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  1. #1
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    Default Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    Hi Y'all,

    I'm looking for some feedback on a problem that I've noticed over the years. We're often asked to go back to the inspection site just before closing and do a re-inspection of the items that were agreed-to pursuant to our original home inspection. Usually, few of the agreed-to repairs have been done and the ones that are done have been done poorly. So, I scribble some notes on the report summary or the attorney's demand letter and then I'm off. Sometimes I charge a small fee but usually I do not. I know my time is valuable but I am reluctant to stick my neck out any further into this murky re-inspection territory by taking $125 or so for the site visit. Does anyone have a process in place wherein the inspector and the buyer's attorney have more a partnership and where the clients get better results from the demand letter? Thanks!

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    Dan Cullen
    www.domicileconsulting.com
    Chicago IL

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    I used to avoid reinspects but I've changed my tune. They have helped fill in some gaps in the work schedule and provide some more income. I used to tell clients who asked for a reinspect that they should just get receipts and invoices from the professionals who did the work. But I've seen far too many instances where obtaining this paperwork means nothing because the repairs were done poorly or not at all. Many of my clients would have been screwed if they took the sellers and the contractors the sellers hired at their word.

    You can do what you want but I would always charge a fee for a reinspect, even if the house less than a mile away. Being the last man in so-to-speak puts the liability back on the inspector and I'm not interested in taking on that liability for free, especially if I'm giving the client something in writing. And I don't modify or revise my original inspection report. I issue a new summary report of the items that were inspected and whether or not the items requested for inspection appear to have been corrected.

    As for the buyers getting better results when they have specific items they want addressed as part of the sale, that's out of our hands. Maybe the attorney or their realtor can insert some language in the request for repair paperwork that spells out specific penalties or reductions in the sale price if the agreed upon repairs are not completed or not done properly. I'm not even sure if this is legal.

    All we can do as inspectors is inspect and let our clients know what we see. As long as you set the expectation and let your client know exactly what you do as part of a reinspection, there can't be a communication breakdown on your end.

    "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: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    Dan,

    If you carry E&O, you may want to check with you carrier to determine to what extent you are covered for a "re-inspection".

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  4. #4
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    My criteria for a re-inspection is that the repair has to bring an item or system up to the level that I would not have written it up as needing repair in the first place. I take my original report and make a copy to use as the report template for the re inspection report.


  5. #5

    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    From an insurance standpoint, I don't see a problem with re-inspections as long as you're verifying that work has been completed and that is it. You may want to have a completely seperate agreement with wording like this:

    "This re-inspection is being performed at the request of the client in order to confirm that the work described by the contractor has been completed. The inspector is in no way providing any kind of warranty or representation that the work has been performed in accordance with building codes or specifications, nor is it providing any kind of opinion as to the quality of work performed. Furthermore, the inspector has no knowledge of the professional qualifications or licensing status of the person or persons who conducted this work and cannot be held responsible for the quality of the work performed."


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    I have checked with my E&O provider, and they are OK with re-inspections.

    I do them now, and I charge for them 99% of the time.

    Before I go out, I ask for the list of the things that they asked to be repaired, and what things they want me to look at. Many times I have called out for a chimney sweep to look at the fireplace, chimney, flue, or a HVAC guy to give the stamp of approval on something, so I let them know that they need to rely on THOSE people to be sure THAT was taken care of.

    Then when I go out there I only look at the items that are on the list.

    Many times the stuff is not done. Some times, if it is done, it's still not right. Once in a while they mess something else up while they are fixing.

    We typically don't use attorneys here for closings, they use Title companies.


  7. #7
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    If your going to do re-inspection you should have a set of standards.

    1. You do not offer any guarantee on any work completed by owners or others. and that if they want a guarantee they need to contact the party that did the work.

    Did the item require a Building permit ? if so they need to provide that for your reviews. if not state that this work required a building permit and one was not pressent/onsite for your review.

    Was any work extending into inaccessible wall voids or inaccessible areas and if so did you look inside the inaccessible areas ? if not you should state that you requested to have that area open but the work was completed painted and inaccessible for inspection and you offer no opinion on any inaccessible areas. and that if they want any information on the inaccessible area the owner will need to open and exposed all condition for further inspection.


    And yes you should always charge for each re-inspection.

    I always have the owner get this in a contract with the person or contractor that is doing the work.

    the owner will pay for (1) re inspection fee and the contractor shall pay for all other re inspection fee. its not right for the owner to keep paying for re inspection fees because the contractor is not doing the work in a workman like way.

    This will keep you in good standing with the owner. I have had to come back 4 and 5 times at $ 150.00 a trip. people start to get Mad at this point.

    Best

    Ron


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    I always request receipts for any work that was done. I get those about 50% of the time. If I don't have those I state that and question whether the work was completed by licensed competent contractors I also state that my intention is to only confirm that the work was done for my clients.

    Although you may want to appear like the nice guy and do the re-inspect as a freebie, I have seen enough times where they become time-sinkholes. This usually occurs when the owner does the repair poorly but doesn't want to acknowledge they did it and has a fit when you call it for what it is.

    //Rick

    Rick Bunzel
    WWW.PacCrestInspections.com
    360-588-6956

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Bunzel View Post
    I always request receipts for any work that was done. I get those about 50% of the time. If I don't have those I state that and question whether the work was completed by licensed competent contractors I also state that my intention is to only confirm that the work was done for my clients.

    Although you may want to appear like the nice guy and do the re-inspect as a freebie, I have seen enough times where they become time-sinkholes. This usually occurs when the owner does the repair poorly but doesn't want to acknowledge they did it and has a fit when you call it for what it is.

    //Rick
    I have seen the same. You think you're just going to go in and be out in 15-30 minutes because you have a set list to go over. But hold on.....the builder or contractor decided to show up and hear what you have to say, along with the seller and their realtor. Then they want to debate your assessment. Or maybe the seller who is flipping the house and can't be there is on the phone with the buyer's agent and the agent says "do you want to talk to the inspector? He's right here". All the while, you're silently cringing and trying to pretend you don't hear anything the agent is saying.

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

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    I do re-inspections all the time. Never had any issues in doing so.

    Typically, I charge half of the original inspection fee which depends on the list of the requested repair items.

    Rick


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    Reinspections need special reporting skills.

    Here are the typical categories many items will fall into and general verbiage:


    Please refer to original inspection report for overall information, this was a limited inspection of the items that were capable of being reinspected at this time. Some items require a long term performance evaluation with subsequent checks along the way to see how they are doing.

    The original report items not listed below were reinspected and found to be in an acceptable condition at this time but not warrantied in any way. Any warranties desired must be arranged with the contractor who did the work.


    Items unable to re-inspect:


    Items that still need work:

    Items that need subsequent observation and checking to see if the repair is performing properly:


    New problems found today:


    Items with improvements made but still not 100 percent correct:

    Bruce King, B.A. King Home Inspections, LLC
    www.BAKingHomeInspections.com
    Certified Master Inspector, Independent Inspectorwww.IndependentInspectors.org

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Garrison View Post
    From an insurance standpoint, I don't see a problem with re-inspections as long as you're verifying that work has been completed and that is it. You may want to have a completely seperate agreement with wording like this:

    "This re-inspection is being performed at the request of the client in order to confirm that the work described by the contractor has been completed. The inspector is in no way providing any kind of warranty or representation that the work has been performed in accordance with building codes or specifications, nor is it providing any kind of opinion as to the quality of work performed. Furthermore, the inspector has no knowledge of the professional qualifications or licensing status of the person or persons who conducted this work and cannot be held responsible for the quality of the work performed."

    Ben, has something changed for the better?

    From what FREA has told me before, no insurance is provided for items that have been reinspected.

    Bruce King, B.A. King Home Inspections, LLC
    www.BAKingHomeInspections.com
    Certified Master Inspector, Independent Inspectorwww.IndependentInspectors.org

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    All repairs should be done by professionals that in some cases must be state licensed here Dan.
    These professionals should provide receipts and take all liability for their work.
    Since you are not looking for new issues and are only checking the new work one wonders why you would wish to get involved further by communicating with an Attorney and being involved with a demand letter.
    I look at it this way.The work was done or it wasn't and it is that simple.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    Thanks everyone for the advice. Much obliged. I have considered all the options presented in the replies and I use many of those strategies.

    The communication break-down is at the level of the closing attorney though. They try to write their own repair verbiage; they don't include the inspection photos in their demand letter; they change the wording so that the seller's contractor is unclear on what needs to be done; they don't include my contact information so the seller's contractor can call me for clarifications; and their need for control of the information is, I believe, creating a 'communication break-down' that results in a watering down of our reports.

    That's the solution I'm looking for. The only fix I can think of off-hand is to educate the buyers and have them pester their attorney to collaborate with the inspector on the demand letter. It seems like a team approach is needed in order to get the recommendations in the report translated into properly performed repairs for the buyers.

    Dan

    Dan Cullen
    www.domicileconsulting.com
    Chicago IL

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Cullen View Post
    Thanks everyone for the advice. Much obliged. I have considered all the options presented in the replies and I use many of those strategies.

    The communication break-down is at the level of the closing attorney though. They try to write their own repair verbiage; they don't include the inspection photos in their demand letter; they change the wording so that the seller's contractor is unclear on what needs to be done; they don't include my contact information so the seller's contractor can call me for clarifications; and their need for control of the information is, I believe, creating a 'communication break-down' that results in a watering down of our reports.

    That's the solution I'm looking for. The only fix I can think of off-hand is to educate the buyers and have them pester their attorney to collaborate with the inspector on the demand letter. It seems like a team approach is needed in order to get the recommendations in the report translated into properly performed repairs for the buyers.

    Dan
    Dan ,you did your job and should be careful about getting involved in those areas.


  16. #16
    Terry Griffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    Hi Dan,
    We do a limited amount of re inspections. Depending on our relations with the realtor and volume of business we do for them determines if we charge for the re inspection. When we do the re inspection we only look at the areas that were reported in the original inspection. We classify the repairs as acceptable or non acceptable and provide comparison photos.
    We also include a disclaimer that since the person(s) that did the repairs are liable we assume no further liability and let it go at that.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Elliott View Post
    Dan ,you did your job and should be careful about getting involved in those areas.
    I agree with Bob on this. What you are describing Dan is wading into the legal realm......and we don't get paid anywhere close to what lawyers get paid. I know you want to protect your clients but the end of the day, we can only do so much.

    I do understand your frustration. I've read some reply to inspection documents where the verbiage the buyer's agent used for some repair requests was not close to anything I said in the report.

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

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    I do understand your frustration. I've read some reply to inspection documents where the verbiage the buyer's agent used for some repair requests was not close to anything I said in the report.
    Same here. When asked and the agent is restating what they think I said, I try to correct them and gently suggest that they simply copy and paste rather than come up with new wording.
    I hate doing re-inspects! It is an extreme rarity that the repairs are done correctly on the second or even third visit. Let's face it, the seller gets to choose the repair person and the low bidder always gets the job. If asked, I explain that "I" would rather get a discount and hire my own guy unless it is something of a hidden nature that the final cost can't be determined until after the area is opened up for repairs.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    I've been doing re-inspections since the beginning, never bothered me or been a problem. As has been stated usually repairs are more BS. This is what I do when I'm asked to do a reinspection.
    - Have owner/attorney send me a list of items to be reinspected. Only what is requested gets reinspected.
    - Have them sign off on the cost and reinspection. Cost varies on quantity and location, $75-125.
    - I have a standard form I copy and paste the original text from the report into. I do this so that no matter what the attorneys write on their own letters, my documentation stays the same throughout the process. Each item is listed and numbered. Under each item and before the next item are a bunch of lines where I can write in commentary (they always want the reinsp doc right then and there.
    - if the item requires a permit or license, I want to see it. License I nail them on, permit not so much. If they can't provide a legit licensed contractor or explanation, the item is listed as "Non-compliant lacking sufficient documentation establishing approved installation by licensed contractor".
    - If its something minor or not requiring license, I check it out and sign off whether compliant or not. I grew up the son of a GC, signing off on something or not doesn't phase me.
    There are usually issues with reinspections. Joe contractor and realtor wants to talk smack, the repairs are BS, or not even changed at all. Sometimes I wonder if they think no one will show up if they just say it was fixed.
    I know follow up calls drastically evaporated after I started using the copy/paste doc that I use. Everyone knows I did the reinspect and that there is a report, they want to see it. Doesn't matter what the attorney writes or realtor says.

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  20. #20
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    I am so curious about why a Real Estate attorney is even involved in nthe home sale in the slightest at the stage before closing.

    A demand letter from an Attorney For what? The items that the buyers decides to have in an addendum to be repaired after the home inspection? Again, what is he/she (attorney) even doing in the sale process yet? Why is there something called a demand letter? How about a negotiation Letter ? How about an ask to be fixed/repaired/replaced letter?

    A demand letter? An attorney? What's up with all that?

    That is a Realtors job to be putting together an addendum to the contract for sale after findings in an inspection.....not an attorneys. No wonder you may be having problems. I go to a re-inspect (practically never) write my findings and email it off to the client....end of story.

    An attorney has absolutely no right what so ever putting together a demand letter on a home for a client that is not even their home yet. The attorney can demand nothing. The buyer can ask and ask is all they can do. No one has to fix anything in a home sale. As is, How is if that is what the sellers wants. It matters not what the client wants at this point. The only time it becomes an issue is if the seller does no fix something because they do not want to and then lose the sale. Or if there are promised items to be repaired at an agreement at closing but the items never get repaired and then an attorney can step in.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    Ted,

    Here in Chicago, maybe not all of IL, attorneys are the go between the buyer and seller once the contract is signed and executed. Agents can help with the terms but the letter of agreed to items regarding repairs or credits will come from the attorney(s).


  22. #22
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by Ross Neag View Post
    Ted,

    Here in Chicago, maybe not all of IL, attorneys are the go between the buyer and seller once the contract is signed and executed. Agents can help with the terms but the letter of agreed to items regarding repairs or credits will come from the attorney(s).

    Thanks

    I guess I was shocked even by the words...demand letter.

    I was thinking more on the line of "it would be real nice for you to fix these listed items and then I would agree to go forward with the purchase" Instead of a letter of demand.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    Ted,
    The negotiations produce a contract with terms and conditions. A good contract will have a date (well before the closing date) that alterations or repairs must completed with a method of verification required and conditions of acceptance of the alterations or repairs. If there has not been a notification of those items being completed the demand letter would be sent out since the seller is now in breach. Contract can have stipulation that if the repairs have not been completed by a date them by terms in the contract the seller will forfeit specific dollar amounts at the time of settlement. Its all about the contract.

    What you do not want to happen is have issues not resolved prior to settlement. If a Buyer or Seller relies only on their Agents for the creation of the contract and their protection within that contract it is Stupid is as Stupid does.


  24. #24
    Eric Shuman's Avatar
    Eric Shuman Guest

    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    Though I have occasionally done re-inspects on previously owned homes, most re-inspections that I perform are on new construction homes or for repairs done after I have completed an end of builder's warranty inspection.

    In fact I encourage re-inspects on these new homes because the majority of the time I go back out to find the builder's guys did not address about 50% of the issues in my report, often the most crucial ones, even though they have told the client everything was repaired.

    Example: on a recent inspection on a brand new home I found that one of the condensing units did not operate and none of the garage outlets were GFCI protected (among many other issues).

    Upon re-inspection 2 weeks later, the condenser still did not work and the GFCI was still not present. Builder had gone through my report with the client and checked off that every issue had been repaired.

    I'm not trying to throw the builder under the bus, he had contacted the contractors and they stated that all repairs had been done, but the fact remains that the issues were still present and would not have been caught until later, and possibly not at all with the GFI issue.

    Yes I do charge a fee for re-inspectins.


  25. #25
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Communication Break-Down at Re-Inspection

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Ted,
    The negotiations produce a contract with terms and conditions. A good contract will have a date (well before the closing date) that alterations or repairs must completed with a method of verification required and conditions of acceptance of the alterations or repairs. If there has not been a notification of those items being completed the demand letter would be sent out since the seller is now in breach. Contract can have stipulation that if the repairs have not been completed by a date them by terms in the contract the seller will forfeit specific dollar amounts at the time of settlement. Its all about the contract.

    What you do not want to happen is have issues not resolved prior to settlement. If a Buyer or Seller relies only on their Agents for the creation of the contract and their protection within that contract it is Stupid is as Stupid does.
    These are contracts of the Texas Real Estate Commission. In the initial contract it states they have the right of refusal after the home inspection and satisfaction of any repairs agreed upon in the contract negotiations. If proof is not in hand that agreed upon repairs have been made the buyer can back out and get all earnest money back. There is no need what so ever for the extra expense of an attorney at this point.

    Home inspection (that is in the contract to purchase)

    Addendum put forth for repairs the buyer is asking for.

    Seller either agrees to the addendum or not and can go on with the next buyer/offer if they do not agree to repair anything or an agreement cannot be put on the table.

    Seller fixes agreed upon repairs. Presents proof or a re-inspect is done along with proof. If everything is hunky dory the sale goes forth and they set a closing date if the repairs are not done then the agreement is void and buyer gets back earnest money or the seller finishes up repairs and then a final closing date set.

    There is absolutely no need for the cost of attorney at this point. All these contracts are state mandated/formatted etc

    Terms met = sale

    Terms not met = no sale

    What exactly does one think the Realtors job is. Unlocking a door and saying "See how pretty. Would you like to go ahead with an offer?" and that's it. If that was all there was to it and a lawyer was involved from the get go then there would never be any need for a buyers agent, just a listing agent.

    As far as a demand for repair letter from the get go things are instantly hostile. There is a negotiation process that the buyers agent handles and follows thru with.

    Personally I am extremely happy that I have never had a Lawyer involved from the get go they I had to relay info to. I am not part of the negotiations or agreement making and never wish to be. I find concerns, put them in a report and my day and inspection is done other than a question on occasion form the buyer about my findings.


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