Inspectors and their clients often get pushback from contractors and builders who should know better, especially in new construction. Newer inspectors often experience great pushback, especially when they refer defects for further review by the very people who are responsible for the defect.
One way to counter this is through the use of authoritative source references. I regularly use manufacturer’s installation instructions, international standards like ASTM, Industry associations (e.g., Air Diffusion Council, Brick Industry Association, etc.) and model building codes (I know most are averse to directly mentioning even model codes as a reference) as authoritative sources to back my findings.
Authoritative sources are an excellent tool for squelching those “That’s just your inspector’s opinion.” style comments.
Here is a recent dialog following a pre cover inspection that I performed on a Meritage home recently. My client is an engineer. The attachment is a one page excerpt from the report noting two of several deficiencies involving a ridge vent installation.
A few points about how I deal with inspections:
- I don’t try to make decisions on behalf of my client, but rather try to provide them the information that they need to make their own decisions;
- I only recommend further review if I cannot make an adequate assessment on my own during the course of a visual inspection. I never ask for further review of things that I identify as defects except for scoping purposes;
- I don’t negotiate on behalf of my clients, but provide them the backup as necessary to do their own negotiations to the extent that they choose.
So following delivery of the report, here’s what transpires:
The client forwards the report to the builder and asks him to address issues. The builder passes them onto his contractors. The contractor doesn’t want to make the repair because it’s an expensive mistake so he writes a letter to make it go away instead. This gets passed by the builder back to my client who asks me to review and comment (Notice how the builder takes no responsibility for owning the quality of the product, but simply passes notes back and forth). Here is content of the letter.
My response to the client is
I didn’t push my agenda or assume ownership of a debate, but gave the client information he needed to decide if he wanted to press the issue and the what he needed should he want to press it. The client’s response to the builder is
The client is informed enough to make his own decisions, empowered to conduct his own negotiations. I maintain credibility with the client. I don’t have to debate with the builder or his contractor. If they want to debate the merits, they can do so with the manufacturer.
Effective use of authoritative sources can be a great way to substantiate your findings to your client and enable them to look out for their own interests.