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  1. #1
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    Default Ethics Question.....

    I got a call from a potential client wanting me to perform a seller inspection for him. He told me he wants to basically walk with me during the inspection and tell me what he wants and doesn't want on his report.
    This doesn't sound right but on the other hand he is the client and the buyer of the report so can a report be basically customized to how the buyer of the report wants it?
    I told him I would get back to him.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    No dice. This is what I do. This is what I put in my report. If you don't like it, you'll need to look for another inspector.

    Yes, he may be the customer but the customer is not always right. In many cases, including this one, he is wrong. They do not get to tell us how to write our reports. We do this for a living, they don't. Allowing the client to call the shots is a recipe for a headache and possible legal trouble.

    It doesn't sound like he really wants a home inspection. He wants a fluff report to help him sell his house.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    I got a call from a potential client wanting me to perform a seller inspection for him. He told me he wants to basically walk with me during the inspection and tell me what he wants and doesn't want on his report.
    This doesn't sound right but on the other hand he is the client and the buyer of the report so can a report be basically customized to how the buyer of the report wants it?
    I told him I would get back to him.


    It's obvious that he does not want you to report on some things. Whats worse is, he will give your report to all potential buyers. Then the monkey will be on your back.

    You could do the inspection just as he request, then on the report say:
    At the clients/owners request and instruction an abbreviated inspection was done. Other items that are included as part of a routine inspection were not performed. I recommend that a purchaser have a more complete inspection performed.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    Get the check, and cash it before you give him the report.
    Do the right thing.


  5. #5
    Hector Acevedo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    I think it's not right to minipulate a report to make it appear as if there's nothing really wrong. The homeowner is trying to shed the best possible light on his home. However, by choosing which items to add or delete on the report, is called lying. It doesn't matter if he is paying for the report. He's asking you to violate your own code of ethics for his personal gain.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    Although I've not had someone ask me for an inspection like this.
    I have done limited inspections, and I think most inspectors have.
    Just today I had a call asking me to inspect only a retaining wall.
    I've inspected only the roof.
    I've inspected only work done by a contractor.
    I see nothing wrong with doing a limited inspection for someone. In this case it's clear that the homeowner wants to deceive others. As long as the report states what was inspected (and what was not) then the report would not be misleading. Do the inspection as he request, just let the report show that the owner did not want a more complete inspection.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    In our State, you must do an inspection according to the State's SOP. The only time I deviate is when someone tells me they are going to replace such and such and I don't have to inspect it. I have them spell it out in my contract what they are asking to be left out.
    If it is a listing inspection, nothing gets left out.
    Again, do the right thing, or pass it off to someone else.


  8. #8
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    The main reason folks do not get a listing seller inspection is because once the seller knows about a problem they have to disclose it. In this case...once you tell your client (the seller) about a problem and he tells you to leave it off of the report you are in collusion with the seller to hide a problem. Bad idea in my opinion.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    tc

    come on--does it sound right--does it feel right---SOP

    CVF


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    To perform an inspection to this home owner's liking, the report would essentially have to say "Per the client's request, some defects were left out of the report and/or not inspected".

    I'd conveniently lose that guy's phone number.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  11. #11
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    Quote Originally Posted by TcDuhon View Post
    I got a call from a potential client wanting me to perform a seller inspection for him. He told me he wants to basically walk with me during the inspection and tell me what he wants and doesn't want on his report.
    This doesn't sound right but on the other hand he is the client and the buyer of the report so can a report be basically customized to how the buyer of the report wants it?
    I told him I would get back to him.
    Texas, being a licensed state with laws and rules and ethics that absolutely must be followed, is different than most places in the country. Follow the link below and take a read thru the wonders of Texas law about what goes into a report.

    You can do particular systems upon request but as everyone else says you must mention in the report that this is a limited systems inspection.

    As far as what you write and do not write the guy is having nightmares. You only write your findings no matter what he wants.

    You cannot report on a bathroom and only write up part of the bathroom. This is not an individual system. This is part of the rest of the home. Once you venture past a particular system or 2 there is no writing up only this and that. You cannot write up an HVAC system and only part of it. You cannot write up a roof and eliminate anything about the roof.

    It all still has to be in the formatted report. There is no such thing as walking thru the home and just reporting some items and leaving the rest out.

    Again, particular systems is fine. Once you go beyond the systems then you have to write up everything. There is no partial inspection beyond particular systems.

    Tell him or you go to TREC - Home Page

    No one dictates to you what you write or do not write in a report, ever.

    Last edited by Ted Menelly; 02-19-2011 at 05:32 AM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    Just 'updated' a sellers report this am.

    If they fix it and send me pics and a receipt for the work done I remove the previous call out and re issue the report.

    Do a full report and update when fixed, or report only on a single (multiple?) concerns and ensure report verbiage addresses areas not inspected or reported on.

    We know why you fly: because the bus is too expensive and the railroad has a dress code...
    www.atozinspector.com

  13. #13
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gault View Post
    Just 'updated' a sellers report this am.

    If they fix it and send me pics and a receipt for the work done I remove the previous call out and re issue the report.

    Do a full report and update when fixed, or report only on a single (multiple?) concerns and ensure report verbiage addresses areas not inspected or reported on.

    You changed a report just based on pics and a receipt? You never went back to the home? If that is the case I would write nothing about it what so ever in the report. I would not change the report at all. I would write an addendum to the report stating that the seller sent you pictures and a receipt for work done but have no actual idea that anything was done at all. Even if I do go back I write an addendum to the report and never change the original report. I also write in the addendum that I can only see the physical exterior of a repair (if you can even see that) and I am not giving my blessing on any work done at all.


  14. #14
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    I've done reinspections on seller inspections where they have fixed some or all of the problems identified in the original report. As I have stated in another thread...my guideline for a repair is that the repair had to bring the item or system up to the condition that I would not have written it up on the original report. I don't change the original report...I do a new report with a new summary of problems not repaired (if any).


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gault View Post
    Just 'updated' a sellers report this am.

    If they fix it and send me pics and a receipt for the work done I remove the previous call out and re issue the report.

    Do a full report and update when fixed, or report only on a single (multiple?) concerns and ensure report verbiage addresses areas not inspected or reported on.
    How can you be sure the pic or all pics they send are entirely representative of the needed repairs and that all repairs have been completed in their entirety? Sounds like a virtual reinspection.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    I can tell you, you will be sorry you did this inspection. This is one of the reasons I have gotten away from pre-listing inspections.


  17. #17
    Nolan Kienitz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    Thomas - I see that you are a very newly licensed TX TREC inspector (TREC # 10577). You had best be very careful with such requests from potential clients. You can disclaim many things that the client "doesn't want you to inspect", but you have to note that in the report and you just can't erase that item.

    If you generated such a report the client would be handing it out and potential buyers would look at it and they might even "buy" and not have the home inspected themselves. If they came across something that was amiss you would be in the crosshairs for a lawsuit.

    I hope that you are extremely familiar with the TREC SOP ... I've talked to many new TX TREC HIs who really don't understand it and by not understanding it each and every HI you do is likely open for a complaint.

    As noted above in this thread I'm included in those who shy well away from pre-listing inspections.

    Do the right thing and follow the TREC rules.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    I don't see a problem with prelisting inspections. They really are no different than inspections we perform for buyers. The problem is performing an inspection that caters to the seller's request if their intention is to withhold information and purposely leave items out of a report.

    Don't let the client think they call the shots and make the rules because they are paying. They pay for our experience. And our experience says letting them make the rules is a very bad decision.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    I don't see a problem with prelisting inspections. They really are no different than inspections we perform for buyers. The problem is performing an inspection that caters to the seller's request if their intention is to withhold information and purposely leave items out of a report.

    Don't let the client think they call the shots and make the rules because they are paying. They pay for our experience. And our experience says letting them make the rules is a very bad decision.
    X2

    An inspection is a whole item... The road the OP is thinking of heading down is a dangerous one IMO.

    I'd never even consider it.... no matter how much I needed the money.


  20. #20
    Jim Klein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    I think you can tell him that you will do your normal inspection and issue your standard report disclosing everything that you would normally do - and if they then repair or correct any or every issue that was found that you would be happy to do a reinspection (for an additional fee) of those items only and write an addendum to the original report with the new findings (or non-findings as they may now be).
    More commonly what I have seen (when living in California and having been both a multiple-times buyer and seller of property there), many homeowners will do a pre-listing inspection and then correct any definciencies and write in the report what they had done, by whom, and provide receipts, all of which went into the inspection binder that was present at the open house....

    But otherwise, no, he does not decide what goes in the report and what gets left out. If you send a computerized report, MAKE SURE that you are sending a PDF and not a raw Word Document that can be edited....

    Jim Klein
    North Star Home Inspections LLC
    Fort Collins, CO


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    I firmly believe as time goes by, pre-sell inspections will become a larger part of the market. In North Carolina, they may even become the dominate part with the new RE contracts. To turn away from them will be foolish.
    Having said that, the law may well come down that our liability for errors and omissions will extend to the buyer despite the fact that we did the report for the seller. There can be no positive future in altering our results. Now, at least in NC, we have the freedom to exempt certain components from the report providing they are enumerated in advance. But it's much to anyone's benefit to do the job as you would always do it regardless of what side the client is on.
    JLMathis


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey L. Mathis View Post
    Having said that, the law may well come down that our liability for errors and omissions will extend to the buyer despite the fact that we did the report for the seller
    JLMathis
    I think that has already been proven in several court cases. Omit information at your own risk!


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    My state (Oregon) has actually taken a bit of a different approach.... we're required to print a bold/caps statement on the front of our reports and contracts that says the report is for the sole use of the purchaser of the services.

    Basically, the state contractor's board got tired of buyers who didn't contract for an inspection trying to complain. Sure, the reports still get passed around but it's another layer of protection against one of them coming after us if they weren't our client.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    When doing pre-listing/selller inspections I always tell the client (seller) that they are no different than a buyers inspection and that I will be writing the report as if I am speaking to a potentail buyer. This guy is asking you to do something unethical, I would personally walk away from a job like this, or explain how I run my business and that know one tells me what to put in my reports.


  25. #25
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    Angry Re: Ethics Question.....

    I'm surprised you have to ask, our job is to report what we see and not have our report dictated to us. Tell the truth! Rick


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    And then the plaintiff's attorney says; "It doesn't matter that you were hired to only do a foundation inspection. You are a trained, professional home inspector, and you had to walk right by the split furnace flue that was dumping carbon monoxide into this house. You had to have seen this problem, and with your professional expertise, you had to recognize that as a safety hazard. Limited inspection or not, you were obligated to report this hazard. That makes it your fault these people died............."


  27. #27
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Chambers View Post
    And then the plaintiff's attorney says; "It doesn't matter that you were hired to only do a foundation inspection. You are a trained, professional home inspector, and you had to walk right by the split furnace flue that was dumping carbon monoxide into this house. You had to have seen this problem, and with your professional expertise, you had to recognize that as a safety hazard. Limited inspection or not, you were obligated to report this hazard. That makes it your fault these people died............."
    You can in fact do 1 or up to 3 systems with out reporting on anything else, in Texas, but must disclose that you were only hired for those systems and still use the formatted report. What this seller appears to be asking is to only report on this about that and not the entire item. There is no liability in not reporting on anything else in the home unless you stray from a particular system in an item or items in the rest of the home and then you must do a full inspection.

    There is an exception to that as well. As you are going thru the home inspecting it and the buyer says forget the rest of the inspection as too much was found already and I am not going thru with the purchase. You must do the report up until that stopping point and disclose that the buyer chose to cancel the rest of the inspection. There is no law that says you must complete the inspection even if the buyer says to stop.

    Last edited by Ted Menelly; 02-26-2011 at 05:59 PM.

  28. #28
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    In Calif. The Structural Pest Control Board has out lined a limited report as just that a limited report and at the request of the owner or buyer or an agent for a buyer or seller.

    We area required to state what was inspected (ONLY) and that the report is limited to and area of the home or ?

    So with this the law in Calif. has been set up for a Home Inspection to do the same. a limited report per the owner/sellers request and location.

    This is not a Ethics question for you as an inspector. unless you want to make it one and if you don't like working under these condition then you should not do it.

    I have no problem providing a limited Home Inspection report.

    Best

    Ron

    Last edited by Ron Bibler; 02-26-2011 at 03:34 PM.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Chambers View Post
    And then the plaintiff's attorney says; "It doesn't matter that you were hired to only do a foundation inspection. You are a trained, professional home inspector, and you had to walk right by the split furnace flue that was dumping carbon monoxide into this house. You had to have seen this problem, and with your professional expertise, you had to recognize that as a safety hazard. Limited inspection or not, you were obligated to report this hazard. That makes it your fault these people died............."
    Nope, that theory would not hold up in court.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    I have been asked to perform inspections in this manor on several occasions (I just can't get over the gall of some people) I give the client the choice. Let me do the inspection in an ethical manor or he is welcome to call one of my competitors.


  31. #31
    David Crawford's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    This seems like an easy one. Don't do a HI that is directed by a person asking to omit info that could harm another, financially or physically.
    My moral compass says don't do it.


  32. #32
    Nolan Kienitz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics Question.....

    Interesting to note that Mr. Duhon has not commented on any of the suggested items.

    Maybe he went back to studying up on the TREC SOP ??


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