I understand what you are saying Matthew and agree with you 100%…especially with your two points that luck can be involved at recognizing something out of the ordinary as well as “gut feel” is ingrained experience and knowledge (like the way you put that)… I have always felt and stated at times that getting into the home inspection business is too easy… it is no wonder why more and more states are regulating the profession… but I digress.
Lets say that there are no external indications of structural failure (foundation and/or drywall cracking, doors misaligned, etc) yet would you still do some sort of field testing or simply make a recommendation that same be corrected as an additional means to cover your assest (E&O insurance) and what would the tests consist of?
I personally would attest as to whether there is any indication of structural issues in the surrounding area and note that owner / buyer contact SE based upon my findings… and yes, please pay when inspection is complete.
I am having more of my agents get checks (or cash) collect my fees prior to inspection… lately more and more closings are falling through.
PS. Matthew, how is it that a SE will sign off on a foundation inspection from an home inspector from pictures, diagrams and measurements but would not sound off on this one issue. I do foundation inspections from time to time for an SE firm, I typically will send about 70 pictures, drawings, etc… is it simply the rapport and amount of comfort the SE has with that person?