Client says problem, I say cosmetic; opinions?

I did an inspection on a condo at the end of August; the client got possession 2 weeks ago. Now she’s coming back and saying that I missed a “significant” problem in the kitchen. There is paint degrading on the particle board cabinet undersides beside the sink, and a unknown stain on the side of the cabinet under the sink.

I haven’t responded yet. In my opinion when I look at the pics it’s cosmetic, and that is why I did not include it in my report.


IMO it’s normal wear and tear and is not impacting the function and use of the cabinets. Yes it does not look good. However, you are dealing with a Mars VS Venus situation and my experience is that Venus clients are always concerned about appearance conditions and feel that an existing home (used) should be perfect. I’m certain that she would of canceled the deal over these conditions. Right? I don’t think so.

This is why our reports are getting longer and more detailed as I bet you will included this in the report if you ever see it again. Maybe not as a defect for repair but as an FYI hey Mrs buyer I saw this and here is a photo, discuss with your agent. I have a canned statement that addresses cosmetic issues on counter tops and cabinets as well as one for well used and/or distressed cabinets.


If it is “unknown stain”, etc., how can we tell from a picture from N.W. MI what they are?

You need to work it out with the client.

I agree cosmetic.

General wear/cosmetics.

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Composite Lumber. Which type? Typically/usually, MDF.
Think of a painter on his knees…Lunch time in 5 minutes. Gets a call. Boos calls him over. The painting did not get finished because you can not see it.

Under the cabinet the caulking is not continuous to the wall. Second image. Far right side.
The MDF has mechanical damage from previous screw holes.
Minor stuff.

Defect Questions:
1: Did you run your hand along the surface to feel if the MDL was smooth?
2: Is there a heater of any kind under the counter?


The under sink marks are from hanging a wet dishcloth on a hanger. the under cabinet stains are from a steaming pot or coffee maker.

Maybe she just likes you and wants to see you again. :heart_eyes:

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Shhhh…don’t tell my wife!

If the doors opened and closed, the cabinets were securely affixed to the wall, and the shelves held their customary loads, then the cabinets are functional. Chips, dents, stains, and scratches are wear and tear, period.

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The last thing you want is to have to explain a one-star review on your page for missing something cosmetic. If the material does not need replacement it is clearly cosmetic, and that may be your best response to the customer. Offer to paint it or have it painted and smile.

When I do an inspection I tell the client that all the defects that are found I will report them, I let him know which would be cosmetic defects and which would not, and I also tell him that his real estate agent should negotiate, according to the report that I present you, with the current owners about what they are going to repair and what not, then they will let the client know what they agreed to repair. That way I avoid any responsibility.

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Do you provide the standards of practice (S)P) to your client? I provide a hard copy with every inspection and a link so they can read it before signing as part of the agreement. There it states:

3.10. Doors, Windows & Interior
IV. The inspector is not required to:
A. inspect paint, wallpaper, window treatments or finish treatments.
B. inspect floor coverings or carpeting.
C. inspect central vacuum systems.
D. inspect for safety glazing.
E. inspect security systems or components.
F. evaluate the fastening of islands, countertops, cabinets, sink tops or fixtures.
. . .
If you did your part in providing her opportunity to review the SOP before the inspection and she signed your agreement, you should be good. However, always be polite and kind, even if the other person may seem a little rude and unkind. Perhaps you can recommend someone who will be able to fix the problem for her. I would not offer to pay for it or assist if you have done everything correcly.


Hi Ken , You said you have a canned statement on these issues. Do you put it in every report? Can you send be example of statement as I would like to add it to my reports. I use a similar canned statement for moisture in basement and crawlspace.

That is fine but what do you do when the house is a wreck and you will be there for days writing up cosmetic issues.

When the house is in ruins I would tell the client what state I found the house in at the time of the inspection so that he knows that after the inspection there will continue to be defects that are no longer within your reach.

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Over the last several years, my “overview” section at the beginning of the report keeps getting longer. Usually it’s because I saw a topic here and I’d figure I’d change my report ahead of time to help prevent it happening to me. When I see something that will be obvious to the client that is a cosmetic issue, I usually take a photo and caption it “Cosmetic Issue Only” and it does not go into my summary of defects.

So this is in my Overview:
“Cosmetic issues including but not limited to naturally occurring normal wear and tear, degraded paint, worn wall, ceiling and flooring coverings, discolored siding, discolored/stained roofing materials, window treatments and any readily visible cosmetic issue are not part of a home inspection unless a defect of the home or its components are causing the cosmetic issue. These cosmetic issues are not considered a “Defect”. Cosmetic issues are not included in this report unless they are safety concerns or are affecting the function of the home or its components.”

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opinion note: The home & property shows deferred maintenance throughout.
Possible hidden material latent defects & deficiencies may exist

If that was new construction I would call it out but those kind of minor wear and tear, cosmetic issues are not what a client should be expecting us to point out. What you have there is to be expected. That being said…I realize that most clients have spent a grand total of 20 minutes at a home before making an offer. In my area I do about 4-5 a month that have only seen pictures online. So I may point out cosmetic stuff depending on the age of the home that normally would not be included in a report (my experience guides me on what I report and what I do not…and sometimes an agent will think I’m nit-picky…but then I Do Not Work for Them!

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