I did a home inspection on a house that had an existing block foundation, and the house was brought there on a trailer and set on the foundation, problem is the house was not set on foundation totally square. It hangs over about 2 inches on one end and flush at the other. My problem is i did not notice or write this in my report, and now the client wants his money back because i did not notice this and they think they got an unsatisfactory inspection. Any help would be greatfully appreciated.
Do not discuss this any further with the client. At this point you do not have to prove who is right or wrong.
Request a written complaint from the client listing all supporting documentation as to the deficiency claimed. Have them provide you with an estimated cost of repair. Advise them that you cannot just give back money without the required documentation. You may also advise them that you will require a total release of future liability and a return of the home inspection report. When you return their money, they have no claim to any future deficiencies which may be found in association with your inspection.
Once you get a written complaint ,compare the facts in their complaint with the standing operating procedure of the state of Tennessee. They need some supporting documentation from a structural engineer of the deficiency, not just their humble opinion.
Once you find out what they are complaining about, give me a call and we will discuss the state SOP and their claims.
I don’t know the circumstances of your report or of the complaint of the client however some things that may come into play:
(4) general limitations
(6) general exclusions (a) home inspectors are not required to report on: 5. Compliance or noncompliance with adopted codes, ordinances, statutes, regulatory requirements or restrictions; 8. Any component or system that was not inspected; (b) home inspectors are not required to: 2. Calculate the strength, adequacy, or efficiency of any system or component; 8. Predict future condition, including but not limited to the failure of components;
The burden of proof is with a client to prove that there is an issue that is significantly deficient in the eyes of the Tennessee home inspection law.
At this point, just gather up all the facts and get your paperwork in order. Only ask questions of your client and do not provide explanations or any information pertinent to the issues at hand. You will provide these explanations in a written format when you respond to their complaint.
I would also recommend that you move this thread out of the public eye and not discuss the specific facts of the case. It’s like playing cards in a mirrored room!
Sounds like the foundation was not built square and when the house was set it showed the deficiencies, this does not mean it’s OK nor does it mean it’s not, all it means is the foundation is out of square.
It should have been noted in your report though and further evaluation recommended.
I’m afraid Peter is probably right. But it sounds a little as if you got set up for this. As I read your post, I wondered how your client found out about the deficiency…if he didn’t know it already. There are people out there who will set you up just to collect from your insurance company. On the other hand, such a foundation that it a little out of square probably isn’t much of a structural issue. BTW…did you happen to see the disclosure statement on this property?
Just from your post, i would say it might be better to have the client sign a release of liability (make sure your attorney has reviewed it - a good release will get you off the hook for any and all future claims). Take it right over to the client, have him sign it and give him his money back (i also write on the back of my checks that endorsement released me (and my company) from all future claims (and for all of you wondering, I have only done this once in six years).
Chalk this one up to experience and move on. If you dont, two things can happen. 1) the client may try to sue you. If you have insurance, they will settle a lot of the time and you will be out your deductable (not to mention they will probably drop you) or 2) you have just softened the blow from an unhappy customer. Whether he knows he is right or wrong, you stepped up to the plate, avoided agony, stress, and maybe a law suit, and probably stopped this guy from talking bad about you - heck, might even give you a referral.
Go over and meet with them. Hear them out and be pleasent with them, don’t be on the defensive. Be reasonable and in most cases they will be also. If you start out in a defensive stance they will respond accordingly. Be attentitive to their concerns and KNOW what you are talking about before you return, read up and learn what the consequences of your miss could be and what the recommendations for correction are or if it would even need any corrections.
Even if they are ok when you leave with the situation offer a refund and THANK THEM for using you.
I’m with William, get a release and move on.
I wouldn’t be too anxious to settle a complaint without cause. If you screwed up, that’s another matter.
Your state license requires insurance so your covered there.
However technically, any settlement you make may need to be reported to your insurance carrier.
The client has an option to file a complaint with the commissioner of licensing and insurance.
The majority of complaints that you will receive can be dismissed when put into perspective. First and foremost, the client frequently overlooks the responsibilities of the home inspector. They just assume that everything is covered.
Have you got some pictures of this overhang?
Thanks for your input. It looks like you have different laws than we do here in Florida. You obvioulsy have a different portocol to follow than we do. Sounds like it could get sticky if he messed up. Pics would be nice.
The only thing that I would add is that, when you get the release signed, do it in front of a notary and get the notary seal on it. Notaries are great disinterested witnesses. It’ll cost you five bucks but will hold up in court if they decide to sue you later.
David, good idea.
I have a Tennessee release of liability that you may want to take a look at. All lawyers do things a little different, however I had some input into this one.