More, More, More. Giving More So You Get Less (Lawsuits)

I begin this post with a “quote” from a old Billy Idol song, about needing “more, more, more.”  Obviously, he was singing about something different than the subject of this post, but it seems like an appropriate title for our discussion.  As humans, we are programmed to always strive for more in everything we do.  While this may lead us to excess, more can be a good thing when it comes to our home inspection careers.

don't use minimal information in your home inspection reports

This weekend I held a CE class at my office, and while we discussed many subjects that affect us in our daily jobs, I believe that the highlight of the 10 hour class was the presentation that was generously given by Cal Grevemberg.  Cal runs a successful inspection business in south Louisiana (acadianahomeinspection.com), offers multiple inspection and professional services for his clients, holds multiple certifications and was instrumental in developing the foundation for the current inspection industry in Louisiana. 

The main focal point of his presentation was that inspectors need to be sure to do more than the minimum when performing inspections.  It boils down to the old adage that more is better.  When you take more pictures, when you include more information, when you go the extra mile while doing the inspection, you not only provide a better service for your client, you lessen the possibility that you will encounter problems (with that client) in the future.  Cal stated that people typically don’t file lawsuits against people that they like.

Teaching Cal’s advice is something I that I always do when training new inspectors.  I tell them that most our clients have no idea what a home inspection is, much less what happens behind the scene before we arrive to their new house for the actual inspection.  They have no idea the training and continuing education we go through, the multiple insurance policies we retain, the plethora of tools that we purchase, the vehicle we maintain, the marketing and advertising we are constantly doing, and the list goes on…

They simply see us at the house for a brief period, and know that they are paying us a good bit of money for (what they perceive as) a minimal amount of work.  They believe that the $400 check that they wrote to us is pure profit for their home inspector, and they quickly extrapolate that ($400 times 2 inspections a day, times 30 days in a month, times 12 months in a year) to a yearly profit of $288,000.  Now, I don’t know about you, but if I can ever hit that mark, I will work for about 10 years, invest wisely and retire to a sunny beach somewhere, with sand between my toes and a frozen drink (with the obligatory mini umbrella) in my hand.  The point is that we are often perceived to be a cash cow, and if this happens, lawsuits will inevitably follow.

relaxing on the beach after a successful home inspection career

My advice to new inspectors is to do your job well, and try to make certain that the buyer observes you doing your job.  Be sure that they see you when you exit the attic in the summer, drenched down to your privates; be sure that they see all the spider webs in your hair when you exit the crawlspace; be sure they see you investigating all the multiple areas of their new home.  It has been my experience that if the client sees you working hard for the money that you charge, they are less likely to attempt to hold you financially accountable for (what they perceive as) your errors.  If you develop a rapport with your clients, questioning them about their concerns and actively listening to them when they explain, they are more likely to have some empathy for you when (in the future) they inevitably discover a problem with their house.

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Thanks, Joe

pic of me, Joseph Cook Jr, home inspector

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