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

10/05/2009

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.

24 Comments:

Blogger The Home and Commercial Inspector's Shield said...

OMG. Zack, you are both a voice of reason and a breath of fresh air. Your command of the language, eloquent writing style, fair characterizations, and knowledge of the industry is truly welcomed in an often misunderstood or misrepresented industry. Bravo!

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Robert Welch said...

Hey Zack,

I have often experienced the exsct situation you have described. Home buyers wanting me to state things that are operating, but hte buyer wants me to state they need replacing, like HVAC or hot water systems. It presents a very unusual situation for the home inspector.

Sincerely,
Robert
www.atexinspects.com

11:25 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

These are the things that my clients and the others usually tell me. As a Twin City home inspection officer, I usually laugh at absurd comments and let them be.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Home Inspection Tool Kit said...

I dont know how some customers can just not understand that a home inspection takes time even though you're not going in there with a jack hammer:P

6:20 PM  
Anonymous home inspections las vegas said...

helpful article

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Licensed Home Inspector said...

Hey!!

This is very informative blog and always provide very useful information.

keep up the good work.

5:41 AM  
Anonymous Home Inspection Software said...

Great tips on how to deal with those sticky situations. I can't believe a real estate agent said that last one to you.

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Palos Verdes Home Inspector Service said...

wow...really great blog...i found this blog helpful and interesting with many useful information...thanks for sharing this information with us

9:57 PM  
Anonymous Home Inspection Franchise Site said...

You are absolutely right in this matter. But when I experienced those things I brush aside the comments and just do what I got to do. We Home Inspectors know better than they do that's why we are doing the job and not told to do what is suppose to be done. Well said mate.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Rolling hills Estates Certified  Home Inspector said...

Hey!!!really helpful and informative blog.Home inspection service provides complete information about the internal and external condition of homes.

5:23 AM  
Anonymous Pest control Melbourne said...

yeah, I have also worked with several customers who think along these lines, must tell you..not easy to handle them

11:29 PM  
Anonymous בדק בית said...

I wouldn't do things like that.. it's unproffesional

3:05 AM  
Anonymous InspectorPro said...

Some classic comments made by people who are unfairly thrying to influence your work and report. Your last comment to the RE Agent is the best. "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."

Integrity and good work will bring plenty more business than unscrupulous agents will.

3:07 PM  
Blogger CVGi said...

I really needed this kind of useful information. Very informative and fantastic article and very clearly explained.
Great Job!
Scarborough Home Inspector

1:32 AM  
Anonymous Olympia Home Inspector said...

Zack,
I have had agents say "your not going to put that in your report are you" in the past. I have a little list above my desk with the names of agents I will not work for. I am booked or about to go out of town when they call. There is an inspector here that many of us refer to as an "inspection who@%". He is the agents inspector in many ways and is also very cheap. Well, he is currently being sued for "missing" some very expensive structural damage.

Your approach is right on! Tell them the truth and let the chips fall where they may. The good agents will want to work with an inspector who is watching out for the client.

12:45 PM  
Anonymous AmeriSpec Home Inspections said...

Zack, this is a wonderful article that highlights some of the shady business practices going on in our industry. I'm glad to see others taking a stand and protecting their clients best interests!

1:59 PM  
Blogger will said...

Before buying a home, first thing to remember is that there is no point wasting time looking at all sorts of properties when you are not sure how much you can even afford.

6:00 AM  
Anonymous George Runkle said...

All of this sounds familiar - I am a structural engineer and I look at homes after the home inspector identifies a possible problem. I've had real estate agents tell me to take stuff out of my report, and sellers call me and complain that I "killed the deal".

12:51 PM  
Blogger CVGi said...

Great article about home inspection. I really like your blog very much. It is also very helpful and important to find someone who has a lot of knowledge. Really appreciate you and heartly thanks for sharing such a great informtion.

Home Inspection Barrie

6:11 AM  
Anonymous Louisville Ky Home Inspector said...

HAHAH funny stuff....you just inspired me to post some of the things I hear on my blog...Thanks for the laugh.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous ScottWarga Phx Home Inspector said...

Zack,
First off, Nice job on the blog.
Second, I think we could all write a book on the strange things we hear. I laughed when I read what the judge said.

Another idea is to write about embarrassing moments. Here is some fun reading for you too.
http://www.acsillc.com/home-inspectors-most-embarrassing-moments/


Keep up the good work.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous glass and mirror repair said...

Great tips on how to deal with those sticky situations. I can't believe a real estate agent said that last one to you.

3:32 AM  
Anonymous Betsey said...

Great post! I'm so glad to see another honest home inspector. As you say, diplomacy is the key!

Betsey - San Diego Home Inspector

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Manhattan Beach Real Estate Inspection said...

I also had a situation when the builder told us that we were wasting our time, and that the city building inspector already inspected the house and it passed with flying colors. And the following inspection revealed more issues than expected.

6:35 AM  

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