How would you handle this?

So I woke up this morning to a 3 star review from a client. This is what it says:
I had Pete come out and do my home inpection. While there was very good communication of issues, some were missed out. For example, the report had one window with broken seal, but after i moved in, i can easily spot about 5. Also, the report had no issues with the sprinkler system, but i spotted few of the heads not working later.

A little backstory:
The home was occupied during inspection, so furniture and stored items inhibit the inspection.
The clients were foreign and it was obvious by their demeanor that they had particular expectations. They were at the inspection and left before I was able to review.
The only obvious blown seal was in a master bedroom closet window, which I noted. Several “important” deficiencies where noted in the report.
My comment about the window read “One or more of the windows appear to have a blown seal (foggy or moisture present between glass panes). See Master Bedroom Closet as example.”
I ran the sprinkler system and saw no obvious leaks or inoperable heads.

This is my perspective:
Blown seals are hard to spot depending on atmospheric conditions, how long the seal has been blown, how foggy the window appears.
The home was occupied so it’s not always easy to see or access all the windows.
I pride myself on taking my time and doing a thorough inspection.
I don’t believe I missed 5 blown seals. Not on my worst day. I believe this was an emotional review and the client wanted to emphasize that something was missed.
As far as sprinklers go, I don’t charge extra for them and no condition is guaranteed after the inspection. Could I have missed an inoperable head, yes, but how big of a deal is that really?

My question to the forum is, How would you handle this situation?

I know I will get some snarkyness about this and that. I don’t take offense easily, just keep it to a minimum so I can get some constructive feedback please.

Where is it? It’s not on Yelp and Google has no idea who you are.

First of all, any “snarkyness” you get will be because of your attitude “before the fact”. Your attitude is/will be your downfall.

You know, re-reading your post before hitting the ENTER button with my advice to your problem (pun absolutely intended) I changed my mind, and deleted most of my original post.

My EDITED post is simply… “F-YOU”!

Don’t ask everyone for reviews. I rarely ask. Let your work speak for itself. Reason being, 3 months from now, you may get a call because someone’s water heater may fail. Clearly, it won’t be your fault. But the power a review gives an angry person who lacks perspective is incredible. We don’t need food critics in this business. We work too hard. I would like to get away from the review as a way to express your experience. It is often not a true reflection of what really happened when negative. People should not be given that power to ruin your business. They have that with a review. And people really shouldn’t be basing decisions on them, positive of negative. I am really against them I have to say. Just do a great job and let word of mouth be your reviews.

Uncle Jonas, I don’t even know what you are doing there. Can you just try and give some helpful, constructive feedback one time. Jeezis. Ridiculous!

I’ve heard (although I don’t claim to know) too many 5 star reviews on Yelp can be detrimental because Yelp will start to think something is fishy if every review is perfect.

Are you asking how we would handle this with the client or with the review process?

Also can you clarify your statement regarding “particular expectations”? You seem to have painted a very broad brush of all persons who were not born and raised here?

Thanks for the feedback so far. I’m in the Austin area and we get a lot of clients that are new to our building practices and often have unrealistic expectations of what a home inspection entails and what is the typical condition of a used home. Such as wanting everything to be perfect. By me mentioning they left before I could review, I was not able to help understand what reasonable expectations are. Which is typical with any first time home buyer. Not knocking them at all its just when you review at the end, you often have the opportunity to answer any questions and can explain that certain issues are typical for the age, neighborhood, or particular type of construction. And I am asking how would you handle the review. Would you reach out to the client and try to smooth it over. Would you ask to go see the deficiencies. Would you reply to the review online? Would you offer some kind of discount. Would you just take the hit and chalk it up to a learning experience?

Thanks again guys. I’m just trying to be the best that I can be at this. I’m in no way shape or form someone that believes any experience I have is better than anyone else. I came to this association for support and to share in my experience.

I’ve dealt with difficult clients before and managed it well. This is the first time I’ve had a public display of negativity toward my services and just want to see how others would approach the situation.

Pete, IMO you posted your issue on the wrong forum!
Do you realize anyone can read this?

General Inspection Topics
These general inspection discussions are visible to everyone.

I did realize that anyone can read this. I know your concern that a client or potential client could run across this. I’m fine with that. Like I said. I’m trying to improve myself everyday. We all grow by our mistakes and if someone can’t appreciate that then that’s ok with me. I did nothing negligent. My comment about them being foreign is a fact not a bias. I appreciate all feedback good and bad. If someone thinks that all inspectors should perfect and they don’t make mistakes then they are greatly mistaken. That’s why we carry e&o. I’m not admiting to missing anything. I just believe this client, based on his reviews of other businesses had unrealistic expectations. I don’t ask for reviews, yelp is a great tool for generating new business beyond referrals. I know I have to take the good with the bad. I just want to handle it the right way.

Do you have a disclaimer in your report about window seals? It’s incredibly hard to pick up on failed seals in my area this time of year.generally the indoor and outdoor temperature are both right at 18-20 degrees, so unless a window has been that way for some time through a number of winters and started to rust out the window, they are almost impossible to detect. For that reason it’s mentioned in my limitations. If it is in your limitations as well, maybe you could politely point that out to them and explain why. However if it was 100 outside and the AC was set to 70, they probably should have been picked up. I’m not sure how furniture blocks windows? Anyway, contact them, address their concerns professionally and act like you care and maybe you can get bumped up to a 4 star since they seem to like reviewing so much. And honestly, I know it sucks, but it’s not the end of the world. I think will decker is a pretty knowledgeable inspector and he also has a petty 3 star rating on Google.

Thanks Wayne. I’m going to reach out to him and explain my prospective and offer apologies for anything I may have missed. You are correct furniture typically is not an issue but there have been plenty of Windows blocked by headboards or items stacked in front of Windows. I try to get to them all. That’s not necessarily an excuse in this instance. I did the inspection in early spring. I don’t believe the weather was conducive to any fogging. However now it’s hot outside and ac it’s on full blast. I’ve caught blown seals where it took a keen eye to spot so it’s something I look for. I’m just saying if I missed it, it must have been for a good reason. I honestly don’t believe there were as many as he stated but I could be wrong. I’m going to reach out to him to get some clarification and offer my explanation and apologies and leave it at that. I can live with the review. I will definitely post a public reply so clients can see my side of it.

Answers and comments in blue above. The key is communication!

One common example of this are couches, sitting on expensive wood floors, and placed against windows with closed plantation shutters (or other window treatments) and solar screens on the outside. Perfect conditions for not only not testing a window but also not being able to see its condition. I don’t know any Inspector who is going to drag a couch away from a window on expensive wood flooring? This also is the situation that is documented in the report and other for later use if need be.

Emmanuel. Thanks for the feedback. I know what you’re saying about communication. It is important to set the expectations ahead of time. In this case communication was difficult. The realtor was basically the interpreter and the inspection was set up by her. I really didn’t know what I was getting into until the inspection. I know what you mean about having a typical this or that attitude. As far as what I was trying to get across, most first time home buyers see the long list of deficiencies and freak out. Part of my role is to explain that these type of issues are common in a home of this age and construction. Not an excuse not to report issues. That doesn’t stop me from writing things up but realtors do appreciate the explanation so the client isn’t scared when they will find similar issues in the neighborhood. I agree with everything you said and my commentary needs to reflect. I don’t stop looking for things when I find an issue in one room. My comment allows me to add additional areas with similar defects easily. Like I said. I went through that house pretty extensively and believe that if there were any other Windows with blown seals, they just weren’t apparent during the inspection. Thank you everyone for keeping it constructive.

  • The seal integrity of double-glazed windows and doors is beyond the scope of this inspection.

The OP is licensed in Texas and this is a requirement of the Texas SOP.

Several Comments you may find useful …

The windows appear to be in functional overall condition, with typical wear and deterioration. However, in accordance with industry standards, we do NOT test every window in the building - especially if the property is furnished or occupied, and some windows are obstructed as was the case here. We recommend a buyer do a careful check at their pre-closing walk-thru 24 to 72 hours prior to closing.

One or more windows at various locations (like the master bedroom) have lost their thermal seals. Seal failure allows moisture condensation to develop between the glass panes. Over time this increasingly compromises visibility and appearance thru the window, and will have some effect on the windows insulation ability. Have a competent window contractor replace ANY and ALL windows with failed seals.

Signs of lost seals in thermal pane windows may appear and disappear as the temperature and humidity changes. **ALL **windows with lost seals may not have been evident at the time of the inspection. Thermal windows are ONLY checked for obvious clouding at the time of the inspection. If ANY lost seals were noted, we recommend having all windows checked by a window specialist for other lost seals.

Another Commentary. This is 4-5 years old BUT pertinent …

I did an inspection on a house and got there at about 2:30 PM. It had been cool in the AM then warmed up to about 58-60 degrees. I did my inspection, summarized and was going through the house closing up, turning off lights, etc while the selling agent and buyers were discussing my report. The seller came home at about this time. The temperature had started dropping and was down in the upper 30’s and the furnace was running full-time. As I went through the house I started finding thermal pane windows starting to develop water beads between the panes on about 7 windows that had not been there 3 hours earlier when it was warmer outside.

I went back in the kitchen and told the buyer and agent of the 7 windows I’d found with failed Thermal Panes. The seller blandly looked at me and said: “there’s actually 11 windows that do that, but our agent said since they don’t do it all the time to not say anything - but to wait and see if they do that at the time of the inspection”.

Do you know where that would have left the home inspector if this had showed up after the **BUYER **moved in and the seller was in Oregon. Oh by the way, the listing agent is an old time agent that trains other agents and has been highly active and in a leadership role on several of our local Realtors BOD Committees over the years.

Can you post an online reply to clarify the issues and the standards you work under? I’ve seen that work very effectively at reducing the harm negative reviews can create. It’s a good education moment for the customer, and for those looking at the reviews.