Looking for some advice.

I received a phone call today from a buyer that I performed an inspection for last Monday, He asked me if I would come out and re-inspect after repairs had been made to several roof trusses that had been damaged during construction (broken webs and damaged gusset plates). The question is has anyone ever had to deal with this, I stated on the phone that I was not a Structural engineer and that the person that designed the repair would be my choice to inspect the work. Is this a realistic expectation, will an engineer come out and inspect after repairs are made. Has anyone ever inspected a repair and reported that the repairs made are in accordance to the designs provided by the engineer. I don’t feel like I want to be the one that take all the liability for this repair, but I would like to provide the best customer service that I can. Just not sure how to handle this and I’m looking for some advice. Thanks.

The engineer who disigned those repairs needs to issue a letteer stating that they were repaired in accordance with the design plans. End of story.

You are not the engineer. If you go out there, you had better be ready to own that home. If your client does not like what he sees in those repairs, then let him hire an independent structural engineer to inspect them.

I concur. :cool:

Thank you, just needed someone to tell me what I already know. I want to do the right thing for both my customers and myself. Not having dealt with this before I wasn’t sure of the right way to deal with it.

Good call You reported the defect.
I would not coment on the repair .
Roy Cooke

I suppose I’m influenced by having worked for a truss company so know how repairs get specified. I’m willing to examine a repair but I report it like I would report most everything. Lots of pictures and careful wording in terms of what I see.

The point is I’m not offering an opinion on whether the repair work is adequate. Nor should any home inspector. I’m just judging if from a visual examination I can document whether the repairs were done in accordance with the drawings and specs from the engineer.

For example the engineeer might have specified a certain grade of lumber (actually common). If the grade stamp is visible I can take a picture and document that the grade stamp agreed with what was required. Usually on a truss repair a nailing or bolting pattern will be specified. I believe I can document that the pattern was done IAW what was required. (or not or say it was not determinable).

Key point , at no time do I state an opinion on whether the repair is correct in terms of design or execution. I report on whether it conforms to the requirements and I can document that it conforms to what was specifed.

Neither I nor my attorney believe I incur any liabilty for the design as I didnn’t create it.

Nor for the execution of the repair as I didn’t do that either.

All I did was document what was done without guessing or any interpretation at all. So the liabilty remains on those who did the work and those who designed the work.

Now if I did something stupid like inspect a truss repair that called for 10’ of #1 SYP and the carpenter used 8’ of #1 spuce and I said it was OK. Now I own the deal.

But if I say (as I should) the spec called for #1 SYP but you used spuce so I am writing down that what you did does not agree with what was specified. (Note I didn’t say it wouldn’t work. That’s not my pay grade).

It is amazing that SEs and GCs and the (hopefully!) licnesed subs will never back uo their work, in writing and under their liabilty.

Yet, the clients expect an HI to report (under their liabilty!!!) that the repair is OK.

It is all about the Freakin’ liabilty! that is the key.

Make the big fee guys earn their fees!

I would do the same.

Exactly. Very, very good.

And that’s where good wordsmithing comes in handy, as Don eloquently noted in his post.

If one is afraid of inspecting repairs, one should never inspect a newly constructed house that has never been lived in since everything in the house at that point was done by licensed and/or qualified professionals and has various warranties and guarantees associated with it. If one inspected that newly constructed house, would one “own it” then? I would submit not.

I disagree. Our job is to find the defects. The professionals job is to repair those defects.

On new homes, we are doing the same as on re-sales, we are listing defects. The repairs are then done by the GC and documented by the GC. In both cases we are listing code violations, whether we want to admit it or not.

If an air conditioner needs service, are you going to go back and say that the AC company fixed it properly. I will not. What if it breaks down two weeks later. Same thing with a roof. A repair is done. How do we know it is done properly? Unless you are an engineer, I would not be going out and telling them that their work is done correctly and accordance to the plans.

I don’t think there is any increased liability in reporting that the repaired component is now repaired.
If the defect had been discovered and the repair made before your initial inspection, you would report the condition… why can’t an inspector make the determination simply that the repair is now made?

Yes. Too many times it is not fixed properly, and sometimes it is not even fixed at all. My Clients need that information, and I’m the only one willing to provide it. Another common problem is that homeowners can do their own repairs, and quite often do, so it’s necessary for someone to go out and check to see if there are receipts, and if there are, to note what repair work was claimed to have been done, and then to check to see if the claim that work was done is true. Once again, I’m the only one my Clients can rely on for that information. Why would I want to fail them now after having spent so much time and effort establishing that all-important Client relationship at the original inspection? Clients rule! If it’s legal and ethical, I’m going to try my darndest to meet the needs of my Clients.

Then they call the people who made the repair, presuming, of course, that there are receipts for the repairs.

The same way you know that one was built properly in the first place on a newly constructed home that has never been lived in: by looking at it? This is, after all, a visual observation industry.

Very true, and something that I’ve pointed out often on this board. For example, let’s say that the seller had a pre-listing inspection and then, four weeks later, we do a buyer’s inspection. Are we not inspecting repairs that were done, or claimed to have been done, and the adequacy of those repairs, within the limitations of a home inspection, Standards of Practice, etc.? I would submit that yes, we are.

Charge for re-inspections! It’s free money. After all, you’ve already got a Client who adores you. Why abandon that Client now? The more you can HELP that Client, the more likely that Client is to refer you to his family, friends, and business acquaintances. I charged half the cost of the original inspection, and I had 27% of my Clients request the re-inspections. That means that 27% of what would have been a $299 inspection turned into a $449 inspection. That’s $4,050 annually. Pays for a lot of gas!

If you’re carrying, dare I say, E&O insurance I suggest that make sure that the re-inspection is covered. Most will not. I HIGHLY recommend that your attorney draft up some language to include in your PIA that explains the scope of the re-inspection, what you’re doing and more importantly, what you’re **NOT **doing. There was an inspector who posted the section of his PIA as it pertains to the re-inspection on the message board. It was very well written. Too bad I don’t recall who it was.

Hey, Ben.

I presume that FREA does not cover a re-inspection. Would they cover an inspection of repairs in an ordinary inspection that were done by the seller a day prior to the inspection? Why or why not? Would it not be the same? The seller would disclose the repairs and present receipts to my Client, just like they would do at a re-inspection.

The engineer who disigned those repairs needs to issue a letteer stating that they were repaired in accordance with the design plans. End of story.

This is exactly the fact of the matter. I have been involved in the new construction process for a very long time and have taught this as protocol to many a superintendent.

A home inspection is not the validation of repairs made my another entity. And remember that you must have a signed PIA in order for your insurance to cover you.

Understand. But along the same lines, it’s not the validation of how something was built to begin with, either, such as a brand new, never-been-lived-in home that we all inspect as a matter of course in our businesses.

Why would it be valid to inspect such a brand new home when we didn’t see it being built, but not valid to inspect a repair that we didn’t see done either? They both are visual inspections, are they not?

Mine also has to be a fee-paid inspection, not just a signed PIA.

You actually raise a good point here. And this is what I can tell you. When you’re doing a home inspection and report that there are problems with certain areas of the home, that is the extent of your job. For example, if you see that the roof is damaged, you report that and suggest that the buyer has a roofer come out and take it from there. After whatever repairs are made, it should be out of your hands.

Let’s say you make the recommendation to have a roofer come out and further examine whatever the issues might be. And you go back and do a re-inspection on the house. It’s a clear sunny day and there’s no way for you to tell that the roof still has a leak after repair. You put your stamp of approval on it, and the next rainy day the homeowner is taking a shower in his/her living room. You’re opening up yourself to liability there. Which is why the insurance company does not want you doing this work.

Like I said, you raise a good point and I want to look into this further. Did my example make sense??? There are different ways to look at this situation.

And I think that’s why the home inspection industry doesn’t exactly have a glowing reputation. We fail our Clients when we dont’ take care of all their home inspection needs.

If I could be assured that all repairs are always done by qualified and/or licensed professionals who do a good job, I would agree with you. However, the mere fact that we inspect brand new, never-been-lived-in homes surely indicates that qualified and/or licensed professionals don’t always do what they are supposed to do. Same thing with a re-inspection.

I can’t agree with that. First and foremost, let’s say it’s a clear sunny day when we do the original inspection. Couldn’t tell that there was a leak at that time yet we put in our report the various disclaiming language about not being able to determine whether the roof leaks in dry weather and then note that we didn’t see any problems. Why not the same for a re-inspection on the roof? Same disclaiming language for the clear, sunny day and the statement that we didn’t see any problems. Nothing I do can take liability away from the person who actually made the repairs if s/he is a licensed professional and provides receipts.

Second, I never put my stamp of approval on anything, and I don’t know any other home inspector who does, either. Perhaps you simply chose poor words there.

Third, if I put my stamp of approval on the roof in the original inspection, and the roof then leaked, would my E&O insurance cover me? I think it would, or should, at least. Then why would it not cover me for the exact same thing except on a re-inspection?

Let’s look at those repairs another way. I did the original inspection and recommended roof repairs. The seller and buyer couldn’t come to an agreement about paying for the repairs so the buyer pulled out. The seller then had the repairs done four days after the inspection. Then the seller gets another purchase offer, gives a copy of my original report to the new buyer through disclosure (Leko), and the new buyer proceeds to hire me for his home inspection six days after the original inspection since he’s well aware of the fact that I’m already familiar with the property and can inspect the seller’s repairs. Am I covered for E&O for that second inspection on the same property but with repairs having been done? Seems like I am. So what’s the difference between inspecting a re-inspection for one Client and inspecting the exact same thing except for a new Client?

I actually think your insurance company does home inspectors and their Clients a disservice and actually opens your company to more lawsuits by forbidding your Clients from helping those buyers.