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  1. #1
    Ricky Wells's Avatar
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    Default Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    I would like to know what you guys do when you get to an Inspection and the Utilities are not turned on. Do you charge extra to come back or continue with the Inspection?

    Many times the last couple of years, I have arrived at Inspections only to find the utilities off even though my clients tell me that their agents say they are on. I feel bad charging more because I have to return for the inspection because I honestly believe they are just relaying what their agent told them which is relayed from the listing agent in most cases.

    When I talk to my clients to schedule the inspection, I always ask them about the utilities and tell them I would appreciate it if they would confirm with their Real Estate Agent that all utilities are on. They usually call back and say yes or they give me a date of when they will be turned on.

    Take a look at the Photo and let me know if you think the water was on. This is the latest inspection where I was told " yes all of the utilities are on"

    http://pdhi.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/CIMG0014.jpg

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    Last edited by Ricky Wells; 08-17-2010 at 11:00 PM. Reason: added because I have to return
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    Quote Originally Posted by Ricky Wells View Post
    I would like to know what you guys do when you get to an Inspection and the Utilities are not turned on. Do you charge extra to come back or continue with the Inspection?

    Many times the last couple of years, I have arrived at Inspections only to find the utilities off even though my clients tell me that their agents say they are on. I feel bad charging more because I have to return for the inspection because I honestly believe they are just relaying what their agent told them which is relayed from the listing agent in most cases.

    When I talk to my clients to schedule the inspection, I always ask them about the utilities and tell them I would appreciate it if they would confirm with their Real Estate Agent that all utilities are on. They usually call back and say yes or they give me a date of when they will be turned on.

    Take a look at the Photo and let me know if you think the water was on. This is the latest inspection where I was told " yes all of the utilities are on"

    http://pdhi.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/CIMG0014.jpg
    Ricky,

    A few days prior to an inspection, I send out a confirming email that has the contract, CREIA standards of practice, and informs them that I will need the utilities on. If the utilities are off and an additional appointment is necessary, a reinspection fee will be charged. I rarely have to charge for a reinspection.

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

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    I continue the inspection and do as much as possible without the utilities on. The furnace still gets a visual and all the numbers taken down and goes in the report as not inspected until gas is on. There is a charge for returning but I usually tell the client who stated the utilities were on and suggest they get them to pay for it.

    If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest
    Benjamin Franklin

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    Ricky, I don't know for sure what that's a photo of, but the water could be "On" from a service stand point. That pipe looks like it's been capped for years.

    Around here it is very common to arrive on site and find a note from the utility company stating, in essence, that the water was unlocked and turned "On" then shut off to prevent flooding since the flow indicator was spinning.

    Anyway, I do what I can, disclaim what I can't do, and will return for a fee once everything is "On" (if someone requests it).

    Dom.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    I inspect what I can and disclaim what I cannot test or operate due to utilities being off. I do charge to come back and it doesn't matter to me who pays.

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

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    Quote Originally Posted by Ricky Wells View Post
    I would like to know what you guys do when you get to an Inspection and the Utilities are not turned on. Do you charge extra to come back or continue with the Inspection?

    Many times the last couple of years, I have arrived at Inspections only to find the utilities off even though my clients tell me that their agents say they are on. I feel bad charging more because I have to return for the inspection because I honestly believe they are just relaying what their agent told them which is relayed from the listing agent in most cases.
    Don't feel bad, it is your time that is being waisted and it is not your fault!

    You did your part and you should not be the one that is being penalized! Tell your client that you can't inspect anything that requires power, gas or water. The few times that this has happened to me, I tell my client that I can do what I can for the fee that I quoted them. Then, if they want me to return once everything is turned on that I will need to charge them a return visit fee, which is my hourly rate of $225.

    Now, if I'm in a good mood and I did not have to drive an hour or more to get to the job I might just tell my client that they need to make sure that everything is turned on and to give me a call when the house is ready. The real estate agents hate this as it screws with everything, especially if they only have a few days for the inspection!

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

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    I will do as much as I can to keep from coming back. I HATE return trips.

    Many times the utility has turned on the water at the meter, but left the valve OFF. I will ask the Realtor if they want to turn it on. If they do, it either floods/leaks or doesn't. Sometimes the spinning meter is a toilet filling and a water heater filling.

    Sometimes the gas meter is locked, sometimes it is just shut OFF at the valve. Again, I ask the Realtor if they want to turn it on.

    It has been better the last couple of months. Either the banks are over the winterizing and have turned on the utilities, or the Realtors are getting better at making sure they are on.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    I'll explain what I can and can't inspect and give them the choice of either doing the partial inspection for the full fee and returning later to finish it (after the utilities are on) for an additional $125 or just rescheduling the entire inspection to be done after the utilities are turned on. I don't charge them to reschedule. Most of the time the clients reschedule the inspection.

    I've found that if you go ahead and do the inspection with the utilities off without giving the clients a choice, you'll most likely piss them off and never get a referral from them.

    I've found that if you tell the clients that you have to charge a trip fee or rescheduling fee to do the inspection after the utilities are turned on they'll just hire another inspector.

    Yes it sucks to drive to a home for an inspection only to have the utilities off and not get paid. That's part of the business in my book.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
    ASHI #242887 mnradontesting.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    I send this out as soon as I book the inspection along with my contract, seems to work.

    Preparation for the Inspection
    Please make sure that access and utility service is provided for the inspection which includes
    but is not limited to:
    Electricity is on
    Water is on
    Gas service is on or propane is available
    Swimming pool is cleaned so that surface of pool bottom is visible
    Electric panels free from obstructions (no storage or furniture blocking access)
    All attic access hatches or stairways are free of obstructions.
    Cars are removed from the garage.
    All mechanical equipment is accessible. This means all furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters need to have room to visually inspect and remove service panels.
    If I arrive and one or all of the utilities is not on, I continue with the inspection and charge to come back. I also verbally ask about the utilities when scheduling with the client and the agent (if I talk with them.)

    I will sometimes waive the fee if circumstances warrant.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  10. #10
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    Not to cry slow but I went back on Monday pm to check gas related items. The gas was not on again I charged them for that. I went back on my way thru on Tuesday and did not charge them. I normally would have.

    By the way....real slow since the beginning of the month.....frighteningly so.Usually it is past client referrals filling in holes or the internet filling in holes or at the very least Realtors filling in a few holes. Right about now I could use all sources to fill the huge hole. As in practically nothing. Never been this slow in the 6 years in Texas...never mind Texas....never, even in bad recessions over the years. Always had something coming thru.. I am sure it is just that bad spot because like I say...all sources are dead right now. That absolutely never happens. There is a multitude of sources out there that keeps me relatively stable compared to many and not once in my working history were all sources dead at the same time.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    I use to wait until everything was on before doing the inspection. With all the foreclousres I've become a little more cold about it. I'm called to inspect a house..... I inspect it and tell them what's on and what's not. Having utilities on is out of my control.

    I just got sick of all the return trips and jerking around. It's been a lot easier since I stopped making a big deal about it.


  12. #12
    Ricky Wells's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    I just wanted to thank all of those that replied. I can see there are a several different options in which to choose from.

    This problem really didnt start until sometime in 2008 when forclosures and shortsale properties started saturating the market. Im sure most of you hate this market just like I do but I dont see an end to it any time soon, therefore I am finally gonna have to start charging for those return trips like many of you do.

    For my friend Ted in Texas, things around here have slowed as well since the tax incentive went away. Then to add to it a couple of weeks ago on the local news they reported the number of foreclosures were rising again and home prices are starting to fall. Then to follow that Sundays newspaper reported the decline in home prices again and stated the median home price in the Phoenix area is 131,000. I think that has and will cause more homebuyers to relax and sit on the sidelines and see where the prices end up. It was reported that house prices may continue to fall until next July.

    That is bad news for us but we must keep our heads up and keep plugging away. The glorious days are ahead...........im sure of it.

    Again guys thanks for the advice !!!!!!


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    I had a client who was told by the listing agent all the utilities were on including natural gas. At the inspection, there was no gas. It wasn't turned on. I told the client I could finish the inspection without gas but I wouldn't be able to check the water heater, furnace, or kitchen range. I would charge $150 to return when the gas was turned on and verified by someone other than the listing agent. Did the client get a little upset? Yep. But not at me. He called the listing agent right there and raised holy hell until the agent agreed to refund his money for the return inspection. 1 for the good guys!

    Last edited by Stuart Brooks; 08-19-2010 at 02:13 PM. Reason: spelling
    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    I make it a point to mention that maybe the sellers or listing agent will reimburse for my return trip if utilities are off. It's not my client's fault. Let somebody else suck up the cost.

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

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    I get what I can done with whatever is on. I too prefer not to make return trips. Now and then I turn stuff on. It all depends on the situation. I know its a risk but we all take that now and then dont we? If I do turn something on, I always turn it back off right away and explain the limitations of the particular situation.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    Our company has a policy of charging for a return visit to complete an inspection. If the the listing agent stated that all the utilities are on, and when I show up they are not, I suggest to my client that they, or their agent, contact the listing agent for reimbursement of our return fee.

    How ever we live in a real world where good hard working agents that do their jobs and actually confirm that the utilities are on, are few and very very far between. When approached to reimburse my client for the return fee, they scream bloody murder and point their finger at the utility company, the bank, etc.

    I let my client and their agent deal with the problem, or, I offer to return on a no fee basis and complete the inspection with the following stipulations. I will return on my time when my schedule and travel permits.

    If my time and travel schedule does not allow for a convenient re inspection, then our standard fees apply.

    My clients are grateful, their agent is grateful and the incompetent listing agent is grateful. As a result I've gotten a lot of referrals from clients, their agents and even Mr./Ms. Incompetent listing agent.

    The key is, control. As soon as I hear, "Derek can you stop out tomorrow and finish the inspection, we are close to our deadline?" If it is not convenient, I simply refer the caller to our office to schedule a fee paid re inspection.

    This approach has worked very well for me.

    Derek Lewis


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    Thanks Jim Luttrall


    Quote:

    Preparation for the Inspection
    Please make sure that access and utility service is provided for the inspection which includes
    but is not limited to:
    Electricity is on
    Water is on
    Gas service is on or propane is available
    Swimming pool is cleaned so that surface of pool bottom is visible
    Electric panels free from obstructions (no storage or furniture blocking access)
    All attic access hatches or stairways are free of obstructions.
    Cars are removed from the garage.
    All mechanical equipment is accessible. This means all furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters need to have room to visually inspect and remove service panels.

    This is an excellent idea. Put it in writing for all parties to see.


  18. #18
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    Unhappy Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Lewis View Post
    Thanks Jim Luttrall


    Quote:

    Preparation for the Inspection
    Please make sure that access and utility service is provided for the inspection which includes
    but is not limited to:
    Electricity is on
    Water is on
    Gas service is on or propane is available
    Swimming pool is cleaned so that surface of pool bottom is visible
    Electric panels free from obstructions (no storage or furniture blocking access)
    All attic access hatches or stairways are free of obstructions.
    Cars are removed from the garage.
    All mechanical equipment is accessible. This means all furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters need to have room to visually inspect and remove service panels.

    This is an excellent idea. Put it in writing for all parties to see.
    Thanks for putting this up, I hope that you don't mind that I have "borrowed" it to post on my web site and to add to the info that I send prior to the inspection. My a.m. inspection yesterday was cancelled because the listing agent is insisting that I turn on the water at the water utilities meter vault. The home is a forclosure that hasn't been occupied for over 2 years and was winterized at that time. I have probably lost this job because I will not turn on the service at the utility side of the meter and "dewinterize" the structure. Small price to pay IMO though, I know the house & I am sure that there are multiple issues with the plumbing & I really don't feel like fighting with the bank that owns this one over some damage that they would probably try to blame on me...
    Putting this in my info & on my site won't encourage the listing agent to take care of his listing but maybe it will serve to inform clients what the real estate agents need to take care of...

    Alton Darty
    ATN Services, LLC
    www.arinspections.com

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    Your welcome, while I might have rephrased or added to the list, the idea is not new to me, I believe in recycling!.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  20. #20
    Jim Prudhomme's Avatar
    Jim Prudhomme Guest

    Default Everyone slow?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post

    By the way....real slow since the beginning of the month.....frighteningly so.Usually it is past client referrals filling in holes or the internet filling in holes or at the very least Realtors filling in a few holes. Right about now I could use all sources to fill the huge hole. As in practically nothing. Never been this slow in the 6 years in Texas...never mind Texas....never, even in bad recessions over the years. Always had something coming thru.. I am sure it is just that bad spot because like I say...all sources are dead right now. That absolutely never happens. There is a multitude of sources out there that keeps me relatively stable compared to many and not once in my working history were all sources dead at the same time.
    I wanted to see if everyone has experienced the extreme slowdown here of late? I have been in business for 23 years with the occasional slowdown but nothing like this. The market dropped by almost half a couple of years ago but I have been able to hang on with reduced work but the last two weeks have been scary kind of slow.
    I cant figure out if it is a downturn in an already slow market or an indication of a dead market.

    If this doesn't turn around I may have to actually clean out the garage or do some of those honey do's my wife has been after me to do for years.

    Jim Prudhomme


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    No Jim, I have been reading the previous posts, it is slow in Oklahoma as well. I have been talking to some of the realtors as well as some contractors I know, and they are nervous as well. There are a lot of houses on the market around here, but no one is biting. I'm trying to be optimistic, but it is getting harder and harder to be patient!

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
    Jubilee Home Inspections

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    Many agents are calling the utilities and finding that "the utility is legally on".
    This only means that someone has an account open.

    Then they tell the buyer and inspector that it is on without actually going to the house. I can't believe this industry has not created an educational program for agents. The old timers around here have been trained by the agents instead of the other way around!

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

  23. #23
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Everyone slow?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Prudhomme View Post
    I wanted to see if everyone has experienced the extreme slowdown here of late? I have been in business for 23 years with the occasional slowdown but nothing like this. The market dropped by almost half a couple of years ago but I have been able to hang on with reduced work but the last two weeks have been scary kind of slow.
    I cant figure out if it is a downturn in an already slow market or an indication of a dead market.

    If this doesn't turn around I may have to actually clean out the garage or do some of those honey do's my wife has been after me to do for years.

    Jim Prudhomme
    I am not trying to be a barer of bad news but I have hit a slow spot like none other in my life. I hate to admit it because I keep on pushing forward. Many won't admit it and I do not blame them. It is not a pleasant thing to dwell on.

    I have hoards of past clients that vow to refer and many do as well as many Realtors that get cards from me every time I meet them. I do not just hand out my cards, I wait to see if the ask. With those that show the interest it is always a better referral. As soon as they show interest I oblige. I have Realrtors and past clients that know people with questions about this or that and they tell them to call me because I will have the answer. With a following like that I just have to be in an extremely unlucky low but guess what.

    It can only pick up from here.


  24. #24

    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    I wanted to see if everyone has experienced the extreme slowdown here of late?
    Business is somehow up over last yearfor me, but only slightly. It's typically fairly slow this time of year, since the kids are just getting back into the swing of things with school and all.

    I'm on a week on, week off type of schedule right now. Last week, I worked Mon. through Sat., while I only worked Mon. and today this week. Next week, I've already got 4 lined up. If I knew ahead of time when I'd be working, I'd get or start a second job.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    I've actually picked up quite a bit since August. But one of my guys slipped on a deck and ended up having back surgery so I'm doing his inspections also.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
    ASHI #242887 mnradontesting.com

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Arrive at Inspection and Utilities are not on....Arrrrrgh

    Having a son in the real estate business I hear of all the reasons of why the market is slow.

    FHA has recently raised the downpayment required for a loan.

    Banks are requiring about a 700 on a credit score to obtain a loan. (If you've been late on a Blockbuster movie, your in trouble. Who has perfect credit in this type of economy)

    Unemployment! No one is going to buy if they don't have a job. Plain and simple.

    Many feel no job security and can't justify buying a home even though the rates are at an all time history low. 5%
    My first house I paid 13% in the late 70's.

    Sellers: If these people have bought a home in just the last few years, they are upside down on the value of their home and can't sell it without taking funds to the title company just to get out from underneath the home loan. This is one reason why you see all of the short sales.

    Tax credit No More: After the end of the last 8K tax credit it slowed down everywhere in the real estate market. Now what do we have, we have people saying I'm not buying a home cause sure as I do they'll give out a 10K tax credit. We have become a nation of people who are willing to stand there with their hand out and think they deserve it.

    Finally the Foreclosures
    Foreclosures are killing us a inspectors and anyone involved in the real estate business which then affects other markets such as retail.

    When someone buys a foreclosure somewhere, that knocks the guy on the same street from selling his home and buying another.

    Typically real estate has always worked simply as you buy a home, and that seller then in turn buys a home.

    That is not the case with a foreclosure market.

    In my opinion, it is going to be tough for the next couple of years and if you don't have some money in a nest egg your ass in going to be in trouble. When I hear of people wanting to jump into this business right now or become a realtor I just cringe knowing what they are going to be in for.
    Those of you that have been in this business very long know exactly what I'm talking about.

    Hate to sound so negative, but its the CHANGE I guess we were all promised.

    Rick


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