Seeking Advice from clients demand for reimbursement

Last summer i inspected a property, the fireplace was turned off. after the client moved in the fireplace did not work.
Now after 8 months the the client has sent me a bill for fireplace repairs though i never agreed with him about reimbursing for the repairs.

Please suggest how do i handle this client…any SOP which i can refer to to make him understand…

Amit, most PIAs allow 14 days, or so, to let the inspector know that something is amiss, so he can come over and assess the defect.

You are way past this time period and I’m sure you narrated that the fireplace gas was off, in your report.

Tell him sorry that he didn’t read the PIA that he signed but there is no $ for him from you.


In addition to Larry’s comments you should include your SOP within the report which clearly states you’re not required to flip gas valves or light pilot lights, not implying you cannot exceed these standards, we all exceed our own min SOP but protecting yourself here is smart. With that said… I include a blanket statement anytime i add anything to the report, for example, a Fireplace that reiterates the SOP as well as general limitations. Same goes for dryers, plumbing electrical, etc. Most people don’t read it, but if I get sued…


Morning, Amit.
Hope this post finds you well.

Was the inoperable fireplace in the sellers declaration? Question shows intent to disclose defects.

Reach out to the previous clients.
Express your sympathy and remorse for their financial loss.
Explain, you do not operate appliances such as NG or LQ fireplaces. It goes against your SoP and is in fact listed in Limitations, Exceptions & Exclusions rules…
Exclusions 2.2
The inspector is not required to operate:
A. any system that is shut down.
B. any system that does not function properly.
C. or evaluate low-voltage electrical systems, such as, but not limited to: 1. phone lines; 2. cable lines; 3. satellite dishes; 4. antennae; 5. lights; or 6. remote controls.
D. any system that does not turn on with the use of normal operating controls.
E. any shut-off valves or manual stop valves.
F. any electrical disconnect or over-current protection devices.
G. any alarm systems.
H. moisture meters, gas detectors or similar equipment.

The reason being, if faulty, a system is likely shut down for a reason by the home owner.

Reply, they should bring this up with the vender/venders agent. Explain, was the inoperable fireplace in the sellers declaration?
Express your deepest sympathy and regret for their misfortune but they should bring this up with the vender. It is out of your hands.

When ever a fire place is present, recommend review by a licensed technician to insure safe operations. As well, the chimney inspected and swept prior use.

Robert Young


Start with telling us exactly what you reported about this fireplace, in the actual report.

You’re required, in your report, to disclaim any major component you do not inspect. Did you do this?


You’re likely off the hook from a legal stand point.

The problem is, you have a dissatisfied home owner. I would not immediately push back on them with legal jargon. Their expectations have not been met and that is important for your reputation.

I would either call them or meet with them. Explain to them why the component was not operated. Either SOP or other reasons. THEN, you can say things like:

I understand you are not happy and I want to change this situation. Though I am not responsible for the repairs, I would be happy to make a contribution. Tell them you are going to refund them Half the fee because they are important to you.

I would only do this if I just “clicked” on fireplace inspected with no other narrative in my report.

I’d first ask him how he came to the conclusion it was your fault, then you can step him through the reasons why it isn’t… As opposed to just dumping all of your disclaimer points in a letter and summarily writing it off. That way at least it appears reasonable to anyone who might follow up that you’ve researched the issue and came to another conclusion.


The very last item on my report software is “Fireplaces”. If none are present, simple click. Otherwise, it’s the type, fuel source and condition. If wood burning, insert, stove etc. I’ll inspect the box, damper, flue (as to such that I can see), clean outs if present and always recommend a Level II inspection prior to use. Gas log inserts vented or unventilated, I will inspect the box and vents if present. If the system is operational at the time of inspection, I will turn it on and take pics. If the fuel is off, or there pilot light is not on and/or doesn’t light easily, I usually note it and move on. I also note that all unventilated systems be operated per manufacture’s guidelines.

So in other words, if a fireplace is present, I will address it some way in my report and note if it was not operated (gas), the reason why and further evaluation should be considered.


Thank a lot.
Appreciate your suggestion.

thanks a lot Brandon.

Thanks a lot Robert.

Hello Dominic,

Since the Pilot was not on at the time of inspection , i just mentioned in the report as Fireplace being turned off.
Should i have mentioned anything more than that…?


Yes i do disclaim the major component not being inspected.
In this case the pilot light was off on the Fireplace and i mentioned on the report that Fireplace turned off.
Should i have told him anything else…?



Thanks Brian.
According to the Realtor, he says all the home inspectors turn on the fireplace.
I mentioned to him that if the system is shut down we dont turn it on for number of unknown reasons. I clicked the Fireplace, there was no pilot on which means that the fireplace was turned off.
Did day anything wrong…?

Thanks Joseph…

Thanks Glaze…

That realtor is looking out for his and his clients skin. That is his fiduciary.
Your SoP records otherwise.

Mention, the fact remains the fire place was inoperable and should have been disclosed.
The ominous of disclosure is on the vender, not the home inspector. Inoperable is inoperable.
Even if the inspector concluded the fire place was inoperable, IT WAS NOT DISCLOSED and someone could have suffered the consequences!

Have your client send a notice to the vender without prejudice. Pay for the repairs or a suite may likely follow. Act in good faith.

The purchaser has expert witness. The company that inspected the NG fireplace and repaired the fireplace and invoice.
Again, The ominous is on the vender not the home inspector. What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Thanks a lot Robert.

The realtor is mistaken. She is speaking on her experience and who knows what that is. But you need to state in your reports that you could not operate the fireplace because the pilot was not lit.

Speak only to your client via telephone (no more realtor). Explain to them why you did not light the fireplace. Such as the pilot was not lit, therefore the system was shut-down and this was noted in your report. Explain you do not light pilot lights for safety reasons, for you have no way of knowing why the system was shut-down.

Now you can offer an olive branch if you choose. (I would). Give them a hundred bucks or something, but ask for the repair invoice.