When the inspector does not do what they were hired to do.

By
Home Inspector with Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

When home inspectors are discussing defects, “just plain wrong” might be accurate, and even enough of an explanation.  However, it is best practice for home inspectors to convey in writing what the defect is, what will or can happen if nothing is done about the defect, and then provide some guidance as to who should make repairs---including how urgent those repairs.  I personally like to give some guidance as to how “difficult” those repairs might be, which typically translates to how costly they might be.

Improperly installed lightMost consumers have ZERO clue as to whether those normal shrinkage cracks on the garage floor is a sign of impending implosion of the garage, or just normal shrinkage cracks of ZERO consequence.

I see so many inspection reports that do not address defects adequately for any of the parties involved in the transaction.  While they might state the issue, it is often quite impossible to get any sense of what the defect means—as that information is left to the party called to make further evaluation.  This makes the call for “further evaluation” both too common and typically unnecessary. 

This is the inspector not doing what they were hired to do.

I think it does a huge disservice to the entire process if the inspector is capable of recognizing a defect, but then cannot or does not explain how the defect “should be.”  This information need not be prescriptive enough to take away the job of the person called to make repairs, and it should probably never be a blueprint for unqualified parties to undertake the work.  However, if an inspector knows that something is wrong, they should also know how to explain why it is wrong, what are the implications of its being wrong, and who should make the repairs.  They likely, in many cases (depending on their experience) might be able to provide some guidance as to possible scenarios for repairs.

Scenarios for repairs can transform panic to calm—in an instant—because knowledge is power.  Panic usually results from lack of information and viable options—or the perception that there might not be any options at all.

In the context of the recommendation for repairs, the inspector will sometimes call for a full evaluation of the installation as deemed necessary by the particular qualified party—to make sure the entire installation is acceptable and safe.  Further evaluation in this sense is not evading the issue; it is adding value to the recommendation and further protecting all parties involved.  For example this “further evaluation” might result in the discovery of issues that are not readily visible to the inspector—but important nonetheless. 

All of this said, I trust everyone can see that the light fixture pictured above, “is just plain wrong!”

 

Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle.

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Rainer
307,119
Jimmy Faulkner
Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage - Wantagh, NY
The Best Of St. Augustine

I would anticipate that an inspector would give a ccost of what each porbleem would cost and how bad is the problem

Jan 05, 2014 02:55 AM #34
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Nancy, it is surprising how many "issues" are not even issues at all

Wanda, thanks--lots of fun being a "millionaire":)

Bill & Marilyn---yes information equals power

Jan 05, 2014 03:34 AM #35
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Paul, here is what I would change about your critique.

Defect: Improperly installed light fixture.

Explanation: This is a potential fire and/or shock hazard.

Repair: An approved fixture box should be provided and installed for the fixture.  I recommend evaluation/repairs, as deemed necessary, by a licensed electrical contractor.

 

 

Jan 05, 2014 03:44 AM #36
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jimmy, there are some states that actually allow and/or require cost estimates.  I for one am glad I live in a state that does not allow it or require it.  What if the inspector guesstimates wrong?  Better to get appropriate cost estimates from those qualified to do the repairs.

Jan 05, 2014 03:48 AM #37
Rainer
154,706
Paul A. Perry
Certified Inspections, PC - Residential & Commercial Property Inspections - Crossville, TN
Home Inspector - Crossville & Cookeville, TN

Charles, Apparently the licensed contractors are more reliable in your area than in mine.  Though I realize using your comment takes the proverbial "monkey" (responsibility) off of your back, (or mine as a home inspector) it doesn't give your Client any specific guidance concerning the noted defect.  I would love to be able to do as you suggest but in this area (roughly 25 percent of the time) a local "licensed" electrician will come in, look at your fixture and say something to the affect; "That's fine, not a problem. We've been doing it like that for years with no call backs.  Just look at the light, you can tell its been there for a long time and hasn't started a fire yet.  I can change it out if you want me to, but there's really no need." Maybe I take protecting my Client too far, but I would rather ere in that direction than any other.

Great Post, and thanks for the follow-up comment.

Jan 05, 2014 10:02 AM #38
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Paul, I have only added to what you said, what will "legally" arrive at the "highest likelihood" of "proper repairs."  I agree with what you say about what might happen when the electrician looks at it---but at least then it is on his E&O and not mine.  We can almost never have any control over the quality of any repair or even whether anything gets done at all.  Overall I though what you recommended was fine---I just added the by who part

Jan 05, 2014 10:20 AM #39
Rainmaker
809,895
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA

Charles:

Most of the inspectors in my area are very thorough and clear in their explanations of problems found.  They take the time to be sure the owner and buyer of the home understands the issue and what can be done to repair the issue.

Jan 05, 2014 10:57 AM #40
Rainmaker
965,253
Aaron Hofmann
Atlanta Communities - Smyrna, GA
aka Mr. Smyrna Vinings

My inspector is very thorough and always wants the buyers there so he can walk them through everything and make sure they understand what is in the report.

Jan 05, 2014 08:29 PM #41
Rainmaker
683,797
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

So true. I think many inspectors may not realize, by doing the work up front, they save the work they create later in answering questions and clarifications. 

Jan 05, 2014 10:18 PM #42
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Evelyn, that is awesome

Aaron, here it is pretty much standard practice for the buyer to be at the inspection the whole time--I encourage them to hang out with me all they want.

Jim, that is for sure.

Jan 06, 2014 01:12 AM #44
Rainmaker
488,436
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Charlie, Good post as usual. We as inspectors need to report what we see and to the best of the observable knowledge give a good outline what should be done. Often though when you see these items there may more hidden items that we can not see.

Jan 06, 2014 01:30 AM #45
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Don, and it is those hidden issues that behooves us to recommend a full evaluation of the installation---not just the obvious conditions we see.

Jan 06, 2014 03:19 AM #46
Rainer
438,030
John Dotson
Preferred Properties of Highlands, Inc. - Highlands, NC - Highlands, NC
The experience to get you to the other side!

Good inspectors are hard to come by in our neck of the woods.  I have seen them screw up deals by overstating problems or offering "maybe problems" or saying a problem is not "up to code" when it doesn't have to be.

Even have a couple that like to quote repair prices...!

Jan 06, 2014 04:01 AM #47
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

John, it should not be necessary to ever use the "code" word---except maybe in new construction or repairs done under permits.

Jan 06, 2014 05:02 AM #48
Rainer
154,706
Paul A. Perry
Certified Inspections, PC - Residential & Commercial Property Inspections - Crossville, TN
Home Inspector - Crossville & Cookeville, TN

Thanks for the clarification Charles; I miss-understood your original response, as you could tell.

Have a fantastic 2014!

Jan 07, 2014 10:55 PM #49
Rainmaker
694,615
Clint Mckie
Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections - Carlsbad, NM
Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586

Hi Charles,

Good post and very good comments. I never work on anything I have inspected. Not even for free. I only report. And never give prices of repairs that may or may not be needed.

Have a great day in Seattle.

Best, Clint McKie

Jan 10, 2014 07:34 PM #50
Rainmaker
730,830
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

Yes, inspect and report. The buyer and agent will decide how to handle things like the custom drop light in your photo. There was a company here a few years back that tried to be one call does all inspection company. They did the inspection, and also provided estimates to do all the repairs that needed to be done becasue they had an in house contractor that wanted to do the work that they listed in the home inspection report. I think the obvious conflict of interest was what caused them to give up on that approach.

Jan 10, 2014 10:04 PM #51
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Paul, I thought maybe

Clint, generally I am the same but as they say, never say never

Jeff, fortunately here it is flat out illegal for the home inspector to do repairs for at least one year on a property they have inspected.

Jan 10, 2014 11:43 PM #52
Rainmaker
797,359
Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
Good Company Real Estate www.ChandlerRealEstate.weebly.com - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Is there really something wrong with the light fixture in the photo? jk

Anyway, I would agree that the home inspector needs to at least clarify when they see a defect, and what it should look like, or how to make it right in laymans terms. They also should be able to suggest what might go wrong if the defect is left in it's current condition. I don't think that would be asking too much, and would not cross any lines of ethics regarding suggesting a contractor or recommending a price for the repairs. 

Feb 03, 2014 09:27 AM #53
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Troy, I only rarely get asked for specific names---but recommending the contractors I used for years as a builder, I have little problem with.  The key is making sure the client is taken care of in the best possible way.  They can still choose anyone they like and getting multiple quotes is always a good idea.

Feb 03, 2014 11:21 PM #54
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