View Full Version : Caller mad at another Home Inspector

David Banks
07-27-2007, 11:11 AM
Got a call from home buyer last November who wants me to do an inspection on his home. Claims the Inspector he hired missed 20,000 dollors worth of work (Quote from contractor) 15 or so floor joist not tied to sill but sitting on stone foundation, no girder support in some areas, severe trim rot on many windows, did not look in attic. etc. Said HI did not mention any of it in report or verbally. HI took 45 minutes to do the inspection and handed him a hand written/checklist report.
How do you guys handle a situation like this? I am not big on getting involved in court cases if I can help it. (His lawyer told him to get another inspection)
I have met the inspector about 5 years ago in a Home Inspection course I took.
I feel confident that I could go in and do an Inspection just as I would any other Inspection and let the chips fall as they may. But do I want to?

Rick Hurst
07-27-2007, 11:37 AM

I would not have a problem doing such an inspection.

You can count on I'm would perform a very through inspection (which should be done regardless) and document as much as possible with plenty of photos of the conditions present.

As far as the other HI. I would not make any negative comments of him and just the courts handle him. These kind of inspectors who do 45 minute inspection eventually have a jury take care of them.



Phillip Stojanik
07-27-2007, 11:50 AM
That a tough call. I am certainly not into making enemies of my peers in the local market yet on the other hand I feel a sense of responsibility to help "police my industry" for lack of a better term.

If this inspector is harming the public and giving us all a back eye then perhaps its time to help remedy that. Ultimately though its your choice to get involved or not. If it was an inspector that I knew and had contact with on any regular basis I would take a pass and claim a potential confict of interest.

If it was an inspector that I only knew in passing however and had no past contact with other than to sit in the same classroom once then I would very likely take the job and let the "chips fall as they may" as you said.

Regarding what Fritz said above; (And this should go without saying.)

Do not let anyone else dictate to you what your report will say and always make sure you can back up your report items. Make it clear early on that if you end up going to depositon or into the courtrom that you expect to be paid fairly for that service.

Richard Rushing
07-27-2007, 12:24 PM
I agree with what Rick and Philip has stated. I would not have a problem helping this homeowner.

I would also make it clear what my expert witness requiremets (if required) would be. Additionally, I would require the written paperwork from the contractor specifying what he was stating as fact. Alot of times, the contractor will add to the repairs, a 'wish' list of things he would also like to do along with the homeowners list of upgrades, which are usually included into the quote.

Now I am not saying you need to get into the dollar value of items. But, usually there is more to the totals than are needed. Verifying the necessity of what the builder is saying vs what was missed will help your credibility if you go into the courtroom and/or have to give your deposition.


Jerry Peck
07-27-2007, 02:16 PM
First, get the paperwork straight.

Have them sign an Expert Witness contract.

This inspection is not a "home inspection" it is a "field assessment" of the conditions to which the legal action will hinge on. Do it diligently, document, document, document, and then document some more. This will take more time than a "home inspection", plus, the Expert Witness contract will set forth the terms for all work involved, out-of-the-office time (field assessment, deposition, testimony, etc., time), in-office time (which is cheaper), and minimum hours to be billed for each. You would likely want to bill deposition and testimony time in half-day increments, and you would want to bill field assessment time with a minimum hour basis plus actual time.

Chances are, if your prices for the above are right where they should be, they will either pass (letting you know they are not serious enough to pay for your time) or contract with you, which will let you know they are serious about this.

When doing your field assessment, you will want to avoid doing your inspection, that's not what you are there for, you will want to take the first report and the contractors list and compare them.

If you attempt to do 'your normal inspection' one (or both) of two things could happen: 1) you could find things both missed, and judges do not like 'piling on' and 'padding' the court action; 2) you could miss things which could then be brought up against you later with another inspector (and you already know they are serious about bringing things up against inspectors - you DO NOT want to open that door.

You are there to assess what the first inspector 'missed' that the contractor 'found' and to assess what the contractor 'added' which was most likely not visible or accessible to the first inspector. *YOU* are "the expert" between the two parties, act like one, don't belittle either party, stick to and state the facts as you see them, and, at all costs, keep that door closed which would allow/cause the owner/attorney to comer after you later - stick to the job at hand, don't go poking where you were not asked to poke.

You should be well rewarded as this will be a large investment of your time - if you do it properly.

Keep this in mind, if they are just fighting over $20k, it may not be worth your time, you might end up charging $5k minimum to $10k or more if you end up going to court and testifying - is that really worth their $$$? Ask yourself, and ask them, they may say 'No.'

If they do, do not be afraid to let it go and let someone else take the grief for a few dollars. Probably was not worth your time anyway, if they say 'No.'

David Banks
07-28-2007, 04:10 AM
Thanks all. Very interesting take Jerry. I will see if he calls back.

Jack Feldmann
07-28-2007, 06:35 AM
I would think that if he hasn't called since November, he decided to go another direction.

Phillip Stojanik
07-28-2007, 07:21 AM
I would think that if he hasn't called since November, he decided to go another direction.

Good point Jack (And most probably true!). But then allegded offense-to-court date in such matters typically takes a year or three locally.

Jerry Peck
07-28-2007, 08:04 AM
I took "Got a call from home buyer last November who wants me to do an inspection on his home." as meaning he bought the house last November.

Otherwise, the post is about a year late, so I discarded that idea.

I could be wrong, though, I have been before and will be again.

Richard Rushing
07-28-2007, 08:07 AM
I took it the same way.. bought in Nov.

That's kind of like saying, "Hey, what's that up in the road ...a-head?"

Are you saying theres a head in the road? Or are you asking whats in the road?


Jerry McCarthy
07-28-2007, 09:22 AM
FWIW anytime you’re asked to review another inspector’s work you absolutely should insist on being retained as a qualified industry consultant, get a retainer (money) and have your contract signed by the client’s attorney. There’s a whole boatload of good reasons for this and Jerry P’s advice is on target. Also, remember that one is not an “expert witness” until the county superior court blesses such a designation so get you CV up to date and make dam sure you have the right type of contract ready to go. Never express your opinion on anything until the retainer check clears your bank and the ink on your contract is bone dry.

Jim Robinson
07-28-2007, 10:37 AM
JM, what did you mean by "get your CV up to date"?

Deleted Account
07-28-2007, 11:35 AM
JM, what did you mean by "get your CV up to date"?


You know Latin, right? CV (http://web.mit.edu/career/www/guide/cv.pdf) is Latin for ball joints. :)

David Banks
07-28-2007, 12:55 PM
No he called Wednesday. He bought the house last November. I knew when I wrote the sentence it was not quite clear.

Randy Aldering
07-28-2007, 03:44 PM
CV = resume. Jerry and Jerry covered everything quite well. The entire time you are evaluating the situation and doing field work, and including your documentation, always ask yourself: how might your work be questioned, and what can you do, say, document that will preclude impeachment of your expert testimony? Remember: if it isn't written down, you didn't do it. So if you did it, you had better make sure it is written down as well. You are a hired mercenary. You are being paid to do something and do it well. You must be prepared, and you must anticipate how you may be questioned. And remember one last point: just because one party hired you, it doesn't mean they are your friend, or won't turn on you. Make certain that you are compensated accordingly. ($$$$$$$$)

Scott Patterson
07-28-2007, 05:25 PM
Something stands out about this. Stone foundation! How old is this house?

If this house is old enough to have a stone foundation the joist will most likely be sitting on the sill or even stones. Be sure that you are familiar with stone foundations and older homes before you take an EW job like this. You can bet that the defendant will have EW's on their side as well.

Steve Gladstone
09-28-2007, 04:52 PM
Wow good advice all the way around. Here's my two cents.

A little self evaluation... are you feeling you will be able to play Expert Witness. Jerry was on the money about time, contracts, establishing your credentials, etc. This is not Home Inspection. It's court games, and a world away from our usual bailiwick. Speak to others who have meandered through this minefield and if you choose to proceed make sure your time is covered and your butt is protected.
Your testimony and reporting skills will be totally different from your day to day and must present only what their lawyer is looking for. Best of Luck.
Steve Gladstone

David Banks
09-28-2007, 06:14 PM
Never went past the initial call.