Home Inspection

A web log for homeowners, prospective homeowners and home sellers in the subject of Home Inspections, presented by I. G. "Zack" Lilienfeld, PE, Licensed New Jersey Home Inspector and Consulting Engineer


Awkward Home Inspection Situations

Besides needing to know their business, home inspectors also need to be adept at handling awkward situations with grace and dignity. Here are a few situations that come to mind that I encountered during or after inspections:

  1. "I need to have you say in your report that the water heater needs to be replaced". (Alternatingly, replace "water heater" with "roof", "A/C unit", or "electrical wiring"). These statements, from clients, suggest that the home inspectors needs to be coached to obtained the desired outcome. If a water heater needs to be replaced, I say so. If it is old, dirty, or ugly, those are not valid reasons to replace a water heater. If it heats water and is not leaking, and is safe based on a visual inspection, then it does not need to be replaced. So, I let my client know the facts, and let the chips fall where they may.
  2. "Why are you here so long... There is nothing wrong with my house". This was told to me by a 93 year old circuit court judge, 45 minutes into my inspection of his five bedroom home. I'm glad that he was not hearing a case where my life was in jeopardy, since he was not clearly dealing with the facts. I asked my client to distract the gentleman while I continued on.
  3. "Wow, that must have just started leaking!" Typical statement from a home seller when I find a water intrusion issue that was clearly visible and long-standing. I try to be diplomatic.
  4. "You are wasting your time up there. The city building inspector just inspected the house and it passed with flying colors." A classic line from a builder, just before I found that his plumbing contractor failed to solvent-weld the A/C condensate drain line in the attic, leaving the pipe sections and fittings laying neatly on the attic insulation ready to be assembled. As this was a winter inspection, the next summer A/C season would have likely resulted in a collapsed ceiling in the master bedroom.
  5. "There is no underground fuel oil tank on the property, you must be mistaken". Told to my client by the current seller of the home, who swore to that because when he bought the home, that's what he was told by the seller. Oh well.........
  6. "This house is in "PERFECT SHAPE". Told to my client by the agent representing the seller, in my presence, before I began the home inspection. I suspect this was a case of wishful thinking. Perfection is in the eye of the commission recipient in this case, I suppose.
  7. "I'll keep referring you to my clients until you f*!# up my deal". Comment from a very successful real estate agent. While embarassed at this transparent attempt to influence my objectivity, I nonetheless responded by thanking him for including me on his "short list" but suggested that he only refer me to clients that were interested in a thorough home inspector who's job it is to look out for my clients' best interests.