Could I have handled this better?

So I did a home inspection with the buyer and seller both present about 7 months ago. It was a rent to own deal they had going on between themselves. When we were in the basement the seller said he had foundation issues so he excavated and did his own repairs and backfilling about 2 years ago. The foundation walls looked good no cracks and freshly painted at time of inspection. About two months ago the buyer had asked me to come out and look at this crack in the basement and asked me if it was cosmetic or critical. So I took some measurements and leveling and made notes of it so we could keep an eye on it and see If there will be any more movement. I have not heard back from the homeowners of having any more concerns about the basement wall. Is there any thoughts on this on how I should respond or react or any advice on what I should’ve done at the time of the inspection and if I should have reported the seller saying he did his own repairs, the buyer was right there with us when he mentioned it.

Asking the seller if he used an engineer and could he produce the engineers drawings and stamp and if he did not use the services of an engineer, recommend having one look at the wall and discuss the methods used by the seller to do the repair, is one way to handle it.

But make sure that you report that the repair was done by the seller without any input from a professional engineer and recommend one.

I wouldn’t engage the service of monitoring the cracks… leave that to the expert. If you sign up to monitor and something happens, you are now on the hook because you didn’t catch the issue in time. If you “monitor” and determine the crack stopped getting worse, guess what would happen if it does get worse or some contractor shows up and makes a claim the crack must’ve gotten worse over last two months when it hasn’t. Observe, report, let the expert handle the rest. When you start diagnosing and such, you’re taking on the role of an expert – be prepared to carry the same responsibility & liability as one.

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Ok, So I will keep out of it. Now back to the day of inspection if the seller would have never said anything I would have never had any idea about the previous issues because the walls were painted and in good condition. I should have never even let the seller be there because I feel as if since I did the home inspection that I pretty much guaranteed his work since it was a conversation while I was inspecting.

Forget about the seller… Fresh paint during the inspection = red flag, look closer to see if and what could have gotten covered up… and advise client to discuss with seller as to why, who repaired, and what was repaired, etc… Few months ago, a foreclosure sale… the bank’s agent put a new carpet down on the first floor… red flag… turned out the house was flooded when the house had pipes frozen in the winter… they put the carpet down to cover up the stains. The realtors did not disclose the flood, it was later disclosed by someone else. There were water stains all over above (they replaced stained panels) the dropped ceiling in the basement. I advised the buyer to investigate and that’s how the flood was discovered.

I like when the sellers spend time talking about what all they have done to the house in their time there. It’s intel that you don’t have if they are absent. This is a great heads-up for areas where you should devote some special attention.

If the seller said in my presence that he performed his own amateure foundation repair, I would have included his statement in the report along with any visible deficiencies I observed through my additional level a scrutiny and recommended an engineer specifically evaluate the structure for root cause of the original problem along appropriateness and adequacy of the repair work performed.

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Well I have not heard anything back from them for about two months now, it’s just one of those questionable feelings that I can’t let go of. Thanks guys, I got some good points that I can carry over into other inspections and how to look at things differently now.

I think you did good to go back and document the complaint. Most of the time this works in your favor. Often I find some recommendations I pointed out in the report were not followed. Often you can calm a clients fears by explaining the issue or recommending a repair technique. I say this because to the un- experienced person a simple issue that might just take a turn of a screwdriver can appear to be a bigger issue than it really is. A home inspection is not a warranty but documenting the complaint and the (conversations) the client has and taking photos is a good idea. After you document it; it is ok to let sleeping dogs lie so to speak. Don’t give any more “life” to it than you have to…They had a concern, you respond to it, document it, discuss it with them…what more could you do…just my opinion…

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