Someone needs to be fired

Home Inspector with Clayton Inspection Service, Inc.

I was doing an inspection on a large house yesterday. My clients had told me the listing agent had tried to tell them the house had just been inspected for the seller and they didn't need one. A builder they had met gave them my name as a "good inspector". 

When I got to the house, I was told that a termite inspection had been done and some treatment completed last Tuesday (4 days ago). I had noticed a spot where an old mud tube had been scraped off, and signs of a few drillings in the slab.

The crawlspace in this house was pretty interesting. 1. It had a poured concrete floor., 2. It had some areas where the clearance was pretty small. 3. There were lots of little nooks and cranies where the foundation walls created a maze.

From the main part of the crawlspace I could tell there was a lot more that I just couldn't see very well. It looked like it was going to be next to impossible to get to it, however after I looked more, I could tell that if I went under some ducts, it opened up again. So in I went. I will call this "The Hard Part".

1st clue. The property owners have been traveling and have not been in the house for several weeks. On with the story.

As I got to "The Hard Part" I noticed the dryer was not vented to the outside. So I was greeted with a large amount of lint covered spider webs. LOTS of webs! Off in the distance ahead (about 30 feet) I could see some staining on the foundation wall. I needed to get there. So off I went. I had to go over and under pipes and some ducts, and sweep webs and lint out of my way. 

When I finally got there, I could see a lot of termite tubes. What was really cool (for an inspector anyway) was one of the tubes went from the concrete slab up 32" to the floor joists. There were also some on the front foundation wall. STRIKE 1 for the termite inspector. He didn't go back there.

I was under the master shower, and as I pulled the floor insulation away, I found EXTENSIVE wood rot and damage on the sub flooring and joists. STRIKE 2 & 3 for the termite inspector, STRIKE 3 for the home inspector (I skipped strikes 1 & 2 for the home inspector).

I am not usually one for pointing fingers and saying stuff like "That guy should have caught this", because we don't know when they were there. However, I do know when they were there, both of them. I can pretty much bet they did not even attempt to go back there. Remember the 1st clue? There would not have been as many spider webs with dryer lint if they had gone in there. There may have been spider webs, but since no one has been in the home doing laundry, NO LINT!

I don't bring this up to imply that I am a "super Inspector" or did anything out of the ordinary to get into that area of the house. I was just doing the job I signed up for. Yes it was hard, for about 15 seconds when I squeezed under those ducts. Yes, I had to go over and under some pipes. It WAS hard. I didn't like brushing all those webs out of the way. 

But this is the job I signed up for. I knew it involved going into these tight places, with spiders, and snakes and unpleasant things. And this is the job that my clients are paying me for. They hired me to do this job. I owe it to them to do my best.

When I was showing the listing agent the photos in my camera, it became obvious to him that maybe the guy he recommended was not committed to doing the best job they could for their client. Especially when he noticed there was over 30" of space between the floor and the joists.

I have a feeling there might be some angry phone calls first of next week.

Here's the photos....

Comments (80)

Pat Tasker
Shorewest Realtors - Germantown, WI
Your Milwaukee Metro Area Agent (WI)

Termites are not typical in Wisconsin, so I have never seen evidence of them before...thanks for the photos...

Mar 22, 2009 01:40 PM
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
850-476-4494 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

Wow that was a terrible experience for someone uh, what were they thinking taht no one would notice.

Mar 22, 2009 01:47 PM
Christianne O'Malley
Dickson Realty - Reno, NV
Exceptional Service - Delivering Results in Reno!

Good job! You did what you were supposed to which is inspect the property - good, bad or indifferent. Too bad not everyone does their job, too. If they had, there wouldn't be any surprise phone calls!

Mar 22, 2009 02:05 PM
Beth Kellan
Windermere/Cronin & Caplan Realty Group Inc. - Portland, OR
(Formerly Proctor), Portland, OR

Congrats on a job well done.  It never ceases to amaze me at how many people will do just the status quo.  Those other inspectors didn't even do that!  Great work & I bet you have solidified your relationship with that buyer's agent.  I do pre-inspections on my listings, but ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS encourage a buyer to get their own.  In fact, I wouldn't be comfortable if they didn't and I would be opening myself up to huge liability.  Any Realtor would be lucky to work with you. 

Mar 22, 2009 02:34 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Great Job!! I'm sure the buyers are grateful and Beth is right any Realtor would be lucky to work with you.

Mar 22, 2009 02:59 PM
Nyles Courchesne
Peskin, Courchesne and Allen, P.C. - Springfield, MA
Massachusetts Real Estate Attorney

Wow, it really does make you wonder what people are paying for!

Mar 22, 2009 03:14 PM
Bob Force (REALTORĀ®)
Weichert Realtors - Aspen Hill - Mount Airy, MD
The FORCE in Maryland Real Estate


What did the listing agent say when your report was presented? 

I tell my buyers they will do a home inspection, or sign a statement that I advised they do one and they choice not too.  I likewise provide a listof three to chose from.

Great job.

Mar 22, 2009 03:27 PM
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

One of my inspectors generally uses an infra-red thermometer to check the walls, floors and ceilings for hot or cold spots.  We have had brand new houses were the insulation was missing in difficult to inspect places.  Inspectors have to get everywhere they can get...

Mar 22, 2009 03:48 PM
Sandy Childs
Keller Williams Realty - Spartanburg, SC
Realtor - Spartanburg, SC

Jack: You are one more good inspector. It is easy to see that you take your commitment to your job seriously and that you go the extra mile to get a good job done. We have several good inspectors in our area, who are committed like you are, to doing the best job possible. We offered our buyer clients a list of inspectors to choose from. We recommend that they call the inspectors and interview them. We also caution on using the ones with the best rates.

Your pictures are fascinating. Is that really a free standing tube? That is amazing. In over 14 years, I have never seen anything like that, and hope I never do! We are located in Spartanburg, SC and you are in TN, I wonder if we have the same species of termites. This is very interesting and do you see this a lot and is this the worst case you have ever seen? I would be interested to know. I guess you can tell by the length of this comment, that termites fascinate me; so do powder post beetles.

Thanks you for an interesting post with great pics.

Mar 22, 2009 04:24 PM
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Hi Jack -- You are worth your weight in gold and I hope your clients realize this.  The old saying: A picture speaks a 1000 words has never been more true than your photos.  Wow, I was stunned.  I know the value a very good home inspector makes.

Mar 22, 2009 04:28 PM
Erik Hitzelberger
RE/MAX Alliance - Louisville REALTOR-Luxury Homes - Louisville, KY
Louisville - Middletown Real Estate

Nice job Jack.  I hope that your hard work and professionalism bring you the business that you deserve.   

Mar 22, 2009 04:58 PM
James J. Weber
Keller Williams Pocono - Milford, PA

First time I've seen termite tubes like that! I suppose like any other profession, some people, like yourself Jack, are the consumate professional and others do what they need to to get by.

Mar 22, 2009 05:15 PM
Robin Dampier REALTORĀ®
Coldwell Banker King - Hendersonville, NC
Hendersonville & Western NC Real Estate Source

Wow, I had encountered termite tubes from a few past inspections, BUT, never nothing of this "missed" magnitude!  All Home Inspectors must have cameras to capture evidence/proof of their findings.  In this case with your pics -- NO Words are necessary.  The pics tell it all.  Great job.

If a buyer declined an inspection when purchasing (no matter what inspections were previously done for whatever reason) we require they sign a statement saying they decline a Home Inspection.  Only makes sense.

Sue of Robin and Sue

Mar 22, 2009 05:16 PM
Michelle Evans

Awesome job!!  Thanks for beng a good inspector! 

Mar 22, 2009 06:53 PM
Jack Feldmann
Clayton Inspection Service, Inc. - Knoxville, TN


It really is a free standing tube. Believe it or not, this is not even close to the worst termite damage I have seen. 


I don't know what either agent said after the report was presented, because the report wasn't finished until the next day (Sunday). I had a horrible head and chest cold and told everyone that I was going home and going to bed and would finish the report the next day (Sunday). My client had to leave the inspection early because they had a flight to catch. I was able to talk to her on the phone while we were both on the road, so she knew what was coming.

Both of the agents were present at the end (the crawlspace was at the end of the inspection), so I showed everyone the photos, and described what I had found. That's when I found out about the pre-inspection and who did it, and that a termite inspector had been there a few days before.

I really didn't have to say a lot. The photos were proof to everyone standing there that out of the three people that entered the crawlspace, only one of us went that far and found the damage.

I'm guessing the phone lines were burning up yesterday, and probably this morning. This is a very high end house, and well above the average price in this area. 


Mar 22, 2009 11:17 PM
Rosemarie Villanova

Wow great Photos


I for one have never before seen actual termite tubing! (thank God) but now I know what they look like. Thank You

I always insist my buyers do an inspection even on new constrcution (the worst) I do not care whether or not they had a pre-sale inspection or not.

As to the damage where I work we have hundred year old houses and have seen that type of damage before (not termite) easily fixed just alittle pricey.

Great Job !!!!!!!


Mar 22, 2009 11:26 PM
Vince Santos
StepByStep Home Services LC - Canton, MI
Southeast Michigan Home Inspector

Good job Jack. I can certainly appreciate the extra effort it takes to make it to the end of a crawl. As we all know it's those far away corners that typically have a surprise or two.

Do you mind if I use one of those photos?

Mar 23, 2009 12:26 AM
Jack Feldmann
Clayton Inspection Service, Inc. - Knoxville, TN


Feel free to use what you need. Please just give me credit if you publish it somewhere.



Mar 23, 2009 05:03 AM
Nikki Marlatt-Young
At Ease Home Inspections - Arbutus, MD
Housing & Rental Inspections

Good Job Jack!!!

I promote seller inspections for reasons of helping the seller.   I agree with everyone that states the buyer should get their own inspection and not rely on the sellers.  But the Seller Inspection isn't a bad thing!!!   If anything I look at it as a way to educate the seller in what they need to do in order to sell their house and what to look for when they purchase another.  

again.... Good Job Jack.... When I read "I just had to get there"  I related so much.


Mar 24, 2009 01:21 AM
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Great job Jack! There are a small group of home inspectors like your self who just do; "the the job they signed up for." I hear the excuses reasons why they can't go here or the SOP or my insurance company says I don't have to, shouldn't do that. Taking pride in what you do and doing it well really seems to be a dying ethic.

Mar 25, 2009 01:03 AM