Unable to finish an inspection

During my inspection, a deceased body was found in the basement and I was unable to finish the inspection. I was about 3/4 of the way done and had planned to go back to complete the inspection later as the client indicated they were still interested in purchasing the house. A day later they decided to back out of the offer.
The client had pre-paid for this inspection yet I never provided them with a written report. I was there 2.5 hours inspecting and an additional 1.5 hours filling out police reports.
What is the ethical way to proceed? Do I provide an incomplete report? They have not asked for a refund but have indicated they would use me for the next home. Should I charge them and if so, how much?

Tony, you could charge them 3/4 of the original fee and give them a slightly reduced rate on the next inspection. I would send the report 3/4 completed and make it very clear what parts of the inspection were not finished and why.

Just my opinion. YMMV


No refund. A discount on the second one if you want.

A body. Damn.

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Sorry to hear that.
Deliver a report of what was inspected.
Full fee.

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Write the report up to the point where it ended and include why the inspection stopped. No refund. It ended due to no fault of your own.


It’s not a situation that I or many others have experienced. My condolences for the ordeal.

Since the real estate contract has been terminated, there is little point in crafting a report and from a liability standpoint, I’m never supportive of publishing a report for an inspection that could not be completed.

My inclination would be to document to the client that the inspection had to be terminated at approximately the 3/4 mark and could not be completed and why. Since the inspection was terminated and could not be completed and the RE transaction has subsequently been canceled for non-inspection related reasons, there will be no report. If you’re not sure, contact the state licensing agency and talk through with them as it’s certainly an unusual circumstance.

If the would-be buyer wants to be recompensated, the seller and listing agent should take care of it as the property certainly was not in condition to be inspected.

I would publish a “partial” inspection report with the notation in the summary & report that “this was a partial inspection and only the items listed in this report were inspected”.

I would refund a portion of the fee and offer my standard $25.00 off for repeat clients on the next inspection.

I posted that for three reasons:

1 - It can help with your report writing experience
2 - The report makes it a ligitamate inspection to add to your post count if you’re going for your CMI designation.
3 - You can show your report writing skills and it gives the client an idea what they can expect on the next inspection.


Sorry that you had to go through that. It had to be traumatic for everyone there. More than likely, it would probably make me drink my supper, and I don’t even drink.

If it was me, I would probably credit the first inspection amount to the next inspection. For the second fee, I would just request that they donate it to a charity.

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I did an inspection on a 4plex a few months back, chatted with a guy living in one unit, seemed like a cool dude, real chill. The next day I get a call from my client saying that that guy shot himself in the head inside the unit. Blood and brains all over the room. Crazy.

No refund, yet discounted second inspection. I’m seeing some publicity for your inspection business. Did the news or paper interview you on your discovery?

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I would write the report as normal. Those areas that could not be inspected, large or small, wind up disclaimed. The circumstances are certainly unique, but not-inspected is not-inspected, and should be written as such.

If it were me, I would do the next inspection at a discount, ask them afterward for a review that you could post on your website.

This is a nasty situation, but there are ways to turn it around. Be good to your client. Get a good review. Move on. Not likely you’ll “get an opportunity” like this again.

Out of curiosity, do you know what happened to the poor soul found down there?

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I would give them thier money back, and get rid of the report. They will greatly appreciate it, the realtor will see that you put people before money. The client will use you next time. The realtor will talk about you at the office. Its just good business and chalk it up to shit happens. In 21 years of doing business with this attitude towards my clients, I’ve built a very busy inspection company with zero advertising dollars spent.


If they are going to use you again just consider the next time paid. Just from doing that the realtor will make up for what was lost.

Sometimes doing what you would want done for you is always best.

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I wouldn’t publish the unfinished report. I would just send the clients/agent an email recapping the circumstances/verbal agreements that were made on site.

Regarding the fee, this is a tough one. The onus is probably on the seller/listing agent to compensate you for the time wasted, but good luck with that. I would probably just apply it towards the next inspection if the clients were at least somewhat gracious.

Wow, a dead body. I’ve seen a lot of stuff in/under/around houses, but that takes the cake…

Totally Agree Christopher!

With out your inspection they would of never of found the deceased body. Just like they wouldn’t know the roof was leaking or the foundation. I would say full fee and discount for next time.

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