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I got a call from a prospective client yesterday morning. I had inspected a house she was selling last year, and was impressed with the job I did. After getting grilled by her, I ended up booking the job.

Later yesterday evening she e- mailed me to let me know that her agent had scheduled an inspector already, so she would have to cancel the inspection.

I replied via e- mail, and her know that I understood. I proceeded to inform her that depending on the agent, her inspector could either be really good or may be the type used to help facilitate a smooth transaction. I don't usually do this, but the situation irritated me since the agent had booked someone without my now ex- soon to be client's knowledge.

She e- mailed back later that evening asking what she should look for in order to ensure the inspector was any good.

Fast forward to today............. I got a call from my now soon to be client letting me know that I got the job, and she would be letting the agent know. [:-thumbu]

I don't know why it feels so dang good, but it sure does.

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Curious. How did you answer?

I basically told her that she had several options:

1)Contact co- workers, friends, and family members for referrals.

2)Do a web search, but to keep in mind that many of the good inspector's will be difficult to find on- line since they don't have to advertise as much.

3)Told her to check out her agent's choice by searching his name on- line, and then to ensure he doesn't have any history of claims with the contractor's board.

4)Contact some attorney's who specialize in construction defect work, and ask them for a referral.

Never once did I tell her she should hire me. I did let her know that there is a big difference in inspector qualifications, and that she should do her homework.

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Unfortunately, this will even the score.

Back in October I did an inspection where the renters were living for a year and now were looking to purchase the house. I found the chimney was blocked and the foundation wall failed. They had headaches from CO poisoning and after the repairs to the chimney were headache free.

I e-mailed her about two weeks ago asking if I could use her report (with her name and address blacked out) for my web-site example report. Here was her reply to my request.

"OK Darren, here is a confession.

We bought a different house, and our realtor recommended another inspector. As I was kind of grim that we went ahead with the radon at Xxxx Rd, when we realized we would never buy it, and we were running out of money, and our realtor recommended this guy, and he was $100 cheaper, we went ahead. Fortunately the house is in good shape, and we got the lowest price they would sell at, but the inspection and report were a joke. I told our realtor that you were 5X the inspector that he recommended was, that it was a mistake recommending that guy, and that he should recommend you instead. Realtor was Keith Xxxxxxx from Xxxxxxxxl Xxxxxx. (Do they get kickbacks on those recommendations?????)

The point of this is, if you want to use some of that report as an example of what the competition does, with checkboxes and filler, we would probably share it. It would have to be carefully scrubbed, though.

Let me know, and I will talk to my spouse."

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"I know that my inspection is a little more expensive, and I understand why you are concerned about price, today everybody HAS to be.

It's like when my wife was diagnosed with brain cancer, and she wanted to go to the Mayo Clinic.

That would have been nice, but with the travel and everything it would have been REALLY expensive, so I asked the guy down at the health food store, who was selling us nutritional supplements to help cure the cancer, and he recommended a doctor who had his own cancer clinic.

I talked with the doc, and found out that he was licensed by state like everyone else, and that did almost 300 brain surgeries last year with no complaints, and also worked with the guy at the Health Food Store on the nutritional treatments.

Plus, he could do the surgery cheaper than the Mayo Clinic.

So we went with him - and I 'gotta say, the money we saved was really a help when he time came to pay for the funeral.

So if you decide to go with the less expensive inspector your Agent recommended, I'll understand..."

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"I know that my inspection is a little more expensive, and I understand why you are concerned about price, today everybody HAS to be.

It's like when my wife was diagnosed with brain cancer, and she wanted to go to the Mayo Clinic.

That would have been nice, but with the travel and everything it would have been REALLY expensive, so I asked the guy down at the health food store, who was selling us nutritional supplements to help cure the cancer, and he recommended a doctor who had his own cancer clinic.

I talked with the doc, and found out that he was licensed by state like everyone else, and that did almost 300 brain surgeries last year with no complaints, and also worked with the guy at the Health Food Store on the nutritional treatments.

Plus, he could do the surgery cheaper than the Mayo Clinic.

So we went with him - and I 'gotta say, the money we saved was really a help when he time came to pay for the funeral.

So if you decide to go with the less expensive inspector your Agent recommended, I'll understand..."

A bit over the top, but it gave me this as an idea "Remember the money you save by hiring the cheapest inspector will really help when it comes to repair the things he missed." Maybe I'll put something like that on the back of my biz cards.

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Seems to be more prevalent in the past year what with the economy the way it is.

I've had several cancellations this year from folks that have found inspectors to do multi-building historic properties for 1/5 to 1/6 of our fees.

There's always someone cheaper and there's always someone who wants cheaper.

and I've been telling them they deserve each other.
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Here's one that's worked for me in the past.

Prospective Client:

"We found someone that will do the inspection for $50 less than your quote. We'd like you to do the inspection if you can meet or beat his price."

Me:

"We are quite busy and don't need to lower our prices to get work. Good luck with the purchase of your new home."

Got the job after all. [:)]

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I had two calls this afternoon from potential clients. The first was from a young woman who was the seller of a house I checked out a few months ago. We took care of the details, and as an oh-by-the-way denouement, she asked what I charged, I told her, and the deal was sealed.

The second call was from another woman who's buying a duplex. My first question is always whether someone referred me, and I was told I "was on a list the realtor gave her." The only question this woman asked was, "How much?" I told her, and there was that pregnant pause that told me she'd already spoken to someone else who was less expensive, and that I would never hear from her again.

I answer my own phone, and never have time to delve into a sales pitch. Nevermind that said sales-pitch seldom wins anyone over 'cause that's not something I'm good at.

I DO have people who make a conscious effort to locate someone worthwhile because they've been burned in the past by an incompetent. I think people are beginning to understand that what we do is important, and simply having a state license in your pocket doesn't mean a thing.

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I lost an inspection last year because I was more expensive than another inspector.

I could understand it if that was the whole story. Now the rest..

I inspected the condo that the potential client was selling. He told me that he was impressed at the difference between what I did for the people that were buying his place and what was done for him when he bought it. I found problems that were never told to him and he had to make some repairs as part of the transaction.

He booked me for an inspection of the house he was buying and then cancelled it a couple of days later because he found someone for less.

I guess his real estate agent told him what was best.

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I lost an inspection last year because I was more expensive than another inspector.

I could understand it if that was the whole story. Now the rest..

I inspected the condo that the potential client was selling. He told me that he was impressed at the difference between what I did for the people that were buying his place and what was done for him when he bought it. I found problems that were never told to him and he had to make some repairs as part of the transaction.

He booked me for an inspection of the house he was buying and then cancelled it a couple of days later because he found someone for less.

I guess his real estate agent told him what was best.

I had a similar situation with a better outcome in that I got the job.

Also, it has taken a while but, I'm starting to get repeat customers!!

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II answer my own phone, and never have time to delve into a sales pitch. Nevermind that said sales-pitch seldom wins anyone over 'cause that's not something I'm good at.

I answer my own phone and usually have at least a few minutes for a sales pitch. I never answer the "How much?" question immediately with the price. That's the last thing we talk about.
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I never answer the "How much?" question immediately with the price. That's the last thing we talk about.

That's where I'm at. I try to engage them as politely as I can in a brief discussion of what they want. If they want to talk about the house, I probably got them. If they insist on getting to numbers first, I know I don't.

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Pardon the Mike O'esque length of this post. The first part is an excerpt from a report I wrote a few weeks ago. The second part in italics is an excerpt from the selling agent's inspector. The selling agent's inspectors are engineers and in NY engineers are allowed to inspect homes without a license- when I say engineer, I mean any kind of engineer. My fee was twice what they charged.

.....The house is visibly out of level and out of plumb. The laundry area roof drops around three inches over four feet, and a couple inches across the entry door alone. Most old houses suffer from settlement, but this house has moved significantly; I believe the movement is ongoing and will continue unless foundation and framing repairs are performed.

The selling agent claimed the house was built in 1900- I believe the original front portion of the house was probably 80 years old in 1900. The framing and foundation methods point to a build date in the early 19th century. The central portion uses construction methods popular in the late 19th century through the early 20th century. The rear of the house is a recent addition- its level and plumb framing provide a striking contrast and point of reference to the older, crooked portions of the house.

The points listed below are either causal or symptomatic of the structural issues, but each requires correction. Effecting repairs that will stop the movement of the structure will be very expensive- likely in the tens of thousands of dollars. Repairing the structure to plumb and level would be prohibitively expensive.

B) The plank on beam construction of the original portion of the home is failing and remains marginally viable only through the use of temporary support posts installed at individual stress points. Some of the beams are quite damaged from powder post beetle activity- either current or past, some of the tenoned joints have failed at the mudsills and most of the repairs to mitigate the issues are sub-standard. The repairs need repairs. The two-piece jack posts in the basement installed in what looks like random locations aren't rated for permanent installation. These posts are designed and rated to be temporary supports while repairs are performed. Each column in this portion of the home isn't attached as is required, to either the floor or to the beam or joist they support. None of the columns is on a footing.

It's a hodge podge assembly of repairs responding to incidents of failure. The basement was so full of "stuff" that I couldn't get a clear picture of how to proceed to fix the issues. I know this: Some, maybe most of the floor framing is failed or failing.

It'll be "new car" expensive just to stop the problem from getting worse.

The central portion of the house is balloon framed with conventional floor joists that run from foundation to beam. This section of the house has the most significant and most difficult to fix issues. The foundation below this portion has moved a lot and has been repaired many times. It's visibly crooked, notably settled and I'd bet dollars to donuts that the footing is only a foot or two deep and that seasonal frost issues are causing the failures.

This portion of the home has a perceptible hump in the center and the beam below is also high in the center. I can't tell if someone was too enthusiastic jacking and supporting a sagged beam or if the foundation supported ends of the beam are down due to foundation movement. Either way, I donâ€â„¢t believe that things are finished moving- or that they will be until repairs are performed.

The second storey floor framing in this section is visibly sagging, especially over the stairs where I'm positive someone removed a column or wall, and over the kitchen to family room juncture where a wall was removed and a beam installed.

The house is aesthetically pleasing at first glance but it has real and significant issues that will be expensive to repair properly. It's been patched and band-aided for as long as possible- maybe longer; now it's time for someone hemorrhage cash and labor to remove 100 years of jack leg repairs and to effect a proper stabilization of the structure.

Please feel free to call or email with questions- Chad

There are definite signs of sag and settlement in this house. This is common for a house of this age. Resulting conditions can include floor slopes, out of square door frames, roof sag, etc. At times, it becomes necessary to install supplemental bracing or support as these conditions progress over time. In fact, some supplemental supports have already been added to the basement and crawl space areas.

Some of the supplemental columns in the basement are wood. Where the wood posts are in contact with concrete floors, this is an area prone to damage by moisture. You should periodically check these columns and replace when necessary. You should also try to protect these columns from wet conditions. We did not see any that are in need of replacement at this time.

There is a portion of the crawl space where the dirt floor is in direct contact or very close to the wood framing above. We would caution a buyer that in areas such as this there is a higher likelihood of rot, insect damage or related deterioration occurring. We recommend that the grade in this area be raked back to provide additional clearance between the dirt floor of the crawl space and the wood framing above. The soil in this area appeared to be loose, which should make this a relatively simple job.

In the basement and crawl space areas we noted some wood members that have suffered damage from powder post beetles. This damage does not appear to be widespread. Also, where viewed, the damage did not extend very deep into the wood members. Powder post beetle damage is very common for buildings of this age. We did not see obvious signs of current powder post beetle activity (fresh powder streaming from holes).

However, we would advise a buyer that if they want a conclusive evaluation, they should seek an inspection by a qualified pest control specialist.

Our view of the basement area was somewhat restricted by the number of stored items present. In our opinion, removing most of the stored items and general cleanup in the basement would greatly help improve the appearance of the basement. Similarly in the crawl space, some minor regrading to the dirt floor, cleaning up of the stored materials, removal of the abandoned piping, etc. and possibly removing some of the loose soil would be helpful in improving the appearance of the crawl space area.

There is some sag in the first floor ceiling near the stairway to the second floor. This appears to be centered at the unsupported corner of the stairwell opening through the second floor. In older homes such as this, sag in this area is not unusual. We would advise a buyer that since we were unable to view the framing in the attic crawl space above this area we could not tell if this area was previously supported. We would recommend to a buyer that as an improvement they should install access to the attic crawl space areas and, when access is installed, the framing in this area should be checked to determine if additional support is necessary. As the sellers, should you provide access to

the attic crawl space areas, we could return to view the framing in this area.

Other than the patching of the stone foundations and replacing the three supports discussed in the first two bullet points above, we did not see any significant areas of the structure where corrective actions are necessary at this time. However, we would advise a buyer that they should

expect that over time, periodic maintenance and repairs to this structure will be necessary. This is common and should be expected for homes of this age and style.

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My favorite part = " In our opinion, removing most of the stored items and general cleanup in the basement would greatly help improve the appearance of the basement. "

No shit Sherlock, you mean if you clean up an area thats cluttered, it will improve the appearance? Who'd thunk it!

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I say the engineer has come up short in this case. He's been trumped by the home inspector.

'This is common and should be expected for homes of this age and style'. Phooey...It's not a style, just lousy workmanship. It existed back then too. Engineer needs his eyes opened, his brain enlightened.

Marc

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When I was banging nails for a living my coworkers and I referred to engineers as "educated idiots".

If there are in fact portions of that building approaching 200 years old then it has more than earned the right to exhibit a few sags and wrinkles. Given that there are multiple systems requiring repairs that are 'tens of thousands', 'prohibitively expensive', and 'new car expensive' I gotta ask, was there anything worth salvage before the dozers come in?

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