Whenever I read the Letters to the Editor of the New York Times or my local newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, I often find myself wondering whether mathematics is still a requirement for graduation from high school. The overwhelming majority of those correspondents appear to truly believe with every fiber of their being that it is entirely possible for the government to provide massive new entitlement programs to tens of millions of previously unentitled individuals without increasing the size of government or affecting the national economy in any meaningful way.
Similarly, whenever a home inspector engages me to neutralize an unhappy client and I read the demand letter from the claimant’s attorney, I often find myself wondering whether the nation’s law schools are still teaching the Law of Damages. Consequently, I am continuously finding myself in the position of having to give short tutorials to professional colleagues on exactly what level of damages their clients might be entitled to in the altogether highly unlikely event that their claims have any merit in the first instance.
A couple of years ago, one of my inspector clients inspected a sixty-something-year-old house and reported that the roof was “near the end of its life expectancy” and really would need to be replaced in the not too distant future. As it happened, excessive clutter prevented any meaningful inspection of the attic. In fact, all the inspector was really able to do was to pop his head into the space and shine his flashlight around.
Sometime after taking possession, the buyer found that the roof was leaking in a spot just beyond the farthest rafter in the attic which the inspector could not have seen due to the attic’s inaccessibility at the time of the inspection.
The client sent the inspector a letter demanding a new roof and the inspector asked me to respond. I told the client “Fuhgeddaboudit!”
First of all, the inspector told you that the roof needed to be replaced. Secondly, he couldn’t get into the attic to inspect it and disclaimed any responsibility for that. Third, even if he had been negligent – which he wasn’t – you would not be entitled to a new roof. All that you would be entitled to is to have the “leak” repaired – a process that might require the replacement of a one square foot section of shingles. Finally, the cost of replacing that one square foot section would have to be depreciated by the sixty-something year age of the roof. In other words, next to nothing.
Sadly, he didn’t fuhgeddaboudit and a week or so later I heard from his lawyer.
That story next time as we dip into more home inspector training.Already a ClaimsAcademy Member? Log In Register for Joe’s FREE ClaimsAcademy Video Tips Protect Yourself with ClaimIntercept Joe’s Law and Disorder Seminar is Available Online! Receive a Perfected Pre-Inspection Agreement