Results 1 to 38 of 38
  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    No. San Diego Co., CA
    Posts
    562

    Default Non-permitted room

    The latest inspection of a 2003 two story, valued at $890k, revealed the original 3 car garage had been converted to a 2 car and a very nicely constructed office with floor to ceiling built-ins and hardwood floor, in 2006. The original plans showed the conversion to be an option for the purchaser, with the total living space originally 2600sq ft. Because the conversion contractor followed the existing blue print, no permits were obtained from the AHJ. So, for the past 9 years the County assessment for property tax was based on 2600 sq ft. but the home was priced at 2750 sq ft. A difference of $40k, based on the square footage price for sale purposes.

    Now the sale is held up because the seller is scrambling to get a permit for the office conversion and is expecting to pay around $15k in back taxes and penalties or reduce the price by at least the $40k and let the buyer handle it. Not to mention any additional tear down and construction costs. Not a good position to be in for the seller, who is trying to close on another house they are already in escrow and under contract for. Lesson to be learned there about obtaining permits or not.

    The office was beautifully done and probably to code...who knows...but I thought it a little strange not to to have an exposed a/c register. So I started asking questions and all was revealed...
    My client was very thankful

    Similar Threads:
    F.I.R.E. Services

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,776

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    ...................
    The office was beautifully done and probably to code...who knows...but I thought it a little strange not to to have an exposed a/c register. So I started asking questions and all was revealed...
    My client was very thankful
    If the seller listed the garage office as living space in the listing and listed the increased footage as living area in the listing then there is a problem with the contract for sale. Meaning they misrepresented something that was part of the property.

    Then on the other hand if the garage office was not listed as living space it is a fancy garage bay.

    The problem is with the purchase contract depending on what was purchased and how it was stated in the contract. Boiling down to possible misrepresentation depending on who said what and to whom. Is the contract enforceable is the larger question and who wants to push the performance of the contract.

    If the garage bay was not heated by the house HVAC system then it would be a duded up garage bay. There would not be any back taxes due. It's the seller that by attempting to make(sell) it as something other than what it is(may be) that has cause the problem.


    """". So, for the past 9 years the County assessment for property tax was based on 2600 sq ft. but the home was priced at 2750 sq ft. A difference of $40k, based on the square footage price for sale purposes.""""

    150 sq ft difference Living area= $266/sf x 150sf= $40K . What is the going rate for garage sq footage? (((a little rough math since the land has a value not used in equation, $$$ values would be less)))

    If garage value is $150/sf then the value of the garage is $22.5K, so the difference in the values is $17.5K. Not $40,000. The garage space still has value as a garage.

    My solution(selling agent) would be to credit the buyer for $17,500 at settlement and call it a wash, no harm no foul. If I was the Buyers Agent I would stick it to the Seller for misrepresentation of the property. Why? Because I was more concerned about representing my client than getting my commission. Then suggest that the Seller stick it to the Seller's Agent for misrepresenting the property in the listing, if that was what happened. Property records list 2600sf listing listed 2750sf, that is a red flag(or white ) if there was ever one. Should have been questioned before the listing was made and definitely before the contract was signed by both agents. But then again for the agents it is all about making the sale and getting the commission.

    It should not have been the HI that raised the questions that lead to full disclosure.

    BUT GREAT CATCH ON OBSERVATION AND QUESTION !


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    No. San Diego Co., CA
    Posts
    562

    Red face Re: Non-permitted room

    Garry, thanks for you insight and comments. A little more backgound.
    The property was listed as 2750 sq ft with a two car garage. The conversion was disclosed by the seller, as part of disclosure requirements, but those disclosures were not submitted, or at least available to my clients, until after my inspection. I'm not sure if the seller or their agent were prompted to include the non-permitted space or not in the disclosure following my inspections but it wasn't in the initial listing. I was certainly not privy to any disclosure prior.

    The original garage was an 'L' shape, with two bays in tandem and the third one in front. The front bay, ultimately the conversion, was adjacent to the kitchen so it was a simple remodel...Partition off the garage where the third bay was, create a doorway from the kitchen and raise the floor. A large window already existed. Deep crown molding flowed throughout. It was a seamless transition with all the hardwood living room and kitchen flowing into the office. It looked like it was original construction, even from the garage side.

    There is no way the office could remotely be interpreted as a "duded up garage space" without even access to it from the garage. It was well done, made a superb, nicely appointed office, (which, in fact, was the buying feature for my client) no expense spared but all without permit. I'm told it will likely take two months to resolve with the AHJ and a lot longer than that with the new tax assessment.

    The house originally (2600 sq ft, 4 bed, 3 ba, 3 car garage) sold for $600k in 2003 and probably depreciated some due to the RE debacle during and since the remodel. Now with improving RE prices, listed at $890k but, as I said, based on 2750 sq ft. and 2 cars. The $40k difference I quoted was the $$$ difference between the sq.footage listed and original. Yes, the garage space would have value but nowhere near as much as the improvement. Either way, the price is per sq.ft based on comparable sales, plus or minus deficiencies or upgrades.

    p.s. Thanks for the kudos...


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Bennett (Denver metro), Colorado
    Posts
    1,394

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    While interesting, most of this discussion is beyond what we do as HIs.

    But since, we're discussing it, it must be different here. I see unpermitted basement finishes all the time and I mean several times a week. I don't do permit checks. I can look at the finish and know within minutes and often instantly that no permits were pulled.

    Once the work is done, local AHJs don't want to hear about it and won't do anything unless forced to act. Several years ago, a fix-n-flip investor ran afoul of the local AHJ who made him go back and redo some unpermitted work. This guy then went through the MLS and found a number of listed homes advertising finished basements that he couldn't match up with recorded permits. Then he went down to the AHJ raising hell. He thought he'd get the city to back down on his house since the city wasn't pursuing these advertised unpermitted basements; but instead the AHJ went to those listed houses and made the sellers jump through hoops to get their basements permitted or tear out all the finish. Rumor is that the dumba$$ investor had to move away because of death threats and real estate agents refusing to show any house he was trying to sell. After all the fury, life has returned to normal in that city and today, homes with unpermitted finished basements sell without involvement from the AHJ.

    Some years ago, our county assessor told me that he'd just left a large home on acreage that had never been permitted or recorded. The home owner was furious that his taxes were going from undeveloped agriculture status (about $150/year) to residential (about $4000/year). I wondered aloud how the guy had never questioned why his taxes were so low. Luckily for him, the assessor didn't care about permitted work, he just wanted the tax revenue.

    Last edited by Lon Henderson; 03-30-2015 at 07:45 AM.
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Tax assessments and permits are in the realm of bureaucrats. Appraisers deal with the property value. I will just focus on finding significant defects and whatever insignificants it takes to satisfy my client.

    I understand the clients are pleased but they will now be taxed at a higher rate for the duration of their lives there. Especially if the sellers get their ducks in a row, the price stays high, clients gain zip. JMO.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,245

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    ... clients gain zip. JMO.
    John,

    The clients gain *a lot* ... without the sellers addressing the issue, the person responsible for making corrections and paying the pipe *is the current owner* ... who could just happen to be the client when they become the seller and the room is caught then - at that time .. the client ... would be the one on the hook for that $40,000 or more or whatever the final result ends up being.

    Thinking that the client gains nothing is not looking out for your client as they could very well be the one 'caught with their pants down' when they go to sell. And maybe, just maybe, their attorney might send their inspector a fat letter asking for the inspector to cover those costs which their inspector should have brought to their attention.

    Always have to be thinking into the future, nothing is ever "free" - someone, sometime, someplace, is going to have to pay for that "free" whatever.

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

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Guess we do things different here. Permits are not an inspection item.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    2,445

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Permits are not an inspection thing in my area either. In fact, my contract has excluded permits, zoning, etc, since I started in 1989.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    No. San Diego Co., CA
    Posts
    562

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Jack / John
    if you discover an add-on or alteration during an inspection, which you suspect as non-permitted and a permit would have been required for the work, do you advise your client of your suspicion or ignore it and move on?


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Tax assessments up here can be appealed.

    If I think an addition has been added without permit, then I make a note indicating same and further investigation is warranted prior to close of title by the purchasers lawyers. If the lawyer for the purchaser has done his job correctly, there should be no reason why an inspector would be liable if its stated in the inspectors contract the report is not a compliance inspection or certification for the past or present governmental codes or regulations of any kind.

    Also the client may be advised that Title Insurance 'may' provide coverage for instances where permits where not issued.
    Been there, done that.


  11. #11

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Anything, that could affect my client with regard to the property, its safety, or potential problems, I inspect is noted. Including the neighbors trees if they pose a potential problem. Even the location of a landfill a mile away that provides an unbearable odor when the wind is out of the south at Iron Horse Country Club here in PBC, FL where there are multi-million dollar homes. I am there for my client, and only my client. I do not ignore anything. It is what I am paid to do, give my knowledge of the property and opinions. Nothing in my SOP, by either my Association or the State limits what I do, it only sets the minimum of what I have to do.

    In our area the fines for non permitted work can be $1,000.00 per day. That does not include the cost of correction. But then with all my licenses I am assumed to know these things.

    It is kind of hard to protect yourself from suit when there are obvious blatant signs staring at you.

    "yes your Honor, I do know what the proper spacing is for receptacles, but I do not do code inspections, so I ignored the fact there were none in the garage to living conversion"

    Tell me how that works out for you!

    I have never known an inspector who got sued for doing more, only less.

    Last edited by JeffGHooper; 03-31-2015 at 02:47 PM.
    PROFESSIONAL CONSULTING AND INSPECTION COMPANY INCLUDING FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS

    http://jeffghooper.com/

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Permits are not an inspection thing in my area either. In fact, my contract has excluded permits, zoning, etc, since I started in 1989.
    Ok that sounds good to me.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    Jack / John
    if you discover an add-on or alteration during an inspection, which you suspect as non-permitted and a permit would have been required for the work, do you advise your client of your suspicion or ignore it and move on?
    I don't involve myself in real estate law. If it is an unsafe condition I report it as such.

    When do you do the permit search, before or after?

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    Tell me how that works out for you!

    I have never known an inspector who got sued for doing more, only less.
    Thanks, Jeff. We don't do the legal pert here. I get 3 hours on the property and barely make a wage doing what they pay me to do.

    If something is built wrong I report that it is built wrong. I can speculate who built it wrong and when, but that speculation is verbal not in writing.
    I don't hold tickets that say I am expected to research the property for them. So I ask, do you research every property or only some?

    I wouldn't want my client buying a property with a lien against it. Shouldn't I check that out for them then. Put a comment in my report?

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Bennett (Denver metro), Colorado
    Posts
    1,394

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    "yes your Honor, I do know what the proper spacing is for receptacles, but I do not do code inspections, so I ignored the fact there were none in the garage to living conversion"

    Tell me how that works out for you!

    I have never known an inspector who got sued for doing more, only less.
    This goes to the fuzzy gray area that is home inspection. All SoPs and at least one state, specifically say that we don't do code inspections, yet most of a typical inspection involves things covered by code requirements. Yesterday, I saw posts supporting the deck improperly notched to accept the rim joists. Very little chance of problems ever arising from this, yet the AHJ would have or should have, called it out on a permit inspection (assuming a permit was pulled ).

    Jerry likes to say that code is a minimum standard, but I find that code usually is common sense and sometimes even best practice. So, calling out defects usually mirrors code requirements. Clients and agents often want to know if a defect is a code violation, because it adds strength to their request to the seller for remedy if it is a violation. It may not be "best practice" as a HI to write up a defect as a code violation, but if asked, I will say as much to a client.

    Around here, it's next to impossible to do an accurate code inspection with so many AHJs having variations on their interpretations of the national codes, . My contract says that I don't do code, recall, or lawsuit inspections. If I happen to know about a lawsuit or recall, I'll mention it, but it's pretty tough if not impossible to keep up with all of them.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    No. San Diego Co., CA
    Posts
    562

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Ok that sounds good to me.

    - - - Updated - - -


    I don't involve myself in real estate law. If it is an unsafe condition I report it as such.

    When do you do the permit search, before or after?
    John
    Maybe you misinterpreted my original post. I did not do and typically do not do permit searches, unless specifically requested by the client, which is a rare occurrence. If requested, I take a trip to the AHJ office and double my fee. In this particular case, the homeowners were home during the inspection and I questioned the lack of a/c registers. They hedged a direct response about the office conversion and my suspicions were aroused. My report questioned the addition. My clients and their realtor handled it from there.


  16. #16

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post

    Around here, it's next to impossible to do an accurate code inspection with so many AHJs having variations on their interpretations of the national codes, . My contract says that I don't do code, recall, or lawsuit inspections. If I happen to know about a lawsuit or recall, I'll mention it, but it's pretty tough if not impossible to keep up with all of them.
    We are lucky here as the scenario you stated is exactly why our state adopted a minimum state wide code. It is unreasonable to expect a contractor to build to a different code on one side of the street and not the other. Likewise, it is unreasonable to expect building inspectors to know multiple codes, when one can suffice. The Florida Home Builders Association won a suit against Broward County in the 90's on these topics. Made all our lives easier.

    And to answer the other question, yes I research every property for permits at the Building Department Records. In addition I double check with the County Appraisers office as they have a sketch of the property that shows living areas, garages porches ect. Both are on line here so it only adds about 5 to 10 minutes to my time. No big deal.

    Kentucky is the only State to prohibit citing code in a Home Inspection. NC says if you do it, you must do a complete code inspection for the year built.

    A little piece I wrote on the subject if you get time.

    Home Inspectors Citing Building Codes

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post

    I wouldn't want my client buying a property with a lien against it. Shouldn't I check that out for them then. Put a comment in my report?
    Title Companies do a title search for liens. Sometimes they will even find an open permit. So for the most part, that is already covered.

    PROFESSIONAL CONSULTING AND INSPECTION COMPANY INCLUDING FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS

    http://jeffghooper.com/

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Chicago IL
    Posts
    1,984

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    For those of you who don't address illegal conversions, non-compliant bedrooms or such in your reports or at the very least strongly inform your client about the potential issues, you should be ashamed of yourselves!
    In Chicago, violations run with the property, not the owner. What that means is if the City shows up the day before closing, the Seller is on the hook. If the City shows up the day after the closing the new owner is on the hook. There is no absolute way how this type of situation evolves. How the City proceeds with any actions depends on multiple variables. Nonetheless the potential liabilities for a new owner are substantial.
    The stick your head in the sand type of behavior is exactly why some people have viewed HI as a joke for years. I can't speak to what goes on in the rest of the country, only around here.
    HI in the Chicagoland region 15 years ago was considered a joke by many or something you did because your agent or mortgage broker told you to do it; not because it had real value. A lot of that had to do with misunderstanding by the public and a lot of it was due to the prevalence of garbage pre-printed checkbox reports. Over the last 10 years HI and public awareness of our purpose has evolved and those of us who do real inspections are not considered quite the Demons we used to be.
    I used to cite a lot more Code in my reports. However, it got to be a bit too time consuming since everyone wanted the actual Code section. At some point, I developed the following phrase that I put in reports as a minimum when confronted with typical non-permitted type work. The phrase varies a bit depending on situation but you should get the idea. Feel free to use:
    'It is highly unlikely that the recent rehab installations would be deemed fully compliant under a full Municipal review by the local AHJ'.
    I then follow that with an explanation of the issues. Of course if its really bad I slam the living daylights out of it.
    Hi as a profession continues to evolve and those who aren't doing more should find a different profession so the rest of us don't have to deal with poor perceptions of our industry due to your lack of willingness to educate yourself or serve the client as best as possible.
    With home prices high and poor construction just as high, what we do isn't about if the windows slide up and down easily. We are the last line of defense for buyers confronted with professional talkers who can make the worst construction or hazards sound like 'no big deal'. I'm sure many of us have been on inspections and heard agents or developers smooth over issues that if not resolved would become an issue for the client after the check has cleared for the developer and agent.
    As an HI we are not Code inspectors, however a lot of what we do is based on Code requirements. Are you writing up lack of smoke detectors because its a Code violation or because you love humanity? Not addressing non-compliant bedrooms is no different. Granted the client likely won't die from a non-compliant bedroom but their financial and family life can become a complete train wreck because of it.
    As individual inspectors and as an industry we need to be out in front of these issues. If we don't protect our clients as much as possible who will? The answer is nobody. We cannot in good conscience allow that.
    Buy yourself some Code books over time, read them occasionally and become a professional.

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

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Y'all may be confusing code compliance with permitted work. When we report that the installation is unsafe or inadequate we are naturally using code as the minimum standard. The work doesn't meet that minimum standard we call code.
    From that anyone can deduce that the work was never approved by an authority, but that is speculation.
    Maybe the permits were issued for work that was never checked, it happens. Final approval got lost somehow, it happens.

    Does an HI have an obligation beyond reporting that the work is inadequate and needing repair? Y'all seem to be saying we need to report on the nonexistence of a permit. Well without doing the research, you are voicing an opinion that could prove to be wrong.

    Permit research is a whole other task and Ian doubles his fee to do that, rightly so.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,245

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Y'all may be confusing code compliance with permitted work. When we report that the installation is unsafe or inadequate we are naturally using code as the minimum standard. The work doesn't meet that minimum standard we call code.
    From that anyone can deduce that the work was never approved by an authority, but that is speculation.
    Maybe the permits were issued for work that was never checked, it happens. Final approval got lost somehow, it happens.

    Does an HI have an obligation beyond reporting that the work is inadequate and needing repair? Y'all seem to be saying we need to report on the nonexistence of a permit. Well without doing the research, you are voicing an opinion that could prove to be wrong.

    Permit research is a whole other task and Ian doubles his fee to do that, rightly so.
    John,

    The above is based on incorrect assumptions - basically that a permit with signed off inspections means that the permitted work is fully code compliant.

    I have tried ... apparently unsuccessfully ... to expose that myth for quite a number of years.

    That's like saying all home inspectors are good ... another myth - but we all acknowledge that myth.

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

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    WESTMINSTER CO
    Posts
    1,088

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    I include permit information in my inspection fee--I ask my client if they would like me to check that info. and if they agree I charge for it $100. Here in Colorado all it takes is a call to the city the inspection it is in and most have web-site which makes it a piece of cake- and Bam in five minutes you have your info. I think it is a great service to my client--from the info i give them--I tell them to call city ad find out what they need to do.

    cvf


  21. #21

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by CHARLIE VAN FLEET View Post
    I include permit information in my inspection fee--I ask my client if they would like me to check that info. and if they agree I charge for it $100. Here in Colorado all it takes is a call to the city the inspection it is in and most have web-site which makes it a piece of cake- and Bam in five minutes you have your info. I think it is a great service to my client--from the info i give them--I tell them to call city ad find out what they need to do.

    cvf
    EXACTLY. But I do not charge. Already getting thousands per inspection. I can throw in 5 to 10 minutes.

    PROFESSIONAL CONSULTING AND INSPECTION COMPANY INCLUDING FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS

    http://jeffghooper.com/

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    WESTMINSTER CO
    Posts
    1,088

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    JEFF
    THOUSANDS--REALLY

    CVF


  23. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,245

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by CHARLIE VAN FLEET View Post
    JEFF
    THOUSANDS--REALLY
    Charlie,

    Yes, thousands, really.

    I used to get thousands for my inspections when I retired ... Jeff and I were in the same market back then.

    Jeff is now the top inspector for that market now. There are two other inspectors Jeff is bringing along to keep that market up, I help Jeff out helping bring them along when I can ... Jeff does it locally with those inspectors, I help from a long distance as I am no longer local in that area.

    My guess is that Jeff now gets more than he and I did when I retired 9 years ago, even considering the recession which took place between then and now.

    If you recall the houses and inspections I did back then, you will understand where Jeff was "back then", you should then be able to grasp where Jeff likely is "now".

    Doesn't seem like it has been almost 10 years since I retired, but I guess has been.

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

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    WESTMINSTER CO
    Posts
    1,088

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    JERRY & JEFF

    please explain your pricing per square footage and what you do for $1000-you would no get hired here in Colorado for that price unless you were doing a 10,000 sq home with radon and dating the wife

    cvf


  25. #25

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by CHARLIE VAN FLEET View Post
    JERRY & JEFF

    please explain your pricing per square footage and what you do for $1000-you would no get hired here in Colorado for that price unless you were doing a 10,000 sq home with radon and dating the wife

    cvf
    My minimum call out charge is $750.00. That is just to show up. Condos start at $1,750.00. Houses start at $2,350.00. My average inspection fee is $3,400.00 with some reaching $7,000.00.

    Why inspectors think that is high is beyond me. In Florida the average cost of a home is $340,000.00 in Palm Beach County. The Agents commission is 6 %. I have more liability and know more about that home than the Agent. Why should they get $20,400.00 for the deal and I only $7,000.00.

    The average cost of repairs after I am done with an inspection is between $25,000.00 and $150,000.00. Some exceed the FEMA 50% rule and have to be torn down.

    My average report is just over 200 pages long. There is absolutely no fluff in my report. I do not tell people in my report how to maintain property, shingle life when the roof is tile, or quote the standards to fill up pages. As an expert witness I see a lot of 30 page inspection reports. After I strip away all the BS, and things that do not apply, I can usually get their report down to 1 or 2 pages of real information, verses my 200. The longest report I have written was just under 1,200 pages.

    Many of my clients do not even ask what it cost, price is not the issue. What they care about is the condition of the house. I did not receive a single agent referral in over 15 years. Only client referrals and Attorney referrals. Even the building departments recommend me.

    My service is sold as, "you get what you pay for". Free stuff is free for a reason, because most is not worth having. No gimmicks, no fluff, no BS, no free stuff. Just hard core inspecting.

    I tell my clients

    What is wrong
    Why its wrong
    How it has to be corrected
    If it is a Code Violation
    If it is a Safety Hazard
    I insert the Code
    I insert the Life Safety
    I insert manufacturers specifications and instructions
    In my area all inspectors provide repair costs, so they are in there too
    I insert the Standards of the area and the industry
    I include workmanship
    I include all regulatory issues with regard to Authoritative Documents

    I have helped many inspectors through the years, as has Jerry, achieve this level. Some in areas where the average cost of an inspection is only $250.00, Sarasota. For them I tell them to triple their price. If they do they might loose 1/2 of their business, but they are making twice as much money doing it. It works. People are not stupid and if you have value, they will hire you. If you are doing nothing different than everyone else, expect to get paid what everyone else gets paid and have to compete.

    Work smart, not hard. Value yourself and what you do. Never be like the others, be better, more sophisticated, more precise. Be the leader. Be a professional and you will get paid like a professional.

    When I hear inspectors, on this board and others say, "I do not have to do that" or "I do not get paid to investigate permits" or "I do not do code inspections", I sit back and chuckle and say, yea, and you will never make $250,000 to $400,000 a year with that attitude, or ever be at my level.

    If you want more, you have to go the extra mile. Or you can argue everything like some, do nothing and sit on your tosh hoping to pick up a few crumbs.

    Two homeless retired guys were sitting on a park bench talking. One says to the other, what did you do? The other answered, I was a general contractor who built thousands of homes and commercial buildings completing hundreds of millions in work. I got every single job I bid on. The other guy said, what the hell happened, that sounds like a successful career? The homeless retired contractor says, I was low bidder!

    Oh, I used to live in Northglenn, built in Elizabeth, Winter Park, Cherry Hills, Thornton and a few others. I did inspections there in the late 80's. Got paid over $1,000.00 back then.

    FYI

    Last edited by JeffGHooper; 04-11-2015 at 09:43 AM.
    PROFESSIONAL CONSULTING AND INSPECTION COMPANY INCLUDING FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS

    http://jeffghooper.com/

  26. #26
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Bennett (Denver metro), Colorado
    Posts
    1,394

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    My minimum call out charge is $750.00. That is just to show up. Condos start at $1,750.00. Houses start at $2,350.00. My average inspection fee is $3,400.00 with some reaching $7,000.00.

    Oh, I used to live in Northglenn, built in Elizabeth, Winter Park, Cherry Hills, Thornton and a few others. I did inspections there in the late 80's. Got paid over $1,000.00 back then.

    FYI
    Jeff,

    This post may well be the most enlightening and sobering post that I've read here.

    At those prices, even in Florida, I suspect that you are the tip of the HI pyramid in your area.

    If I didn't have your testimony here, I'd say that no inspector could make a living at those prices. Agents get paid from the equity in the seller's home. Around here, these days, most sellers have considerable equity. But buyers pull our fees from their pockets. $2350 would be a third or more of the total amount most of my clients have for their down payment and closing costs. The average cost of a home inspection here in the late 80's was about $125. I can't help but wonder how busy you were then at $1000 an inspection.

    I've heard the occasional HI brag that he gets more business every time he raises his prices. Certainly, my business has increased over the years as have my prices, but I've never seen evidence of a correlation between raising prices and increased business. This last week, I lost two inspections because I was too expensive and got one because I was cheaper than some other guy. Funny how that goes.

    You seem to have a far more exhaustive inspection, than anyone around here that I'm familiar with. Do you also do full thermal imaging? Do you do any intrusive or destructive testing? An average of $25-150k in repairs resulting from your inspections? Is that a commentary on Florida conditions or your detail?

    No matter what, you have given me a very large portion of food for thought.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    Jeff,

    This post may well be the most enlightening and sobering post that I've read here.

    At those prices, even in Florida, I suspect that you are the tip of the HI pyramid in your area.

    If I didn't have your testimony here, I'd say that no inspector could make a living at those prices. Agents get paid from the equity in the seller's home. Around here, these days, most sellers have considerable equity. But buyers pull our fees from their pockets. $2350 would be a third or more of the total amount most of my clients have for their down payment and closing costs. The average cost of a home inspection here in the late 80's was about $125. I can't help but wonder how busy you were then at $1000 an inspection.

    I've heard the occasional HI brag that he gets more business every time he raises his prices. Certainly, my business has increased over the years as have my prices, but I've never seen evidence of a correlation between raising prices and increased business. This last week, I lost two inspections because I was too expensive and got one because I was cheaper than some other guy. Funny how that goes.

    You seem to have a far more exhaustive inspection, than anyone around here that I'm familiar with. Do you also do full thermal imaging? Do you do any intrusive or destructive testing? An average of $25-150k in repairs resulting from your inspections? Is that a commentary on Florida conditions or your detail?

    No matter what, you have given me a very large portion of food for thought.
    It is a lot to do with how you handle the calls. If a client starts out, "how much is a home inspection", I tell them they just asked the wrong question first. You want to know what I can do for you, or do you want cheap. Like I said on another thread, this ain't K-Mart or Wal-Mart. This is Sacs Fifth Ave. Sometimes I just hand up on the price shoppers and tell them good luck.

    Currently their are 5 guys we, meaning Ron Sabac, Jerry Peck and myself are training for our niche. Ron, Jerry and I created this niche market. We fed off each other. Our overage and inspections we could not handle fed 3 more inspection companies. My firm was multiple inspector, was not just me. Currently we have 2 inspectors, Tom Glynn and Michael Pearson doing this. With 5 more coming up the ranks. Robert Sheppard who posts here sometimes is one of them. Spends a lot of time at building departments. My office alone scheduled 5 different inspection companies. We shared my office manager. Guys like Jerry would transfer phones to my office and Lois would schedule and quote his inspections too. We all worked together.

    Some clients would call each company and laugh when they kept getting the same person, quoting different prices and selling different inspectors. LOL. It takes a lot of trust.

    But then with guys like Jerry, Ron and others, trust comes easy.

    The average home in all of the USA has between 35 and 38 electrical code violations alone. If you find half of them you did very well.

    PROFESSIONAL CONSULTING AND INSPECTION COMPANY INCLUDING FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS

    http://jeffghooper.com/

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    WESTMINSTER CO
    Posts
    1,088

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    sorry guys

    not buying any of this for a HOME INSPECTION--$1750 for a condo---inspection report 2000 pages--you are doing more then a HOME INSECTION--35 ELECTICAL CODE VIOLATIONS--come on--explain what you are inspectng

    cvf


  29. #29
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,245

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by CHARLIE VAN FLEET View Post
    sorry guys

    not buying any of this for a HOME INSPECTION--$1750 for a condo---inspection report 2000 pages--you are doing more then a HOME INSECTION--35 ELECTICAL CODE VIOLATIONS--come on--explain what you are inspectng

    cvf
    Sorry Charlie ...

    You define HOME INSPECTION your way, others will define it their way, we defined it our way.

    Two of us retired before the recession hit (good timing on our part), which left it to Jeff and another inspector we were bringing up to that market (Tom Glynn) to keep the market going during the recession. Now that the recession is over and that market is coming back (may be back), Jeff is now the lead man in helping Tom, and now Rob and Mike, get to the point where they can service that top niche market. I help from a distance when I can, but I've also got other things going (code reference books for home inspectors and code inspectors) and I am no longer in that physical local area so I cannot provide the direct help Jeff can and does.

    Granted, the South Florida market has many high dollar homes, and that helped us create that market. It also took us WORKING TOGETHER to create that market, and, working together, we were able to create that market.

    You can define a home inspection however you like, and keep doing 1-2-3 per day (some say they even do more per day) ... us - er - Jeff and them as "us" no longer applies to me ... we felt quite comfortable doing one inspection over several days - and getting paid accordingly.

    One inspection I did lasted 8 days (end of year warranty) and ended up being around $13,000 as I recall (that was 10 years ago, so I'm not exact on that cost, but it is within +/-$1,000 of the actual cost).

    You have heard me say this for years and years now: Build it, they will come.

    Do you think the builders who build million dollar houses got there by saying it couldn't be done? Sure sounds like you think that way to me.

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

  30. #30

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by CHARLIE VAN FLEET View Post
    sorry guys

    not buying any of this for a HOME INSPECTION--$1750 for a condo---inspection report 2000 pages--you are doing more then a HOME INSECTION--35 ELECTICAL CODE VIOLATIONS--come on--explain what you are inspectng

    cvf
    You would be one of the guys I chuckle about. Nobody asks you to believe us. The guys who know us know it to be true. If you do not want to go the extra mile and get stuck on what you think a home inspections is, fine, as long as you are satisfied with a 5 figure net and fighting every single inspector in your area for 3, 4, or 5 inspections a day. Go for it. We were not happy with that. So we created our way of inspecting. We are not unique in this. I know many inspectors across the nation that do this. Many comment here on a regular basis.

    What am I inspecting? Every single aspect of the home and grounds, everything that could affect my client. Researching every single aspect that I may need more information about. Going well beyond the competition. Never referring or deferring to another trade. Doing my job, the one I was hired for, protecting my client.

    35 to 38 Absolutely. Sometimes find that many in the panel alone. I know Jerry does too, because he taught me!

    Have not passed a Mechanical Inspection in about 20 years. Have two different Codes to meet. Florida Energy Efficiency Code and the Mechanical Code. There are conflicts between the two. The HVAC contractors sometimes get one of them right, but they have to follow the most restrictive of the two. Which means they have to bounce back and forth.

    Last edited by JeffGHooper; 04-11-2015 at 05:50 PM.
    PROFESSIONAL CONSULTING AND INSPECTION COMPANY INCLUDING FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS

    http://jeffghooper.com/

  31. #31
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Chicago IL
    Posts
    1,984

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    For upper bracket homes I charge in the same realm as what Jeff and Jerry are talking about. I also get guys who claim that isn't possible and nobody would pay that. There are good inspectors in my area that can't get those fees even though they have very good reputations. To me the reasons are obvious, their attitudes and their reports reflect that its just another HI.
    I'll give you an example of the difference between what I (we) do compared to what the regular guys who do a standard HI do.
    Most guys (if not pretty much all HI) disclaim such things as pools, tennis courts, barns, etc. When doing upper bracket inspections you cannot not look at those areas. Those are major components with potentially huge costs involved. While my agreement disclaims those as specific inspections I still inspect those items. My report clearly says I am not a pool expert. (I do have a pool expert I can bring in when needed) Nonetheless I look at the pool for general conditions.
    As an example ...
    Looked at an upper bracket house with a pool and tennis court. Pool looked great overall, holding water, tile in good shape, newer equipment, etc. All very nice. However the concrete along the east side patio was heaved and cracked. This pad ran over to a berm wall which was washing out and down into the ravine. The pool wasn't the problem but the berm wall and ravine were. Knowing the area I already knew that any work within/along that ravine needed review and approval by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Seller had already done a fully approved berm wall rebuild on the front 2/3 of the property along that ravine at reportedly close to a $100K cost. The rear 1/3 had not been done but would need to be done at some point. This was not an optional repair unless you didn't care about the pool sliding into the ravine at some point. If I had not looked at the pool or pool area (because that's not part of an HI) the client would have been screwed.
    The tennis court looked odd from the house. When I went over I could tell the tennis court had some sort of astro turf full size mat on it. The mat was a bit rough but not too bad. However, once I pulled the mat up at all corners it became obvious that the original court was in extremely poor condition and would need replacement. Once again a major potential cost for the client. Just because a client is well to do doesn't mean they don't care about those types of costs.
    Another aspect, I think Jeff mentioned, is bringing in assistants. I don't do an estate home alone. I'd have to be an idiot. Nonetheless I know guys who do that and for some reason think they are doing themselves some good.
    You can get upper bracket fees but you have to do upper bracket work.

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

  32. #32

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Right on Markus.

    It is all about the inspection and report. I disclaim nothing.

    An Attorney I work for once told me, you cannot indemnify yourself of public safety or health. He also said you cannot indemnify yourself from negligence or fraud. Well that pretty much covers just about everything we do.

    Anyone that wants to go to the upper level must be at the top of your game. No room for anything but pure inspection. It is all about the extra. Now three of us have stated it.

    Here it is again for those who missed it, this time from Markus.

    "their attitudes and their reports reflect that its just another HI."

    Do it like everyone else, get paid just like everyone else. After all, who should have to pay more for exactly the same thing. So all you software gurus have nothing different to offer than the next guy.

    By the way, I know Jerry and I do / did not use software reporting. Everything we do is our own, developed by us. Markus, do you do your own thing too?

    PROFESSIONAL CONSULTING AND INSPECTION COMPANY INCLUDING FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS

    http://jeffghooper.com/

  33. #33
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,245

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    To add to what Marcus said - all major metropolitan areas have, I am sure, a similar market which can be tapped into or created.

    There are also many smaller areas with a similar market which can be tapped or created - such as highly desired vacation home areas which have high end houses and markets.

    Granted, not every area around the country has the potential for that type of exclusive market, but most areas have a higher end market which can be finnessed into this niche if an inspector is willing to invest the effort into creating it.

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

  34. #34
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Columbus GA
    Posts
    3,746

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Jerry, Jeff, and Marcus, if there were a like button I would have liked your post.
    Although I am not in your class, I do understand and believe it can be done.
    The sole reason that I'm not in that class is because I have not been willing to do the work it requires. Good for all of you, it shows that it is possible to achieve a much higher level of accomplishment.

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

  35. #35
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    MONTREAL QUEBEC-CANADA
    Posts
    1,840

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    It is a lot to do with how you handle the calls. If a client starts out, "how much is a home inspection", I tell them they just asked the wrong question first. You want to know what I can do for you, or do you want cheap. Like I said on another thread, this ain't K-Mart or Wal-Mart. This is Sacs Fifth Ave. Sometimes I just hand up on the price shoppers and tell them good luck.

    Currently their are 5 guys we, meaning Ron Sabac, Jerry Peck and myself are training for our niche. Ron, Jerry and I created this niche market. We fed off each other. Our overage and inspections we could not handle fed 3 more inspection companies. My firm was multiple inspector, was not just me. Currently we have 2 inspectors, Tom Glynn and Michael Pearson doing this. With 5 more coming up the ranks. Robert Sheppard who posts here sometimes is one of them. Spends a lot of time at building departments. My office alone scheduled 5 different inspection companies. We shared my office manager. Guys like Jerry would transfer phones to my office and Lois would schedule and quote his inspections too. We all worked together.

    Some clients would call each company and laugh when they kept getting the same person, quoting different prices and selling different inspectors. LOL. It takes a lot of trust.

    But then with guys like Jerry, Ron and others, trust comes easy.

    The average home in all of the USA has between 35 and 38 electrical code violations alone. If you find half of them you did very well.
    Jeff,
    I understand your fee base.
    Fare and equitable by any means if the client receives a value, to which I suspect they do.

    I am happy you included like minded gifted colleagues as well.
    Top notch!

    Question, in your neck of the woods, myself in Montreal Quebec, are defects negotiated off the vendors agreed upon offer?

    Negotiations are less frequent here. Many time the contractual clause, "too negotiate in good faith" means you go to church to confess your sins.


    Thanks in advance.

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
    Our Motto; Putting information where you need it most, "In your hands.

  36. #36
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Idaho
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Jeff or others,

    Mind posting a sample report? I'm very interested in what is contained within 200 pages.


  37. #37
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    No. San Diego Co., CA
    Posts
    562

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Chinook View Post
    Jeff or others,

    Mind posting a sample report? I'm very interested in what is contained within 200 pages.
    I'm more curious than interested and looking to be enlightened...

    I could easily make my reports 200 plus pages but haven't met a buyer yet who wouldn't rather look at pictures with a simplistic explanation and skip to the summary. That includes million-plus dollar properties and 800 sq ft. Tear-downs. Now, if there is something meaningful to write about, not just blowing smoke, I can see a lengthy report is justified, especially for $2k or more. However, how much of that reporting is CYA versus identifying defect and remedy or is it synonymous?


  38. #38
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Germantown MD
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Non-permitted room

    If you suspect work has been done without permits and final inspections, you should write it up. Regardless of how professional it looks

    You cant go wrong by recommending the seller provide copies of required permits and final inspections

    Example 1
    I just left a four bedroom townhouse. Fourth bedroom was in the basement with no window at all. I wrote it up as not meeting the standard definition of a bedroom and recommended that the seller provide copies of all permits and inspection. I wonder if it was priced as a four bedroom and being appraised as the same?

    Example 2
    A few years ago I had a large single family home with a detached garage. The garage was converted into an in-law suite. Complete with kitchen and full bath. It was way too obvious that there were no permits. I wrote it all up and recommended seller provide permits and inspections.

    The buyers apparently ignored my advise.

    A year later they wanted to expand the garage and connect it to the house. When they applied for permits the county said " Garage? What garage?? We have no record of a garage on this property"

    The county came out to look at the structure and that is when they discovered it was partially built within the easement to the neighboring property. They then forced them to tear it down !!

    When I got the call from the attorney, I was damn glad it was written in the report!

    Bob

    Last edited by Bob Murphy; 10-09-2015 at 11:09 AM. Reason: Grammar

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •