Why you should never give an estimate


Barry Stone: Homeinspector makes faulty repair estimate
By Barry Stone Published: February 18, 2017 12:00AM CDT
facebook](javascript:void(0))twitterpinterest(http://newsok.com/barry-stone-home-inspector-makes-faulty-repair-estimate/article/5538041?articleBar=1#emailModal)0 comments
DEAR BARRY: Beforebuying our home, we hired a home inspector.
He found some loose floor tilesin the kitchen, but he made a big mistake in estimating the cost to have themrepaired.
He said it would be about $200 tosecure the tiles, so the sellers gave us a credit of $200.
After moving in, we got bids from two tile contractors.
Both bids were around $2,500, andthe contractors both found that about 300 square feet of floor tiles needed tobe reset.
They said the tiles were loosebecause when the kitchen cabinets were finished, overspray got onto thesubfloor, and this kept the tile adhesive from sticking.
How could our home inspector have so totally missed the severity of theproblem and underestimated the repair cost so badly?
Ads by ZINC
— Susan
DEAR SUSAN: Homeinspectors typically do two things: disclose defects and recommend varioustypes of experts to make repairs.
Very few home inspectors includerepair estimates as part of their service.
Making estimates accurately requires a great deal of construction experienceand a thorough knowledge of material and labor costs.
Inaccurate guesses about repaircosts can create expensive complications for buyers, as it has for you.
It also can expose the inspector to legal and financial liability, whichis why most home inspectors do not provide estimates for repairs.
Your home inspector should not have estimated the floor tile repaircosts because he did not accurately assess the causes and full extent of theproblem.
Instead, he should have describedthe defects that were observed and recommended further evaluation by aqualified flooring contractor before close of escrow.
If your inspector had limited his assessment in that way and advisedevaluation by a professional tile expert, the problem could have been properlyassessed,
and reliable repair bids couldhave been obtained. In that case, you could have negotiated the correct amountof money with the sellers, rather than being stuck with the bill after theclose of escrow.
You should contact your home inspector for a discussion of this issue.

As a homeowner, there is nothing I fear more than a loose tile. I have done three unplanned remodels due to the discovery of a loose floor or bath tile. The most recent was last spring when I attempted to have two or three loose 18x18 tiles reset. I hired a tile setter because I did not have any spares and didn’t want to break one. The tile setter cut two grout lines and it triggered a tile tenting event (he literally bolted from the house when it started) that lasted for more than 12 hours before it finished. By the time it stopped, I had close to 200 sgft of tile erupted off of the floor, many of which shattered with amazing force and noise. I was in for a good $30K by the time I was done replacing 1,700 sqft of floor tile, backsplashes and countertops. All for a few loose tiles.

Needless to say, I don’t give estimates, especially for loose tiles which may just be the tip of a really expensive iceberg.

That’s one way to look at it.

There seems to be a rampant desire in this industry to perform outside the scope of the intended purpose of a home inspection.

I guess it is about trying to outdo the other guy. However, there are particular reasons why standards exist. They are there to set an expectation of what a home inspection is. When the industry inadvertently oversteps its responsibilities, these industry expectations by the general public go out the window. The end result is you getting sued.

I am by no means a proponent of doing mediocre home inspections. There is a whole lot you can do within the scope of your inspection without stepping across the boundary to add value to your services.

You are not there to determine what caused the problem, how to fix the problem, what’s can happen in the future concerning the problem or what you personally would do about the problem. You’re there to identify the problem.

Not just that there is a crack in the foundation and recommend further evaluation by an engineer, but a complete assessment (visually and within your scope) of everything surrounding that crack. Such as site drainage, moisture in the basement, doors and do not open, windows that do not function, a sway back roof ridge, etc.

Any of you who are contractors in a past life or present, you understand the difficulty in providing a cost estimate proposal. You never know until you dig into the project. Just watch an episode of HGTV or two.

If your client needs an estimate, have them go get one from a contract that does the work. Then Nobody is liable for that guesstimate. And they actually have something on paper to show the seller to justify making adjustments in the real estate contract.

Another reason why I do appreciate our CA law. We are prohibited by state law from quoting or doing work for a period of one year from the date of inspection.


Is the exact wording of that restriction actually based upon “quoting for the purpose of garnering the repair work” or for an “informational purpose” such as this thread is actually referring to???
Two different animals!
I suspect the former.

Here is the exact CA B&P Section

  1. (a) It is an unfair business practice for a home inspector, a company that employs the inspector, or a company that is controlled by a company that also has a financial interest in a company employing a home inspector, to do any of the following: (1) To perform or offer to perform, for an additional fee, any repairs to a structure on which the inspector, or the inspector’s company, has prepared a home inspection report in the past 12 months. (2) Inspect for a fee any property in which the inspector, or the inspector’s company, has any financial interest or any interest in the transfer of the property. (3) To offer or deliver any compensation, inducement, or reward to the owner of the inspected property, the broker, or agent, for the referral of any business to the inspector or the inspection company. (4) Accept an engagement to make an inspection or to prepare a report in which the employment itself or the fee payable for the inspection is contingent upon the conclusions in the report, preestablished findings, or the close of escrow. (5) A home protection company that is affiliated with or that retains the home inspector does not violate this section if it performs repairs pursuant to claims made under the home protection contract. (b) This section shall not affect the ability of a structural pest control operator to perform repairs pursuant to Section 8505 as a result of a structural pest control inspection.

Is a simple answer when a client ask for a quote or estimate. I blame the state and then refer them to contact a qualified trade.

As I suspected, that “Law” refers to quoting to garner addition work. It is not, and has nothing to do with providing estimates for a clients information to determine future costs with the home they are contemplating purchasing.

Home inspector must pay $192,000. Remember Roy.
Toth’s estimate of $20,000 to repair the house was less than one-tenth of the actual cost of $212,000.

Now I do estimate “at times” but I get much blowback from the vendor and agents. I rarely give estimates anymore.