Need your advice!!!

NACHI Friends,

Need your input-A recent client (2 months ago) is trying to "give their house back to original owners based on the fact that they are taking in significant water in the basement. They are not upset with me-I did not find anything that caused alarm in the inspection, the sump pump worked fine, no moisture levels in basement-everything was good. We have had an extreme winter and spring with precipitation-record snowfall and rain-we are in Iowa. My client feels the original home owners did not disclose full extent of water issue which on the disclosure stated that there had been water once upon a time but they put in a sump pump and had no problems since. My clients don’t believe that based on the water they are getting in the basement. They would like me to do another inspection with the current state of the basement and water damage. Is that a good idea? Would one report contradict another? I am confident about my first report. They did ask me to at least just come and look and give advice. I looked but offered no advice. I am trying to take care of my clients but also take care of my business. Should I do another inspection? Would I create greater liability for myself? Thank you in advance for your input!

Seems this is headed for court. I’m sure you’ll get soe opinions soon.

Your questions should be asked of your attorney.

You are in a “catch – 22”! Damned if your do …Damned if you don’t!

When you conducted the first inspection the basement was obviously “dry” and the Sump Pump was FUNCTIONAL in place but not operating. Correct?

Now the basement is full of water and the sump pump is either not operating or… too small and inadequate to meet the needs.

In either case I suggest that you first;

  1. contact an attorney.
  2. Go back to the house and conduct another inspection.
  3. Try to salvage the situation.

Things to look for … is the sump pump running continuously?

Are the discharge lines partially blocked /clogged?

Should the sump pump the “upgraded” to a larger size?

More importantly … where is the water coming from?

  • Was the area flooded and did the water come through the windows or bulkhead?
    {Hope & Pray that it did.}
  • Or did you miss something and it is coming through cracks in the floors or walls that you missed? {Hope & Pray that it did not.}
    I suggest that you “Cover your bases” and go back to this house and see if you missed something.

This would be a good opportunity to* verify that you did not miss anything*.

I suggest that you turn “Lemons into Lemonade” while you STILL have the chance!

Good Luck and… let us know how this comes out.

There have been several instances where the homeowner/seller has purposely stacked personal belongings, boxes, sheet rock, and other items on top of structural cracks and blocked sections/corners of the problematic areas of the basement in order to hide “water entry points”.

If you find that this is the case it will be easy to verify if you have “taken pictures” during your first inspection.

This is one reason why I always take a digital camera and take several photographs of each room that I inspect.

Observed conditions at the time of the inspection.

Franks advise is wise…IMHO.

When looking at a sump pump… remember this.

1- Cannot determine actual performance of pump since conditions are dry.
2- Cannot determine the moisture sealing of basement walls that are below ground.
3- Recommend further evaluation by a qualified Specialist.
4- Since a sump pump is present, then excessive moisture may be present in the
future and conditions that are conducive to moisture may develop if the pump fails
to be adequate in dealing with it (moisture can be conducive to mold, decay and

The house that depends on a sump pump is vulnerable to power outages during
a storm, and the pump will not work if it has no power. Has this happened at this
location by chance?

Thanks for the input. I started my business one year ago and became a NACHI member. Gutters was not blocked, sump pump was routed to the street drains .This is a finished basement tile and carpet floors. I did use a protimeter on the carpet and walls at time of inspection and their was no elevate levels of moister. The water was coming in a window that had filled up half full with water. I have E&O insurance but have never had to use it and hope that I don’t.

This FLOODING was an “Act of God / Act of Nature” that you cannot be held responsible for!

You should be free and clear of ALL legal responsibility!:stuck_out_tongue:

My client would like for me to do another inspection with current conditions.
Should I re-inspect?

Agree with Frank it’s not your responsibility to keep other peoples window wells clean. Did the window wells have drains or are the drains too high are the drains dirty?


You are in a “catch – 22”! Damned if your do …Damned if you don’t!

When you conducted the first inspection the basement was obviously “dry” and the Sump Pump was FUNCTIONAL in place but not operating. Correct?

Now the basement is full of water and the sump pump is either not operating or… too small and inadequate to meet the needs.

In either case I suggest that you first;
1. contact an attorney.

  1. Go back to the house and conduct another inspection STRESSING THE POINT THAT YOU SEE ***FLOODING ! ***

3. Try to salvage the situation


Did the other houses in that neighborhood flood?

If they did then I would NOT go back. Tell them to contact their insurance company.

I want to comment on your new inspection concerns, IMHO this would not be a re-inspect, but would be a new inspection. Home inspections are a snapshot of the condition of the home on the day of the inspection. Your new inspection would not conflict with your old one as it is a different day with different conditions. The different conditions do not disagree or show negligence in you previous inspection. I would do it as a full inspection, not just the damaged area. BTW I agree fully with Frank, you should be fine.

Should I re-inspect and should I contact an attorney to be prepared ?

BTW, due to the act of Gawd that Frank talked about (the 500 yr flood conditions in your area) you clients probably have no leg to stand on.

Thanks for all your help.

None of us are attornys, kinda like chicken soup “it couldn’t hurt”. Most attornys are not well versed in this issues. Make sure you talk to one that is. Maybe Joe Ferry? IMHO, I personally feel the attorny in this case may not be necessary. Your milage may vary.

BTW, if you have’nt been watching it, you Governor just said “These are not 100 yr but 500 yr flood conditions” on the Today show this morning. You have your governor backing up your case. Even if someone tried to hold you responsible for sump pump or other drainage sizing, they should lose with this type of conditions.


What part of the above makes you think this will NOT end up in court?
Speaking to a lawyer may very well be in the best interests of the OP to make sure he doesn’t become a party to any suit.

Also, this “new inspection” that the current owners want will probably become key evidence if this indeed does go to court.

The current owners (who want to “give back” the house) may be way out of line, given the current rainfall conditions, but in order to properly prepare himself for ANY part of possible (and likely) litigation, the OP should contact a lawyer for a consultation (at a minimum). And yes, one who is well versed in RE law is a must.

500 YEAR FLOOD!:shock:

[size=4]Case closed! [/size]

Since they had a “finished basement” with carpet & tile this is now an “insurance claim” and should be handled accordingly.

Nothing in your 2nd inspection that has to be conducted according to the NACHI Standards of Practice can or will cover "Flooding".

Flood Waters came in through a window. Plain & Simple… end of story!

Even if the land sloped down and away from the house {6-inches in the first 10-feet} this could not have been prevented.

Even if the window wells were 12-inches or deeper and drained properly this could not have been prevented.

My only concern is this… is the sump pump working or not? Did the GFCI “trip” and is the pump shut off?

Another thing… If the pump was working on the day of your inspection then this is NOT your concern.

The “Sump Pump” has NOTHING to do with the FLOODING!
I also suggest that you contact Joe Ferry.

I’m not sure what here led you to believe I was saying not to talk to an attorny? I merely stated I’m not positive I personally would. I even qualified it with “it could not hurt and your mileage may vary and none of us are attornys”. I want to make sure that NO ONE especially bgrover, thinks I would talk anyone out of consulting an attorny if they think it may help their position. None of us can make that decision for another, be it yes or no.


Glad you clarified it, Thanks.

Given the current conditions, I also don’t believe that the current owners are going to get anywhere - unless they truly want to “give” the house back rather than “sell” the house back. :wink:

It doesn’t take much these days to file a lawsuit and once that happens no one wins (except the lawyers). :frowning: