I am continuously astonished at the willingness of home inspectors to issue refunds to clients for the slightest home inspection claim that they make. Since these complaints virtually never have any validity, you do not have to be Buckminster Fuller to conclude that refunding fees to every unhappy client is a bad business model. And home inspectors complain to me about home inspector insurance companies paying out for bogus claims!

At least once a week, I have to talk a home inspector out of refunding his fee to a client who is making an unreasonable demand. Often all that is necessary to neutralize these complaints is to point out to the client – politely but firmly – that the issue that he is complaining about could not have been discovered by a limited non-invasive visual inspection.

Recently, I spoke with a home inspector client who had performed a home inspection for a client in June. In December, the region had experienced torrential rains accompanied by gale force winds. The client was complaining about water intrusion through the clapboard siding. He wanted to know how to respond to this ridiculous home inspection claim.

This is a quite common complaint – some system that was performing satisfactorily at the time of the inspection is “suddenly” not performing six months later. Imagine that!

I advised him to check his report to see if there were any signs of water intrusion at the affected site at the time of the inspection. There are two possible results, right? Either there were signs or there were no signs.

If there were no signs, what does this client want from this inspector? We don’t predict the future. And cannot report what is not there.

If there were signs – even better!! Yo, knucklehead, look at page 24 of the report where it says “Inactive signs of water intrusion – see photo – on north interior wall of living room. Check with seller to see if this defect has been addressed.”

If you are prone to offer refunds at the first sign of dissatisfaction, you should ask yourself this question: Is this client dissatisfied with me or is she dissatisfied with the result? If the result has nothing to do with the quality of your inspection, you need to keep your hands in your pockets and explain that, although you sympathize with their position, you are not responsible for it. You should remember this piece of home inspector training.

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