Stress. Just reading the word can cause us to tense up. Stress is something that we all must deal with, and most of us would agree that it seems like modern life is getting more stressful every day. Whoever you talk to, it seems as though they would love to return to “days gone by,” as most people believe that things were simpler “back then” (regardless of whether they actually were or not.)
No matter how we think about it, stress is simply a part of the human condition. There’s no way to escape it (although there are certainly many ways to deal with it.) Suffering from stress is a byproduct of life in general and business in particular, and it seems that making your living as a home inspector can be a real anxiety-inducing proposition. Now granted, inspectors aren’t under the same types of pressures as a doctor performing an open-heart surgery or a law enforcement officer chasing down a meth-fueled criminal, but we get our fair share of hassles nonetheless.
In most fields, there’s at least one entity that’s glad that you’re on the job (and occasionally thanks you for your efforts), but inspectors sometimes suffer affront from all sides. Most of us have experienced the joys of “the deal from hell,” where no matter what we say or what we do, everyone involved seems to be coming down on us with two feet.
We’re typically inspecting someone’s house, and no matter how we word our reports, they’re going to be mad at us for calling out the deficiencies in their beloved home. They’ve been living there for all these years, and those things have never been a problem before we came along. How dare we try to sabotage their sale! Obviously, we’ve got an ulterior motive for causing trouble. We’re either in cahoots with the buyer, the buyer’s agent, the seller’s agent, the insurance company, the title company, or the contractors.
Honestly, I don’t know how I manage to keep track of all the kickbacks I’m receiving and the entities that I’m beholden to…
The seller’s agent is also going to be pissed at us, as we’re throwing in all these “made up” deficiencies to “blow their deal.” It’s almost as if they believe we come to the house with all these broken items hidden inside our tool bag. We go about strategically replacing the home’s functioning, brand-new parts with the defective ones, without anybody noticing what we’re doing. Or we simply go around breaking things while we’re there (again, without being noticed), just so we’d have some problem items to include in our over-priced inspection report.
It’s taking me so long to secretly break all this stuff in the houses that I’m inspecting that I may have to start raising my prices to cover all this extra time on the job…
The buyer’s agent is going to be outraged as well, accusing us of fabricating the items in our report just so we can justify our existence. They ask us why we need to be so picky when we’re inspecting. We all know that the house is going to have some issues; hell, nothing’s perfect. We don’t need to write down so much stuff. All we’re doing is scaring everybody. We should be working hard to make sure that their buyer feels good about buying this house, not trying to scare the crap out of them!
I really do need to work on convincing the buyers that they’re getting the right house; that really is my main job, not the buyer’s agent’s. Maybe while I’m at it, I could sit in for the agent at the closing, collect their check, and deliver it to their house for them.
The seller’s contractor will be outraged: How dare a mere home inspector question the quality of his work! I’ve been doing construction/plumbing/electrical work since before you were born. I know what’s right and what’s not. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Those new rules don’t apply to this house; it passed the code inspection. That was grandfathered in, and yes, I happen to be a grandfather! It seems like they spend more time trying to defend themselves than they would’ve spent just doing it right in the first place.
They’re right, I really don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s not like I’ve had more hours of education to get my license than they did, take more continuing education classes each year, or look at more different houses over the course of my career than they ever will. I’m just some schmuck off the street that someone let into the house so I could pontificate about things I have no knowledge of, just for the hell of it…
Then along comes the buyer, who, most of the time, is the one that hired us. While some of them stress us out in the beginning of the deal (usually the ones who are getting an inspection “because their agent said they had to”), most of the time they’re well pleased with us… until something goes wrong. Then they want to know what we’re going to do about it. Don’t think about the fact that we provided them with lots of information, explained as much as we could, and told them to read over everything we sent… just let them know when their check is coming. Even when we cover our backsides six ways to Sunday (and include the problem in the inspection report), stress will still manage to peek its head through.
Yeah, why would I think that writing that in the report, showing you a picture of it in the report, writing that you should seek advice from a professional about it, tell you about it, and show it to you when we were on the inspection would matter. Who do I make that check out to?
The funny thing is that all these different parties, the ones that were so upset about the fact that we were way too nit-picky in our inspection report, are now the same ones who will be screaming at the top of their lungs when a problem comes up in the future. They rage because we’re taking too long doing the inspection; that we should’ve been done a long time ago, but when a problem happens (that takes their contractor a half-hour of digging to find), they argue that we were in and out of the house so quickly that we obviously overlooked the problem. They contend that we put too much stuff in the report; that it shouldn’t be that long, and when something 20 years old finally breaks, they want to know why we didn’t tell them about it. They argue that we don’t have to look at everything in the house; that we’re simply looking for things to stuff into our report, and then when some minor issue occurs, want to know why we didn’t find that issue when we were at the house.
Obviously, not every person we work with acts this way. Most of the professionals are a joy to work with and great at their craft, and the buyers and sellers happy that the sale is going forward. It’s just that sometimes stress rears its ugly head, and we’ve got to be prepared.
We’re a special breed, home inspectors. We know going in that we’re going to be taking fire from every side. It’s just part of the gig. It’s not our favorite part (unless you’re really, really twisted), but it’s a part, nonetheless. Going in knowing that it’s going to happen (and having a plan in place to deal with it) is more than half the battle. Undoubtedly, we’ve got to take care of our minds and bodies when we’re not at work so we’re able to deal with the stressors that life (and home inspecting) throw at us. Having a working plan to deal with it, when we’re at and away from work, will only make things better.
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