Over the years I have noticed tricks builders play with their clients when it comes time to get inspections. For example, they will call at 4:55pm and say they forgot that the schedule had changed and are sorry for the mix up but if the client wants that inspection they were considering they need to have it the next day between 9 and 11am. Or they will apologetically call and say there was a snafu and the inspection needs to be postponed one day after having been scheduled for a week. There are many such tricks. When people call me to order new construction inspections I warn them about some of the games and they never believe me!
A recent thing I have noticed regards the various requirements they are placing on the home inspectors themselves. And each builder has their own criteria. Certain affiliations, certain licenses, certain insurances and so forth. One builder wants this combination, the other wants that combination.
I ran into a new one the other day.
This was new construction and the final inspection. It had been quickly arranged. I have already done two inspections this year on this builder's homes and had sent them my license and E&O insurance policy.
Virginia requires me to carry $500K in E&O. I carry $1mil. I carry that much because it isn't much more expensive and, I have found over the years, that builders require that much.
There was a new twist this time - the builder wanted to be stipulated on the policy as a "Certificate Holder." Why I don't know - it's my policy. But I had it done.
Getting to the property I was required to stop in at the sales office for the key. When I went in the lady there apologized because they "forgot" to have me send them a copy of my "General Liability Insurance, for $2million." This is the "new corporate requirement of home inspectors." It had "slipped her mind" to ask in advance. I asked and they don't require this of appraisers or termite guys.
WHAT BOTHERED ME WAS THE LOOK I HER EYES. IT WAS A GOTCHA MOMENT. I READ PEOPLE VERY WELL, AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT WAS GOING ON.
Called an "umbrella policy," I don't know if most home inspectors carry this. It is not required by my state. BUT I HAVE ONE, AND FOR $2MIL BECAUSE MY AGENT TOLD ME TO GET IT. It costs just under $400/year and covers me no matter what I do.
Years ago I was burned by a builder who demanded to see my insurances before he would allow me on site. I asked why they didn't ask for it in advance of the inspection and they claimed they "forgot." The inspection never happened. Who carries their insurance with them? Well, I only get burned once. For that reason I carry a copy of all my insurance policies in my car.
I smoothly said, "No problem! I have a copy of it in my car!" and pleasantly walked out to get it. Bond, Jay Bond... not shaken OR stirred.
SHE WAS CLEARLY TAKEN ABACK. IT WAS PRICELESS. I GOTCHA!
The inspection did not go as smoothly. I went back twice!
I contacted Lenn, who has been around the block once or twice, about this new trend I am sensing. The trend - to make it so difficult for home inspectors by having them carry so many different "umbrellas" that they can't get on site. I think she agrees with me. She said the obvious, that this needs to be handled up front and in the contract by the real estate agents - exactly what the builder requires of the home inspector and when. No games, no gimmicks.
But, she pointed out, many people do not have agents! This might be the wake up call. Before you buy, get an agent AND a home inspector.
My recommendation: builders can require anything of anybody they allow on site. I think they will begin piling on more and more requirements. It could be this or that combination of licenses and insurances, amounts of insurances, you name it. But once those requirements are known up front and written into the contract, you can't get burned.