"My sellers want your home inspector to pay for the damage he did to their home!" That was the message I received from a listing agent recently. I thought he was joking. He wasn't. I asked, "What? What damage?" He proceeded to tell me my home inspector drilled a dozen holes in the wall of a bedroom. He, and the homeowners, wanted to know why. Why would the inspector have to drill into the drywall? What was the purpose?
I'll have to admit, it was puzzling. The only problem was, he didn't. I was there throughout the entire home inspection. I was in every room of the house, as was the buyer. There were no visible holes in the drywall. I asked for the listing agent to send me photos, which he did. There they were. About a dozen holes had been drilled in the drywall about 16" apart. That distance is important.
Sixteen inches is the center to center distance between studs in the average wall, and 14.5" between studs. The two inspectors, the buyer and I talked about it and tried to figure out how the holes showed up in the wall. The fact that they were center to center of the framing studs made it even more suspicious. Of course, my inspector never drills into anything, but that didn't pacify the sellers.
Why didn't anyone see the holes while the home inspection was taking place? Because there was a banner hanging in that room. The homeowners knew that, but for some reason, they decided this was a good time to get some money out of the home inspector.
I touched base with the listing agent and made an offer. Since I have a close relationship with law enforcement, I offered to pay for each person involved, including inspectors, buyers, agents and sellers to take a polygraph to verify who was lying and who was telling the truth. I did push that opportunity hard and the sellers backed down. Why? Because they knew the inspector didn't drill holes in the walls and the polygraph would trap them in a lie and potential liability.
This is one of the reasons why it is so important for agents to attend home inspections. There needs to be a confirming set of eyes on all of the events of the inspection. This is the second time in a dozen years a seller has tried to get our home inspectors to fix something for them. It hasn't worked so far, but they keep trying.