When I used to work in retail, I remember dealing with rude, crabby, demanding, and downright ridiculous customers. It got frustrating at times, and it would usually happen on a daily basis, but it was pretty easy to just leave that stuff at work. Once I’d punch out, whatever happened at work would quickly become a fading memory. My work didn’t define me; it was just work.
As a home inspector, it’s completely different. I never punch out. My occupation and my sense of self have become tightly intertwined. When I write an inspection report, I make an effort to word everything just right; I know it sounds tacky, but my report becomes a little extension of myself.
When someone questions my report or says I’m wrong, I can’t help but take it personally.
As the home inspector, I typically don’t ever hear about what happens after my inspections. The negotiations after the home inspection are really none of my business, but I do like getting feedback.
<cue happy music>
The seller is going to replace the 40-year-old boiler? Awesome!
The seller is going to replace the leaking roof? That’s fantastic.
The seller is taking $3000 off the price of the house so you can get a new furnace? Sweet. Spend a little extra and get a high efficiency model.
The seller won’t fix the furnace venting. That’s too bad.
The seller won’t fix the furnace venting because they said it’s not a problem.
<Insert sound effect of a record needle scratching, music stops>
Ok, that last one gets my attention. While I realize that the seller is just defending their own home, I take this personally. I can’t help but hear “the seller said you’re wrong.” The most common version of this that I hear is that the installation was already inspected by the city, the installation passed the city inspection, the installation meets the city code, or some version of that.
If a seller won’t fix something, great. It’s none of my business. When a seller tells a buyer they won’t fix something because it meets code, I take it personally. While a home inspection is not a code inspection, if I say something was installed wrong, I’m also saying that the installation doesn’t meet code. When a seller says the installation meets code, they’re saying I’m wrong, and the integrity of my report comes in to question.
I received a call from a home buyer the other day with just such a situation, where the seller said they wouldn’t fix the furnace venting because it met the city’s code. Sorry, wrong, no. If the city approved the installation, it means they didn’t catch any problems with the installation. It doesn’t mean the installation was done right, or even that it meets code.
For most requests about information, I tell people I’ll send ’em an email as soon as I get home or as soon as I get in front of a computer. I was driving to an inspection when I received this particular phone call. I pulled in to a parking lot, got on my laptop, and quickly sent the buyer and the buyer’s agent an email defending my stance – it included a link to my blog titled “…But The City Approved It!“. I knew I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on much else until I did.
If you want to get a home inspector whipped up, just tell ’em the seller won’t fix something because it passed the city inspection.