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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Default Client ask stupid question

    Purchaser calls and asks me a series of questions. I know they say there are no stupid questions, but this one in my view takes the cake...

    "When is the last time you inspected a basement walk out?"

    Does this person deserve to have me inspect their house? I now have reservations about being available.

    2018 ASHI InspectionWorld

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Plano, Texas
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    4,170

    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    Legitimate question. You probably would answer yesterday, me over two months ago since a basement of any kind.
    "I" have rarely inspected basements since we have few basements here.
    Sometimes dumb questions are just conversation starters.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  3. #3
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    Feb 2008
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    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    I told her the last time was several houses ago. Very common here to see walk-out. I asked if there was a particular concern with the walk-out. To which she replied. "no".

    Didn't ask about insurance, length in biz, do I go on roof, what is inspected none of the typical questions, wanted to also know if I charged extra for the size of lot which was a subdivision home 60'x120'.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Knoxville, TN
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    2,446

    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    I don't view that as a stupid question.
    A stupid question is something like: "What does a water heater do?". I was actually asked that question.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    New Mexico
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    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    Had a guy ask what I was referring to when I was talking about the ceiling. He was born and raised here, so there was no language barrier.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  6. #6
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    Aug 2011
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    Bennett (Denver metro), Colorado
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    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    I told her the last time was several houses ago. Very common here to see walk-out. I asked if there was a particular concern with the walk-out. To which she replied. "no".

    Didn't ask about insurance, length in biz, do I go on roof, what is inspected none of the typical questions, wanted to also know if I charged extra for the size of lot which was a subdivision home 60'x120'.
    People have funny hot buttons. Friends and relatives often prime them with pet peave questions. I had a client a few months ago intensely interested in me confirming that there was no evidence of a past fire. I asked her if she had any reason to suspect a fire and she said no. I've had some goofy questions over the years. I often get asked if I look at the roof. Are there inspectors who don't look at roofs?

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

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    Stupid question of the week so far has been " When will the water heater start leaking?"........,,,

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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
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    3,473

    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    If there is one thing I've come to understand over 11+ years of doing this, it's that some people enter a house purchase with absolutely no skills or the ability to be handy whatsoever. A missing coverplate to some is a "red flag" and some don't know the difference between caulk and chaulk. These are the buyers who don't even know what questions to ask as they lack any savvy when it comes to home ownership. They will often rely on the advice given in an article they read somewhere about how to hire a home inspector and the terminology to them is like Greek. In a funny kind of way, I like these clients. I'm like Albert Eistein to them and they often times become so taxed and drained due to all the information I've given them that once we get out of the basement, they are overwhelmed and just leave me alone for the rest of the inspection. They are so tired of hearing me talk about defects that they just don't want to hear me talk anymore. Works for me.

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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
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    4,549

    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    Nick, send me the DVD so I can just lip sync it.

    Stupid question recently : Did you test the washing machine?
    "No, I forgot to bring my laundry."


    Of course, we went to the laundry room and tried the controls and i showed her that the shutoff valves were acessible and the dryer was hooked up ok, etc. The question is just an opener to the discussion. It could have been, "Should I be worried about the appliances?" or something else.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 07-25-2014 at 10:35 AM.
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,778

    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    --"When is the last time you inspected a basement walk out?"

    --"What does a water heater do?".

    --Had a guy ask what I was referring to when I was talking about the ceiling.

    --" When will the water heater start leaking?"

    --Did you test the washing machine?

    --confirming that there was no evidence of a past fire.

    --asked if I look at the roof.


    Questions that may be precised as "stupid" may in fact be stupid if you know that the person asking it has been taught the information that is relevant to the question. What I have found is that many people have a philosophy of " I don't need to be concerned about knowing anything till I actually need that information. When I need the information I will look it up at that time." Or, "I don't need to be bothered with how something works because I will have someone come and fix it when it breaks."

    When you are asked a question first think if the person may be really asking for something other than just an direct limited answer to that question. They may be really asking something entirely different, such as;

    "When is the last time you inspected a basement walk out?" Which really may be a way of asking if the HI knows and understands basements and foundation design and construction.

    "Did you test the washing machine?" May be asking for the extent of the inspection relating to appliances.

    "asked if I look at the roof." Could be, how do you inspect the roof? Do you walk the entire roof, just portions or inspect from the ground.


    Then again the "stupid question" may be a test of skill and ability for communication of the HI's knowledge and experience.

    Like a home the question may be not all that it appears to be at first glance. Look beyond the window dressings.


    Then there is the burning question of why tires are round? Stupid? Maybe not due to the context it was asked. It was a one line question on a Physics Exam and 1 hour to explain and demonstrate the formulas involved and how they applied.


  11. #11

    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    I know everyone knows this but we are in the Disclosure business, Education business and Customer service business. I agree with Nick and I spend a lot of time answering questions and educating. It is great for our industry that so many people know so little about the home they are purchasing or have purchased.

    Jeff Zehnder - Home Inspector, Raleigh, NC
    http://www.jjeffzehnder.com/
    http://carolinahomeinspections.com/

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    274

    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    I remember many years ago when I was talking to a Doctor about re-building a screen porch for him and he asked a really odd question, that didn't make much sense to me. I answered his question and he mentions the last guy laughed and kind of made him feel stupid when he asked and he felt comfortable talking with me. To this day, I always wondered if he did that on purpose to see the reactions of the builders and how he was treated by asking it. A couple weeks after I finished the job, out of the blue, he sends me a letter of recommendation along with all his contact information for people to reach him with any questions.

    Maybe most people aren't savvy enough to do that, but I always feel more obligated to help people with questions like these, as I feel they might get raked over the coals by someone else who only sees dollar signs to take advantage of it.


  13. #13
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    Aug 2011
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    Bennett (Denver metro), Colorado
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    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Kleisch View Post
    I remember many years ago when I was talking to a Doctor about re-building a screen porch for him and he asked a really odd question, that didn't make much sense to me. I answered his question and he mentions the last guy laughed and kind of made him feel stupid when he asked and he felt comfortable talking with me. To this day, I always wondered if he did that on purpose to see the reactions of the builders and how he was treated by asking it.
    No matter why he asked it, you're always better off treating dumb questions like they are smart. I'm reminded of that idiot congressman asking some admiral if Guam would tip over with so many people on the island. The Admiral calmly treats his question like it wasn't the dumbest use of the English language in all of history.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cesSRfXqS1Q

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

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Oregon
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    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    Silly questions from buyers are just part of the biz.... if they knew everything about houses they wouldn't need us

    My favorite is after describing a problem, "Is that something I can fix myself?" As if in the few minutes I've known them I'm supposed to be able to use my super-human powers to determine just what they are capable of.

    I always try to remember just how emotional buying a house is to people and just how much they rely on us. A few funny questions are to be expected. I always figure I'm 60% inspector and 40% therapist.


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    St Paul, MN
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    1,628

    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    Most questions aren't dumb. As home inspectors we typically have years of experience with buildings. Most of the general population doesn't. Think of it this way, the chemist for Proctor and Gamble you're doing the inspection for knows their job, that's what they're educated in and experienced at. They have their expertise and you have yours. I used toothpaste every day, but I don't know how it's made.

    That being said, I had a doozy a few weeks ago. While testing a washing machine (in an unfinished basement) the drain hose blew off the back when the washer started to drain. This, of course sent water shooting out all over the basement. As I launched myself to shut the power off the first time home buyer asked, "Is it supposed to do that?" My hand was still on the button when I looked over at her and just stared. Immediately she stated while laughing, "Oh my god! In my first time home buyers class the instructor stated there are no stupid questions during a home inspection! That was a stupid question!" While laughing also, I agreed with her.

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

  16. #16
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    Mar 2007
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    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    After reading all of the questions that we've all gotten I still remember and quietly repeat the following a few times a week to myself; "You can't fix stupid"......... Then I smile and politely show or respond the best I can.

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

  17. #17
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    Jun 2008
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    Maryland
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    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    I think people are trying to contribute to the process by asking questions. They are trying to present themselves as thought provoking and intelligent. I just answer the questions and move on. Sometimes I even go as far as saying, "I can understand why you ask that question. The answer is, ....."

    Our main subjects are houses but we are summonsed by people, so they are part of it too.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I think people are trying to contribute to the process by asking questions. They are trying to present themselves as thought provoking and intelligent. I just answer the questions and move on. Sometimes I even go as far as saying, "I can understand why you ask that question. The answer is, ....."

    Our main subjects are houses but we are summonsed by people, so they are part of it too.


  18. #18
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    Feb 2008
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    Caledon, Ontario
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    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    Couldn't resist..

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  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
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    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    How about when the inspection you just performed for them helps prevent them from making a bad purchase and then they ask if you will give them a discount on the next inspection?

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

  20. #20
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    Aug 2011
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    Bennett (Denver metro), Colorado
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    Default Re: Client ask stupid question

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    How about when the inspection you just performed for them helps prevent them from making a bad purchase and then they ask if you will give them a discount on the next inspection?
    I get that one all the time.

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

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