When to say enough is enough?

OK, when your doing an inspection on a home that should be torn down, where do you or do you draw the line on what you wright-up? If I were to wright up every single defect on some of these older non maintained homes I would be there for 10 hours and still not see everything.

I discuss this with the client prior or in the driveway. If its an obvious tear down fixer, you can narrow down their major concerns and go from there.

I had a client snooker me into booking an inspection at regular price for one of those dynamite inspections a while ago. I flat out told them that it was going to cost them significantly more money than what was quoted since they failed to be honest about their description of the property. They were pissed, but they eventually paid the extra and the inspection and report only took a little bit longer than usual. Of course most of the report was recommendations to replace the entire system that was being inspected. I have no idea what they were thinking getting an inspection on a property that was in such bad condition.

In a number of instances “our documentation” is the only recourse some of these folks are left with to get out of a contract their “AGENT” got them into. Many I see are “playing” both ends and guess where their loyalty is? $$$

I do what I’m hired to do, report defects and let the chips fall where they may.

I also request the address before quoting. Helps to do a little research before I put my B-in a vise


Good advise, thank you all.

…and thank you, Robert. It’s good to have you on board.

Now, the next time I hear someone say that “You NACHI members don’t know jack”, I’ll refer them to you.:wink:

Most of the homes (that I inspect today) that are in major disrepair (mostly foreclosures) are usually ended (my client’s request) within an hour of me starting the inspection. I then simply finalize the report by noting in the report which areas or components were not inspected due to terminating the inspection. My price structure does not change once I start an inspection and end it early.

I try not to give my clients my opinion as to whether or not they should purchase a home or not. But… I can recall one building where I had to inform my client that a house was not worth purchasing. This particular multi-family had an excessive lean to it from the outside. So I decided to go into the basement first and I couldn’t believe what I saw. The Sellers nailed brand new 1 X’s to every single floor joist and structural beam that was supporting the run-down structure. I pried off one piece and I viewed major termite damage. I simply turned to my client and told him that the Sellers are hiding major structural damage from a Termite infestation. I then told him that if I were purchasing the property, I wouldn’t even continue with the inspection until all the exorbitant structural damage was repaired first.

He agreed and we left with 20 minutes of starting the inspection.

“The property has been neglected, and we may not comment further on the obvious and numerous deficiencies. However, you should obtain estimates from a general contractor, because the cost of renovation could significantly effect your evaluation of the property.”

“Maintenance has been poor throughout the inside of the home. Walls, ceilings, and floor coverings, windows, cabinets, etc. are in general disrepair and we cannot comment on every instance of each defect because they are too numerous. We recommend that you perform your own evaluation of the house interior because the cost of bringing the house up to acceptable standards may be considerable. Note that the process of demolition and renovation may reveal hidden defects that may affect your costs for remodeling.”

“Maintenance has been poor throughout the exterior of the home. Siding, trim, windows, screens, roofs, etc. are in general disrepair and we cannot comment on every instance of each defect because they are too numerous. We recommend that you have the house evaluated by a licensed general contractor and that you perform your own evaluation of the house exterior because the cost of bringing it up to acceptable standards may be considerable. Note that the process of demolition and renovation may reveal hidden defects that may affect your costs for remodeling.”

Why are they upset?
You should be addressing your clients concerns in every case, regardless.

I have stopped inspections in the middle when the client finally shows up because there were so many major issues. I asked the client if they are aware of the issues and if the issues are a major concern to them at this point. When they say “holy ship”, then we discuss what they need as an inspection report and whether we should even complete the inspection or not.

I then renegotiate the inspection contract specifically stating that the client elects to circumvent a complete inspection once major deficiencies have been discovered.

Write up a report on what we’ve done so far and call it a day. I also provide them a discount on their next inspection proportional to the amount of resources I saved by not having to do a needless inspection report on that day.

I try not to make any comments in the report about how much dynamite is needed to mediate the situation! :slight_smile:
I pay particular attention and give great detail concerning the situation that most concerns the client and ensure that there is significant information provided in the report to give the client the necessary documentation that a significant deficiency does exist, so they can terminate their purchase agreement without question.

A thought. If I start and it gets REAL hairy, I’m not worried about EVERY defect. At a certain point in the inspection, the comments go from every single visible defect to something like:

“A representative sampling of the electrical service, fixtures, outlets and switches indicated that part of the electrical system was operational”.

“However, there were some conditions that indicate that someone has taken a very liberal approach to proper wiring practices. A few examples of this would be: (a) double-tapped circuits; (b) fuses over-sized for the wires they control; © neutrals and ground wires on the same buss bar at 2 of the sub-panels; (d) unprotected openings at the sub-panel in the garage; (e) multiple outlets and light fixtures not working in the garage, 2nd floor and basement; (f) open junction boxes with exposed electrical wires at the basement, 2nd floor, attic and garage; (f) melting wiring at the sub-panel in the basement; etc”.

“Although often seen in older houses, wiring connections installed in such an improper manner present a greater potential for shocks, safety concerns or fire hazards. The owner may be familiar with particular precautions that he/she has grown accustomed to, but as a buyer you or your family may not be”.

“We recommend that a licensed & competent electrician read the report, review the **ENTIRE **electrical system and ALL its conditions, **AND **then repair, replace or rewire any defects OR unreliable conditions as needed in a safe and proper manner to conform with current building codes and safety standards”.

“When doing these repairs, is an ideal time to consider installing carbon monoxide detectors or smoke detectors at any areas without them, as well as installing GFCI outlets at all wet locations like garage, basement, etc. where they don’t currently exist”.

Just last week I inspected a 35 year old home in the south suburbs of Chicago. The buyers agent whom I have had refferals from for may years was also somehow connected to the seller. I started the inspection as I usually do by reviewing the contract and the Standards of Practice. The client signed the contract and did not have any questions, other than asking me to be honest and to the point. Ok I get started with the client following me asking questions as we go along. I find two large holes in the roof, improperly installed counter flashing, rotted trim and fascia that has been caulked and painted, three cracks in the exterior of the foundation, and possible insect damage on an exterior wall around the patio door, the entire wall could be moved back and forth. And this is just the exterior.
Inside from what I found, and this is one of the worst re-hab jobs I have seen in the years I have been inspecting, was a sagging kitchen floor, poorly finished wall where repairs were made, loose toilets, improper sink drain lines etc…
The client terminates the inspection after I found the furnace not working and the water heater incorrectly installed. She takes me out side, visibly upset, and shaking, she says she has to calm down. Feverishly smoking a cigarette she asks me if the house is worth buying, I inform her its not my place to make that decision, but I tell her you’ve seen what I have seen, and that numerous specialists are going to have to be hired for further evaluation, mainly a structural engineer due to the outside load bearing wall being loose where it sits on the concrete slab, and the possible insect damage found inside around the paito door opening.
Now the agent, who calls me the next morning and leaves one of the nastiest voice mails, says she overheard the conversation and tells me how uncomfortable I made her during the inspection. Telling me I had no right to tell the client my opinion about the condition of the house. I am thinking what difference does it make, it will all be in the report anyway.
I called the client and spoke with her about the voice mail left by the agent. She told me that I did my job above and beyond, and that she had already contacted her lawyer to kill the deal, and that she was looking for a new agent. She did mention that the agent had informed her that what ever was found during the inspection that seller would repair himself. I told her that from what I saw he had already covered up, and messed it up, and that if he were to repair these items, who was going to re-inspect. Its was obvious that some of the work done required a permit, but knowing the village where the home is located, the work would have never passed by a village building inspector.
The long and short of it is, sometimes us as inspectors have to step up to the plate and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Don’t worry about losing referrals from agents, there are plenty others out there who will respect your honesty.

I had a 3600+ sf dump the other day… mother picked it out made offer, son came day of inspection and was NOT impressed… the property was old, various ages of add-on, and broken into 3.5 units… (don’t ask)… but after nearly 5 hours… I know… FIVE HOURS on site… and a septic inspection… they were discouraged… you could see the back up lights coming on…

That was saturday… Sunday I emailed them and I simply offered to halt the radon and water tests (they already paid for) and NOT write up a report (I could see HOURS at the pc) and I would discount their next inspection $100. Of course this offer only applies IF I dont have to write the miserable report for the first home…

They were very excited… they had already backed out… (the realtor had told me before hand) and they had a couple of back up choices in mind already… they would call me very soon…

So it worked Out… I get a little more work out of it… I don’t have to write that miserable report… adn we can all forget about that decrepid home! (old photo attached)


How did they back out without a report? Around here if you back out, you have to give the sellers a copy.

Same question as Mark. But also, kudos to you for being helpful and creative at the same time. Kept your client happy and saved yourself a large headache.

In Massachusetts the Sellers **don’t get a single home inspection document **from the Buyers, to prove that they backed out. The Realtors may have to come up with some legal paperwork, but not the potential Buyers. The report is theirs (potential Buyers) and only theirs.

If my client backs out of an offer, he/she simply needs to notify their agent and tell them why they backed out. It’s then a done deal and the deposit is returned upon legitimate reasoning for backing out. The home inspection issues are legitimate enough to back out of an offer.

I have stated this many times over the years. I ask a complete set of questions before I quote any price. The what is the total sq ft question is always my last question.

You should never walk out your door unless you have a complete understanding of the general overall condition of the home you are about to inspect.

The 2 or 3 times I did receive miss guided information resulted in more money and a walkaway. The walkaway was only because I refused to be late for my next inspection because I was lied too, so I just went and had lunch with a friend while I waited until it was time to go to the next job.

If you are a member and would like a list of these proven questions then feel free to send me a PM. They will make you more money per inspection but you have to have a price structure in place that is not based solely on Sq footage.

basically the listing agent was there and heard all there was… he was somehow representing both… plus the septic failed (separate septic inspection) which was enough to back out alone… then the electrical (stab lock) 5 different types of roofing, some 4-5 layers of roofing… heating system not operational… mold… endless… endless :shock:

but will likely be inspecting another home next week for them as they are working on the details of an offer now…two homes down the road… :mrgreen:

The client (mother) in my case was infatuated with the home and did not see the issues… the son upon arrival really started seeing things… so the client when discussing the home could not give many details… and those she did give were positive… :roll:

You could have put the clues together with correct questions.

In Illinois from my experience the report is still written, given to the client, who determines if the property is worth moving forward on, and if not generally the attorney drafts a termination letter and is sent to the buyers attorney. I have never done an inspection where a report was not completed, even if the client states they do not require one, I do for my files. Very seldom does the seller get a copy, the report is property of the client, they paid for it, if they choose to give a copy to the buyer that is up to them.
I do get calls from listing agents and sellers attorneys wanting the report, and I tell them contact the buyer, usually I get some pressure from them, but its not my place to distribute someone elses report.