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Thread: Opinions

  1. #1
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    Default Opinions

    I would appreciate any opinions on this matter,
    I recently got a call from a past customer who said there was a BIG problem with an oversight on my part and that the waste lines in her home had to be replaced. I asked her about the issue and she said that during an appointment with basment water proofing company the person saw water seeping out of the waste line and told her that her inspector shgould havce seen it and they have insurance and you should get him to pay.
    She went right out, hired a plumber and had the line fixed before ever calling me.
    I live right down the road and have been called many times to look at things and give advice during and after the inspection period. She knows I respond quickley.
    I show up at the house and see the waste lines in the driveway. The lines look like many I have seen that were sitting in the dirt, white lines on pipe sides, dirt marks. They almost look like they were scraped off to look clean.
    She says they were in the area above the entry to the crawl area which in most areas was less than 12 inches in height in most areas and was not accessible as noted in the report.
    I ran the water for almost 2 hours in this home and inspected the crawl area last as far as I could get in and saw no leaks.
    House was only used on weekends prior to sale.
    I am wondering why I wasn't the first person she called as that is her normal routine. I'm sure you have all had a few clients that are like this and it's just part of the deal. You do and help out where you can.
    But I wasn't the first called. She took no pictures of the damage prior to removal so I am suspecting that the damage was not visible to me at time of inspection but was buried.
    The pipes are cracked to the point where there is no way a leak would not be found unless they were in the ground.
    I'm just going over these things because I don't want to let her get away with something I firmly believe she is very capable of doing.
    If I am wrong I admit it and make good, but Something smells fishy here.
    Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks, Wayne

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Wayne,

    Don't you love when someone says "the inspector should have seen that"?

    If you use a contract, it should spell out what you can and cannot see (buried stuff, for instance). In addition, the contract should have some provision that requires that you be notified of a problem before corrective work is performed so that you can perform an evaluation. Either of these conditions would help to reduce your liability in this matter.

    Depending on the price tag for the work, something like this would most likely go to small claims court. However, if the amount is great enough and she does sue you and goes after your insurance, it may do you no good as the insurance company may choose to settle out of court.

    Department of Redundancy Department
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Yes my contract does state all those things and it would be small claims but my integrity and loyalty to my clients makes me second guess myself firstand them second, but the more i think about this, the fishier it smells.It's not the money. I can make more money. It is Whats the TRUTH and I can't determine that due to the fact that I was not given notice prior to repairs.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Wayne,

    I'd ask Her Don"t you have Home Owners?If yes won't they cover?
    Deductible of Home Owners?

    If she's had any drains that had to be cleaned? If yes receipts.

    Name of basement water proofing company/Guy and receipts for the work done.

    Name of Plumber/Company receipts of work done.
    After all You/Insurance can"t consider the claim without knowing the cost.

    How much time ago? Winter if they only used the home on the weekends did they freeze burst. Large group of people in the house and clogged the system filled with water.

    May have $ in her eye's. Get all the information you can before it turns combative.

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Wayne,

    Nearly every home inspector contract or agreement I've ever read has comments regarding that the HI should have the opportunity to inspect any item in need of repair prior to those repairs being done.

    Then there's the catch phrase about in an emergency situation that repairs should be done to prevent any structural damages if needed.

    That is where the problem lies for most.

    Some plumber came out there and found a leak and pushed the repair as needing immediate attention.

    No doubt, if it had been leaking severly you would have pick up on it.

    You can take a old rusted out drain line as you have in that picture and whack it and cause those type of cracks to occur. Don't think it doesn't happen either.

    Hold your ground and your checkbook tighter.

    Rick


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Wayne, you need to read her the "I'm not superman, I don't have x-ray vision clause" You know the one that tells her you can't see through dirt, walls, floors and such.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Thanks guys, and rick that emergency thing is well taken but as I explained. This women called me very day for a week after the inspection to discuss items and I went to the house mumerous times as it is so close to my home. So why didn't I get a chance to see the damage before the repairs?
    We'll see. Thanks for all of your opinions. Im sure you are all the same way and go over these things in your heads till you go nuts. We all make mistakes but a miss like this is in the "NO Way" category but I have to admit. Not impossible


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Opinions

    She says they were in the area above the entry to the crawl area which in most areas was less than 12 inches in height in most areas and was not accessible as noted in the report.
    Remember that, it is why you put it in the report!

    Why was the guy there waterproofing? Did you report a moisture problem?
    Why did she have time to call and get a second guy out to repair the problem but not to call you... especially if she wants you to pay for it?

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Opinions

    "This women called me every day for a week after the inspection to discuss items and I went to the house numerous times as it is so close to my home. So why didn't I get a chance to see the damage before the repairs?"

    Sounds like the perfect question for this client Wayne. Why didn't she call you?

    The bottom line is she screwed herself by calling you AFTER the work was done......that is if she ever had a case to begin with. Essentially, she altered everything. It's like you saying I hit your car when I pulled away in my car, you getting a new fender and paint job, and telling me after the "evidence" has been removed that I need to pay this bill. She's having "bill payers remorse" and is looking to hook you for the bill which ended being more than she expected.

    Even if she were correct in her allegations against you and it was something you should have seen, how will you ever know? She had everything changed. Based upon your stated experiences with her following the initial inspection, she knew she could call you and you would have shown up as soon as possible. Why wouldn't she do so with something of this scale? Does she have any pictures of the defective pipes still in place prior to the work being done? My guess is no.

    I'd stand ground Wayne.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Thanks Nick, No pics. Thats the first thing I asked her. I said. You aclled me every day for 2 weeks and now you don't call till after the work is done? Do you have pics. No why would I do that she said. We shall see. I'll let you all know the results and thanks again.
    You guys are the best. It is a wonderful feeling to be a part of this forum knowing I can get honest opinons. Thank You all


  11. #11
    Jon Randolph's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinions

    I have a clause in my inspection agreement that I have 48 hours after notification to return to the home and evaluate the problem in person. No repairs can be performed prior to my evaluation. Once the repair has been made, you cannot evaluate the condition to either accept responsibility or explain that the scope of the inspection did not include that area due to access, being underground, behind walls, etc (hopefully you have written documentation of the limitations). If I am at fault and missed something I have no problem accepting responsibility and taking care of the problem.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Opinions

    What damages and/or losses did the client incur as a result of the supposed missed cracked waste lines during inspection? Whether you missed the cracked lines or not, you did not cause damage to the lines. The lines would need to be replaced regardless of the inspection. Was her crawl space contaminated with waste water? You possibly could be held responsible for cleanup or other damages due to the waste lines failing.

    I agree that the client should have called you as soon as the condition was found. Even if it was an emergency, it would have been preferrable to be notified immediately after the call to the plumber.

    Besides the X-ray vision, can't-kick-holes-in-walls things, I tell the client right up front that I am not perfect. Any one inspector will, in all probablity, not see something that another inspector would find if he came in right behind. And, I would probably have something listed that the other inspector would not see.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Wayne,

    The owner made a mistake by not contacting you, but if I understand correctly you're trying to determine if it you missed it and if it was your fault.

    I would ask the owner to provide you with the name and number of the contractor who fixed it and call them. Ask where the faulty pipe was found during their repair. I would say this third party is the deciding witness. "Whatever they say is how you pay"


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Was the house at least 40-50 years old?

    I report on every one of these with cast iron or orangeburg (fiber) pipes that they will have deteriortion present inside and will get worse and have to be replaced.

    The cracks were against the ground no doubt and partially sealed with gunk, that is why you did not notice the ground wet around them.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Opinions

    "I would ask the owner to provide you with the name and number of the contractor who fixed it and call them. Ask where the faulty pipe was found during their repair. I would say this third party is the deciding witness. "Whatever they say is how you pay"".

    I wouldn't be so quick to jump on board with that. It seems well and good but you have no idea what that plumber's relationship is with the client (ie - friend, family member) and that relationship could sway the plumber to paint a more favorable picture for the client in hopes of getting Wayne to pay for everything.

    Wayne, if you feel responsible enough to step outside the boundaries of the verbiage in your inspection agreement, your inspection report, and any supporting pictures and still take some or all responsiblity for the repairs, that is your choice. Otherwise, it sounds as though you have plenty of backup to stick to your guns on this if you feel the defect was not where she says or if it was not observable.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Opinions

    What if the guy who "found" the problem (water proofing guy) is friends with the plumber who got to dig this buried mess out for $$$


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Wayne,

    Sometimes we're right, sometimes we're wrong, sometimes we pay. It's should end up as a business decision, not an ego decision.

    In my opinion, This thread appears to be very defensive. It appears like the comments I see here are trying to get the inspector off the hook and not thinking about reality, or giving the other party any credence.

    If I were the abritrator in this case, I would listen to the parties involved and the testiment of the contractor who fixed it. If the third party witness (the contractor who fixed the problem) says it was a visible defect, I would go with the witness.

    Sometimes it doesn't matter who is right or wrong. Sometimes it is best to negotiate a settlement. It's about money. That's it.

    So Wayne, My suggestion is to contact the third party contractor, ask them what the problem was and either use the information in defense, or negotiate a settlement.

    It's that simple. Don't loose any sleep over it. get on with it. If you get too defensive you get a lot of bad publicity, and you will still loose money. If you settle based on the weighted evidence (third party comments), it will still cost money, but the people will be happy, you will get kudo's and more referals.

    Besides, negotiated settlements usually end up costing you less money than a defensive approach.

    Good luck!


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Those kind of referrals I could do without.

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Yeah Ken, You are right. All I am doing is asking for reciepts, photos, before and after and descriptions from the contractors. That doesen't seem unfair to me. Sometimes a payoff with a release of liability is worth its weight in gold for a certain type of customer.


  20. #20
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    Unhappy Re: Opinions

    I just paid to replace part of a floor in the living room. There was no structural problem just a hump that we failed to note in our report. I chose to have the work done even though I did not feel it was justified for several reasons: 1. Customer satifaction, 2. Realtor relations, 3. Company reputation, 4.my piece of mind (I don't do stress well) 5. cheaper than my deductable on E&O 6. no lost time in court or arbitration. My point is I had to decide what was more valuable to me - winning the point or keeping my reputation.

    Try talking to her, get the information mentioned above, tell her your position, and try to negotiate a reasonable settlement. Get her to sign a "no plublishing"
    agreement afterwards. Helps if you have a disinterested third party involved also.

    The last time I talked to the customer she was very happy and willing to send friends to us.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by wayne soper View Post
    Yes my contract does state all those things and it would be small claims but my integrity and loyalty to my clients makes me second guess myself first and them second, but the more i think about this, the fishier it smells. It's not the money. I can make more money. It is Whats the TRUTH and I can't determine that due to the fact that I was not given notice prior to repairs.
    Why would you doubt yourself with this track record, off your site, or is this a myth/fabrication?

    I have been in the home building and home inspection business for over 20 years and have a full working knowledge of all areas of your new home whether it is new or 100 + years old.

    I work alone.

    When you call Wayne Soper Home Inspection services you talk to me.

    I would take the Nixon stance, "I'm not a crook" and put the ball back where it belongs.

    badair http://www.adairinspection.com Garland, TX 75042 TREC # 4563
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Opinions

    I'm not saying that if you're wrong you should try to get out of it. What I am saying is that if they want you to believe this was something you should have seen, they should be able to show you something (pictures) aside from the dismantled damaged pipes. Hindsight is 20/20. Please show me how I should have seen this during the inspection. That is my approach. I'm not trying to be cavalier about this but you're not talking about a leaky faucet here. I assume the woman's plumbing bill is running into a few thousand dollars which can be close to an entire month of inspection fees for some inspectors.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Wow, Thanks Barry, I needed that. I appreciate all of the comments recieved on this subject. This is a great post to be a member of. THANKS BRIAN! and all of you. Wayne


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Have you got photos of the repairs? are they under ground?


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Opinions

    I never write a report (except condos) that does not have a recommendation to have a plumber conduct a hydro static test that checks the integrity of the drain system.


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Stanley View Post
    I never write a report (except condos) that does not have a recommendation to have a plumber conduct a hydro static test that checks the integrity of the drain system.
    Richard,

    Nice to cover your butt, BUT has anyone that you can recall EVER conducted a hydrostatic test on a drain system prior to purchase???

    Do you think this is a reasonable recommendation for your clients?


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Good Idea Richard, Thanks. I haven't heard anything in a week. NO pics No nuttin. In this case nuttin is a good thing.


  28. #28
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Have you been under the house looked at the repair yet... you can tell allot by what you see. plumbers never clean up there crawlspaces. Just a thought

    Tony


  29. #29
    Richard Stanley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Amelin View Post
    Richard,

    Nice to cover your butt, BUT has anyone that you can recall EVER conducted a hydrostatic test on a drain system prior to purchase???

    Do you think this is a reasonable recommendation for your clients?

    Yes and yes. Most of them. It's pretty much standard around here. Clay soil.
    It is not unusual that this is performed before they call for HI.
    By the way, it is not for cya - its the right thing to do.


  30. #30
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    Default Re: Opinions

    How does that work? Do they plug the vents and pressurize the drain lines? I can see it on supply lines, but I can't see how it holds pressure in a drain line, unless I'm thinking of something different. What does the clay have to do with it? I have seen it done on new houses, but they did have to glue caps on the ends before the fixtures were installed.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Opinions

    They can use inflatable bladders to plug each opening including the drain, roof vents, etc. and then pressure test.
    Clay soils are expansive and tend to move things around seasonally which can pull drain lines apart or crush them under a beam.
    I don't recommend them as a matter of course, but if I suspect substantial foundation movement, I will recommend testing.
    Never thought about calling for it on a crawl space foundation though, since you can usually see most of the drain line(s).

    It might be wise to test on any cast iron system.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  32. #32
    Richard Stanley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Hydro (water) static (no pressure) If pressure was used, it could cause leaks /breaks, etc.. Typical test: Plug the clean out with inflatable test ball. Fill the system to the lowest fixture drain ( commode or shower, most of the techs remove a commode) Allow water to set for 30 minutes. If level falls, there is a leak. If no - ok. Like Jim said - clay soil - unstable - moves everything in it, on it, around it. Actually, I hear / see more about leaking PVC or ABS than I do cast iron. That could also be improperly attached joints, I suspect. The good guys replace the wax ring when removing and re installing the commodes. The biggest problem these guys run into is finding the clean outs on older properties. Most of them have an hourly rate with a minumum in case that happens. If they find a leak, the next step is to isolate it ( find out where the leak is) Usually cameras (sewer cam) are used for that. Next step - start digging.


  33. #33
    Richard Stanley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinions

    More..
    If I already have discoverd a leak, ie; pier foundation where a leak is visible, I tell them to have the static test after the current leak(s) is repaired. Usually at least part of the system is under ground.

    Last edited by Richard Stanley; 09-18-2007 at 01:27 PM. Reason: sp

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Got it. Sort of like a giant shower drain pan test. Not as helpful on a two story, but I could see it saving (and causing) a few headaches with the old clay drain lines that we still have in a lot of houses. An upper floor leak is usually pretty apparent anyhow.

    I thought maybe the clay soil would move stuff around. I think I'm glad that we don't have that type of soil around here very often. It sounds like a pain in the neck to deal with.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Stanley View Post
    Hydro (water) static (no pressure) If pressure was used, it could cause leaks /breaks, etc..
    A proper test is to seal off all (ALL) openings and down at the sewer cleanout, then fill the highest vent with water to 5 feet above the highest pipe/fitting being tested (minimum 5 feet head pressure is the required test). Of course, though, that would required adding another 5 feet of pipe to the highest vent in most cases, thus, simply filling to the overflow of the highest vent would (should) give 5 feet heat pressure above the highest fitting being tested (unless someone placed a fitting in the vent in the attic within 4 feet of the roof sheathing). Note: the IRC is 10 feet heat pressure minimum, Florida is 5 feet.

    That does provide pressure, but head pressure only. But, at 15 feet head pressure (minimum likely to be achieved on a single story house), the underground drain should hold - and, if not, it's leaking.

    The above is the "Water test". There *is* and "air test" also.

    Seal all openings and test at 5 psi for 15 minutes, pressure should hold at 5 psi if there are no leaks.

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

  36. #36
    Mark Jones's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Opinions

    Hi Wayne,

    I looked at your picture, and I thought several things that I don't believe have been mentioned yet - (the more ammo the better)

    Have you ever seen a plumber clean up the old pipe he's removed like this one did? (Even if it was buried, he must have spent a lot of time cleaning all the rust and deposits off those pipes! AND, if it wasn't buried, how did he find the leaks if you didn't? Any old cracked cast waste pipes like that would be covered with rust and mineral deposits (maybe keeping any leaks from showing up.) I have scraped off small sections to show a customer, but nothing like that.

    The only time I've seen cracks like that was in winter at over 2000' elevation when the pipes froze and split, and after the Loma Prieta earthquake in a stack in San Francisco.

    Also, with the rubber "no-hub" repair connector left on one of the pieces, maybe that was in a wall? OR the line had been repaired previously.

    Good luck,

    Safe Haven Mark


  37. #37
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    Default Re: Opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Wayne, you need to read her the "I'm not superman, I don't have x-ray vision clause" You know the one that tells her you can't see through dirt, walls, floors and such.
    I actually have this line on my report in the addendum part (Texas form)




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