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Another reason we have to be careful . . .


Bain
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23 year old house this morning. Fully finished basement with new carpet on the floor. We haven't had much rain this summer, but there were no real signs of moisture infiltration in the basement. I pulled the carpet up in the corners, and saw that the nails in the tack strips were deteriorated completely away. Not conclusive, but I made a note that it looked like moisture entered the basement periodically.

Later though, I was in the garage and opened the trash bin to toss in a yogurt smoothie bottle. Guess what I found?

A piece of the old carpet, still damp and moldy, along with damp drywall. If the owner had thought to haul the evidence away, I never would have known how bad it was.

I included the photos below in my report.

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Originally posted by Bain

I pulled the carpet up in the corners, and saw that the nails in the tack strips were deteriorated completely away. Not conclusive, but I made a note that it looked like moisture entered the basement periodically.

That's where I'd disagree. It's conclusive. Nailed down tight conclusive.

"The bsmt. carpet tack strips are rotted away. That means water in the bsmt. Ask the seller why the drywall and carpet were recently replaced." Or something like that......

The garbage can find was lucky and good though. Can't argue 'bout that.

I always pull carpet and look at the tack strips. It's the solid indicator. If there's water, they're always blackened and/or rotten.

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Originally posted by kurt

Originally posted by Bain

I pulled the carpet up in the corners, and saw that the nails in the tack strips were deteriorated completely away. Not conclusive, but I made a note that it looked like moisture entered the basement periodically.

That's where I'd disagree. It's conclusive. Nailed down tight conclusive.

"The bsmt. carpet tack strips are rotted away. That means water in the bsmt. Ask the seller why the drywall and carpet were recently replaced." Or something like that......

The garbage can find was lucky and good though. Can't argue 'bout that.

I always pull carpet and look at the tack strips. It's the solid indicator. If there's water, they're always blackened and/or rotten.

You're right, of course.

I'm currently involved in a lawsuit with a seller who thinks my imagination got away from me, and like it or not, it's affected how definitively I make these kinds of calls.

RE the above, being sued engenders an annoying little voice in my brain that says, "But what if the seller claims the water heater failed and the basement flooded five years ago, but has been dry ever since? What if the purchase falls through because of an alleged, unsubstantiated claim and the seller decides to sue you over it?"

I gotta tell you, it sucks. I'm trying to get over it.

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I'm currently involved in a lawsuit with a seller who thinks my imagination got away from me, and like it or not, it's affected how definitively I make these kinds of calls.

Any details...? I'm very curious. I've been threatened many o' times by sellers as to such, but nothing besides threats yet. My attorney tells me since there's no fiduciary relationship between me & the seller, ain't no *standing* in court. 'Course, I guess anyone can try to sue anyone.

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I'm currently involved in a lawsuit with a seller who thinks my imagination got away from me, and like it or not, it's affected how definitively I make these kinds of calls.

Any details...? I'm very curious. I've been threatened many o' times by sellers as to such, but nothing besides threats yet. My attorney tells me since there's no fiduciary relationship between me & the seller, ain't no *standing* in court. 'Course, I guess anyone can try to sue anyone.

I second that. Any info. would be great. I'm sure at least most of us on this board get threatened with lawsuits by sellers/ listing agents.

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It's called "tortious interference". It's when you allegedly mess up someone's business that you had no right sticking your nose into.

I've been sued twice for it. Well, more like threats that went away because of how I phrase stuff.

You don't say "The bsmt. floods", or, "the bsmt. gets major water entrance all the time", or anything like that.

You say "the bsmt. carpet tack strips are black and totally deteriorated. Water does that to tack strips. The bsmt. has had water. Ask the seller about bsmt. water problems", or some such thing.

You've made no unsubstantiated claims. State facts with clarity. That is not an actionable event.

Also, tortious interference doesn't hold up in the inspection biz because you're being paid to provide an opinion on the house and the seller let you in to do it. It's not like you wandered in off the street unannounced.

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Originally posted by Brandon Whitmore

I'm currently involved in a lawsuit with a seller who thinks my imagination got away from me, and like it or not, it's affected how definitively I make these kinds of calls.

Any details...? I'm very curious. I've been threatened many o' times by sellers as to such, but nothing besides threats yet. My attorney tells me since there's no fiduciary relationship between me & the seller, ain't no *standing* in court. 'Course, I guess anyone can try to sue anyone.

I second that. Any info. would be great. I'm sure at least most of us on this board get threatened with lawsuits by sellers/ listing agents.

Well, as brother Kurt pointed out, it's all in the explaining. And it helps to know some of the stuff that lawyers know.

After 20 years and 5,000 HI jobs, I can truthfully say that I never got even the slightest threat of litigation, except for one lawsuit described in a post below.

Better to be the hammer than the nail,

WJ

PS: From my own personal/professional observations, it seems to me that HIs who get in trouble end up in that mess because they just make stuff up, and fail to verify things. If the HI's always right, his risk of getting sued is virtually zero.id="blue">

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Mostly true, but not completely true, Walter. Sometimes folks just get angry and want to transfer blame to another. It's sort of pervasive in our society--people not wanting to accept responsibility for something they did, or for a capricious bad break that's left them feeling raw.

What about people who want a government bail-out because the schmoes signed up for ARM mortgages they couldn't afford? Or the employees of Enron who wailed 'cause they lost their pensions and pleaded for the rest of us to fund their retirements?

I don't think it's appropriate to go into too much detail about my current situation on a public forum. If any of you regulars are interested, however, I'm happy to e-mail you my attorney's motion to dismiss--which was splendid--which explains why we shouldn't be able to get sued by a seller. I'll trust you guys will be discreet and keep the document to yourselves. The judge shot my guy down, because any decision regarding dismissal of a lawsuit is required to be made "in the light most favorable to the plaintiff."

Kentucky is a right-to-sue state, so regardless of how dopey someone is, they can sue you if they have the time, the money and the inclination. Not to say that I've never said or written something I've regretted. But in this particular instance, I've simply been singled out by a whacko nut-job.

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Originally posted by Bain

Mostly true, but not completely true, Walter. Sometimes folks just get angry and want to transfer blame to another. It's sort of pervasive in our society--people not wanting to accept responsibility for something they did, or for a capricious bad break that's left them feeling raw.

What about people who want a government bail-out because the schmoes signed up for ARM mortgages they couldn't afford? Or the employees of Enron who wailed 'cause they lost their pensions and pleaded for the rest of us to fund their retirements?

I don't think it's appropriate to go into too much detail about my current situation on a public forum. If any of you regulars are interested, however, I'm happy to e-mail you my attorney's motion to dismiss--which was splendid--which explains why we shouldn't be able to get sued by a seller. I'll trust you guys will be discreet and keep the document to yourselves. The judge shot my guy down, because any decision regarding dismissal of a lawsuit is required to be made "in the light most favorable to the plaintiff."

Kentucky is a right-to-sue state, so regardless of how dopey someone is, they can sue you if they have the time, the money and the inclination. Not to say that I've never said or written something I've regretted. But in this particular instance, I've simply been singled out by a whacko nut-job.

I feel your pain. Way back in '88, when I was a noob HI, a customer sued me because she found out that her builder had built a brick-veneer faux chimney on her roof, and I didn't tell her about it. I did tell her that I couldn't get in the attic, but that didn't help me. Not right away, anyhow.

Later, at one of the court sessions, the judge looked at the parties and uttered this rhetorical question: "Why do I see five lawyers?"

Well, as my lawyer tried to stuff me down into my chair, I stood up and said, "I can explain that, judge. The two lawyers to my far left were employed by General Motors at $65 per hour, and they'lll never settle." Then I said, "These two in the middle represent the builder, who screwed this chimney up, and his partner. The one next to me is mine, and he wants me to shut up."

Judge says, "They're suing you for $20,000. What would it cost to fix this house?"

I said, "about $1500, judge."

And that's when he picked up the gavel, smacked it on the bench, and said, "Summary judgment for Jowers. You can go home."

That's when I decided to be an expert witness when I grew up. And the EW work is where I learned how HIs usually shoot themselves in the foot.

Oh, for those who recall that I've said that I've never had to pay any damages, this one doesn't count. I won. I paid nothing, except a modest fee for my lawyer.

All that said, it could have been avoided if the customer hadn't been a whiner wack-job. So, I'm with you on that one.

WJid="blue">

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Originally posted by kurt

It's called "tortuous interference". It's when you allegedly mess up someone's business that you had no right sticking your nose into.

I've been sued twice for it. Well, more like threats that went away because of how I phrase stuff.

You don't say "The bsmt. floods", or, "the bsmt. gets major water entrance all the time", or anything like that.

You say "the bsmt. carpet tack strips are black and totally deteriorated. Water does that to tack strips. The bsmt. has had water. Ask the seller about bsmt. water problems", or some such thing.

You've made no unsubstantiated claims. State facts with clarity. That is not an actionable event.

Also, tortuous interference doesn't hold up in the inspection biz because you're being paid to provide an opinion on the house and the seller let you in to do it. It's not like you wandered in off the street unannounced.

Yeah,

Year before last, a big builder threatened me with that if I didn't retract everything I'd written about 7 of their houses in 7 different reports and never inspect another home in any of their developments. It was an interesting situation; a lumber company that sells pre-packaged framing "sets" had its own engineer designing the floor framing for its builder customers. The engineer was specifying sawn lumber rim joists to be matched to custom-manufactured I-joists that were made at 9-1/4 inches versus the normal 9-1/2-inches so that they'd match the nominal height of the sawn rims. The builder was lined up on one side, allied with the lumber company, who was saying he'd been selling those sets for neigh on 20 years without a problem and his engineer who was saying the the sawn rims would be stronger than the engineered rim board and wouldn't shrink any more than the I-joists would; on the other side I was lined up with the APA that said basically, "Not only no but HELL NO, the Wood I-Joist Manufacturer's Association (WIJMA) that was basically saying, "Uh Uh, won't work - it's liable to cause damage, and the I-joist manufacturer's engineers who were saying, "We've been telling that lumber company for years that if any of those joists failed because of that arrangement we'd not be responsible for the damage."

I got a lawyer, he asked me to spell out the issues, I copied the relevant pages from my report and shot them over to him. He copied them virtually word-for-word and told the builder basically, "Go ahead, sue O'Handley, I'm sure that the media will love to hear about how you're suing an inspector for doing what he gets paid to do - give people an honest opinion backed up by facts - and about all of the hundreds, maybe thousands of houses you've built contrary to the guidance of the best engineers in the business.

Never heard from them again. The last time I'd inspected one of their homes, the rims were engineered lumber.

It cost me nearly $500 to get a lawyer to basically put my words into a letter and fire them off to the builder's lawyers to get them to back off.

I should have sued them for the $500 in small claims court but Yung dang near throttled me when I'd suggested it.

It sucks, I know you gotta be pissed, but it comes with the territory.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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