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  1. #1
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    Default That nice old lady...

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 08-08-2008 at 11:19 AM.
    Inspection Referral SOC
    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Oregon
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    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    Funny stuff....


    I've often told people that it really wouldn't be that hard to fool an HI if they set out to. Paint over the leak stains, stick a book case over the big hole in the floor and so on.

    Whenever I see fresh sealant on a roof or things like that I'll always ask the buyers and agent what's on the disclosure. Once I start to smell a rat I have no problem telling the buyers exactly what's going on.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    Watch out for those neat piles of stones or fire wood that appears randomly stacked against the perimeter concrete foundation stem walls. And folks that haul old doors, plywood scraps and old tires into the far reaches of a foundation crawl space and again stack them against the stem walls in a pathetic effort to hide some mighty big cracks.

    Empty cans of Henry’s on the roof, painted attics, lift carpet around sliding glass doors and bathtubs, and fresh paint every where within the interior. Look inside the closets as many times they fail to paint the interior of them because they don’t want to take the time to empty them.

    Fresh paint should always be noted in your report and any other suspicious activity that may conceal normal visually accessible defects. In other words, never drink grandma’s tea and remember, No prisoners!

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Rockwall Texas
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    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    Hello Mr. McCarthy Hello, your being a little smarta$$ aren't we? and whats wrong with my tea?

    HELLO HELLO?

    I think he hung up on me.

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    That's choice Rick.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  6. #6
    Brandon Chew's Avatar
    Brandon Chew Guest

    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Got a call this morning from an elderly woman for whom I had done a seller's inspection of her large, complicated older house in March 2007.

    She was wondering about the buyers request that she correct the wrong side vapor barrier problems in a the crawl space under an addition (in my report of course), and as her house was just a few blocks away I said I'd stop by and explain the issue to her. Afterwords, I asked if I could look through the her copy of the buyer's inspection report.

    It was a checklist report with a few half-legible hand written comments (boy, am I ever glad I'm never going to have to defend one of those in court), still it looked like the inspector had caught just about everything I had, except for the structural problems which had been my major concern about the house!

    How, I wondered, could he have missed them... for example the door right beside me at the junction of the kitchen the addition had been so far out of square that it would not even come close to closing.

    I glanced up, the door was gone... removed from its hinges.

    But what about the cracks radiating down from either side of the central staircase?

    I walked over to take a look. Neatly patched, and invisible.

    I went on down my mental list of all the things that has alerted me to go down and dig around the pier in the crawl space under the addition and discover there was no footing... every one had been neatly camouflaged, it looked like she'd taken my report and used it was a guide to systematically eliminate every clue she could to structural defects!

    And when, I asked, had all this work had been done?

    "Well, you can be sure it was before that other inspector came here...."

    ------------------

    Never again will I be beguiled into believing "the nice old lady who owns the house" would never do, "or even know how to do", such a thing...

    It raises an interesting ethical situation. Should you blow the whistle on your client, or remain silent? If silent, do you become a co-conspirator in the fraud that your client is perpetrating on the buyer? Are you bound to keep what you know about the house confidential, unless your client authorizes you to release it? Do you "owe" your fellow inspector, the one who found almost everything that you did except for the one big thing the seller concealed, a "heads up"? Michael, I'm using "you" in the general sense here and directing these questions to the message board for discussion purposes, not at you in particular.

    Fast-forward a bit. New owner moves in and the pier continues to sink. Investigation reveals the lack of a footing and evidence of a cover-up. Buyer hauls the seller, the agents, his inspector and the seller's inspector into court to sort it all out.

    If I found myself in this situation, as an engineer, I could lose my PE license if I didn't turn my client in. This is from my state's engineering license law:

    § 29.3 General provisions for design professions.
    1. Unprofessional conduct shall also include, in the professions of architecture and landscape architecture, engineering and land surveying:
      1. being associated in a professional capacity with any project or practice known to the licensee to be fraudulent or dishonest in character, or not reporting knowledge of such fraudulence or dishonesty to the Education Department;



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Plano, Texas
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    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    I have not been in this situation, but Texas HI law prohibits disclosing the information in a report with anyone except the client without their permission. I always ask before sending a realtor, builder, etc. a copy of the report but I never thought about it beyond the immediate transaction.
    HUMM...

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Succasunna NJ
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    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    I was in a similar situation several years back; in fact I think I asked for advice here.

    Conducted an inspection for a buyer; the house was owned by a real estate agent. Basement was open, everything was visible. I found termite tubes on a brand new main beam that must have been replaced. When I went to the rear of the house, the sill was GONE; nothing but termite mud. The buyer walked away.

    About a month later, while reading the Sunday paper, the house was in the RE section, this time it was listed as a finished basement! The agent obviously just had someone come in and install drywall on the ceiling to cover the major problem.

    No, I never did anything about it. But every time I see her name on a listing, I chringe.

    Last edited by Darren Miller; 07-31-2008 at 05:54 AM. Reason: spelling
    Darren www.aboutthehouseinspections.com
    'Whizzing & pasting & pooting through the day (Ronnie helping Kenny helping burn his poots away!) (FZ)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Georgetown, KY
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    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    But what neither of the two cover-ups mention is sure knowledge that the problem wasn't fixed.

    Had the old lady had, in addition to the cosmetic repairs, someone repair the pier so no further movement would occur? Actually jacking everything back in to place is a time consuming thing, but stopping further movement is possible.

    Had the agent repaired the sill plate before finishing the basement?

    The Shadow may know but I don't!

    Erby Crofutt, Georgetown, KY - Read my Blog here: Erby the Central Kentucky Home Inspector B4 U Close Home Inspections www.b4uclose.com www.kentuckyradon.com
    Find on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/B4UCloseInspections

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Connecticut
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    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    Bottom line is that a seller must disclose all they know about their home honestly. If they cover a condition like those which are found down the line they are liable.
    If they add me to the liability list by letting me see what they have covered up it is my ethical duty to spill the beans to the new owner.
    What brokers never explain to sellers is that, in the long run the disclosure is their friend, not their enemy.
    I would ask if the broker was made aware of the coverups and then I would call their office and explain the position I was being put in and that they should be doing something to fix it or I would have to.


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    What no one has yet addressed:

    Maybe, just maybe, that older lady DID contract out to have those repairs done ...

    Older Lady: 'This is my inspectors report, can you fix those things?'

    Handyman: 'Sure, no problem.'

    Now, is the older lady at fault? What is there for her to disclose?

    She, in good faith, hired someone to address and correct the items in the report, the 'handyman', in bad faith, just covered things up, charged her who-knows-how-much, then left the mess for her to deal with when things start happening.

    Possible?

    Yes.

    Thus, instead of 'reporting her' you should be 'asking her' about the repairs and who did them, and telling her that, from what you can see, the repairs *did not properly address the problems*, thus the problems are still there.

    She may not be aware of that.

    Now, in Florida, there are laws against taking advantage of the elderly, and that is a good example (if I am correct) in when and how those laws should be applied.

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

  12. #12
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    Fact is there are a lot of facts that you do not know. You saw repairs and she said she had them done before the next inspector came to inspect. You can not accuse. You are not covering up. Some one else deciphered your report and fixed repairs.

    You are not privy to all the info and should not make yourself so.

    To get involved any further would be a mistake on your part. If anyone asked you now, "do you know anything about the repairs?" "Nothing other than I asked her when she had the repairs done. She said before the next inspector came." "do you know if the repairs were done properly." "I do not know. I just saw some items repaired that I last inspected." "Do you know who did the repairs" "No I don't".

    "Is there anything else you could add to this?" "No there is not" "I would only be speculating"

    It is not your job to evaluate how some one else interpreted your report, or for that matter, how she interpreted it to the repair man


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Connecticut
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    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    Good point Jerry, HArd to see with the blinders on sometimes.


  14. #14

    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    So, what happens when you do a pre- listing inspection, and then a buyer hires you to inspect the same place? I have turned down a couple of these, since I figured it was a conflict of interest......what say you?

    How about when you do an inspection on a property 2 years prior, and a new buyer wants to hire you for an inspection of the same address? (sellers were your past clients). Do you do the inspection? Do you read your old report prior to inspecting the home? Do you treat the home as if you never inspected it, and just do your usual thing?

    What would you guy's do?
    Just curious.


  15. #15
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    I disclose any history I have with the property to my client and then do my regular inspection. No need to try and hide anything since you have done nothing wrong.


  16. #16
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    As was said. You disclose that you did an inspection on this home before. When they ask you what you found you should honestly tell them that it has absolutely no baring on this new inspection. Items may have been repaired or not. When I do my inspection it will be as I never stepped in the home before. I will do the exact same inspection as I do in all homes. What I find at this time of the inspection is what will go into my report. Nothing can sway me as to what to put into the report, not even you the client or the seller. Just because I performed an inspection on this home for the seller, the seller will have no say in what goes into my report that I am doing for you. I am impartial to anything that may have happened before at the inspection or after the inspection.

    What it comes down to my dear client is I will be inspecting for you, not the seller or anyone else. What I see is what I write.

    Of course doing this new inspection you may in fact see items that were buttered up, or fudged up or not repaired at all or a new water heater or a new AC condenser. With the new items the only thing need be mentioned is the condition and operation of the new items, not the fact that they put the new one in since your last inspection. The only bearing this will have is you will know that either attempts have been made for repairs or it was just covered up. You would see things like this anyway. These items will go into your report with the explanation to your client. After all, the one you are beholding to is the person giving you your next paycheck. The paycheck in the past was for the past. If they screwed up and tried to hide things and you pick up on them then shame on them.

    If repairs have been made to say a foundation but you still see those previous signs of movement then you would tell your clients of these signs of movement and to check the owners documentation for any repairs that may have been done.

    Your past client is just that, your past client. They paid you for performing a home inspection. You got paid, end of story. On to the new client.

    I have done inspections on a few homes that I inspected in the past. They went well and had no concerns with the new client. Can't say the old clients were to happy about finding new items but hey, that is what they paid you for in the past to look out for their interest. They can't hold it against you for looking out for your new clients interest. One old client had a pretty good chuckle when he saw me at the end of the inspection. His first words were, oh s***. He new I had a new list for the new client, that's why I am there. He gave me the address of the new home they were buying for an inspection. He also fixed what my client asked to be fixed as the seller before him.

    Conflict of interest, why. There is only that conflict if you feel it is a conflict and you don't feel comfortable writing your old clients up.


  17. #17
    Brian Thomas's Avatar
    Brian Thomas Guest

    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post

    Now, in Florida, there are laws against taking advantage of the elderly, and that is a good example (if I am correct) in when and how those laws should be applied.
    Arent there laws in every state prohibiting taking advantage of anyone? Not just the elderly?


  18. #18
    Join Date
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    Default Re: That nice old lady...

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Thomas View Post
    Arent there laws in every state prohibiting taking advantage of anyone? Not just the elderly?
    To some extent, yes, but when it comes to the elderly, the penalties are stiffer.

    Young people under the age of 18 (in most states) cannot enter into legally binding contracts.

    People over the age of 18 can enter into legally binding contracts.

    The elderly, being over the age of 18, can enter into legally binding contracts, even though they may not be coherent at all times.

    Those laws help protect the elderly from snakes in the grass.

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

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