Doing Damage During an Inspection: It's your Job

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Absolutely correct. This is a good article for those new to the industry. I had valve at the laundry area of a house blow out on me just a few weeks ago. A slight turn and water started spraying out everywhere! It happens. Another common scenario I might add is “damage” done by probing wood surfaces. Soffits, fascia and siding that have been freshly painted before the sale often hide rotten areas. A few pokes of the screwdriver and the true existing condition is revealed. Although this has gotten me some angry glares and grumbles from the sellers from time to time, but as Nick said, it IS your job.

Ok I’ll say it since no one else is. There’s so many things wrong with the whole article and needs to be rewritten to be accurate.

"If this has ever happened to you and your first instinct is to calculate a discount on your service fees while offering profuse apologies, it’s time you reframed the situation. Your client shouldn’t be upset with you; they should be thanking you!"

Your client? How about the seller/owner lol? A discount to the buyer lol - for what? They don’t own the house, the seller does! Simply put, if I’m a seller and the inspector steps through my roof (that’s a laughable statement as well), the inspector is going to pay for it. If a seller comes back to the home and the garage door won’t open, because the inspector broke it testing the safety reverse, you think they’re just going to “let it slide”, because it failed under testing lol?

So, when the photo-electric eyes on the garage door become stuck in the “on” position and the door or motorized components overheat, become disabled, or simply break, you’ve just identified a major defect and serious safety hazard.

What does this even mean? A major defect and safety hazard lol?

The same logic applies to other components that the homeowner may rarely or never touch, such as the various switches and shutoff valves you inspect. If by merely operating it under normal conditions, the switch or valve or component breaks off, malfunctions, or just falls apart in your hands, you’ve just identified a serious defect and alerted your client to an immediate repair issue. It’s truly impossible to calculate the expense and grief you’ve saved your clients by encountering such a problem before they do.

Again, a switch or valve is a serious defect? lol. Falls apart in your hands? lol, that’s never happened.

It’s not your responsibility to repair things; it’s your responsibility to break them!

Yeah right, tell that to Mr. Seller who owns the place.

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I disagree.

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What valve are you referring to?

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The ONLY valves that should be excersised doing a home inspection are the faucets! Valves that have been stationary for long time (either closed or open) are prone to leak, You can determine stationary valves that already leak (drip) by careful observation.

Leaking Faucet

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I have to agree with Joshua Fredrick “Yeah right, tell that to Mr. Seller who owns the place”. You are a guest in somebody’s home, if you break it or it doesn’t work when they get home they will be pissed - as always imagine it was your home and you came home to a broken garage door, flood in the basement or hole in the roof. Its a visual inspection not a lets see how well this pipe is secured to the ceiling by doing chin-ups kind of inspection.

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You can add this, if you are in Florida:

If this Contract is terminated or the transaction contemplated by this Contract does not close, Buyer shall repair all damage to Property resulting from Buyer’s inspections, return Property to its pre-inspection condition and provide Seller with paid receipts for all work done on Property upon its completion. This provision shall survive termination of this Contract.

Although “you” may not be responsible, your client is.

So, who does the pre-inspection inspection? Or, is the seller’s word good enough?

The condition of the property before the inspector damaged
it.

So who verifies that? This country is rife with insurance fraud. Are you telling me that sellers who get abandoned by buyers due to the Home Inspection won’t try to negate this loss by making fraudulent claims?

I am not telling you anything of the sort.
I stated, that as per the real estate contract, the buyer, your client, is responsible for any damage done by you during the course of the inspection. How that is determined is up to the realtors, buyer, seller and in some instances attorneys.

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Ok, why do you disagree then?

I think the point of the article is to demonstrate that (inevitably) during the course of your inspection, something WILL break, fall apart, jam, etc. I think Nick is further pointing out that these failure issues of the inspected items are not the inspectors fault or his to own. This might be the default reaction of a newbie inspector. Instead Nick points out that the inspector has actually identified a defect, which IS his job. The title of the article is just emphasizing that point. I don’t think it is intended to infer that the inspector intentionally damage someone else’s home. I think the article is attempting to prepare newbie inspectors for what WILL eventually happen. I don’t see a problem with that. Hence, why I agree with the article. Maybe you are reading it differently than I which is fine. We will agree to disagree!

If you test something using normal operations, and it breaks… thank your lucky stars. You discovered an issue. If you don’t discover it, your client will when they move in, and they’ll be calling you.

Who’s responsible for the repairs is still the issue here Nick. There will always be “if, and or buts”…

Not the inspector. I get calls all the time from sellers complaining that an inspector broke something. I always ask “Why would a home inspector intentionally break something?” They answer something like “Well, he didn’t intentionally break it, the oven door fell off when he opened it, we never use that lower oven.” I then reply: “Well then hire that same inspector to inspect the home you are moving to. It might also have an oven door that will fall off when opened.”

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It all comes down to if it broke during a normal procedure. Opening an oven door is a normal procedure. Opening and closing valves are normal procedures (although I do not do that). But stepping on the sheetrock between the rafters is not a normal procedure.

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I disclose in advance that operating things like valves can expose previously unknown vulnerabilities.

When the client is on board with this: I feel it is my role as inspector to uncover those weak valves, rotten rafters and more. It’s my role to break it.

I exercise gate valves specifically because if they don’t get moved for a few years they freeze up, and then cannot perform their function.

I’d rather break a few valves over the years, than have the new owner face the inability to operate a given valve in an emergency, or during routine service.


For occupied units, I hardly ever bother with turning faucets. I simply ask the tenant if there are any leaks, drips, loose outlets, water stains or other issues. 9 out of 10 times they zoom me right to the issues. I can spend my time turning valves they won’t rather than valves they test 10 times per day.

How do you determine proper flow and drainage then? SOP requires both!

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