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As inventory woes continue, many home buyers are moving towards new construction and our inspection counts in this area are up significantly. As a result – and as you would expect – this brings all of us a different set of challenges than those for existing homes.

Generally, we coordinate the inspections directly with the builder to ensure the home is ready. The last thing we – you and us – want is to create disappointment that the home is ready when it is not. This also limits affects to our schedule and deepens the Client experience when they decide to use as it brings substantial value to the table in terms of expectations. In the past, we have refused to inspect homes when they were not ready for two reasons.

  1. It decreases value to the clients when we can’t inspect the entire home, especially when major components are non-functional.
  2. It also allows us to be fairer to the Seller/Builder by not calling out defects that simply have not been completed yet.

However, in the last 60 days we have had to reschedule 43 new construction inspections after being told by the Builder/Builders Rep the home was ready. Three (3) of these were the same house we went to four (4) times before finally being ready, another two (2) homes we went to three (3) times, and 12 homes we went twice.  Why does this matter.

Well in our business we are basically charging for our time and knowledge. So, if we lose that slot, we use revenue. In essence, I’d argue we lose at least three (3) time slots.

  1. The one where the home wasn’t ready.
  2. The one we could have done because this home wasn’t ready.
  3. And the new time slot which could have been another inspection.
  4. And a fourth, if we reschedule again.

With an average revenue of let’s say $500/inspection that’s $2,000 every time we have to reschedule, or using the 43 events this year, it’s a total of $86,000 of lost revenue in the last 60 days, and we haven’t even begun to count the gas costs.

So yes, it’s a problem in terms of revenue but also in lost business for inspections we couldn’t do because we were “booked full”, and inspections we couldn’t get fit in in in time.  It has a huge domino effect.

And then let’s talk about the Client. They are on timelines as well, and often are very disappointed as it is yet another delay as they near the finish line – and we all know how ready they are to move in. I’ve never understood why Builders do not value the experience they provide the Buyer and make this experience the best possible. Sure, things happen, but communication solves so may problems.

We have builders who remove the sales rep and give us the Builder’s direct contact information – these seldom if ever get rescheduled because we have direct contact with boots on the ground.  If you want a prime example, Patricia Morril with DR Horton is a delight to work with. She is on top of her builds and a delight to work with. She is of the mindset that she has no problems with us coming in because she also wants the Client to get the best home she can build. This is so evident when you walk through a neighborhood with her. Homeowners come out and greet her just to chat and talk – not to complain. Her work ethic and professionalism show. I point this out, because even in the middle of complaining, there are people doing good work and trying hard.

In fact, of the 43 reschedules, 21 can be attributed to two (2) specific sales reps who state, “it’s illegal for me to give you the Builder’s direct number…”. I’ll allow you to form your own opinion here.

So, I’ve got a plan – don’t I always?

The Builders require we sign documents and provide insurance and license information. So, my first thought was let’s get them to sign something saying they’ll pay a trip fee if they tell us, it’s ready and it’s not. This won’t work because they will never agree to sign it and we’ll be in the same boat and I’m not about arguing with them.

We discussed internally making the Client aware and having them agree to it – but it’s not their fault so why should they pay – doesn’t seem fair – but more on this later…

So, here’s what we are going to start doing.

Effective June 1, 2021, if we are told it’s ready and we show up, we are inspecting the home period.  I don’t care how bad it is or how undone it is.  We tried for years to be fair to the Builder and not make them look bad, and we have seen little to no professional courtesy. Beginning June 1, we are going to report what we see. This will force them to answer to the client why all these things are not done and in this condition. It will likely have several affects: 

  1. Builders being forced to explain more about why
  2. Builders being accountable for the condition of the home and promises made
  3. Fewer frustrations for us and less loss revenue as a result of Builder’s and Reps not respecting our time and schedule and simply telling us what we want to hear.

For the clients, we will document the date time and who told us it was ready. We will be happy to provide this information to our Client’s and their Realtor. Now we will go back out and finish, because frankly some of these things are so egregious, they need to be. Here’s how we will handle that…

  1. 50% of original inspection fee due to go back out to the site.
  2. Must be paid prior to the reinspection, even if it’s the Builder, and I would encourage you to hold your builder accountable and make them pay!
  3. Unfortunately, this puts this responsibility on the Client, however, the Client has some leverage over the Builder we have none.

This is evident by Builders in the past having agreed to pay for Reinspections when they messed up. How did that work out – currently there is over $1500.00 due us by various Builders who agreed to pay via email, at closing, which got overlooked, and some even three years latter still have not been paid.  They simply ignore it – so we will need payment prior if the Builder is paying – no exceptions.  Trust me they have company credit cards – they can do it…

If as a Realtor you decide to get mad or bothered by this, I’m fine with that. However, might I remind you that you and your clients deserve better and keep in mind you likely chose us to begin with because you know how we hold Builder’s accountable. That’s also why I’ve presented to the Greenville Home Builder’s Association and will be sharing this with them to distribute to their membership. Frankly, we all know some of them don’t want a private inspector, so they make us jump through hurdles to get there to start with. Once we meet some of these ridiculous demands, the least they could do is provide factual information that can be relied upon and be an active team member in the sale to help achieve a great experience for every Buyer.

Sorry Builders, we have only asked for communication and help to make our jobs just a bit easier, while also trying not to make you look bad.  The choice is yours and I honestly hope this change in approach will encourage each of you to provide more detailed information and communicate reliable information with any inspector, not just Pro-Tech Inspections.

Dave