Condo Inspection (agents assistance)

By
Home Inspector with Elliott Home Inspection

Hi to all...I am find that a substantial percentage of my inspection business is coming from the condo market and believe it or not you guys are an extremely important part of my job.

I pride myself on going out of my way to do the best job possible which can sometimes cost me money (read as time consuming)

The reason is I do not as a whole usually charge for a go back.When I do an inspection I do not develope tunnel vision by only looking between the walls.This is important particularly in smaller unit buildings.

Please remember that roof and basement common area access can be important to completion of my duties,as when the roof leaks my client will be expected to cough up hard earned money to pay for repairs through assessments and would like to know the condition ahead of time.

Sometimes the compressor for the split HVAC system is located on the roof , so how can I inspect it with out seeing it.

When it comes down to the basement area at the very least I would like to see the main disconnect for his unit as the breakers in the apartment are really just a sub panel(ok remote distribution panel for all you NEC code purists out there).

I personally do not charge for the pain of going back and know that your time is also valuable to you,so please try and arrange for entry to these areas with the listing agent or unit owner on the top floor if necassary and neither one of us will need to spend the extra time and gas to get past this process.

Oh did I forget to mention the client will appreciate the exta effort too.

Thanks as I realize you to have a lot on the plate,so I hope this reminder will help us both.

Bob Elliott       Chicago Property Inspection

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Rainmaker
92,119
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Joe I had to go back and reread that bit about the homeless guy.

If that door was locked I take it that somebody living there is letting him in.

Did the client buy anyway or scared by the homeless guy story?

 

May 25, 2007 08:17 PM #6
Rainer
7,813
Joseph Tribuzio
Tribuzio Home Inspection Services - Chicago, IL
T.H.I.S.

Thank you Bob, glad to be here,

 I'm interested to know what others feel , think or have experienced with the independent association. 

I am planning to come to the June meeting , i'm exited about it. My wife is coming too.

Ah, the homeless guy --as it turned out, he was sneaking in for some time BEFORE they had installed a padlock.

 I never saw him, just heard the story of him that kept me out of the room. The client was alarmed at first, but

ended up buying the place. 

 

May 26, 2007 07:13 AM #7
Rainer
17,178
Jimmy Breazeale
Sherlock Home Inspections - Coldwater, MS
Good article, Bob.  Yeah, condos can be tricky concerning access to certain areas.  I might add that I do look at exterior for issues related to energy efficiency, and inform the buyer accordingly.  After all, in most cases, the energy bill is on them unless you have a chilled water or three pipe system for heat and air.  This, thankfully, is rare, at least in these parts. 
Jun 02, 2007 08:16 PM #8
Rainer
21,791
Mitchell Captain
AllSpec Professional Property Inspections Inc - Fort Lauderdale, FL
Home inspections in Broward, Dade, and Palm Beach

I've never had a roof access locked and down here you are not suppose to lock the electrical room.  Also what are basements?

The one comment I love from Realtors , upon me finding a problem, "oh that's covered by the condo association." Hmm

Jun 03, 2007 01:40 PM #9
Rainmaker
92,119
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Yeah..I had that one two weeks ago when the developers sales person looked me staight in the eye and made that very statement.

My response was that right now you are the association, and I would hold you responsible.

Jun 03, 2007 02:22 PM #10
Rainer
17,178
Jimmy Breazeale
Sherlock Home Inspections - Coldwater, MS

LOL!! You guys are exactly right!  Lay it all off on the association.  I would say to the buyer, "You might want to check with your association president for clarification."

Mitchell, what Bob is referring to as a basement, around here we call them tornado shelters, and where you are I believe they call them water wells!:-)

Speaking of associations, I had to call for a building superintendent, whose office was apparently somewhere else, to gain access to a roof.  Glad I did.  Over the condo I was inspecting, they had put down heavy rubber mats and roped in an area, complete with outdoor furniture and a portable bar.  Only problem was, they covered the drains just adjacent to that 3rd floor condo, and pooling marks were evident.  Wonder why that roof access was locked on that particular day?

Jun 03, 2007 02:57 PM #11
Ambassador
1,709,615
Dale Baker
Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections - Claremont, NH
New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information
Thank You Your exactly right!
Jun 05, 2007 10:09 AM #12
Rainer
67,462
David Helm
Helm Home Inspections - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp
Locked electricals, locked attic access, locked basement/crawlspace access and locked roof access on multistory condos are the most common conditions in my experience with condos also.  I notice that there have been no comments by realtors.  Did you post this on any of the realtor groups?  It would sure be nice to hear what realtors have to say about this subject.
Jun 05, 2007 12:09 PM #13
Rainmaker
92,119
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Hi David..Yes I did make this forum thread available to the entire Active Rain community,but none of the agents responded .

Best response is when you blog consumer tips and warm fuzzy feel good stories.

Watch the board and see what gets the most response.You need to leave an opening for the masses to say things like,oh that is a good tip,or gee thank you for that information.

For the most part I just write what I am thinking at the time.It is very rare that I even know what I'm going to say till my fingers hit the keyboard ,however I do note that when I draft something ahead of time my views go up.The reason is that when I plan ahead my comments are more generic ,thus the appeal to the masses on a wider basis.

Personally we need to face the fact that many  may hope we do not get to see things any more than necessary

.

 

Jun 05, 2007 01:53 PM #14
Ambassador
1,709,615
Dale Baker
Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections - Claremont, NH
New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information

Howdy Bob

You are a very good guy for doing this thank you to agents.

Have a good one

Dale

Nov 29, 2007 08:42 AM #15
Rainmaker
92,119
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Ha Ha ..Dale it was not so much a thank you as a reminder that we all work together in unison at times for the common goal of streamlining the process of the tasks at hand.

Just as well I can think of Agents whom many times deserve a thank you.

So to all those that looked at me as part of the process rather than a nuisance   Thank You

Dec 03, 2007 11:51 AM #16
Rainmaker
207,870
Erby Crofutt
B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing (www.b4uclose.com) - Lexington, KY
The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY

"I personally do not charge for the pain of going back and know that your time is also valuable to you"

If they thought your time was valuable, they wouldn't be pulling this crap unless they were a naive new agent.

Charge what you're worth.

I have to do that occassionally and YES, I charge for my time.  That's what I sell.  My time, education, experience and failure diagnosis skills.  I make sure my buyers know this up front, make sure the realtors are aware of what needs to happen, and when it doesn't, I charge for my time appropriately.

BUT, I recommend that my buyers seek reimbursement from whomever screwed the pooch and caused the second visit.  They usually do, and they usually get it.

Respect is a two way street.  (So is communication, make sure you're doing both.)

Dec 04, 2007 09:31 PM #17
Rainmaker
59,401
Dana Bostick
True Professionals, Inc. - North Hollywood, CA

I agree Erby, Time is money.  I too charge to make a return call to see something that was not accessible when it should have been or the power is not on etc.  Additionally, I do not make these returns during a normal inspection slot.  It is not financially viable to give up a $3-400 slot for a freeby or only $150.  I will go back in the early morning or at the end of the day, check out what's needed and send an amended report.  But not before I'm paid for it.

AS you said, the cost can be passed along to whomever goofed and left the needed area locked etc.

I do walk the exteriors, look for electrical panels, gas meters, water main shut off etc.  I will go on the roof if the A/C is there, it's part of the inspection.  No AC, no roof.  If I do see problems I note that "this area is not a part of this inspection but......

AS for owners having to "dip into their pockets for repairs", this is what the Reserve Study is supposed to address.  The clients should ask to see it.  Here in California, it is required to be done every three years and that it be reviewed every year. If the HOA or management company comes hat in hand, some one is screwing up big time.

Dec 05, 2007 03:17 PM #18
Rainmaker
92,119
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Good comments guys, however I would like to mention that a final walkthru is included in my fee.

What this means is that I do not charge xtra for this.

I am in Chicago and many of my inspections are of condominiums.

What this means is that I often find many defects both large and small that the developer (in many cases) will have a chance to make right just before the closing.

My client often would like me there to make sure things have been taken care of.

I realize many areas of the country have so much compitition that you must charge a lower inspection fee in which case it would be necasary to charge ala carte on any time consuming task.

In my case I offer a premium service and spend lots of time with all my clients , helping them through the process.I actualy have no problem going back to see what if anything was done to improve the defects I found , and actualy enjoy wrapping up any questions my client may still have in order to get everything right.

Sounds silly, but I love the job

Dec 05, 2007 03:57 PM #19
Rainmaker
207,870
Erby Crofutt
B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing (www.b4uclose.com) - Lexington, KY
The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY

Well Bob, ya gotta do what's right for you!

If you're making a living off the price you charge and the service you provide and you're happy with it, it really doesn't matter what anyone elese thinks or does.

Make yourself happy first (and it sounds like you are).

The new guys will figure it out, or get out of the business.

You can lead a horse to water, you can shove his head under the water but you can't make them drink.

 

Dec 05, 2007 10:48 PM #20
Rainmaker
92,119
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Erby these are hard times in real estate right now.

Some guys have sold out for an too low fee , but I simply increase my level of service.

A client will not worry about paying a couple bucks more up front , compared to remembering the guy who gouged them on a multi tier fee schedule.

I am in this to stay and know people will remember my level of service.

Dec 06, 2007 02:01 PM #21
Anonymous
tom.s
thanks for the reminder
Dec 15, 2007 04:45 AM #22
Anonymous
JJ

I wish I read your posting earlier. My inspector didn't check the attic when I purchased the condo.  Now I am finding unknown leak from the attic.  Does leak happen in every rainfall or just during big storm?  Three weeks ago a storm caused water leak on the attic with visible water stain along the joist and leak down to  my washer area but the problem doesn't happen again during this weekend's storm.  However, this storm is smaller. It only generated 0.71" of rainfall compares to last storm that generated 2.97" of percip.  HOA is denying the leak was from the attic and not fixing the damage since it didn't leak through this time.  I saw two buckets in the attic at the location where my bedroom ceiling leaked 3 years ago.  I recalled the complex's handyman said the roof didn't need to be fixed and just painted over the stain. It didn't leak since (at least not noticeable yet).  Does the previous owner know the roof leaked and put the buckets there or the handyman?  Is there other access to the attic from outside of my unit that the handyman can put the buckets there?  I need to be educated so I can reason with HOA on Tue.  Your comment will be very appreciated.

Feb 24, 2008 02:38 PM #23
Rainmaker
92,119
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Hi

Sorry you did not leave a name , but I will attempt to answer.

First of all the Inspector when working for a client at a condominium normally will have written into the inspection agreement that he is reasonable only for the systems and components between the walls.

I have no way of knowing what the agreement stated or even more important what he checked or may have told you.

Did he go in the attic?

You said three years ago, which means conditions at that time were different than what they are now.

What does the association say about this?

I take it you are not on the board of directors from your questions, so I would defiantly recommend you get in touch with someone concerning this.

It seems the main problem is in the laundry room making there many possibilities as to the cause of the leak.

If maintenance is not skilled in tracking the source you need to contact whom ever is in charge of management and notify them of the problem and it needs to be taken care of immediately.

At the very least find a way to keep track of your correspondence in case there is damage to your unit as the association is financially responsible more than likely.

Now please understand that I am not a lawyer and have no idea where you live or the laws of your jurisdiction but there is a good common sense about protecting your self and your investment.

If the leak gets worse or is traveling down the walls to the units below you there is an obligation on your part as a member of this community to report these problems.

Last if you are sure there is a problem then come Tuesday let it be known that any damage to your unit will be recorded.Why not take a picture of what you are seeing so that these members can see for them selves.

I wish you luck and hope the problem gets resolved.

Once again I am not trying to give legal advice , as this is only my opinion.

Hope it helps.

Feb 25, 2008 02:38 PM #24
Anonymous
Roof Coatings

You have shared really informative and interesting post i will like to say thanks and also request you to keep post that kind of stuff in your more posts.

May 29, 2012 09:38 PM #25
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Rainmaker
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Bob Elliott

Chicago Property Inspection
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