Least Restrictive Wording

December 11, 2005 · Print This Article

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 link.www.inspectorsuccess.com

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