As business owners, you typically need to take risks to develop and to grow. As home inspectors, you need to ensure that you’re managing risks so that you minimize their threats and maximize your growth.
Managing risk involves an understanding of potential areas of concern, and addressing the risk to ensure you achieve your business goals. In order to help you continually address the risk in your chosen career we offer these areas for you to consider.
Here are three common claim scenarios and a few steps you can take to avoid them:
I’m Not Ansel Adams
A client complains about an issue that you are certain was not present during your inspection. This does not refer to a hidden defect, but something that you de initely would have noticed if it was present during the inspection.
Your irst step to explain or refute the issue would be to review the photos you took during the inspection. Some inspectors take only pictures of the problem areas, so consequently there may not be a record of the non-problem area. Taking photos of areas that don’t have issues is a cheap and easy way to avoid frivolous claims in the future.
It’s His Herbie Hancock
Don’t perform the inspection without a signed inspection agreement. The reason we often hear follows some- thing like this: Your client did not send back the inspection agreement you sent over. The real estate agent puts a bit of pressure on you to perform the inspection without it. (And they are a good referral source, right?) The in- spector plans to get it signed prior to beginning the inspection. Nope. The client doesn’t show up for the inspec- tion.
This scenario, or some variation of it, is an all-too-common occurrence. A signed inspection agreement is the best and sometimes the only way you can protect yourself from claims. While we listed a few reasons why an agree- ment wasn’t signed, in this digital age, there aren’t many that hold a lot of water. (Services like Docusign, Adobe Sign, or RightSignature are available for relatively inexpensive use for $15 or less a month.)
The Angry Client
Sometimes you might decide it’s easier to pay to ix something minor than continue to deal with a dif icult client. Completely understandable. However, if you choose to make payments, you MUST obtain a signed release from the client. Paying money to or for a client can become a slippery slope and set a precedent that, anytime the client has an issue, they can call you and that you will open up the checkbook. We have dealt with many claims where an inspector paid some money to deal with a dif icult client and then the client has returned with more “defects” down the road. In some of these situations a release enabled us to tell the client to move along.
One Final Word
In this ever-increasing digital landscape, we don’t often have paper copies of documents to store in our ile cabi- nets. However, we do have electronic copies of everything. For any business, backup and storage solutions are an absolute necessity. As a small business owner you should be backing up your old reports, photos, inspection agreements, email correspondence, and other business-related items for future reference. As we stated earlier, risk management is about being aware of potential risks and then taking actions to help mitigate their effect should they occur.
If you have speci ic questions or concerns, please call our of ice and talk to one of our brokers. We a happy to help answer your questions in any way we can.