Home Inspectors and Poor Service

Living in a new area is exciting!

Inspecting homes and commercial buildings accounts for a growing portion of my marketing and business. When I’m going through my checklist, looking for safety or systems issues, I feel like Sherlock Holmes and might even like it if someone nicknamed me “The House / Commercial Building Whisperer.” I’m not as good looking as Robert Redford who played the Horse Whisperer. And, I’m not as exotic as Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer. But, I would match knowledge of my unique whisper subject versus theirs with either of them.

I met a nice lady this week who told me a horror story related to the Home Inspection business. She’s very visible and extremely active in my community-associated with a business meant to connect, promote and enable the growth of businesses in the area.

Her home inspector made a couple of mistakes that were costly to correct. Her lament was similar to all others related to buyer’s inspections and marginal inspectors, “I wish that I’d have known that before I bought the property. Isn’t that what I paid you for?”

The specifics of her case are a matter of indifference. Generally, home inspector or professor of string theory physics, if you make a mistake and can fix it…you should fix it. It has to do with owning your actions and taking responsibility. Both are tenets of good service.

Making mistakes is part of life and business. Fixing them is the difference between growing/learning and stagnating. It’s part of the difference between good and bad service.

I make mistakes regularly. Just ask my wife, she points out most of them and must have a list somewhere. My dad used to say that “if you ain’t makin’ mistakes, you ain’t doin’ nothin’.” In rare cases when my mistakes cause issues, I don’t hide like a sissy when a client calls to discuss them. Most of the time, I’ve taken steps to rectify the situation beforehand and when I haven’t, I promise the client that I will…and then follow through.

The home inspector in her case didn’t even have the courtesy to answer his phone when she called, and after several months hasn’t bothered to call her back. These are the competitors that give my business a bad name. The ones who are churning fees, rushing from one job to the other doing 3 or 4 inspections a day, and setting themselves up for long-term failure, not success.

There are plenty of cases where clients have unreasonable expectations of inspectors. In my experience, those can be reduced by going over the contract with them before the work to produce clear expectations. Another quantity can be handled by discussion afterward.

Recently, while completing a continuing education class, I met another nice lady. A Realtor and investor, she was there to learn what they are supposed to do because the home inspectors she had recommended and hired herself were lazy. In her words, “The fat asses would not go in crawl spaces or attics. They’d check No Access and skip over them.”

Friends and neighbors, I was taught to inspect every attic and crawlspace that I could squeeze into and inspect without harming myself or the structure.

Common sense seems to indicate that the path to inspector oblivion has a lot of runners who ignored their clients during and after the sale.