Ever Feel Like You Made $1000

When the complaint you get turns out to be totally without merit and you already budgeted in your mind $1000 (or whatever the average complaint costs) after reading the email…

Got an email titled “Inspector Missed Something” at about 5:30PM tonight. Turns out to be a grade-level deck (so, no access below) with an improperly flashed ledger that has led to rot spreading into the house. As an added bonus the inspection was done in 2016! For those of you with a cold beer close by (Friday night an all) rather than a calculator, that’s 5+ years!! Where do these people come from?? Aside from the obvious limitations, my inspector was great enough to put in my standard comment about grade-level decks and how we can’t access or report on conditions under the surface. Again, where do these people come from??

Whenever I get “the call” (or email) I always think the worst. Once I realize we did nothing wrong and have zero liability I feel like I just made $1000! Considering she ruined a few minutes of my Friday night I think I’m going to return the favor and shoot her a response at about 8PM on Sunday with a (nice) dose of reality.


I realize it’s a long time ago, but verifying there’s no flashing, can usually be done from the topside.

Please explain your technique.


Something is not adding up. What type of foundation?

Depends on the direction of the planks. If perpendicular with the ledger, you can usually see the flashing from above, if there are gaps between the boards.
Obviously if parallel, you cannot see it.

The joists are normally perpendicular to the ledger, after all it’s how they attach to it. How do you then, normally, have the topboards perpendicular to the ledger as well? Yes, blocking could be added but that is definitely NOT the norm.

Also, low (ground) level decks should be freestanding, no reason to attach them to a dwelling and risk all sort of issues :slight_smile:


Yes, you are right… :crazy_face: But occasionally you can have a joist installed on the home that also acts as a ledger. (when the deck touches two sides of the home) But rare

Sometimes something can be said about how the inside looks, from the crawlspace, if there is one.

This is among the reasons I try to write something about how ledger boards are often done wrong, even if the ledger is not in scope.

I like to see the various deck spacers, so there’s a air gap between the ledger and the side of the house.

Short concrete foundation, crawl space. Ledger is probably attached at roughly the same level as the rim joist. This is a very common setup in my area. The damage may now be visible from the crawl space but would have to be pretty severe before it got all the way through to the backside of the ledger. 5 years ago who knows?


One of Dan Bowers “famous” response quotes may be appropriate.

“Sorry about your misfortune, BUT our inspection did not provide a Cradle To Grave Insurance Policy”.

Or similar.


#1 - On those rare times we get a complaint call, (1) my 1st thought is WHAT did the customer NOT read and pay attention to in my report. (2) If whatever they’re complaining about was NOT doing it when I was there my 2nd thought is WHAT are these whiny babies trying to pull off on me and get someone else to pay for on THEIR house. (3) It has never occurred to me that we either missed something OR that we had NOT put a CYA comment in our report.

Many inspectors BABY these whiners thinking its GOOD customer service. I’ve always believed that sets a bad precedence for our industry and leads the whiners to think HE MISSED and the inspector should pay for it rather than SHIT HAPPENS and its my house AND my responsibility to pay for it.

Now I will start off nice and polite and reason with them BUT if they persist, I’ve always been a firm believer in talking to them the way my Drill Instructor at USMC boot camp in Paris Island did to us in 1964.

Typical Responses or Comments to a whiny baby on a Complaint like this might be:

  1. Ms Whiner, I’m very confused because when I look at your report from 5 Yrs ago, we provided you with a 1 Yr warranty with the option to RENEW it, HOWEVER I see you did NOT do so. Do you just have a bad memory lady OR are you trying to pull a fast one. SORRY bambi, better luck on the next guy.

  2. Ms Whiner, I’m very confused because when I look at your report from 5 Yrs ago, I see we told you that the deck was ONGRADE we could not see OR inspect below it AND told you this was conducive to pest activity or damage AND/OR moisture damage AND recommended further evaluation by a contractor AND annual inspections afterwards. WHAT have your contractors told you during these inspections AND if there were problems forming WHY have YOU not taken care of them in YOUR house? Sorry bambi, nice try BUT no brass ring for you.

  3. Ms Whiner, I’m very confused because I see our inspection was 5 yrs ago. Which is like saying I had a physical at my doctors 5 yrs ago and I was OK, but now I’ve developed a heart condition SO my doctor should pay for it. Lady shit happens, and we’re sorry BUT we did NOT agree to adopt and raise you or become your Cradle-to-Grave Insurance Policy. Its your house, take care of it.

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One of my first inspections was a recently remodeled townhouse. This rich lady was buying the townhome for her son and walked with me the whole inspection, watched me flush toilets, ran water in all the sinks, etc. About a year and a half later she called to inform me I screwed up a missed a plumbing leak in the upstairs bathroom. I pulled up the old report and explained how she had been there and saw everything I did and told her I can’t see through drywall to inspect the plumbing hidden in the ceiling, where apparently the leak started, and she just laughed and said, “I know, was just trying to see if I could get something out of you” and hung up.

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Yeah, there are some miserable people in the world and doing inspections you will run into some. It’s just statistics and there’s no way to avoid it.

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:grin: :grin: :grin: :grin: