terms that as home inspectors we use everyday and expect that others are just as conversant in them.

Yeh, I failed. I needed to get a score of 10 must report on items in the home inspection and came up short by 3. Not to give too much away but I blew it in the areas of access, structure and appliance venting. Not inspecting one of the building’s rooms didn’t help either. How’d that happen?

Well, it happened because I was out of my normal routine. First, because this is a controlled environment you couldn’t use your own ladder. Second, you were not to occupy the same general area as one of the other participants which in my case altered my path. That’s how I missed the exterior storage room, bumped into another inspector and took another route. This can typically happen to you on a normal inspection when the client pulls you away to look at something and you don’t quite get back to where you stopped your routine.

Of the three items missed only one was something that I didn’t already know which had to do with access. The structure mistake was one I don’t think would have happened if I had been able to use my own equipment. The venting issue is one in which I don’t have any excuses, not that I’m making excuses, I just plain missed it.

It was a good experience and one that has me thinking quite a bit on how easy it is to mess up and a reminder that there’s still more to learn. Of course your most expensive mistakes are your best-learned lessons. I got to skate on my structure mistake which if in real life had come back to haunt me would have cost twenty large.

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 this

Permit? We don’t need no stink’n permits!

August 4, 2005

Bob Kille Acuspect Home Inspection A fellow home inspector gave me a call late last night with a bit of information about one of my past inspections. Apparently, he was hired to inspect his old residence and to his amazement the house had been added to by about 2000 square feet. The owner of the house was, or claimed to be a builder.

The house was a real looker except for a weird floor plan off the master bedroom and my inspection revealed a number of common and not so common problems like inadequate combustion air supply.

On to the point, during the home inspection I had asked the owner if he had gotten permits for the additions and he said yes, they would be available to the new buyer (not to me). Of course this deal fell apart and now comes our next inspector, the x owner, who asks the same thing and gets the same response. However, having been the previous owner and curious to boot at the dramatic changes, he’s looking at how the additions were done in a more structural way.

One of the things that he noticed that I didn’t was that the owner had erected an adobe block parapet wall at the rear of the building to give it some character. To support the load a huge wooden beam was used. Here’s the kicker and what I failed to notice, you can’t support a masonry wall with wood.

Back to the permits, come to find out that the owner only had a permit to add a small room addition off the garage. We never know when a permit has been issued or not and we really shouldn’t care except to note that our customer should receive and review all permits issued for construction. Our job as home inspectors is not plan review but documentation of what we see and to that end we should be putting the onus of any permit or review back into the realm of buyer due diligence.

I do this with a simple comment in my home inspection report when I suspect an addition.

Consult Seller: The building has had one or more additions or modifications for which a permit may have been issued. Municipal building permit research is highly recommended if permits are not provided for review.

Would this comment protect me? What do you say if anything? Feel free to comment on this entry.

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.

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