Jump to content

Reasons to walk away from an Inspection


Recommended Posts

Although I've yet to see any really "bad" houses yet, I have read about some HI's seeing the condition of some houses and walking away. So I was wondering have any of you done this and why? If you haven't, what would make you do it. To be clear I'm not talking about, not doing a crawlspace till that boar is removed type thing, or the Realtor is a jerk. I'm talking about material condition of the house that just gives you a real bad feeling and you don't want to inspect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't think of anything so bad I've just walked away refused to do it; I want to get paid, so I do the job.

I've told several customers that the thing is a blowout, let's spend 10 minutes walking around taking pictures, then let's get the heck out of there & go have coffee somewhere to talk it over.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I come across a home with a lot going on my report tends to be more generalized. For example, many electrical concerns exist such as ........, have electrician evaluate entire system and correct as required.

I also will plant a little bug in the client's ear - I have no idea what else might be present that we can't see. Often I'll write that the extent of a condition(s) is unknown.

At yesterday's inspection I told the agent that the clients should look for another home (I rarely say that to anyone). But the Mrs was dead set on having the house. I could not get direct access into the crawl but could see enough to tell that the framing was wet and sill plates were black and that mold was present. It was enough to write a strong report and that I did not know how extensive the condition was. Such homes are a nice change of pace and pay just the same.

Beside, if the home is really that bad it's likely that the client will stop the inspection before you finish.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's only happened to me once, when I was hired by an out of town client. I got to the property and found the "house" was run-down shack in the worst part of town. I called the client, told her what was what, and that was the end of the inspection. If she had said to go ahead and she would pay me, I'd have gone ahead (reluctantly).

Brian G.

Shack Inspector [:-paperba

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your health.

In March of 1998 I did a nasty estate sale house that had been lived in by a recluse. The smell was pretty gross. A day or so after that job I discovered that I'd contracted ring worm. Double-gross. Anyway, a couple of years later I got hired to do another estate sale house in south Seattle. I arrived on site to find the selling agent and her clients waiting in the front yard. I said, "Let's go inside and get started," and they declined. The wife said, "It's pretty dirty in there; I'd prefer not to," and the husband said, "Yeah, we plan to take it down to the studs and remodel it and we just want to know if it's going to be viable. We'll wait out here." I just shrugged, did the pre-inspection with them, and then grabbed my tool bag and walked inside.

The first thing that hit me was the smell. Some estate sales can be nasty. Seems old folks have trouble holding their water and those houses have this kind of sweat mixed with urine smell. This one was far worse than that, it was almost stomach turning. I stood there just inside the entrance and surveyed the room. It had all of the typical estate sale stuff - piles of boxes full of crap filling the spaces with pathways between everything, making it that much more difficult for the inspector, and it was dirty, dank, and dark. That wasn't the worst of it though; every horizontal surface - floor, bookshelves, top of the television, windowsills, etc. - was covered with little bundles of wadded up and stained toilet paper. Wanna guess what the stains were?

I turned around, leaned out of the entrance and put my tool bag down outside, so it wouldn't touch the floor of that house, and then went back inside. I walked from the front entrance all the way through to the back entrance. As I went, I looked in every room and found the toilet paper phenomenon in every room. It was actually hard to find a place to put my feet without treading on the shit-stained toilet paper. In the bathroom, the toilet was filled to the brim with crap that was fully hardened; so was the sink, and there was a layer about 4 inches deep in the bathtub. The same thing at the kitchen sink!

I turned, went out the front door, walked up to them and said, "I'm done." They were like, "What, already?" and I said, "I'm sorry, I'm not staying in that place another second; it's just too gross." The listing agent said, "Mike, this house is fantastically priced and you can see why. If they are to move forward with this transaction they really need to be able to know what, beyond the cosmetic stuff, they're getting. What can we do to convince you to do this inspection?"

I couldn't believe my ears. I responded with, "I caught ringworm in a house that wasn't as bad as this one is a couple of years ago. I don't want to experience that again. However, I'll tell you what. I'll do it, but for twice my normal fee for a house this size and you (to the clients) have to supply me with a moon suit with a self-contained breathing apparatus and enough air for 4 hours at your cost. The husband started sputtering about how exorbitant and unreasonable that was and the reel-tour started explaining how the inspection window was too short. I expressed regret that it didn't work out, got in my truck, drove home, and then took a 1-hour shower. Even after that, it was like a half day before the smell finally left my nose.

Yeah, your health and safety is a pretty good reason to refuse.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've had one. Mentally ill occupant who never threw anything away. Junk such as old magazines and newspapers stacked to the ceiling; floors sagging badly. The floor was virtually impassable--unless you didn't mind stepping on animal feces. Well, that's what I wanted to believe they were. Some were dry, some not. It was the middle of summer and no A/C in use. As you can imagine, an unbelievable smell.

The client was an investor whom I had worked for a few times previously. I told him that I couldn't really see anything or get proper access to things. Furthermore, I was not going to work under those conditions. He looked a little sheepish and apologized--I should have known something was up when he said he'd wait outside.

At least I didn't contract any diseases!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I walked, my client walked and the Realtor walked from a job a few years ago. I think I was the first out the door! This was a starter type home 3/2 with a central room/kitchen. It might have been 1000sf. They were nicknamed "Cabbage Patch" homes!

The house had been vacant for a couple of months. It was mid July in Mississippi, typical hot and humid day. I went in the house first, set my tool bag on the counter top. Turned on the HVAC and the dishwasher. I looked down at my khaki pants and my pant legs were covered with grass seeds from the tall grass in the front yard. I walked to the front door and brushed them off and went back to the kitchen. I bent down to look under the sink and my legs were covered with grass seeds again, but this time I noticed they were moving!!

The home was infested with hungry fleas! They had not eaten in about two months!

I grabbed my tool bag opened the dishwasher and cut the air off, I was out the door in seconds! Then to my truck and I started to strip off my pants (glad I had boxers on that day!), my legs were covered. By this time my client and the agent were heading out the door in a panic. I found that DEET will chase the fleas away as we all sprayed each other with Sportsman DEET. I wore one of my Tyvek suits home and I tossed my clothes in the truck bed. I offered a Tyvek suit to my client and the agent as well. Only my client took me up on it and he did the same as me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've walked away from a few, for all kinds of reasons: Just too dirty, mentally-ill occupant(s), domestic discord going on during the inspection, etc.

Mostly, I walked from houses that were tear-downs. By tear-down, I mean a house that could not possibly be fixed or made livable for a reasonable cost. Houses that decent reeltors would never show. I told the customers that these houses were hosed, told them that I'd cheerfully accept half the fee if they'd just let me go home.

Pissed off a few bottom-feeder reeltors, but they can kiss my ass anyhow.

I priced myself out of that market years ago. To keep myself out of such messes in the future, I started doing this: during the pre-inspection phone calls, I asked my would-be customers: "Is the house is move-in condition?" If they said it was not, I declined the job over the phone.

WJ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by SonOfSwamp

Mostly, I walked from houses that were tear-downs. By tear-down, I mean a house that could not possibly be fixed or made livable for a reasonable cost. Houses that decent reeltors would never show. I told the customers that these houses were hosed, told them that I'd cheerfully accept half the fee if they'd just let me go home.

Pissed off a few bottom-feeder reeltors, but they can kiss my ass anyhow.

I priced myself out of that market years ago. To keep myself out of such messes in the future, I started doing this: during the pre-inspection phone calls, I asked my would-be customers: "Is the house is move-in condition?" If they said it was not, I declined the job over the phone.

WJ

Good advice...ask whether the home is in move-in condition when booking the inspection. Typically, I don't ask about condition unless it's vacant or a foreclosure. My radar was not alerted in the case of the home in my earlier post because it was in a very genteel part of town, not a "bottom feeder" market.

Ya never know.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The flea-thing happened to me once, but in a crawlspace, not a house. I opened the hatch, stuck my head in to let my eyes adjust for a second, and like a plume of black smoke, the fleas attacked.

I bolted backwards and started slapping the damn things off, while at the same time, glancing around--like we all would--to see if there were any witnesses wondering why I was fluttering around like a chicken on crack and knocking myself silly.

I called the buyer and told him the seller needed to enlist the services of an exterminator before I'd return. Then, I called the termite inspector so he wouldn't make a wasted trip. He laughed and said the fleas aren't what would have worried him the most. I didn't get it and said so. He told me the fleas weren't there by accident, that they'd been attracted to whatever animal or animals were living in the crawlspace. He laughed again and said it was probably just a family of opossums or skunks.

Blimey.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So far I've haven't walked on one yet. What's different this year though, with these trashed-out vacant foreclosures, is that I've twice I've had the buyer's agent take me aside to say "Please talk them out of buying the house"'; with things as tough as there are for everyone connected with RE, I do have to respect a agent who is still looking out for their buyer interest first - I've seen a few who were pretty clearly mostly worried that the property would fall over prior to closing or something.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have walked on a few for a variety of reasons too lengthy to discuss here due to the fact that I choose NOT to be squeaky clean with excessive amount of PC just to make anyone happy.

Truth is more important than having a Disney dialog. i.e. (omit all the real important details but provide illusion [like a real estate agent]) dialog. Everything is political if you look deep enough to connect the dots. So pretty many subjects are dead in the water from the get go in a PC world that could be printed in Reader Digest. A dumbed down discussion is not worth pursuing in a PC illusion. Gee wiz the truth might offend someone. It especially can offend the guilty. Funny I thought that we inspectors were in the business of telling the truth without coloration, spin, hype or any form of bias.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Al Austin

I have walked on a few for a variety of reasons too lengthy to discuss here due to the fact that I choose NOT to be squeaky clean with excessive amount of PC just to make anyone happy.

Truth is more important than having a Disney dialog. i.e. (omit all the real important details but provide illusion [like a real estate agent]) dialog. Everything is political if you look deep enough to connect the dots. So pretty many subjects are dead in the water from the get go in a PC world that could be printed in Reader Digest. A dumbed down discussion is not worth pursuing in a PC illusion. Gee wiz the truth might offend someone. It especially can offend the guilty. Funny I thought that we inspectors were in the business of telling the truth without coloration, spin, hype or any form of bias.

Ah, a refreshing, early-morning dose of cognitive dissonance.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Al Austin

I have walked on a few for a variety of reasons too lengthy to discuss here due to the fact that I choose NOT to be squeaky clean with excessive amount of PC just to make anyone happy.

Truth is more important than having a Disney dialog. i.e. (omit all the real important details but provide illusion [like a real estate agent]) dialog. Everything is political if you look deep enough to connect the dots. So pretty many subjects are dead in the water from the get go in a PC world that could be printed in Reader Digest. A dumbed down discussion is not worth pursuing in a PC illusion. Gee wiz the truth might offend someone. It especially can offend the guilty. Funny I thought that we inspectors were in the business of telling the truth without coloration, spin, hype or any form of bias.

Hooboy!

I'd suggest taking your medication before you log on in the morning, Al.

OT - OF!!!

M.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I performed an inspection in 2005 on a home in the middle of no where with my client present. This was one of those homes where you look at it, take a deep breath, question where to start, then remember to follow sequence and procedures. The homeowner tried to cover/hide fire damage, serious plumbing, electrical, handyman repairs the whole nine yards. Finally, halfway through the inspection, my client said to me "Lets stop the inspection, I can't take it anymore" We ended the inspection and the client hired me for another home which they purchased.

I usually decline inspections where I get a call from a person who is mad at the contractor or the inspector they hired for the home they currently live in. They are usually thinking of lawsuit and life is too short for me to take on that added stress, especially in a very small community.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by sepefrio

Originally posted by mthomas1

...... But I though we are taking about situations where you hand the client back their check and walk.

That was my original question yes

There is no instance which would require an inspector to hand back the check and walk. This attitude is why home inspection fees are so low compared to the risk involved in what we do. When will HI's learn their value? If you drive to a site and see it is a POS and your client walks because of what you say, you have earned your fee, plain and simple. I have walked away from some inspections but never without being fully paid.

Wake up and smell the money!

P.S. Santa was good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never done it, but I can imagine several kinds of situations in which it would be well worth forgoing $400-500 to avoid excessive liability risk and/or risk of personal injury or death.

I do expect to be paid for my time when an inspection is terminated by mutual agreement with the client, and have never had a problem getting paid for these.

YMMV.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by mthomas1

I've never done it, but I can imagine several kinds of situations in which it would be well worth forgoing $400-500 to avoid excessive liability risk ................

What would some of those situations be?

This job is nothing but excessive liability & risk for small potatoes; why walk away?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...