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Aubri Devashrayee

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  1. Hi, TIJ Readers! This year, we've decided to do a series on the various aspects of pre-inspection agreements. Hopefully, you can glean something from the following article to help protect yourself from possible claims. Enjoy! -------- The following relates an inspection claim that was resolved with a dispute resolution provision. To protect the insured’s identity, all identifiable characteristics have been omitted or removed. “The inspection completed was not only deficient, but negligent. Specifically, the following items were present at the time of inspection and not reported: “1. Major omission of gutters that do not collect water and force water down the rock wall that is outside of the home’s dining room. “2. Major omission of the obvious damage that has been caused to the above mentioned rock wall that includes mortared joints that are worn to the point that they allow great amounts of water to enter the wall and have destroyed the wood sheathing behind the rocks, allowed destruction of the insulation, suspected mold growth on the inside of the drywall and wood framing, destruction of the ¾ inch wood flooring, complete rotting of the subfloor and major visible organic substance growth. This omission came on a day when it rained during the inspection. “3. Major omission of the damage to two doors that lead to the crawlspace. “4. Major omission of the damage caused by a leaking shower drain. “5. Additionally, there is no mention of the fact that the brick veneer was constructed without weep holes to allow any moisture that may get behind the brick a path to escape.” One of our home inspectors received that laundry list just six months after he performed an inspection. The claimant, who prepared his letter with quotes from the ASHI Standard of Practice and pictures taken during and after the inspection, alleged that it would cost $25,000 to repair the property’s issues and that the inspector should cover the cost. Using this example, we will break down dispute resolution methods. [READ MORE]
  2. @Tom Raymond You make some good points. As I mentioned in my reply to @Jim Katen's questions, hold-harmless agreements and waivers of liability are not created equal. And, as you mentioned, most are hard to enforce. But, they can act as a deterrent to possible claims. If you are to use one, it's best to have advice from your personal legal counsel and to take your insurance policy into consideration so you can adapt it to your situation and region. As for why insurance companies would care about virus policies when not covering associated damages, there are a couple of reasons: - As cheesy as it is, hopefully your insurance company has your best interest in mind and is wanting to look out for you as a person and insured during this strange and difficult time. - The second reason is more pragmatic--your insurance company will want to know about inspection virus policies and procedures because claims affect both parties, and there may be some situations that are actually covered in the circumstances. It honestly depends on the details of the situation. Does that answer your questions?
  3. @Erby That's fair. We'll be sure to make note of that. Your input is appreciated.
  4. @Jim Katen Good question. It's always best to follow what is mandated by your state. Especially if you are wanting to manage your risk as effectively as possible. Even so, we will still be covering our insureds during this time. But, our policy, as some have already mentioned, doesn't speak to spreading infectious diseases, so it would be wise to include a clause in your pre-inspection agreement that you aren't responsible if someone gets sick after your inspection. It's true that it would be hard to prove that in inspector spread the disease, but just from a risk management standpoint, it's best to have your bases covered. As for the hold-harmless agreements, they definitely vary in nature of how well they will protect you and how reasonable they are. If you are going to have one, it's best to get one straight from your personal legal counsel with keeping your insurance policy in mind, or adapt one provided by your insurance provider with the help of your personal legal counsel. This way you can make it work for your business in the area you are in--since everyone's situation is difference. We have a waiver of liability our insureds can use, but truly, it acts as more of a formality in dissuading clients to pursue claims, and is only supposed to be used for people who decide to attend the home inspection. And, again, if you are to use it, it's best to get the advice of your personal legal counsel to see how it applies to you and how it can be tailored to your situation. We can't speak for other insurance providers, so it would be best to check with the company you are insured with to see how they are proceeding. Long answer, but hopefully that can clarify things a bit. Covid-19 Waiver.pdf
  5. @Erby Sorry to hear that you are so dissatisfied with the article. It was written to try to be helpful to inspectors during this time since options are so limited. If you have any suggestions as to how we can improve the article we are open to suggestions.
  6. @Les We're sorry to hear of your disappointment in the article. I can say that it wasn't intended to be condescending--but rather be helpful during this difficult time. There are few options for inspectors at the moment, so we wanted to provide general tips they could use to help them not feel stuck and to boost morale. Your comment about knowing our audience is noted. If you have any suggestions on what we can include to improve the article or our future content, we are open to suggestions.
  7. @Marc That is fair. I understand your point. But, I'll also acknowledge that not every business owner has the same experience or success with email campaigns. Thanks for the advice; I will make note of that.
  8. @hausdok You make a good point that the links in that section go to InspectorPro's site. While pure objectivity is a nice thing to have, it is difficult to maintain in a business setting. InspectorPro, after all, is still a business and having a list of competitors isn't in our interest, especially when a lot of our readers are already insured with other providers. We didn't try to assert that InspectorPro is the only option. While we won't be including a list of all insurance companies, we appreciate suggestions. If you have any others, we are open to them.
  9. @Jim Katen I respect your opinion. However, I can say that a lot of thought and research was put into the article to genuinely help and had inspectors' best interest in mind. While some of the points may seem obvious, there are not many options for inspectors at the moment, which leaves more basic practices to be focused on. And, some of those more obvious points are obvious for a reason--since it speaks to the importance of those topics. It wasn't intended to be click-bait, but was rather intended to help inspectors in the different levels of quarantine they are at currently, as well as provide proven tips for other situations than the current one we are in. If you have any suggestions as to what we should've included, we're open to hearing your ideas. As for our articles being thinly disguised advertisements, I can say that our material has been very much geared towards education and awareness. It hasn't been our intent to produce shallow material that is self-serving. We do know that a great deal of inspectors enjoy our content, but, again, we are open to hearing your suggestions about topics you would rather have us address. And, while we are still a business, we'd like to think at InspectorPro that what sets us apart is the genuine care we have for inspectors and the industry.
  10. @Marc You bring up a good point that there are consumers that are adverse to receiving emails. I'm not familiar with the minutia of the study Outbound Engine conducted, so I can't speak to what sample they pulled from--which may or may not include those consumers you mentioned--but I do know that the statistic is considered common knowledge in the marketing realm. However, from a marketing standpoint, I know that it's possible to have successful email campaigns. As for the article not following the "stay at home directive," I will have to respectfully disagree. It doesn't encourage inspectors to be using unsafe practices. And, since we insure inspectors around the country, it purposely does not give specifics about mandates to stay home because different states have very different mandates on the situation. Hopefully that can explain things further.
  11. @Jim Katen We're sorry to hear about your disappointment in the article. It truly was intended to give help in the current situation--especially since options are so limited for inspectors at the moment. Is there anything in particular you would like to discuss?
  12. Hello, TIJ Readers! Due to popular demand, we wrote an article on infrared technology. We delve into what inspectors have to say about its benefits and drawbacks, as well as what we have to say about it from a liability standpoint. Hope you enjoy! -------- For the past two decades, home inspectors have been inspecting using thermal imaging. By examining the heat given off by various property systems and components, many inspectors have discovered roof leaks, electrical issues, structural defects, and insulation anomalies. However, thermal imaging still isn’t commonplace. Due to the technology’s expense and imperfections, many inspectors have opted out of purchasing infrared cameras for their businesses. For the inspectors that are on the fence, we explore reasons why inspectors use thermal imaging technology and the investments they make to do so. We then touch on important risk management considerations for anyone considering or currently offering infrared inspections. Why inspectors use thermal imaging technology. When asked why they perform home inspections with infrared technology, the six home inspectors we interviewed said that they began offering the service for one or more of the following reasons. 1. They wanted to stay competitive in their market. With only so many houses on the market, home inspectors need to find ways to stand out from other inspectors in their area to be successful. One way home inspectors can get ahead of their competitors is by offering additional inspection services, like thermal imaging. “For me, [thermal imaging] is not only a way to set myself apart as an inspector but to set our company apart,” said Michael Hammel of Guiding Light Home Inspection Services, LLC in Texas. By offering a niche inspection service, Hammel gives his customers value that isn’t easily found elsewhere. For other home inspectors, performing thermal imaging inspections is a matter of keeping up with the competition. Judson Faust of Liberty Inspections in Kentucky started using infrared technology after others in his market began offering the service. Now, he estimates that, when half of his potential customers call, they’re asking about thermal imaging. That’s one big group of business Faust could have lost had he not added infrared cameras to his inspection tool belt. Additionally, Faust says that many of his referring real estate agents look for thermal imaging services before sending inspectors business. “Some realtors love [infrared]. Some realtors will not refer an inspector that does not use thermal imaging because they understand how important it is,” Faust said. By offering infrared inspections, Faust makes sure he stays in his area’s realtor referral pool. Beware of lack of demand. Before adding infrared technology to your home inspections to stay competitive, make sure there’s enough demand. Chuck Lambert of Sunrise Inspection Services in California invested in an infrared camera only to find that, due to the mild climate in his area, selling infrared inspections was more difficult than he’d anticipated. Hammel, too, has seen less interest in thermal imaging than he had expected. However, Hammel attributes this to potential clients not understanding what thermal imaging is and how it can help them. “[Clients] don’t request [thermal imaging] as often as I would like them to. I think a lot of it goes back to education and really knowing whether or not it’s something they need,” Hammel said. Similarly, Matthew Cottenham of Trademark Home Inspection, LLC in Michigan believes many potential clients don’t understand the value enough to make the additional investment into thermal imaging. “It’s amazing how people will complain about their energy bills all day long but not want to spend a few hundred bucks to have someone come in and do a proper energy audit that could save them 20 percent. Over a lifetime, that’s a lot of money,” Cottenham said. To make sure there’s enough demand to warrant investing in thermal imaging, we recommend looking at your potential clients’ pain points and assessing how many homebuyers in your area are likely to want infrared inspections. [READ MORE]
  13. Hi, TIJ Readers! As you all know, the current environment has changed how home inspectors have been conducting business. Many inspectors have voiced their concerns about what this time will mean for their businesses. Well, we have some answers for you. While these tips aren't a cure-all, hopefully some of them can enable you to still have business coming in and improve your company. Enjoy! -------- Every business experiences highs and lows. Your home inspection business is no exception—especially if you’ve built it from the ground up on your own. The lows can be daunting, but they don’t have to be a stumbling block to your success. There are steps you can take to not only mitigate potential losses and keep profits coming in, but also to improve your business so you can come back stronger than ever when business picks back up. We give you 6 valuable strategies for when business is slow. Get talking. When business starts to lag, it’s important to reach out to as many people as possible. One big way to do this is by getting in touch with previous clients. MBO Partners, an online talent acquisition platform for independent businesses, recommends personalizing emails and calls to past clients. They suggest following up with previous projects you’ve completed for these clients and asking if they’re in need of other projects you can do for them. If they aren’t in need of your services currently, you can suggest performing an inspection at a later date, particularly when it comes to annual inspections. Even if you don’t book an inspection from these interactions, the personalized contact is a great reminder to your clients of your excellent service, which can then translate into referrals. Word of mouth can be a significant factor in your success during slow business periods. Another way to drum up business is to network. Whether it’s with realtors, experts you refer clients to, or with your peers, networking can help you create new leads. Or, at the very least, it revitalizes relationships that are beneficial to both you and your business. Get social. While social media platforms and new technology can be daunting, delving further into these resources when business is slow will give you a significant edge over competitors. It may be an undertaking that takes you out of your comfort zone, but the more user-friendly and easy-to-access you can make the way your clients contact you, the less obstacles you have to scheduling inspections. If you have a website, take steps to make it easier to use. Don’t have a website? Create one. If you have social media accounts, update them and be active on them. Don’t have social media accounts? Create them. Building your online presence broadens your business’ exposure can help you reach completely new leads. According to Outbound Engine, a software company for marketing and referrals, 86% of consumers prefer to be contacted via email by businesses. With more time on your hands in slow seasons, you can update your emails lists and send out a strong campaign. [READ MORE]
  14. Hi, TIJ Readers! Aubri from InspectorPro Insurance here. Here is a preview of our latest article and infographic! The stories we heard when writing this article, were wild to say the least (no pun intended). Home inspectors encounter many dangers, particularly with animals, so hopefully this info can help. Enjoy! ------------- Inspecting homes is a dangerous job. From slippery roofs to electrical hazards, rotted subflooring to invisible toxins, the average home inspector encounters countless perils during their careers. While inspection horror stories come in all varieties, many of the tales that have unhappy endings seem to stem from home inspection animal attacks. Most recently, the home inspection community rallied behind Texas home inspector Brian Bassett, who, while performing a residential home inspection on August 28, 2019, was mauled by three pit bulls that escaped their backyard pen. While Bassett declined to comment, his story lives through the testimonies of many of his fellow home inspectors online on various Facebook groups, forums, and his GoFundMe page. According to those online sources, Bassett’s injuries were substantial. Within the first month after the attack, Bassett underwent four surgeries to clean and remove damaged soft tissue and reconstruct his lower left leg. While doctors were able to save his leg, infection forced them to remove two of his toes. And, although Bassett was able to return home from the hospital 23 days later, on September 20th, it will likely take another four to six months of rehabilitation and procedures to recover. Unfortunately, Bassett’s story is not unique to the industry. Animals, both domestic and wild, pose a threat to unsuspecting inspectors. In this article and infographic, we discuss some precautions and resources to overcome onsite animal attacks. [READ MORE]
  15. Hi, The Inspector's Journal Readers! This is Aubri from InspectorPro Insurance. The following is an excerpt from our article on choosing an entity type for your inspection business. We actually received quite a few requests to do an article on this topic, so hopefully this can be of some help! Enjoy! Aubri *************** Whether you’re just now entering the home inspection industry or have been an inspector for years, establishing and maintaining your own business is no small feat. One of the most common questions we receive from new or growing inspection companies is what type of business entity they should create. In this article, we hope to help you decide which entity type is right for your inspection company by sharing insights from attorneys, accountants, and your fellow home inspectors. Home Inspection Entity Types: A Quick Comparison There are three major types of business entities that home inspectors may consider: sole proprietorships, corporations (C-Corps or S-Corps), and limited liability companies (LLCs). Important Considerations When choosing which entity type is right for your business, the home inspectors we interviewed recommend the following considerations: Your growth plans. Which entity type you choose impacts ownership, income distribution, and taxation, and of each of these factors can impact your growth potential. Thus, knowing where you’d like your home inspection company to be in the future will likely impact which entity type you choose. For example, James Szczesny of 4 Seasons Home Inspections in New Mexico has been a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company (LLC), and a corporation. With his certified public accountant (CPA), Szczesny’s strategy has been to adapt his business entity type as his company grows. As he’s generated more income, Szczesny has been more equipped to invest in the entity types that cost more to establish but provide larger tax breaks. Alternatively, Nick Calero of CR Pro Home Inspections in Florida planned to start his inspection business as a one-man operation. If things went well, Calero intended to incorporate. After discussing his plans with multiple attorneys, Calero decided to begin his inspection career by creating an LLC. “It all came down to what our future goals were going to be, how large we wanted to make the company, and…the steps that it would take to get there,” Calero said. “We felt that, as a small, one-person show, [an LLC] would be the best option for us [starting out].” [READ MORE]
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