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Would You Revise Your Report?


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Did a home with a bunch of settled and cracked concrete flatwork including the driveway.

Said so in the report and said it should be replaced.

RE Agent called and requested I revise the report to include verbiage calling for a concrete contractor to provide an estimate for replacement. They needed more time on their inspection contingency so they could get a $ amount for negotiations.

I get this request from time to time and for some reason it just BUGS me. The agents, in my opinion, are not doing anyting unethical or snakey (yes, that's a made-up word for 'like a snake). But it seems they just can't figure out a way to do their job of negotiating with the oodles of information they already have!

I always comply in the interest of customer service. I'm not asked to lie, stretch the truth or otherwise mis-represent my inspection findings. They just need "different" verbiage to accomodate their transaction.

Would you do it? Does it violate your moral and ethical code to do what an RE Agent asks? Does it just piss you off to comply with an RE Agent just . . . because?

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Depends. I've changed reports to better reflect the original intent of my comments. The time frames we have for cranking out reports doesn't always allow time to get all comments exactly right, unfortuneatly.

I'd never change the specific information of the report, but if someone wanted a comment to include a recommendation for a concrete contractor to reinspect & provide a cost estimate, I don't see the harm. They need a little time, I might help them get some time.

Then again, I wouldn't want to do it; folks nosing into my business really bug me, especially realtors.

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Hi Randy,

If the client really does want the house, despite the report, and the only thing he/she needs is time to get an estimate in order to be absolutely sure, I don't see a problem with it, as long as they aren't asking you to change the conclusions in the report or soften your language.

However, I'd call the client, explain to the client what the realtor has requested and confirm that this actually is not a case of the realtor needing more time to convince the client not to walk away from the house, by bringing in his/her 'favorite contractor' to provide a ridiculously low estimate to assuage the client's fears that the repair will be hugely expensive.

If it was on the level, I'd send any changes as an attachment to an email and would direct them both to delete any previous reports emailed to them or copies that they've made, and I'd keep a copy of that email as a record of having directed them to do so. Then I'd add something like the following to my comment about the flatwork.

This type of repair is a big job, is beyond most do-it-yourselfers' capabilities and is going to be so costly that there's no way I can provide you with even a ballpark estimate. You should consult several reputable concrete contractors to discuss repair options and obtain cost estimates.
ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by kurt

I'd never change the specific information of the report, but if someone wanted a comment to include a recommendation for a concrete contractor to reinspect & provide a cost estimate, I don't see the harm. They need a little time, I might help them get some time.

Yea, that's what I did. I misstated in my original post - I did NOT change the original inspection report but composed a separate addendum on a letter head.

Then again, I wouldn't want to do it; folks nosing into my business really bug me, especially realtors.

Again, YEA there's something that just simply irks me to no end. Maybe I need to see a psycho-therapist!

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I guess it's just a habit, and it does bulk up my reports, but I would never say that anything should be replaced....I always say the client should have the appropriate specialist make an evaluation and provide estimated cost information.

Then it's up to the buyer and seller whether they extend the inspection period to allow for the additional evaluation. I like it to be clear that I am not the "specialist" and cost of repairs does not figure into my work.

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Malban:

You would never say that something should be replaced? Even a leaking water heater, a furnace with a hole in the heat exchanger or a roof that's obviously shot? No, you're not "the specialist", but it doesn't take a specialist to make that call.

I don't know why not estimating the cost of repairs would figure into it. They're two separate things. If you don't supply cost estimates (which I think is a wise choice) you can certainly still say something needs replacement. I think that not doing that is a disservice to your client.

If I were a buyer and got that from my home inspector, I'd be kind of pissed.

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"but I would never say that anything should be replaced...."

Nothing personal, but that way of thinking is part of the reason home inspection services have such a low perceived value.

I met with a sponsor of a bill to significantly reduce the requirements for a HI license. His exact comment to me was: "You guys don't need to know that much. I know what you do, you just refer everything to contractors for further evaluation. You don't have any responsibility".

If I have to recommend "further evaluation" of a slate roof more than once out of every 25 slate roof inspections, then I better go learn more about slate roofs. Odds are, it will be further evaluated by a bucket-o-tar totin', beer for breakfast "specialist", recommended by the Realtor, that will *^%# up the roof beyond recognition.

Sometimes we better know more than the contractors that are being deferred to. Example: I rarely find a heating system that is installed per manufacturers instructions and applicable codes.

We need to know what's right, what's wrong, what's bad and what needs to be replaced. If I don't, I get more knowledge. People need professionals that thoroughly understand all of the components and how they work together.

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Sometimes we better know more than the contractors that are being deferred to. .
Yup, that's an interesting professional paradox for me. On one hand, I disclaim (inspection contract)that I am a generalist and not a specialist yet many times I have to be more educated and knowledgeable than the "contractor".

Back at the start of my inspection career I actually respected the "experienced professionals" who did the work that I was inspecting. I made way too many assumptions back then; heck if Joe HVAC guy just got paid $8,000 to put in this new furnace then it must be done right!

I quickly learned that I had to know more than they did if I was to become reputable and trusted.

Still learning . . .

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Originally posted by malban

I guess it's just a habit, and it does bulk up my reports, but I would never say that anything should be replaced....I always say the client should have the appropriate specialist make an evaluation and provide estimated cost information.

And people pay you for this?

Then it's up to the buyer and seller whether they extend the inspection period to allow for the additional evaluation. I like it to be clear that I am not the "specialist" and cost of repairs does not figure into my work.

I can't imagine providing such a worthless service.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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If I feel something needs to be replaced, I tell them it needs to be replaced.

If I feel something needs to be repaired, I tell them that too.

If it is a maintenance item, well I think you get the drift.

What is boring in my reports; I tell them which professional to call as well.

My original report would have stated: Cracks are present in the concrete driveway. I believe the cracks are serious enough that the concrete needs to be replaced by a professional concrete contractor. (I would only say that if I really felt that way.)

I used to put estimates in my report, but I always stated that the estimates came from (hell now I can't remember the name of the book) something, something estimating guide. I stopped doing this because I didn't want to look all those prices up anymore. It was a lot of work. The few agents and attorneys that recommended me did like that service. I never had any real complaints about the numbers.

CMB

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How about, The driveway is cracked? "Cracks are present in the concrete driveway" sounds funny, like they might get up and leave or something.

I think numbers are a good thing, and it isn't hard to figure out. Customers really love it. I've never had anyone get upset about wrong numbers. One can write a page w/a dozen photos, or one can say "It's broken, and it will cost $25,000-30,000 to fix". Numbers can say a lot more than words sometimes.

Beware, there has to be a quasi-specification associated w/the number, otherwise everyone will be talking apples to oranges.

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Originally posted by Jim Baird

Randy,

If you said it should be replaced then 'nuff said, right?

Precisely. The problem is the agent couldn't figure out how to extend the inspection contingency without yet more verbiage from me stating that a professional needs to still review it and provide replacement cost.

I chose to comply in the interest of customer service and helpfulness. OK for me to swallow my ego for a bit. I didn't cross any ethical boundaries. Better to lose this battle than the war!

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