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  1. #1
    Paul Tooley's Avatar
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    Morning All, and happy Father's day to all that apply

    I know I should have searched, and will later, but I did not know what to search for.
    Here is my situation and question: I worked with an agent I have worked with many times in the past and just had the privilege of working with a client whose first question, after initial howdy-do and who are you's, was "If you miss anything that we find later on after moving in, what recourse do we have?" To me this means expect a complaint, claim or lawsuit.

    How to deal with this type of client. He is a "maintenance engineer" which may mean handyman or janitor. He was asking about things like "was the sub-flooring adequately thick for a tile floor if the tile was added after the house was built"...

    Just wondering a bit. I dislike working with these types of peoples and have even had the agents apologize for the rudeness of their client, after the fact.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: kind of an Opinion Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Tooley View Post
    Morning All, and happy Father's day to all that apply

    I know I should have searched, and will later, but I did not know what to search for.
    Here is my situation and question: I worked with an agent I have worked with many times in the past and just had the privilege of working with a client whose first question, after initial howdy-do and who are you's, was "If you miss anything that we find later on after moving in, what recourse do we have?" To me this means expect a complaint, claim or lawsuit.

    How to deal with this type of client. He is a "maintenance engineer" which may mean handyman or janitor. He was asking about things like "was the sub-flooring adequately thick for a tile floor if the tile was added after the house was built"...

    Just wondering a bit. I dislike working with these types of peoples and have even had the agents apologize for the rudeness of their client, after the fact.
    Well you can tell him that all of his questions are covered in your contract. This only works if you have a good contract!

    You can tell him that if he wants to pay for a guaranteed inspection, that it will be an additional $2,200. Then you will cover all mechanical items for six months in the home!

    I would most likely tell him that I will inspect the home to the best of my ability, but I do not guarantee anything past the date of the inspection. Then I would be quiet and let him talk first.

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

  3. #3
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    Default Re: kind of an Opinion Question

    Well, Paul, I'm certain you will get opinions that differ from mine, but in almost 10 years, I have walked from a job only twice. Once was when I got a question almost identical to yours. The second was when, in the middle of an Inspection, the Client asked, "How much E&O insurance do you carry?

    In both cases, I stopped what I was doing and referred them to the cover sheet on the partially completed inspections that explains the process for complaint and recovery. In both cases, I respectfully told the former Clients that the nature and timing of their question made me extremely uncomfortable and that I felt that their intent was to intimidate me into a promise of perfection that I knew I could not keep. Therefore, they should find another inspector who they felt more comfortable with. I packed up and left.

    They and their Agents were extremely upset. I don't care. A prospective Client who asks those questions may just be seeking information based on "expert articles" they have read. A Client who asks during an inspection has an agenda.

    The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory.
    - Paul Fix

  4. #4
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    Default Re: kind of an Opinion Question

    Obviously, it depends on how the question is asked. I have no problem with someone asking me my qualifications and if I carry insurance. This is a business and I treat it as such. I want to know if my doctor is qualified and carries malpractice insurance, I want to know if my contractor is licensed and carries worker's comp and liability insurance. There is nothing personal in this and I will offer the same professional courtesy.

    However, I did have one experience. An individual in the process of buying a home ($1.2 million) showed up after I had been inspecting for 30-40 minutes, told me he could not afford an inspection, asked me what I had found so far and asked if he could sue me.

    As you might expect, I left.

    Department of Redundancy Department
    http://www.FullCircleInspect.com/

  5. #5
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    Default Re: kind of an Opinion Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Thom Walker View Post
    . . . In both cases, I respectfully told the former Clients that the nature and timing of their question made me extremely uncomfortable and that I felt that their intent was to intimidate me into a promise of perfection that I knew I could not keep. Therefore, they should find another inspector who they felt more comfortable with. I packed up and left.

    They and their Agents were extremely upset. I don't care. A prospective Client who asks those questions may just be seeking information based on "expert articles" they have read. A Client who asks during an inspection has an agenda.
    I can't argue with that, Thom. If I were in the same situation I would probably do the same.

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

  6. #6
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    Default Re: kind of an Opinion Question

    My state requires E&O insurance. I carried it before we were licensed.

    I think there are a lot of people that are asking questions like "Are you licensed and insured?", or "Are you licensed and bonded?", just because they have heard these terms before and link them to someone that is professional. It gives them peace of mind to know that the guy they hired has them. I don't think everyone that asks those questions are thinking of going after me. Of course some may.

    I start every inspection by asking my client to read my contract and sign in two places. I tell them that my contract is basically saying that they are hiring me to do the inspection, that I'm going to do it to State (and ASHI) Standards, and that I DON'T HAVE X-RAY VISION.

    I also tell them that my inspection is NOT a guarantee, or an insurance policy. It is ONLY an observation of what is going on with the property that day, while I'm there.

    If I'm asked what happens if I miss something, I then tell them something like this....
    "Think of this inspection as a big game hunt. I'm here to hunt elephants, or the big stuff that is wrong with the house. In the course of hunting elephants I may let a few rabbits get by me. I can almost guarantee some small stuff will get by me. I'm going to be looking at maybe a thousand items during this inspection. There is a very good chance that "something" will be missed.

    For instance, I'm not checking the wall paper at all, or the window blinds. In fact, I'm not really here to look at the cosmetic things at all. I leave that for you to do, and the best time to do it is during your walk thru when the house is empty.

    While i'm going to check most of the outlets and switches, I am NOT going to move the china cabinet to get to the one behind it, or move furniture to look at the flooring under it.

    Also keep in mind that with some things, if they are near the end of their expected life, may quit working right after we leave here today. And somethings JUST HAPPEN, like when my 2 year old microwave/vent quit working."

    Of course my discourse is tailored to the house I am inspecting, but the information I give them is the same. I'm going to do the inspection to the best of my ability, I DO have limitations, I am NOT an insurance policy, and I DO stand behind my inspection.

    I also tell them that while I do have E&O insurance, it really only comes into effect WHEN they sue me.

    Over the years I have returned some inspection fees. Some I returned even though I knew I was right, and would probably win in court, should we land there. I have paid to repair things. I have paid to repair things that I felt I wasn't responsible for. I have also walked away from clients too. Some I have fired before they had a chance to hire me and waste my time - I just had a bad feeling over the phone.

    My wife has a very good sense about people, and if she hears something that sound wrong, she just doesn't take the job. I guess we screen our clients as much as they shop us.

    I also ask every client if they have ever had a home inspection. If they say NO, then I give them more information about what they can expect, and what they shouldn't expect.

    JF


  7. #7
    Richard Rushing's Avatar
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    Default Re: kind of an Opinion Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    My state requires E&O insurance. I carried it before we were licensed.

    I think there are a lot of people that are asking questions like "Are you licensed and insured?", or "Are you licensed and bonded?", just because they have heard these terms before and link them to someone that is professional. It gives them peace of mind to know that the guy they hired has them. I don't think everyone that asks those questions are thinking of going after me. Of course some may.

    I start every inspection by asking my client to read my contract and sign in two places. I tell them that my contract is basically saying that they are hiring me to do the inspection, that I'm going to do it to State (and ASHI) Standards, and that I DON'T HAVE X-RAY VISION.

    I also tell them that my inspection is NOT a guarantee, or an insurance policy. It is ONLY an observation of what is going on with the property that day, while I'm there.

    If I'm asked what happens if I miss something, I then tell them something like this....
    "Think of this inspection as a big game hunt. I'm here to hunt elephants, or the big stuff that is wrong with the house. In the course of hunting elephants I may let a few rabbits get by me. I can almost guarantee some small stuff will get by me. I'm going to be looking at maybe a thousand items during this inspection. There is a very good chance that "something" will be missed.

    For instance, I'm not checking the wall paper at all, or the window blinds. In fact, I'm not really here to look at the cosmetic things at all. I leave that for you to do, and the best time to do it is during your walk thru when the house is empty.

    While i'm going to check most of the outlets and switches, I am NOT going to move the china cabinet to get to the one behind it, or move furniture to look at the flooring under it.

    Also keep in mind that with some things, if they are near the end of their expected life, may quit working right after we leave here today. And somethings JUST HAPPEN, like when my 2 year old microwave/vent quit working."

    JF

    Jack,
    Your 'schpeel' sounds eerily like what I say and tell my clients.

    I might add that, at one time in my life, I may have thought I was Superman... but that just wasn't the case anymore and my x-ray vision isn't what it should be. My ability to look thru walls, under/thru insulation and under flooring just isn't there anymore (hence the reading glasses).

    Richard


  8. #8
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    Default Re: kind of an Opinion Question

    This is from my inspection agreement:

    It is impossible to know the condition of any item or system that is not viewable; your inspector is not Superman and can not see through walls or underground.

    I added this about five years ago. It gets some chuckles but everyone understands what it infers.

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

  9. #9
    Paul Tooley's Avatar
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    Default Re: kind of an Opinion Question

    Thanks all! I have been in this situation more than once and haven't had to walk away yet in six years. This last one was a cranker though. I went through my full intro chatter and explained pleasantries, when out of the blue, my client said "well now that that's out of the way, If you miss something that we find months later, what recourse do we have?" I glanced at the agent, whom I have worked years with (she did not batt an eye, but looked elsewhere) and pointed out the paragraphs in the inspection agreement where it explained in full what the procedure for "misses" was. Yes, I do have insurance but haven't had to use it yet. Heck, I pray before every inspection I do that there will be no reason for any negative feedback. This client was just a capper for an otherwise bad day.

    Oh, and Jack, your schpeel is quite similar to one that i give but I like the big game conversation. That just makes sense. thanks


  10. #10
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    Default Re: kind of an Opinion Question

    Here is an answer from a different perespective. My insurance coverage states that I must have a signed contract or agreement before I start an inspection. Once you have signed you have agrreed to provide a service. If you do not provide that service the buyer may have some legal recourse against you, especialy if an inspection was not done within the perscibed delay in the offer to purchase and there was a problem with the house.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: kind of an Opinion Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Tooley View Post
    my client said "well now that that's out of the way, If you miss something that we find months later, what recourse do we have?"
    I used to have a 'This is not a Guaranty' clause, which, in part, read: The only thing I can guaranty is that I will miss things, and I will do my best to not miss the big things, which means missing more small things.

    That's the same thing I would tell them when I was asked your question.

    Q. "If you miss something that we find months later, what recourse do we have?"

    A. None. I WILL miss things. I will do my best to not miss the big things, which means I will most likely miss the small things, but you are not paying me to find the small things which don't really matter, are you?

    My clients would typically answer 'No. I want to know the big things.

    Once or twice I had a client say 'I want to know the small things too.'

    To which I would reply to the effect of 'No problem, but it's will cost you 6% of the sales price for me to do that type of inspection ... ' (letting it trail off)

    Those clients responded with 'OH! The small things will cost less that that anyway. Guess I can deal with them myself.'

    (What I did not say was 'Yep, I thought so, Cheapskate.') I replied 'Good, because I hate being all nit picky about stuff which does not really matter in the scheme of things.'

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

  12. #12
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    Default Re: kind of an Opinion Question

    David,
    I'm a little unclear on what you meant.

    I don't sign my contract, my client does. He is agreeing to MY terms when I'm hired.

    I really have no idea at all what you mean by: "If you do not provide that service the buyer may have some legal recourse against you, especialy if an inspection was not done within the perscibed delay in the offer to purchase and there was a problem with the house."

    If I'm not doing the insepction within THEIR time frame - it's not MY problem, but theirs. THEY knew their time frame, and had a choice to hire me (or not) when I gave them their appointment time.

    My contract says I'm doing the inspection according to ASHI and TN SOP's - and that's what I do. I think they would have a hard time taking me to court for breach of contract.

    But maybe I misunderstood your comment.
    JF


  13. #13
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    Default Re: kind of an Opinion Question

    I will still handle these specific cases based on my gut feeling. Life's too short for me to risk dealing with persons whom I "feel" are on the face of the planet to sue as many people as possible before they get off the plant.

    Last edited by Thom Walker; 06-19-2007 at 10:02 PM. Reason: Drift
    The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory.
    - Paul Fix

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