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Thread: Advice Needed

  1. #1
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    Default Advice Needed

    I performed a home inspection on July 3rd. On September 16th the homeowner contacted me about a problem with a grinder pump. Grinder pumps are not common in our area. There are two in the whole county. The client stated that I needed to have someone look at it. I will admit, I did not inspect the pump on the day of inspection beause I thought it was an old well pump and the home had city water service. I cannot afford to send someone out to look at it, and I don't really feel that it's my responsiblity. The seller did not disclose the pump to the buyer and the buyer also was not aware of what it was. What is my best course of action? He's threatening to call a lawyer.

    Inspection Referral SOC

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Blevins View Post
    I will admit, I did not inspect the pump on the day of inspection beause I thought it was an old well pump and the home had city water service.
    Did you report that you didn't inspect it? (and recommend that a qualified plumber/whomever look at it?)

    Or did you just not mention it at all. They may not be common in your parts, but you must have some idea that was relevant to the plumbing system.

    and the buyer also was not aware of what it was
    See my previous comment; that's why you were there, to advise them about such issues.

    Several possible things you can do, but I'd like to know some more details. What exactly is he claiming the problem to be? If he's threatening a lawyer, I'd at least investigate more details and demonstrate an interest in helping him find a resolution. Grinder pumps are expensive, and I bet he's already discovered that fact.

    Dom.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Did the grinder pump function while you did the inspection? If it didn't, the water would likely be backing up at the lowest fixture.
    There is usually an alarm on the units to indicate when there is a problem.
    First of all, you need to go see your client and try to address his concerns. Did it just quit? Is it leaking? It might be as simple as a tripped breaker.
    It might be connected to the city sewer system, in which case, the pumps usually are owned by the utility company.
    If the house is on a septic, the pumps are used to get the waste up to the drain field. Did you do a septic inspection, or did you recommend they get a septic inspection on their own? If septic, the pump is the homeowners to deal with.

    On a side note, not having enough money to take care of a fairly small repair is a horrible excuse. If a few hundred dollars is out of your budget, you should not be doing home inspections until you are prepared to take care of issues like this. If there was a pump there, you should have inspected it, or told them a reason you did not inspect it. Not knowing what something is, is not a valid excuse.

    When he contacted you on the 16th, you should have made arrangements to go out and address his concerns right then. The longer you wait to address his concerns will only make it worse. He has that much more time to get mad, talk to everyone he knows, and get maybe some bad advice, probably none of it good for you.

    You may end up doing this inspection for free, by the time you pay for a repair. Chalk it up to a "stupid tax" like Dave Ramsey says. If you stall him, or don't take care of it, he will tell everyone he knows how bad you are. If you take care of your mistake, he just might tell everyone he knows what a stand up guy you are.

    Don't try to put off your mistake by blaming the seller, it will only make you look bad.

    It sounds like you could use a class or book on conflict resolution. Its a skill that is, at times, more important than inspection skills.

    On a side note, a bad grinder pump is not worth an attorney's time to take you to court. However, he may take you to small claims court on his own. Go see what the problem is, and maybe take a plumber you trust along with you, then pay to get it fixed.
    Hope it works out for you.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post

    When he contacted you on the 16th, you should have made arrangements to go out and address his concerns right then. The longer you wait to address his concerns will only make it worse. He has that much more time to get mad, talk to everyone he knows, and get maybe some bad advice, probably none of it good for you.

    You may end up doing this inspection for free, by the time you pay for a repair. Chalk it up to a "stupid tax" like Dave Ramsey says. If you stall him, or don't take care of it, he will tell everyone he knows how bad you are. If you take care of your mistake, he just might tell everyone he knows what a stand up guy you are.

    .


    Wise Advice - I would not say stupid tax , Call it Education expense.

    Details man , details , that is why they hired you. Every corner , crawlspace sufficient sampling of electrical outlets . looking for anything that does not look right. Knowing when to refer to a professional . Like a home that is computer controlled , it has wiring that is significantly unusual or you question it. same with plumbing , Load structure might call for an engineering evaluation if you are unsure about something (like the mono pole deck that is 50" in diameter )


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Stupid tax would be accurate in this case, I'm afraid. I'm always so thorough. Due to the water heater leaking I only ran the water for a short period of time, but noticed no backing up or alarm sounding. Any other time I've had such an obstacle I have noted that a plumber should do a full evaluation fo the system, this time I only noted that a plumber should evaluate the water heater.

    I have been out to the house, where the owner initially hem hawed around and said that he blamed the realtor for not disclosing that it was there in the first place. The city came out and looked and said that the problem was most definitely not on their end. This problem occured (someone asked) last week. I feel like mechanical failure can happen at any time, and that there's no way that while I may not have inspected it on that day -- it certainly wouldn't haven't taken 10 weeks for someone to realize there was a problem. I was basically told by the client that he didn't know who was responsible, and he didn't care who paid for it as long as it wasn't him.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    That puts you in a tough position. If you had inspected it, operated it, etc. then you could explain that it just randomly failed recently, post-inspection.

    If you tested it that day or listened to it run, it may have been giving symptoms of failure (like any failing pump) and you may have alerted him to a problem prior to closing.

    At this point, no one can say for sure. How much to replace the pump in your market? There are many ejector pumps and styles.

    it certainly wouldn't haven't taken 10 weeks for someone to realize there was a problem.
    How many fixtures are serviced by this pump? The whole house? If only a portion of the house, then it's possible to go unnoticed for awhile.

    Dom.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Dom D'Agostino View Post
    That puts you in a tough position. If you had inspected it, operated it, etc. then you could explain that it just randomly failed recently, post-inspection.

    If you tested it that day or listened to it run, it may have been giving symptoms of failure (like any failing pump) and you may have alerted him to a problem prior to closing.

    At this point, no one can say for sure. How much to replace the pump in your market? There are many ejector pumps and styles.



    How many fixtures are serviced by this pump? The whole house? If only a portion of the house, then it's possible to go unnoticed for awhile.

    Dom.
    I don't know anything about the pump. The owner hasn't had anyone look at it aside from the city and waited a week before contacting me after that. I want to help, but at the same time I don't know where the liablity ultimately rests. Looking online a pump ranges from $800 - $1000, but there's no telling what it would ultimately cost plus any labor involved. This was $275 inspection. I live in a rural area and have been inspecting for a little over a year -- I'm building my business, but it's slow go. $1000 is a lot of money to me.

    Should I talk to a lawyer before I proceed? I admit, I messed up. I know I messed up, but am I to blame?


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    You claim you looked at but thought it was an old well or something , problem is you didn't document that You also did not inspect the sewer plumbing real well either because you would have traced the pipe to the grinder pump. I now have to ask what else did you miss ?

    Making a claim on your E & O insurance will cost you way more than the pump. Did anyone use the Bathroom that day of the inspection , did you run water , it could be that it was still functioning - You might offer to refund the inspection fee or man up bite the bullet , Remember Your reputation is on the line right now - Cost of education is high Maybe spending a grand here will be enough of an education for you to learn.

    OK So I beat you up - not because I have a personal ax to grind but so you (and others) realize that what your being paid to do is so important. Other wise You could drive by with a video camera and say it's house and it is white

    Remember the buyer is plunking down some big change , it is the largest investment most people will ever make. You are evaluating and being paid to evaluate, take your time , take more pictures than you need too , take video , document photo numbers , put post it notes in the photos so you know what they are if needed or post it notes with numbers. Plan on spending at least the same amount of time (actually 2 or 3 times) for report writing , organizing


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    $1000 is a lot of money to me
    If you went to a weekend inspection conference, the airfare, hotel and meals would cost that much.

    Consider this your continuing education cost for this year--lesson learned.


    The owner hasn't had anyone look at it
    Seriously, get your own plumber (just hire one) out there to figure this out before the buyer shows up at your front door one morning. This may be a simple fix or a full replacement, don't put the cart before the horse.
    How is your client living in the house with no functional sewage system? You need to get answers, so get on the phone and get it done or someone else will decide for you.



    Should I talk to a lawyer before I proceed
    Why talk to a lawyer?
    You know your options:
    tell him to pound sand;
    pay to have it fixed;
    show him your pre-inspection agreement (hopefully) and refund your inspection fee (he probably won't go for that...)


    Dom.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Too many things just do not sound right. If the whole house is on the grinder pump and it has gone out then the homes sewage will be backing up and the home basically can not be lived in. If it is for a part of the home, like the basement then that might be another issue.

    As a home inspector grinder pumps are virtually outside the scope of expertise for most home inspectors. Their tops should be bolted down are not easily accessible. Most are maintained by the municipality but for even with those I recommend that they need to be inspected and serviced prior to settling on the home, just like I do with all septic tanks.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    On the surface how do you inspect a sewage ejector pump?
    Its a latent defect in my opinion. You did a visual/non invasive inspection as per the SOP.
    You ran the water everything worked fine at the time of the inspection. No problems were apparent.
    Post inspection the pump failed. I don't see how you should be expected to pay. Who knows what transpired after you left and the new owner took possession. Someone could have thrown something into the toilet to damage the impeller.

    Did the client have the opportunity to do a walk-through pre closing and if so did he flush the toilets, run the taps?

    What does your contract say and did the client read and sign it before start of inspection?

    I am not sure you should pay for anything, and besides the onus is on the client to prove you were negligent.

    In Seltzer-Soberano v. Kogut 1999 CarswellOnt 1520 (Ont. Superior Court of Justice), Justice Wright said (at paragraph 6):

    The usual house inspection is general in nature and is performed by a visual inspection. A house inspector cannot be held responsible for a problem which is not readily apparent by a reasonable visual inspection. A house inspector would be held to a different standard of responsibility if requested to respond to a specific question, i.e., "we want to know if there is any evidence of termites in this house?" If that specific question was asked of a house inspector, the inspector, unless expert in that area, would probably tell the proposed purchaser to consult a pest control company.
    [23] Because the core of the service provided by the home inspector is the advice given regarding the condition of the home, claims against home inspectors in superior courts have been pleaded and considered by the court in the context of the tort of negligent misrepresentation. The five elements to be proven in that tort, as articulated by the Supreme Court of Canada in Queen v. Cognos Inc. 1993 CanLII 146 (SCC), (1993) 99 D.L.R. (4th) 626, are well established:

    1. there must be a duty of care based on a special relationship between the parties,
    2. the representation made by one party to the other must be false, inaccurate or misleading,
    3. the representation must be made negligently,
    4. the person to whom the representation is made must have reasonably relied on the representation and,
    5. the reliance must have been detrimental to that person with the consequence of his suffering damages.
    The client could also claim you breached your contract, which again goes back to him proving same.

    This is why its important for me to know the contract terms and whether the contract was brought to the attention of your client pre-inspection.

    If you are insured you are obligated to bring this matter to the attention of your E&O provider, and even then you may be well under your deductible anyway.

    Last edited by Raymond Wand; 09-20-2014 at 07:12 PM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    The reality is that you probably could not have determined if the pump was failing.However, you probably should have been able to identify what it was or at least find out what it was. That would have put you in a better position because you could have stated that you did not inspect it.

    Every grinder pump that I have seen that has been for the entire house has had a fairly large control panel and has had alarm lights and horns. Did you see these controls. They do not look anything like typical well controls.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    These photos are from a recent grinder pump I inspected while doing code inspections for a city on the outskirts of Orlando ... and, no, I did not approve it.

    Either the pump is working or it is not - all the ones I inspect are completely buried and not visible in any way (the cover is slightly below grade), this one had other problems, such as no alarm, no disconnect, wired by an extension cord, etc., and, yes, a "professional plumbing contractor" pulled the permit and installed it ... (naturally, their excuse for the extension cord was "we didn't know it wasn't allowed, we're not electrical contractors" --- THEN WHY DID YOU WIRE IT! )

    Dang! I forgot to rotate the photos 90 degrees clockwise ...

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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Ok, after reading more of the posts...
    Is this a grinder pump for a basement bathroom, and not for the entire house? The pumps for a whole house are out in the yard, and look like a trash can lid resting on the ground. You typically can not open them to inspect, and for the most part have no idea of the operation unless they stop working, then things back up.
    While most have alarms, many do not. The control panel is usually about the size of a cable or phone cable box mounted on the side of the house. If there is an alarm, there is a little red globe on top. They are usually padlocked.
    It sounds like it was working for a while after he moved in, then quit, or started acting up. If that is the case, its just something that happens. Things can fail without warning. Since you can not view it to inspect it, there isn't a way to know if its on its last legs or not.

    While you may not have written the best report, there's probably nothing you could have told him back in July, since it obviously had not failed then.

    First of all, do not admit you messed up, or made an error. I would probably tell him that it obviously was working when you did the inspection, and was working AFTER you did the inspection (otherwise there would be backed up sewage in the house), and things just fail, sometimes without warning.

    Since it must have been working when he did his walk thru, and for a time after he moved in (I'm guessing about that), it is clearly not your fault it failed, and you do not have responsibility. You are not a warranty company.

    You may or may not have to notify your E&O provider. Usually, the first call with a problem is not enough to involve them. However, if they start talked lawsuit, you should give your insurance company a call. just as a heads up. Some companies have an attorney on staff to give you a little advice before they get involved.

    Contrary to what Dwight said, it is not always possible to trace waste pipes to a grinder pump. In fact, it can be impossible (during a home inspection) when they are in the yard well away from the house. There have been many times that I have found the alarm, and never found the top of the sewage pump in the yard because of the landscaping. However, apparently you did see it, and just didn't know what you were looking at.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Just wondering if the client / buyer has a Home Warranty policy - pretty typical here with the purchase of a home? If so, the repairs my be covered.

    In any event, your contract should stipulate that the grinder, whether observed or not, may not be included in your inspection as to performance. Being that this is a needed mechanical device which may have been running consistently, you have a good argument that the defect did not surface for many weeks after the inspection and therefor you can not be held liable......but.....
    Ponying up a few bucks in good faith or having a plumber look at it at your expense may save headache down the road and buy some good-will but certainly do not feel obligated. Your contract (and State) may limit your liability to the cost of the inspection.

    Take the high ground or buy some potential advertising, education and possible referrals.

    I failed to notice a second but tripped GFCI in bathroom a few months back (one was working but the missed one was behind a heavy towel). The client called me about it and I had an electrician go over with me the next day. Problem traced to a short in an exterior outlet completely hidden by vegetation. Problem solved, which cost me $100 but well worth the good faith. Client was a very happy camper and sent me a $25 gift card and referred her neighbor to me for a pre-sale inspection.

    Last edited by Ian Page; 09-20-2014 at 11:52 PM.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Too many things just do not sound right. If the whole house is on the grinder pump and it has gone out then the homes sewage will be backing up and the home basically can not be lived in. If it is for a part of the home, like the basement then that might be another issue.

    As a home inspector grinder pumps are virtually outside the scope of expertise for most home inspectors. Their tops should be bolted down are not easily accessible. Most are maintained by the municipality but for even with those I recommend that they need to be inspected and serviced prior to settling on the home, just like I do with all septic tanks.
    The grinder pump is located out in the yard. It is recessed into the ground with a cover over it. The owner had not noticed a problem until he hit the cover with his lawnmower and discovered waste over the pump. Sewage, to my understanding has never backed up into the home -- he just stopped using the water. There is apparently an outlet on the pole nearby that at one time belonged to the pump, but the owner now says after talking the seller that it's supposedly wired into the breaker, however he will not check to see if it is tripped and he will not plug up the wire to the pole in an effort to see if this fixes the problem.

    I've since found out that there have been issues at this home in the past, and that a new pump was installed within the last few years. The plumber thinks that they may actually share a pump with the house next door.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Travis, Not an personal attack though it may seem harsh at times. Live and learn

    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Blevins View Post
    ...........Grinder pumps are not common in our area. There are two in the whole county. .................I will admit, I did not inspect the pump on the day of inspection beause I thought it was an old well pump and the home had city water service. ............. I don't really feel that it's my responsiblity. The seller did not disclose the pump to the buyer and the buyer also was not aware of what it was. ...........
    How do you know there are only two grinder installations in the county?

    You thought it was an old well pump. Did you question if it had been pulled and decommissioned? Or what it status was? Did you see any well controls in the house? Did you verify what the water service material was and its location? Did you look to see what had been done with the old well connections in the house?

    Seller didn't tell you, Buyer didn't tell you, the heavens didn't open up and shine a light onto you. What did you put in your report as to type of waste system was in the property???? Not your responsibility???? What SOP are you using??


    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Blevns View Post
    ......... I'm always so thorough. Due to the water heater leaking I only ran the water for a short period of time, but noticed no backing up or alarm sounding. Any other time I've had such an obstacle I have noted that a plumber should do a full evaluation fo the system, this time I only noted that a plumber should evaluate the water heater.

    I have been out to the house, where the owner initially hem hawed around and said that he blamed the realtor for not disclosing that it was there in the first place. ....... This problem occured (someone asked) last week. I feel like mechanical failure can happen at any time, and that there's no way that while I may not have inspected it on that day -- it certainly wouldn't haven't taken 10 weeks for someone to realize there was a problem. I was basically told by the client that he didn't know who was responsible, and he didn't care who paid for it as long as it wasn't him.

    As for time between the inspection and the Buyer finding that there was a problem, it's possible that the Buyer was just not in the house to use the system. Then it was a week before they called you, possibly because it took a few days to figure that there was a problem. Then there is the BIG question of actually what is the problem with the grinder. Problems being motor, switch, relay, wiring, connection and the list could go on.

    Water heater leaking and you only ran the water for a short period of time. Which makes me think that the water was shut off, yes? If the water was shut off due to the leaking water heater then how much water did you rum and where?

    If you had noted the waste system in the report and it failed after your inspection then you have no responsibility. Stuff works and day and not the nest. You drive home and park the car, next morning it will not start. That's life. Yet in your case there is a large gray area about what you did and did not do in the inspection and what you reported or did not.

    A little late now, but in hind sight you should have sent your plumber out to get the actual facts when the Buyer notified you of the problem immediately (that day) to report back to you. A plumber that will report back to you and that you trust. Especially when you were caught with your pants down and staring into the headlights of what you missed. Being proactive can save a lot of money and a lot of credibility.

    You said "I feel like mechanical failure can happen at any time, and that there's no way that while I may not have inspected it on that day -- it certainly wouldn't haven't taken 10 weeks for someone to realize there was a problem. " Which really just sounds like an attempt to reconcile your failures in the inspection.

    Like the Buyer you don't care who pays for the fix, what ever it may be ($35 or $3,500), so long as it is not you who are paying the bill. It may boil down to personal responsibility and biting the bullet.

    In your first posting you said in part "... I cannot afford to send someone out to look at it...." , but in reality you can not afford to send someone out for many many reasons.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    I feel that my insepection agreement may be the saving grace in this situation. One condition is that the inspector assumes no liability or responsibility for the costs of repairing or replacing any unreported defects or deficiencies either current or arising in the future.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    When a client asks about septic systems, I state that I do not inspect them. My SOP does not require me to inspect the septic. The tank lids have to be dug up, the tank pumped out and then the drain field is checked. This goes way beyond the scope of a home inspection.

    A grinder pump to me is the basement sewage pump that pumps basement sewage from a covered sump up to the waste pipe. The lid should be sealed, as Scott said. You run water in and listen for the pump to start up. You can feel the vibration of the pump in the pipe.

    I flush toilets and run water thru all the fixtures. If a septic effluent pump is not working, I would probably not discover it in the course of a home inspection. Of course if the alarm goes off, that I would report or if I suspected a septic system failure. But buried in the ground, it's beyond the scope of an HI, IMO.

    I was not aware that some home inspectors have to include the septic system. Is it just a statement that you fill in? Be careful with that one. If not sure, say so.
    Years ago, I stated that the home was on sewer. I got the info from the realty listing. That info was wrong, and the house was on a septic tank, an old plugged up septic system, in fact. I was just lucky the client wanted me for a witness on his side.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Travis,
    Like an onion, you keep pealing back the layers.

    The buyer sounds like a real gem.

    Did the listing on the property describe the utilities: well, public water, septic, public serer? Typically the buyer receives a copy of the listing at some point during the process. Not that they read it but the fact that they had it does make a difference.

    Out of curiosity, did you take a picture of the service panel prior to opening it up?
    If so did the pict show a tripped breaker? Or a breaker marked as pump

    PS. Sorry I did not see your post just prior to mine. Which may help context of my posting.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    I feel that my insepection agreement may be the saving grace in this situation. One condition is that the inspector assumes no liability or responsibility for the costs of repairing or replacing any unreported defects or deficiencies either current or arising in the future.
    The courts may not agree with your assumption, regardless what your agreement stated. Since you have not disclosed whether or not the client read and signed the contract prior to start of your inspection, here is what courts up here have opined.

    The home inspector in the context of the average residential home inspection is involved in an inherently risky business. The inspector invites reliance. If prospective home purchasers did not believe they could secure meaningful and reliable advice about the home they are considering purchasing, there would be no reason for them to retain the inspector. The matters about which the inspector is asked to opine - for example, roofs, foundations, and other basic home systems - are of interest to the purchaser precisely because they are the aspects of the home which would give rise to the greatest financial exposure were they to be discovered to be defective after completion of the purchase.

    Having regard to all of the foregoing, home inspectors like PTP and others whose contracts have been considered in earlier cases attempt to limit their potential liability through exclusionary contractual language. They have been enthusiastic in pursuing that objective, to the extent that their contract ostensibly would relieve them of any liability whatsoever beyond the $240 contract price, no matter how negligent or inaccurate they might be. One imagines that persons wanting useful and reliable advice about their prospective home purchase might be discouraged from retaining inspectors if they really understood that the inspector was doing everything possible to ensure he never could be held accountable for the way in which he did his work. That objective of the home inspector no doubt is one which could be achieved through contract but, as canvassed later in these reasons, only if the client is made to understand that is the case.



  22. #22
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Blevins View Post
    I feel that my insepection agreement may be the saving grace in this situation. One condition is that the inspector assumes no liability or responsibility for the costs of repairing or replacing any unreported defects or deficiencies either current or arising in the future.
    Think of your contract as a track meet and you have set hurdles up for the meet.

    The attorney is the runner, that section of your contract is the first hurdle which needs to be jumped ... very few runners will not easily clear that first hurdle.

    Each successive hurdle (section of your contract) becomes the next obstacle for them to clear in order for them to have a clean run.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Blevins View Post
    I feel that my insepection agreement may be the saving grace in this situation. One condition is that the inspector assumes no liability or responsibility for the costs of repairing or replacing any unreported defects or deficiencies either current or arising in the future.
    I think the language is probably not enforceable under the terms of the agreement If the issue ends in court, which it seriously doubt, due to the nominal amount involved, (cheaper to settle) the court would probably disregard it as being overly broad. In essence the language, as written, attempts to remove any liability even if the inspector is negligent.

    - - - Updated - - -


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    You said the owner hit the lid with a mower and saw waste on the top. You mentioned, during the inspection, you thought it was an abandoned well (so you did see it?), but made no mention if the ground was soft or waste was sitting on top. I assume, if you noticed waste, or something odd, you would have reported it since you would have seen it. You mention the buyer didn't know what it was either, was he with you during the inspection, did the two of you look at it, was anything said?

    The difference I see, if everyone is being honest, is on the day you saw the pump there was no evidence of a problem and 10 weeks later owner sees evidence. I believe it is beyond the scope of home inspections to open up grinder pump covers to check them.

    The one thing that puzzles me is if there was waste on top, without more details, how is it not flowing back into the home? I can think of some ideas, but they are not pleasant thoughts.

    I don't think you are liable, it's more of the owner pointing at everyone, considering he is not willing to check the breaker.

    Not sure how others feel, but you sending someone out might point the figure more at you as you might inadvertently be admitting to being at fault by the action. I would talk it over with him and explain there was nothing indicating an issue with the sewer, no backups, no slow drainage, etc. If you were to go out with a plumber and open the pit and see it full, then what?


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Your client contacted you 2.5 months after you performed the inspection.

    - Was the house occupied when you inspected it and if so, was the previous owner living in it up to the date of settlement?

    - When did your client move into the house and begin living there?

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

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Kleisch View Post
    You said the owner hit the lid with a mower and saw waste on the top. You mentioned, during the inspection, you thought it was an abandoned well (so you did see it?), but made no mention if the ground was soft or waste was sitting on top. I assume, if you noticed waste, or something odd, you would have reported it since you would have seen it. You mention the buyer didn't know what it was either, was he with you during the inspection, did the two of you look at it, was anything said?

    The difference I see, if everyone is being honest, is on the day you saw the pump there was no evidence of a problem and 10 weeks later owner sees evidence. I believe it is beyond the scope of home inspections to open up grinder pump covers to check them.

    The one thing that puzzles me is if there was waste on top, without more details, how is it not flowing back into the home? I can think of some ideas, but they are not pleasant thoughts.

    I don't think you are liable, it's more of the owner pointing at everyone, considering he is not willing to check the breaker.

    Not sure how others feel, but you sending someone out might point the figure more at you as you might inadvertently be admitting to being at fault by the action. I would talk it over with him and explain there was nothing indicating an issue with the sewer, no backups, no slow drainage, etc. If you were to go out with a plumber and open the pit and see it full, then what?
    You have to call the buyer and go out to the house. This is proper procedure and admits nothing. I live in an area where about ten percent of the houses have sewer pumps and they generally need servicing not replacing If the house was occupied not absentee buyer and occupied for 2.5 months then it likely was working at the time of the inspection Some pumps operate with small holding tanks others are much larger . The circuit breakers many times indicate a sewer pump. Ask the buyer what alerted him to the fact that the pump had a problem and go from there Good luck


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    This is the advise my insurance carrier has given me, if I were to ever receive a potential claim. Do not go back to the house. Advise the client that you'll contact your insurance company and they'll be hearing from them. Call your insurance company. They'll send an adjuster out to view the problem, look over the inspection report, and make a determination as to coverage or not.

    In other words, call your insurance company and let them handle it.

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

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Rowe View Post
    This is the advise my insurance carrier has given me, if I were to ever receive a potential claim. Do not go back to the house. Advise the client that you'll contact your insurance company and they'll be hearing from them. Call your insurance company. They'll send an adjuster out to view the problem, look over the inspection report, and make a determination as to coverage or not.

    In other words, call your insurance company and let them handle it.
    That advice comes from their attorneys. It is stupid advice. Ignore it. Go back and documents everything. Be friendly and helpful, but do not admit being wrong (unless you are willing to settle the matter yourself. Of course, this is just my opinion...


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    That advice comes from their attorneys. It is stupid advice. Ignore it.

    Stupid advice? How can following the recommendations of an insurance carrier, the people who investigate and pay claims, be stupid advise? By the way, the recommendation to me came from my insurance carrier's full time claims adjuster who does nothing but investigate claims involving home inspectors. Not the carrier's attorney.

    Telling the op to handle it himself is like telling a home buyer to perform their own inspection. Now that's stupid advice.

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

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Rowe View Post
    Stupid advice? How can following the recommendations of an insurance carrier, the people who investigate and pay claims, be stupid advise? By the way, the recommendation to me came from my insurance carrier's full time claims adjuster who does nothing but investigate claims involving home inspectors. Not the carrier's attorney.

    Telling the op to handle it himself is like telling a home buyer to perform their own inspection. Now that's stupid advice.
    When the insurance company investigates you can expect to receive a bill for the full deductible, which they will probably spend quickly for attorneys and experts. Then they will probably settle the case. Then you must report that when you apply for insurance, and may be turned down because of this.

    What it wrong with going back to see if there is a real issue and gathering evidence before calling the insurance company. Many issues may be settled for far less than the deductible. I think it is very unlikely that the insurance company will deny coverage if you take this approach.

    I gave him my opinion based upon 29 years of experience in this business. He can take it or leave it. You are entitled to you opinion also.


  31. #31
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    I gave him my opinion based upon 29 years of experience in this business. He can take it or leave it. You are entitled to you opinion also.
    Really, 'cause I could have swore you called my advice to him "stupid". With your 29 years of experience you must know that all insurance and insurance coverage is not the same. For example, you're assuming he has a deductible. You're also assuming he'll be looking for a new carrier if he makes a claim. I carry insurance which has no deductible and cannot legally be denied coverage due to past claims. Maybe the op has a similar coverage?

    I suggest that unless you know all the facts regarding the op's business that you stick with giving your opinions on what he should do and refrain from calling other advice "stupid".

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

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Rowe View Post
    Really, 'cause I could have swore you called my advice to him "stupid". With your 29 years of experience you must know that all insurance and insurance coverage is not the same. For example, you're assuming he has a deductible. You're also assuming he'll be looking for a new carrier if he makes a claim. I carry insurance which has no deductible and cannot legally be denied coverage due to past claims. Maybe the op has a similar coverage?

    I suggest that unless you know all the facts regarding the op's business that you stick with giving your opinions on what he should do and refrain from calling other advice "stupid".
    Ken, Sorry that you took it personal. I was not referring to you as stupid, rather the advise of the insurance company. Actually, I thought I was replying to a post from the OP.

    BTW, I have never heard of E and O insurance with no deductible. I wonder if that is unique to your state. I cannot imagine how that would work without very high premiums.


  33. #33
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    BTW, I have never heard of E and O insurance with no deductible. I wonder if that is unique to your state. I cannot imagine how that would work without very high premiums.
    I pay between 6 and 7 grand a year for E&O and liability. That's a little less than 5% of my income so I don't think it's very high.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
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  34. #34
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Rowe View Post
    I pay between 6 and 7 grand a year for E&O and liability. That's a little less than 5% of my income so I don't think it's very high.
    Its about three times what I pay. Considering that I have only paid one $2500 deductible over the years I would rather have the low premium.


  35. #35
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    I forgot to mention, if I ever leave the profession I get about 40% of my premiums back after any claims are paid.

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

  36. #36
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    I am bringing an old post but up not to answer the OP question but due to what I have read.

    I do not advertise I do septic macerator, pump and tank inspections, but can certianly get around the system and field.

    The reason for my post, I have come across 3 interior macerator pump set ups.
    One the homeowner, vendor, through was a sump basin and pump. The client, the purchaser and father went along for the ride. As self-professed builder.

    When you looked at the tank , plumbing and pump, it was unmistakable. What fooled them and had me perplexed, the water was clear as drinking water but you would not want to drink it. Open plump knockouts wiring all a mess, plus the home was built on an aquifer. Up on a rock, stone swale.

    The electronics manufacturing panel legible and looked like a swimming pool setup. Professionally installed. The field was so small with three locked lids above lot grade.

    Nicest system I have ever seen. Aerobic bacteria and oxygen break down effluence.
    http://www.aero-stream.com/

    So I have seen 3 indoor, 2 basement and one ground level tank, macerator, pump, electronics and plumbing.

    As for the OP's question.

    IMO, beyond the homies SOP unless contingent in your PIA.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I am bringing an old post but up not to answer the OP question but due to what I have read.

    I do not advertise I do septic macerator, pump and tank inspections, but can certianly get around the system and field.

    The reason for my post, I have come across 3 interior macerator pump set ups.
    One the homeowner, vendor, through was a sump basin and pump. The client, the purchaser and father went along for the ride. As self-professed builder.

    When you looked at the tank , plumbing and pump, it was unmistakable. What fooled them and had me perplexed, the water was clear as drinking water but you would not want to drink it. Open plump knockouts wiring all a mess, plus the home was built on an aquifer. Up on a rock, stone swale.

    The electronics manufacturing panel legible and looked like a swimming pool setup. Professionally installed. The field was so small with three locked lids above lot grade.

    Nicest system I have ever seen. Aerobic bacteria and oxygen break down effluence.
    http://www.aero-stream.com/

    So I have seen 3 indoor, 2 basement and one ground level tank, macerator, pump, electronics and plumbing.

    As for the OP's question.

    IMO, beyond the homies SOP unless contingent in your PIA.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I am bringing an old post but up not to answer the OP question but due to what I have read.<br><br>I do not advertise I do septic macerator, pump and tank inspections, but can certianly get around the system and field.<br><br>The reason for my post,&nbsp;I have come across 3 interior macerator pump set ups. <br>One the homeowner, vendor, through was a sump basin and pump. The client, the purchaser and father went along for the ride. As self-professed builder.<br><br>When you looked at the tank , plumbing and pump, it was unmistakable. What fooled them and had me perplexed, the water was clear as drinking water but you would not want to drink it. Open plump knockouts wiring all a mess, plus the home was built on an aquifer. Up on a rock, stone swale.<br><br>The electronics manufacturing panel legible and looked like a swimming pool setup. Professionally installed. The field was so small with three locked lids above lot grade.<br><br>Nicest system I have ever seen. Aerobic bacteria and oxygen break down effluence.<br><a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.aero-stream.com/" href="http://www.aero-stream.com/">http://www.aero-stream.com/</a><br><br>So I have seen 3 indoor, 2 basement and one ground level tank, macerator, pump, electronics and plumbing.<br><br>As for the OP's question.<br><br>IMO, beyond the homies SOP unless contingent&nbsp;in your PIA.<br><br><br>

    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.”

  37. #37
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    There are many good responses in this thread including those which point out the need to learn how to identify and understand the installation and operation of sewage ejector systems.

    On a different, but related, note, it may be useful to incorporate the following (or similar) language into inspection contracts or reports:

    "A home inspection is a “snapshot in time.” Because a system or component is performing its normally intended function or operation at the time of the inspection does not assure that it will continue to do so. Any system or component, regardless of age or use, can fail catastrophically at any time and without any indication of impending failure. The inspector cannot predict any future adverse conditions including but not limited to roof leaks, component failures, or the remaining service life of any applicable system or component. Therefore, the Company is not responsible for and will not participate financially or in any other manner in the repair or replacement of any component included in the contractual scope of inspection which was performing its normally intended function or operation at the time of the inspection and which fails subsequent to the inspection."

    - - - Updated - - -

    There are many good responses in this thread including those which point out the need to learn how to identify and understand the installation and operation of sewage ejector systems.

    On a different, but related, note, it may be useful to incorporate the following (or similar) language into inspection contracts or reports:

    "A home inspection is a “snapshot in time.” Because a system or component is performing its normally intended function or operation at the time of the inspection does not assure that it will continue to do so. Any system or component, regardless of age or use, can fail catastrophically at any time and without any indication of impending failure. The inspector cannot predict any future adverse conditions including but not limited to roof leaks, component failures, or the remaining service life of any applicable system or component. Therefore, the Company is not responsible for and will not participate financially or in any other manner in the repair or replacement of any component included in the contractual scope of inspection which was performing its normally intended function or operation at the time of the inspection and which fails subsequent to the inspection."

    - - - Updated - - -

    Oops, sorry for the double post. My mouse got the better of me.


  38. #38
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Nice. Thank's.
    I hope you do not mind me borrowing that for my PIA

    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.”

  39. #39

    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin O'Hornett View Post
    There are many good responses in this thread including those which point out the need to learn how to identify and understand the installation and operation of sewage ejector systems.
    Good comments Kevin. In my experience the root of most if not all home inspector complaints is the inability of or lack of knowledge of "new things". Things never before seen. What also adds to the problem is the inability of inspectors to properly explain what they "don't know" about the things they have never seen, to the client.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Last edited by John Ghent; 12-22-2015 at 07:07 AM.

  40. #40
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    I can imagine many, if not all of us, have come across unidentifiable objects before.
    I am always happy when I do.

    John, what would you recommend a homie do to be better prepared for the "WHATS THAT" occasion.?

    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.”

  41. #41
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Here is some info gleaned from lawyers and insurers as to why home inspectors end up in litigation.

    1. The report identifies a problem condition, but NOT its significance or meaning.

    2. The report understates the significance or meaning of a problem condition.

    3. The inspector verbally dilutes the significance or meaning of a problem condition identified in the report.

    4. The report fails to suggest that the client retain an expert to more fully evaluate a problem condition.

    5. The report fails to identify a limitation which prevents or hinders a more thorough inspection of an area.

    6. The inspector does not obtain a signed contract from the client.

    7. The inspector presents the contract for the first time immediately before the actual inspection.

    8. The contract does not contain a limit of liability provision.

    9. The contract does not identify what services are being offered and excluded.

    10. Inspector makes verbal comments that don't match whats written in the report. (ideally one should limit verbal comments or gratuitous comments).


  42. #42
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    As usual, Ray comes through:-)

    Sorry for the edit.

    Ray, were those 10 points gleaned from licensing and regulations.

    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 12-20-2015 at 10:17 AM.
    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.”

  43. #43

    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    I can imagine many, if not all of us, have come across unidentifiable objects before.
    I am always happy when I do.

    John, what would you recommend a homie do to be better prepared for the "WHATS THAT" occasion.?
    I am sure it can't be done each and every time but set aside some time to analyze the "thingy" and work out what it might be. Take pix and go on line to try to educate yourself. That's the only way to learn new stuff. If it's a pump, there are only so many applications it can be used for. Use brainpower to sort it out. I think that the checklist type reports take away from critical thinking. And, most importantly, if you don't know what it is let your client know why you don't. Ex -" Wow - Thats the first pump of that type I have ever seen in my 73 years of doing inspections." Then follow up to learn what it is.


  44. #44
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    A sewage grinder pump in a basement pit has one thing a ordinary sump pump does not - a plumbing vent stack. That vent is not supposed to be shared with other vents, so you should see where it exits through the roof above.
    The lid is sealed, screws and a gasket. The discharge connects to an elevated sewer pipe usually.

    Flush toilets and run faucets until the pump kicks in, at which point you feel a smooth vibration in the discharge pipe. IMO, that is the extent of the inspection - see if it appears to work.

    Mystery items will keep coming as new products are made available. I had a trash compactor that had no visible control pad. When my clients arrived, I showed them what it was supposed to do and then showed them my dilemma - can't figure it out, needs a remote?


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

  45. #45
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    Default Re: Advice Needed

    Good points John.
    The basement sewage grinder assembly I inspected was missing all the below stated venting components.
    Most of the home had Cheater vents throughout the home except for the kitchen if I am not mistaken.

    The agent said the homeowner worked on the unit himself and it was a sight better then when he purchased it. it was OK and a work in progress for the right guy or gal.

    The discharge connected to an elevated sewer pipe leading to the main first septic tank.
    All lids were sealed tight, a nice thick gasket under the lid, and one main faster on the lid to lock it closed.
    Nice small septic system and field.


    I Flushed toilets and ran faucets until the pump kicked into make my point to the purchaser and his dad.
    As stated below, the basin's rubber plumbing pipe knockout seals were missing and that was not a sanitary environment to leave exposed.

    John/s, thanks as always!


    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 12-24-2015 at 06:54 AM. Reason: adding
    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.”

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