That lying, cheating home inspector! (Part 2)
In my most recent post, I wrote about a homebuyer who discovered problems after they moved into their new home. In the article, we discussed a newspaper column from Barry Stone (www.housedetective.com) where he answered a question from someone who accused the home inspector of being “incompetent or dishonest”. Several colleagues also read this article and all had similar reactions. They doubted the plumber’s findings. In the article below I am going to suggest to you to get an impartial second opinion before you get taken advantage of.
“The home inspector was either incompetent or dishonest”Article from Barry Stone (www.housedetective.com)
Upsells are often made with scare tactics
This has been coming for several years and it has been confirmed by many people who I have interviewed. Today’s reality is that many contractors offer bonuses or percentages to their field technicians if they can upsell a service or a product. This is not unique to one trade. As a result, plumbers upsell disposals, electricians upsell new breaker panels, roofers upsell new roofs, chimney contractors upsell chimney repairs, water proofers upsell drainage systems, and so on. The problem that I have found is that in some cases these additional services are not needed. Unfortunately, many homeowners simply are not experienced enough to know when they are being snookered.
Contractors can prey on homeowners with words like “safety”, “not up to code”, “dangerous”, and “mold”. It does not take long for a salesman to know when they have a vulnerable person on the line. Use some of these key words and the sale is a slam dunk.
“Empty their wallets”
A fellow home inspector told me a story about a waterproofing contractor that instructed their salespeople to “empty their wallets” when they were on a sales call. In this case, a foundation crack had leaked water and the homeowner called a contractor to get a repair estimate. The typical cost of repairing a foundation crack is in the hundreds of dollars per crack. This contractor came up with an estimate of over $15,000 to repair a crack, install a new drain tile, install a new sump pump, battery pump, and some other bells and whistles. This is not unique to waterproofing contractors. It happens in all trades. The root problem is that there is a big, fat commission at stake. If somebody needs to make a boat payment, somebody else is going to have to have a new water heater installed, chimney relined, furnace replaced, or their home’s siding replaced.
This is not to say that all contractors are trying to “empty their wallet”. As you can imagine, we are asked by many of our clients for referrals for good contractors. We have a referral list of contractors who we feel provide quality work, are honest, and are dependable. We spend a great deal of time checking out new additions to this list. Most professional home inspectors probably have a list like ours.
Home inspectors are impartial
One of the basic truths about home inspectors is that we are impartial. We do not have any interest in whether our client purchases their home. Our license mandates this. Moreover, we do not have additional services to sell you after you move into your home. You can trust that we are not going to try to convince you to make a purchase.
Likewise, when a problem arises after you move into your new home, be careful of contractors who upsell additional services.
It’s not up to code…
Admittedly, we periodically get calls from upset clients who are being pressured to make a major investment in a repair that they were not expecting. In most of these cases we find that the repair is simply not needed. If you are suspicious I would recommend that you call your home inspector for a second opinion. Just because something is “not up to code” does not mean that it is defective. Building codes change frequently. A home that was built in 1950 will not meet the current building codes. Too often, we hear from clients who tell us that a contractor is telling them that they need to make improvements to their home to “bring it up to code”. It is our belief that this is not true. Discussions with municipal inspectors supports this belief.
Ummm, ma’am you need to change the air in your tires to winter air!
Take, for example, a home built in 1907. One of the attractive features is the stairway in the entry foyer. This beautiful stairway will probably not meet the current codes for stairway construction. Would you remove the entire stairway and rebuild it with a new one? Keep in mind that a new stair system will probably be on the order of $20,000. I think that most people would not replace the staircase. Some of these upsells are akin to when the oil change technician wants to install new “winter” windshield wipers or fill your tires with “winter air” for $70. Some of this work may be necessary, but a lot of it is not.
The point is that people need to be aware that it has become a normal part of the process for repair technicians to recommend additional services or upgrades. In some cases, these upsells only put more money into the contractor’s pocket. Be suspicious. Ask for a second opinion. Find someone who does not have skin in the game to determine what work really needs to be done. Why not call your home inspector?