I had a customer I did and inspection for about 3 weeks ago contact me this evening. She said upon moving into the home her husband went into the crawlspace to further investigate the floor sloping in the living room and found several rotten floor joists. In my inspection report I noted the floor sloping and recommended they have further evaluation by a licensed contractor. I have pictures from the interior of the floor sloping in the report. I went into the crawlspace of the home. The crawl is one of those head first in feet first out very limited in space kinds of crawl. I asked for her to send me pictures and upon receiving the pictures it is very clear that I indeed did miss some of the joist rot. I am at a loss on what to do. I haven’t responded to her since she sent the photos about 15 min. ago. I went through that crawl the same way I go through all my crawls. In my short 3 1/2 years in business this is my first real problem. I try to be as thorough as I can, and pride myself on covering every square inch of a home. Please help!!
I missed the rotten floor joists while inspecting the crawlspace.
IMO, there is no problem. You made a mistake. Make it right. “How” is between you and the client.
Go ahead and contact your insurance company if you feel it may go to litigation.
I’d suggest you make an appointment and go back out and re-inspect the floor structure, and take some pictures of your own. If this crawlspace presents an access challenge for you, bring along another inspector or tech to help in the tight areas.
If you find that you missed something, find out what the client wants you do (if they haven’t already told you). Bring a release and be prepared to pay once they agree on terms (they will likely want to bring in contractors for estimates).
If your insured, you need to contact your E/O provider with full details, or follow whatever steps they state in the policy.
The client hasn’t said anything other than the first question of " why wasn’t this in the initial report" and sending me the photos I requested. Again the floor sloping was in my report and I talked extensively about it when we did the walk-thru. From a legal standpoint, should I not admit to any guilt? I feel as though I have somehow screwed someone over on one of the biggest purchases an average human makes in their life, but also recognize I am a human as well and make mistakes. I am more than happy to refund the inspection fee, but as far as repairs go, am I liable for the bill even if I referenced the floor sloping in my report? Despite me missing the cause i.e. rotten joists. As I mention this crawl is extremely tight, and I feel as though I inspected it to my best ability.
Did you note your limitations in the report?
If someone else got in there to check it (and obviously the homeowner himself did that) then the limited access issue might not be as relevant.
Did you know the floors sloped before entering the crawl? If so, that part of the structure should have gotten as much attention as possible, or the narrative should have contained a warning that inaccessible components or concealed damages may be present causing the floor defects. Have it checked prior to…etc…etc…
Were these rotted joists visible/not blocked/covered by anything at the time of the inspection? Did you have photos of inside the crawlspace?
I did notice the floor sloping before I entered the crawlspace. Anytime I notice floor sloping or any defects I make it a priority to focus on those areas. Although the crawlspace is tight, I am not using that as an excuse for me missing what I did. I made a mistake and I fully admit that. From the photos I was sent, the amount of floor rot isn’t as extreme as my mind made it out to be. But we all know floor rot will need to be addressed no matter what.
Did they follow through with your advice before they proceeded with purchasing the home?
The area in question was not blocked, covered, or hindered in any way. I inspected the areas under the living room ( where the floor sloping was visible) while I was under the crawlspace. But I missed the ends of the joists ( where the rot is located )
I guess my question now is what should my next action be. I responded immediately after the initial text with a request of photos. The client didn’t respond for several hours. I haven’t responded after the last text of pictures. Should I wait until I can talk to my E&O provider to respond?
It’s also possible you have multiple issues down there, and the rotted joists may not be related to the floor sloping.
Since you have insurance, read (or re-read) the policy and see what it expects of you. Don’t rely on advice here that may not be what is pertinent to your situation.
I wouldn’t let the client sit there without saying something, at least let them know you’re reviewing the details. If it was me, I’d go back and check it out in person soon.
Agreed and quickly. Don’t say much. Just let them know you need to evaluate the whole situation and you are taking their concerns seriously.
I’m not saying the OP is or isn’t responsible but I have a question. I read here all the time, “Report what you see. It is not up to us to figure out why. Differ it and move on”. He reported the sloped floor and differed it to be checked out, How is this situation any different? If they would of had it checked the contractor would of found the rot. Again just curious.
I am going to contact them first thing in the morning and ask if I can come re-inspect the floor structure asap. Ill get a feel for how they feel in person, grab a few pictures of my own, and evaluate the situation a little better. From the pictures I received it doesn’t look like an extreme case by any means.
Yes, that’s correct, but not “seeing” (and reporting) the damage or defect is different than prescribing a cure to a reported defect.
There was no additional follow up on any of the things mentioned in the report as far as I’m aware.
I want others to chime in on what I am about to say. It’s just an idea.
“Before I crawl under the house, I want to make it very clear your satisfaction is important to me. For that reason alone, I’m willing to refund the inspection fee in cash in exchange for a signed waiver. Regardless, I stand behind my original recommendation of further evaluation”
In my opinion, if you get off with a simple refund, it’s a win. Chalk it up as a business expense and a great learning experience. Two things are great teachers; pain and losing money.