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  1. Yesterday
  2. Here's an idea: Instead of advising your inspectors to *never* exceed the standards, I suggest introducing the concept of "tactical exceedance." Begin by including a statement like this in the inspection agreement, "The inspector may occasionally exceed the standard of practice as a courtesy to the customer, who agrees that, in doing so, the inspector will not exceed the standard in every regard or in every instance." Or something like that. I'm sure that your lawyers can get the gist across. Then, inspectors can feel a bit more free to perform risk assessments to decide when it's more beneficial to go the extra mile or so to find problems. As an insurer, providing guidance about how to perform that risk assessment and when it's actually beneficial to exceed the standard would be a lot more useful - and do more to reduce claims - than simply issuing blanket advice to never exceed. By the way, if you implement this concept, I want full credit. It should be called, "The Katen Method" and spoken of reverently, in hushed and respectful tones.
  3. I fully understand your purpose as an insurance provider. But I think that your advice is short-sighted and, ultimately, self-defeating. Inspectors don't get sued for finding problems, they get sued for missing them. The very slight increase in liability caused by exceeding the standards is far outweighed by the very great decrease in liability gained by finding otherwise hidden problems. I'm old enough to remember when inspectors first started to use moisture meters. My insurer a the time advised me not to use one and, if I were to use one, never to mention it in the report or to let the customer see me using it. Their reasoning was that using a moisture meter would instantly make my inspection "technically exhaustive" and open me up to all kinds of disastrous claims. That was dumb reasoning at the time and every inspector I know uses a moisture meter today. What really happens is that the moisture meters help to find problems and reduce the inspectors' liability. They are, of course, beyond the standards. (The same argument is now playing out with IR cameras.) Likewise, I remember when we first started to use digital cameras. Again, my insurer advised against taking any pictures during the inspection because one of the pictures might capture a defect that I didn't include in my report and that picture could be used against me in court. They were also concerned about a seller suing if I took pictures of personal property. None of that turned out to be much of an issue. (And if an inspector does take a picture of a defect and not report on it, then he or she probably should be responsible for the oversight.) In the long term, pictures reduce liability and InspectorPro (and probably every other insurer out there) knows that perfectly well (you having just written an article about how every inspector should take hundreds of thousands of pictures every minute). They, of course, go beyond the standards. You stand at one small corner of the home inspection profession and your view is distorted by your perspective from that corner. I suggest that by taking a step or two back, you'll see that advising people not to exceed the standards is actually increasing rather than decreasing the overall risk of your customer pool. Bottom line: exceeding the standards might make it a little bit more difficult for an attorney to defend an inspector, but it makes it much less likely that the inspector will need that attorney in the first place.
  4. I'm with you Les. From day one I've done a walk-n-talk that I've always called 'The School of the House." Most customers loved it - those who didn't seemed to be the very young tech types who were constantly distracted by something they were gazing at on their smarty pants phones. Realtors who repeatedly referred me liked it - those who saw my inspection once and never ever referred customers to me after that hated it - some even complained that I was taking too long or was talking too much. They were promptly told, politely but ex-military-cop firmly, to STFU and go sit down and read a paper, work on their listings or go down to Starbucks and get a coffee. You get clients who say things like, "This is great. I'm learning so much I wished I'd brought a video camera 'cuz I'll never remember all of this." That's when they got assured that they'd see 10% pf everything they'd learned again when they received their report. ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike
  5. Laughed so hard I peed my pants. My wife feeds this one little bastard peanuts every morning in the back yard. Tomorrow I'm gonna begin construction of a new squirrel cata....uh, er…., "feeder" for her. This oughta be good! ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!
  6. Last week
  7. I'd like to think our audience is broader than the "bottom end" you've described! However, most of the questions we get asked have to do with managing risk, so I must acknowledge that we're speaking with different groups of inspectors. While I have to stand beside my earlier comments about the SOP, I do agree with the idea of better training, educating, and inspecting likely reducing claims. We've definitely seen a relationship between a lack of experience and training and claims. Ha! While we recommend staying within the SOP, we don't penalize people for exceeding it. Frankly, we don't ask. As for a denial, the only way to know for sure is apply! However, unless you have any other experiences I'm unaware of, like an inspection-related felony, I can't see there being a problem.
  8. It seems that if an inspector wants to serves his client as best he can, he's gonna have to tolerate more liability on the job. Fine with me. Is Inspector Pro going to deny me if I apply for coverage next year? No claims in 16 years.
  9. As an insurer, I suspect your experiences and advice are focused more toward the "bottom end" of this profession. I've been fortunate to have been able to interact with the "top end" folks for over 3 decades. Deflecting, defending, or even worrying about claims is not part of any discussion in that group. Training, educating and inspecting to a level well above the minimum standard would probably reduce the claims significantly. This whole profession should be constantly improving their knowledge and service to their clients, not hiding behind minimum sop.
  10. carefully reading her response will guide you to enlightenment why we are in this mess. Do what you want. I will exceed standards.
  11. Thanks for sharing that. That section from the ASHI SOP does shed some much needed light on the SOP's intended use. However, I do think you misunderstand our purpose as insurance providers. The risk management tips we provide are meant to do just that: manage risk. We aim to help home inspectors limit their liability and prevent potential claims by sharing the information we've gathered from a decade of insuring and defending inspectors from allegations. While you may disagree with the counsel to stay within the SOP rather than exceed it, that counsel isn't based on personal opinion. Rather, it's based on actual cases we've faced. To not recognize that inspecting beyond the SOP can make claims more difficult to defend would be a disservice to our clients and other inspectors who read our articles in hopes of being able to apply various techniques to shield their businesses from claims. So, while there are some inspectors who disagree with the principle, we continue to share that counsel so that inspectors can then make an educated decision about how they run their inspection businesses.
  12. Mostly for other readers - I have always known what Jim thinks about SOPs. I have always had that understanding of any sop. My comment was sarcasm. I agree with Katen. I do like the Dollar Store comparison. Hopefully mine is more of a Nieman-Marcus piece of goods!
  13. I am with you Jim! I am not the best writer, but I am a pretty damn good talker!
  14. Home inspector standards of practice are the bare minimum performance standard; the floor that you stand on when you do a home inspection. They define a dollar-store home inspection product.
  15. This isn't an interpretation. It's a fact. The first sentence of the ASHI SOP under "purpose" reads: The purpose of the Standards of Practice is to establish a minimum and uniform standard for home inspectors who subscribe to these Standards of Practice. The opening paragraph of the Oregon State Standards reads: OAR 812-008-0202 through 812-008-0214 of this rule set forth the minimum standards of practice required by Oregon certified home inspector. Nothing in either of these standards even comes close to suggesting that the standard is not to be exceeded. (I can't speak to the standards of other organizations or other states - especially stupid states like Texas.) By parroting myth that exceeding the standards increases your liability, InspectorPro is contributing to the problem, not helping it.
  16. My most satisfying jobs are the ones when the client follows me like a dog on my heels and listens to my verbal description. Almost all of that kind like me better. I do take pride in my writing, but the verbal delivery feels to me like a job better done.
  17. Hi, @Jim Katen. I agree that, in many instances, what protects the client and the inspector are the same thing. As for the SoP being a minimum rather than a maximum, that's just not how we've seen the SoP interpreted by attorneys, arbitrators, and judges. That's why we recommend staying within the SoP rather than exceeding it. Whether meeting rather than exceeding the SoP was what the people who framed the SoP intended, I can't say. But, I can say that's not how the SoP is regularly being used in both claims filings and defense. Hi, @hausdok. Your claims example is an interesting one. Here at InspectorPro, we only charge the deductible when the claim amount--including payment and legal fees--meets or exceeds the deductible. So, in your particular case, you likely would have just paid the $350 to the client and nothing to us. As for your 18 years since, it's great that you haven't had any claims since you dropped your insurance coverage, and it's likely that your inspection practices have a lot to do with it. Unfortunately, you may be the exception to the rule. Just looking at the inspectors we've insured over the past 10 years, about 60 percent of them have at least one claim in their career. And of those claims that we receive, 80 percent of the claims are meritless, meaning the technical inspection was accurate and the home inspector still received a claim. Ultimately, in states where insurance isn't required, whether you buy insurance is up to your risk tolerance: how much you want to protect yourself versus how much you're willing to leave up to chance. As insurance providers, we'd say that inspectors like you who choose not to carry insurance have a high risk tolerance. In contrast, an inspector who chooses to carry all the insurance coverage they can has a low risk tolerance. It's a personal choice.
  18. Yep I remember an inspector from the Olympia area, Andy Lally, telling me years ago about how he discovered where an HVAC contractor failed to install an upstairs air return. Weeks later he was contacted by the buyer to reinspect the same home because the seller reported that an air return had been installed. Andy returned to the home, climbed the stairs and found a very nice air return grill on the wall near the floor of the upstairs hallway. He bent down to look inside and noticed that it seemed to be unusually dark in there. Taking out a screwdriver, he extended the tip through the grill to discover that the drywall behind the grill had been painted flat black. The buyer stalked away - never to return. I've always thought that incident is an example of how little regard/respect many builders hold for home inspectors in general. Who to thank for that? Maybe the so-called "professional" associations that for decades have perpetuated the idea that, to get jobs in this business, an inspector doesn't need to really know much about home inspections - just how to suck up to real estate agents and not be too picky when doing an inspection. ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike
  19. Thanks for the compliment, Marc, but I, frankly, don't think my reports can hold a candle to Jim Katen's. I'm in awe of that guy's ability. ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike
  20. Absolutely the best advice ever. I carried E & O for the first 4 - 5 years and dropped it after a nutcase threatened to sue me for obvious earthquake damage and the insurance company agreed, after soaking me for a $1000 deductible, to refund her the $350 fee. For the next 18 years I never went to any arbitrations, never had to go to small claims court, and was never sued. I figure I saved the equivalent cost of an M class Mercedes by not carrying E & O and simply concentrating on doing the absolute best damned home inspection I could, calling everything out, documenting it, and letting the chips fall where they may without giving even one second's thought to whether or not my being "too picky" would affect the number or future referrals or cause agents to lose my phone number and forget my name. ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike
  21. Where I grew up, the term squirrel could be applied equally to furry gray or brown rodents that nest in trees or to anyone that exhibited odd trashy irrational behavior. Today we usually refer to such folks as meth heads. ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike
  22. Hee hee, Don't need 'em. I live in a place where weed is legal and you can't drive half a mile without running into a pot shop. ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike
  23. So Mike, do you have any mushrooms left?
  24. It serves the state legislatures that had to come up with some sort of standard to round out their regulatory chapter but had only one choice on the shelf: ASHI's SOP. I don't mock the SOP. My gripe is that not a single new-born HI regulatory body in this country has yet to 'grab the ball and run with it' by following up with educational and report writing standards. It's by these two standards that the bar is raised. The SOP can't do it. JMHO
  25. every time I see the word "squirrel" in print I think of Kurt M. He had a thing for squirrels. Maybe that is why we were friends for soooooooo long.
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