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  1. #1
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    Default I have questions

    About a year ago I got a call for an inspection. When I arrived the lady told me that the house was already inspected a couple months before, and she wanted it reinspected to see if I found anything the first inspector missed. During the inspection she mentioned that she worked for an attorney and she was suing the first inspector. (Red flag.) It was very evident to me that there was moisture staining on the ceiling and the roof had 32 vents on it, (roof area not that large,) so it appeared that there was a moisture problem and all the vents were an attempt to dry out the insulation. (No attic, only about 10" between sheathing and interior finish on ceiling. Anyway the inspector never noted anything about the staining on ceiling or all the roof vents. After 45 days in the house the husband and wife both ended up in the hospital due to mold related illnesses. They had a contractor come in and remove some of the wood ceiling and it was infested with mold. The house has a cupola and apparently the water was running down between cupola and roof. (House also had recent flashing at this area.) Estimate was 35K to correct. Fast forward to yesterday and I get a call from her atty. and he wants to use me as an expert witness againt this inspector. The bad part??? he is in my ASHI group and worse yet when I moved here he let me ride with him for a few days. I am relatively new here, and the new guy in this group, Any suggestions, and how do I charge if i do this. Per hour for all hours involved???????? Any help would be greately appreciated, Im not sure what to do, although I could use the money cause I havent worked in 3 months due to a severely broken ankle...

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    Certified Master Inspector CMI
    Paul Kondzich
    Ft. Myers, FL.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: I have questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Kondzich View Post
    About a year ago I got a call for an inspection. When I arrived the lady told me that the house was already inspected a couple months before, and she wanted it reinspected to see if I found anything the first inspector missed. During the inspection she mentioned that she worked for an attorney and she was suing the first inspector. (Red flag.)
    I would have packed up and left right then. The client was dishonest when she hired you. She, of all people (works for an attorney), should know that this was not going to be a "normal" inspection.

    Fast forward to yesterday and I get a call from her atty. and he wants to use me as an expert witness againt this inspector. The bad part??? he is in my ASHI group and worse yet when I moved here he let me ride with him for a few days. I am relatively new here, and the new guy in this group, Any suggestions, and how do I charge if i do this.
    Do you really want this job? (I wouldn't want it. I'm sure I know the guy being sued as we are in the same ASHI chapter.) If you choose to take it you should be compensated. Scott P. and others that do EW work can advise you on how to contract and charge for this work.

    . . . I havent worked in 3 months due to a severely broken ankle.
    Been there. Done that. I know what you are going through. Good luck.

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: I have questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Kondzich View Post
    About a year ago I got a call for an inspection. When I arrived the lady told me that the house was already inspected a couple months before, and she wanted it reinspected to see if I found anything the first inspector missed. During the inspection she mentioned that she worked for an attorney and she was suing the first inspector. (Red flag.) It was very evident to me that there was moisture staining on the ceiling and the roof had 32 vents on it, (roof area not that large,) so it appeared that there was a moisture problem and all the vents were an attempt to dry out the insulation. (No attic, only about 10" between sheathing and interior finish on ceiling. Anyway the inspector never noted anything about the staining on ceiling or all the roof vents. After 45 days in the house the husband and wife both ended up in the hospital due to mold related illnesses. They had a contractor come in and remove some of the wood ceiling and it was infested with mold. The house has a cupola and apparently the water was running down between cupola and roof. (House also had recent flashing at this area.) Estimate was 35K to correct. Fast forward to yesterday and I get a call from her atty. and he wants to use me as an expert witness against this inspector. The bad part??? he is in my ASHI group and worse yet when I moved here he let me ride with him for a few days. I am relatively new here, and the new guy in this group, Any suggestions, and how do I charge if i do this. Per hour for all hours involved???????? Any help would be greatly appreciated, I'm not sure what to do, although I could use the money cause I haven't worked in 3 months due to a severely broken ankle...
    First off, when she said another inspector inspected it, I would have stopped right there and said that this was not an inspection. It was an evaluation and as such, the fee is $XXXX.XX.

    If she accepted the fee, I would then ask to see the previous inspection.
    If I read the report and saw the same things the inspector did, I would tell her that there really wasn't much to be accomplishes and I would take a few dollars for my time. On the other hand, as you said, he didn't mention the vents or stains so you saw something either he didn't or didn't write down.

    Now we can get on to the evaluation part. If she just wants t know about the roof, vents, and mold, then that is all I would address.

    I would also inform her that anything else after I leave the property will be considered expert witness consulting and the fee for that is $350.00 per hour or any part of an hour. This includes travel time, faxes, e mails, phone calls and expenses.

    I would imagine that the attorney will want to question you for about an hour, in his office, to see if he is even going to use you. I would charge $700.00 for that alone. The problem is that having done the inspection already, he may think that he can get other things from you for free.

    At the point you are at now, and although you haven't been working, I still wouldn't want anything else to do with it.

    Eric Van De Ven Magnum Inspections Inc. (772) 214-9929
    www.magnuminspections.com
    I still get paid to be suspicious when I got nothing to be suspicious about!

  4. #4
    David Banks's Avatar
    David Banks Guest

    Default Re: I have questions

    Here is some good info on the same subject.
    http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_i...inspector.html


  5. #5
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    Default Re: I have questions

    I'd rather have the sore ankle than the pain in the ass your headed for in that mess.

    Your ass may vary.


  6. #6
    David Banks's Avatar
    David Banks Guest

    Default Re: I have questions

    Question. Can Paul be subpoenaed even if he wants nothing to do with this because he did the Inspection and Report?
    Whats stopping someone from calling you for an Inspection and not letting you know what they are going to sue the first inspector. Can they use your report in court?


  7. #7
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    Default Re: I have questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Kondzich View Post
    After 45 days in the house the husband and wife both ended up in the hospital due to mold related illnesses. They had a contractor come in and remove some of the wood ceiling and it was infested with mold.
    When you hear "due to mold related illnesses" ...

    RUN FOREST, RUN!

    Inspector A did not mention "the moisture STAINS".

    Inspector B (you) did not mention "the mold".

    They are suing Inspector A for NOT mentioning "the moisture STAINS".

    Just what do you think they may have planned for you for NOT mentioning "the mold"?

    Which lawsuits do you think get into the higher $$$$ - Moisture STAINS? Mold?

    Run Forest, RUN!

    Think about what you can *actually* attest to as an "expert witness" ... that there were "moisture STAINS" present when *you* inspected the house *a couple of months after* another inspector inspected it? That's all?

    Be prepared to look like a FOOL if you cannot answer these questions on cross:

    How much moisture was present in those moisture stains at the time of your inspection?

    (I hope you have that answer, and that the answer is not 'none', otherwise, what good are you to your client?)

    What was the cause of that moisture?

    (I also hope you *can specifically show* - not "guess" - what caused the moisture stains.)

    How long has this purported "leak" been going on?

    (I hope you have the documentation and knowledge to back it up if you say anything other than "I don't know", and, if you say "I don't know", what good are you to your client?)

    Your client's attorney will likely try to set you up with the best answers for HIS/HER questions (but you have to have those answers on your own, he can't - should not' tell you what to say), BUT ... the opposing party's attorney, it will be THEIR JOB to make you look like *anything but* and "expert", and if they succeed, your future work as an "expert" will be limited or non-existent until you can somehow overcome that reputation.

    Have I said RUN FOREST, RUN yet?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  8. #8
    David Banks's Avatar
    David Banks Guest

    Default Re: I have questions

    Jerry do you think he should run?


  9. #9
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    Default Re: I have questions

    David, I had the same thought. If I run away, can they subpeona me?

    Paul Kondzich
    Ft. Myers, FL.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: I have questions

    Yes they can, but they are not likely to call you if you are not going to be beneficial to their case.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  11. #11
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    Default Re: I have questions

    Guys, he couldn't have run away if he wanted to. He had a SEVERELY BROKEN ANKLE! Remember?!

    Sheesh!

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  12. #12

    Default Re: I have questions

    Yes they are going to call you and with a subpeona you will not get a dime. On the other hand if you called that way you do not have to give any opinions. I can't figure why you would not testify as an expert. You charge for any pre court time by the hour, you charge for court by the day. You did an inspection and made statements in your report and that is what you need to testify to. If the guy is an ASHI buddy tell him you are going to do what you gotta do. His insurance company will probably settle it and you will still be friends. He will have learned how to write a better report and do a better inspection. If you have no faith is what you report on then you should be in another profession.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: I have questions

    Quote Originally Posted by John Ghent View Post
    Yes they are going to call you and with a subpoena you will not get a dime.
    And all they will get (should get) are 'Yes.' and 'No.' answers, which will not help them in any meaningful way, so I doubt he gets called beyond just a deposition (which he most likely will be called for anyway, at no or almost no pay if the attorney knows how to work it, in which case all they get are 'Yes.' and 'No.' answers anyway.)

    On the other hand if you called that way you do not have to give any opinions.
    Quite correct, see above.

    I can't figure why you would not testify as an expert.
    Because, based on the information he has posted (and based solely on that information) I suspect he testimony will have limited use for the client, so, regardless how much or how little he charges, he will likely not be called anyway, making no money for a lot of preparation trouble. Add to that the extreme probability that the defense will take his information (again, based solely on what was posted here) and tear it to threads.

    The thing here is to learn what to do the next time he is called to do something similar.

    As Eric said: "First off, when she said another inspector inspected it, I would have stopped right there and said that this was not an inspection. It was an evaluation and as such, the fee is $XXXX.XX."

    Yes, he will likely be subpoenaed, either way, and deposed first as 'Records Custodian', to which he answers 'Yes, that is the report complied for the inspection at ... on ... date.'

    Then he will likely be subpoenaed again deposed as a Witness of Fact, to which he answers 'Yes, that is what the report complied for the inspection at ... on ... date states.'

    Neither of the above pay much, maybe $10 or so.

    The key thing to remember is *to not provide any other information or opinions* during the above depositions.

    Then come the big money - for offering opinions, i.e., becoming the "expert".

    Just make sure you can back up what you say, and, if you are offering an opinion' as to whether something was 'wet' when all you found was a 'moisture stain' and did not use a moisture meter on it ... *I* would not want to offer that opinion as *I* would not have any backup for it.

    Now, if Paul used a moisture meter and documented the readings and the type of moisture meter used, yeah, go for it Paul.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  14. #14
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    Default Re: I have questions

    Paul,

    Are the buyers only going after the first inspector or are they also going after the sellers for failure to disclose a known defect?

    It sounds like the sellers knew about the problem and had taken measures to address it: " . . . there was moisture staining on the ceiling and the roof had 32 vents on it, (roof area not that large,) so it appeared that there was a moisture problem and all the vents were an attempt to dry out the insulation . . . "

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  15. #15
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    Default Re: I have questions

    Bruce I am not sure what is happening with the seller. I do know it was an owner builder and this is Teller County so? The rest of you dont know what that means but I am sure Bruce does. The septic tank was 30 FT. away from the well also, I called the building dept. and they said that on the plans they were 250 ft. apart. so thats what mattered. I guess my tape measure is faulty. This is the same building dept. that has pulled the C.O. on 12 houses that have been occupied for 3 years because the owners called with concerns and the building dept.sent out someone competant and the C.O. was pulled. Anyway I truly thank everyone for the advise, I already called the attorney and told him no thanks. So, one more question guys, since I am not going to be involved here unless I have to be should I mention this to the other inspector at the next meeting or let sleeping dogs lie.

    Paul Kondzich
    Ft. Myers, FL.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: I have questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Kondzich View Post
    Bruce I am not sure what is happening with the seller. I do know it was an owner builder and this is Teller County so? The rest of you dont know what that means but I am sure Bruce does. The septic tank was 30 FT. away from the well also, I called the building dept. and they said that on the plans they were 250 ft. apart. so thats what mattered. I guess my tape measure is faulty. This is the same building dept. that has pulled the C.O. on 12 houses that have been occupied for 3 years because the owners called with concerns and the building dept.sent out someone competant and the C.O. was pulled. Anyway I truly thank everyone for the advise, I already called the attorney and told him no thanks. So, one more question guys, since I am not going to be involved here unless I have to be should I mention this to the other inspector at the next meeting or let sleeping dogs lie.
    I don't see any reason to tell the other inspector. He will find out soon enough. If he is a friend, not just another inspector, I would probably tell him.

    You may still get subpoenaed . If you do, answer yes or no and only answer questions pertaining to your inspection report. The deposition is a fishing trip. The opposing attorney will try to get information out of you that they will then try to use against you. Yes, no, or I didn't inspect that.

    Eric Van De Ven Magnum Inspections Inc. (772) 214-9929
    www.magnuminspections.com
    I still get paid to be suspicious when I got nothing to be suspicious about!

  17. #17
    Claudia Lawrence's Avatar
    Claudia Lawrence Guest

    Cool Re: I have questions

    I feel for the emotional roller coaster you are on. Hopefully if someone else reads this we can spare them being positioned. You were not informed properly that your inspection was based on potential litigation. Litigation inspections are preliminary inspections comparing the first inspectors report to your findings to be used in a court of law as "An Expert". The attorney should be told you are not an expert nor a litigation inspector and decline being positioned.

    The attorney may threaten you to be subpeoned to court but so what.

    This type of position breeds bad feelings and not good. I have seen first hand what it does to people and their relationships.

    Unless you are willing to take the heat get out of the kitchen.

    Claudia Lawrence-Cothran, TWI Affiliates, Sacto CA


  18. #18

    Default Re: I have questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Claudia Lawrence View Post
    Unless you are willing to take the heat get out of the kitchen.
    A
    CLAUDIA: I agree with this 100%. Any inspector not willing or able to get his work discussed in a courtroom should be in another business. We are professionals, we give professional opinions based on our knowledge and we report those opinions professionally. (we hope) With all of the information on this and other forums it is just a matter of time before an inspector or his report gets to be discussed in court. That said, all inspectors should spend some time with their attorney to learn about expert testimony and when to do when you get a subpeona. I also disagree with the concept of not testifying against someone you know. His next mistake can be a killer.


  19. #19
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    Cool Re: I have questions

    Paul
    You got good advice here. Also, remember, you are not an "expert witness" until the court accepts you as such and I have my doubts they will?
    What you learned is our profession is filled with bear traps and the quicker you recognize them the better off you will be. That other inspector sounds like a boob and hopefully you won't be sharing the expense of his mistakes on top of your own.
    Good luck.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  20. #20
    Lewis Capaul's Avatar
    Lewis Capaul Guest

    Default Re: I have questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Kondzich View Post
    About a year ago I got a call for an inspection. When I arrived the lady told me that the house was already inspected a couple months before, and she wanted it reinspected to see if I found anything the first inspector missed. During the inspection she mentioned that she worked for an attorney and she was suing the first inspector. (Red flag.) It was very evident to me that there was moisture staining on the ceiling and the roof had 32 vents on it, (roof area not that large,) so it appeared that there was a moisture problem and all the vents were an attempt to dry out the insulation. (No attic, only about 10" between sheathing and interior finish on ceiling. Anyway the inspector never noted anything about the staining on ceiling or all the roof vents. After 45 days in the house the husband and wife both ended up in the hospital due to mold related illnesses. They had a contractor come in and remove some of the wood ceiling and it was infested with mold. The house has a cupola and apparently the water was running down between cupola and roof. (House also had recent flashing at this area.) Estimate was 35K to correct. Fast forward to yesterday and I get a call from her atty. and he wants to use me as an expert witness againt this inspector. The bad part??? he is in my ASHI group and worse yet when I moved here he let me ride with him for a few days. I am relatively new here, and the new guy in this group, Any suggestions, and how do I charge if i do this. Per hour for all hours involved???????? Any help would be greately appreciated, Im not sure what to do, although I could use the money cause I havent worked in 3 months due to a severely broken ankle...
    In my opinion your prior association with the Inspector being sued should exclude you from being called as an expert witness, you have a conflict of interest regarding this case, it's not just that you know him, it's the fact that you had a working relationship with him resulting from your ride alongs.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: I have questions

    The only thing I would add is I would tell the guy what's coming his way. Not only is he an ASHI buddy, but he also gave you ride alongs. I think you owe it to him.
    JF

    I was approached by an atty about a case (out of my local area). I asked him who the inspector was. I knew him. I told the atty I did know the inspector he was going after, and he needed to be aware of my ties.

    I asked him permission to talk to my friend about the possibility of me working for an atty going after him. I called my friend, told him what was up. He knew he was going to be sued.

    I ended up reviewing his report and some other documentation about the suit and wrote an opinion for the atty. In a nutshell, I told the atty that while the inspector may have missed a couple of minor things, the lawsuit should really be directed toward the sellers because they had obviously covered the damage up.

    I was objective. I didn't slant my opinion in favor of my friend. My friend was grateful it was me that did it, instead of someone that either had it in for him, or was one of those "I can't believe this guy missed this stuff...".

    They ended up going after the sellers and the termite insepctor nad left the insepctor out of it. What was funny is that his written report didn't save him, it was photos of other stuff that were in the report that convince me he couldn't have seen the damaged area when he was there.

    Anyway, if you are going to do the job, do it in a professional manner to the best of your ability. Even if you don't take the job, tell your friend what's coming his way.
    JF


  22. #22
    Dave Rice's Avatar
    Dave Rice Guest

    Wink Re: I have questions

    I am a retired police officer of 35 years and have been to court a few times needless to say. Attorneys can turn things around if you give them too much information. In court "black is black and white is white" and don't add any coloring to it. That is what I learned 35 years ago at the police academy training. You can only testify to what you know and not what the other inspector knows. You can't contradict what he did because you are not aware of his knowledge base. You can only testify to what your knowledge base is and thats all. The definition of an expert is knowledge more than the average person or layman has through training or experience. Don't fall for the statement "in your opinion is the man right or wrong" because if they asked for my opinion I would expound on everything I knew about form baseball to eating late meals. In other words don't give th attorney any fuel for his fire because he is an EXPERT in turning things around to benefit his client. Also if it is a friend of yours tell the attorney you are bias in you opinion of your friend and you feel it be in your best interest to not get involved. Jet away Forest Jet away as fast as you can. Money can't replace friendship or a good working relationship. Good luck.


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