A disturbing trend and something that I am seeing much more frequently is the tendency of home inspection claimants to threaten to harm inspectors by making reputation-destroying comments on internet rating sites and filing false complaints with Licensing Boards unless the inspector knuckles under to what are invariably unmeritorious complaints.

A recent case that surfaced out West is illustrative of the genre. The claimants bought a 38 year-old house in the desert and, upon moving in, were shocked, shocked to discover that the home’s described 125 ampere electrical service, which was more than adequate when the house was built in 1973, was insufficient to support the increased electrical loads imposed by modern day conveniences not known or in popular use in the ‘seventies.

Distressed that their starter home did not come fully retrofitted to present day standards, the claimants wanted the inspector to make it so by paying for an entirely new electric service. The inspector conducted a conference call with the claimants wherein he tried to explain as equably as he could that the adequacy and efficiency of household systems is simply not something that a home inspection is intended to determine and that, in the event, he had called out a number of issues with the system and had recommended that the claimants have it evaluated by a professional electrician prior to closing.

That explanation failed to mollify them and the call ended on a sour note. So the inspector notified me that he was likely going to need me to explain the facts of life to these clients. The following day the female claimant delivered to him via email an ultimatum to the effect that unless the inspector agreed to pay for a total electric upgrade within forty-eight hours, they would file a complaint with the Licensing Board. In fact, this claimant had already had preliminary talks with a Board official, who, having heard only her version of events, had actively encouraged her to file the complaint.

Obviously, this is the sort of existential threat that cannot be countenanced and those rattling such sabers need to be advised in the strongest possible language that they have no claim against the inspector, that pursuing it would be a waste of time and money and that their contemplated vindictive retaliatory actions would not only be an inappropriate way of venting their misplaced anger but, if carried out, also a very expensive and foolish indulgence on their part.

That’s a message that always has a sobering effect on out of control claimants.

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