When I started Pro-Tech the name came from Professional and Technical. My intent was to always be on the leading edge of technology; to serve our clients utilizing the most advanced means possible to develop opinions, which in turn provided the best education and information available.
Since 2016, many things have come to pass that I never imagined we would be doing today. For example, I never imagined we would have 15 inspectors serving the entire state of South Carolina and about 30% of Georgia. I never imagined we’d be doing over 3000 inspections a year and closing in on 4000, our goal for 2023.
As we have grown, of course the number of complaints have as well. Most complaints about home inspectors stem from not setting proper expectations on our part. Most other complaints are a direct result of not understanding the role and standards of practice, or in other words – what a home inspection is. Even today, we average about 12 complaints a year (0.0034% of the inspections we do), which we will always strive to lower.
I never imagined that we’d be using some of the technology we now utilize each day to protect our clients, which in turn also protects us as a company and holds us accountable. The first deployment was in 2019 when we begin to use 360 cameras. This stemmed from being able to capture, and record, the exact conditions at the time of inspection. My initial thought was to hold us accountable and be able to quickly respond and make right any failures on our part.
As it turns out, the 360’s provided evidence that supported our work, reporting, and inspectors. We have received 6 complaints since starting 360 photos in September of 2019. Of the 6 complaints, there has yet to be a single case where the cieling stain in question was present at the time of inspection. To support our clients, we have provided the 360 files to insurance companies, their Realtor, adjusters, and especially home warranty companies to provide evidence that the condition was not pre-existing.
Our latest innovation was to deploy BWC’s – Body Worn Cameras. That’s right all inspectors are wearing body worn cameras, and have been for sometime to document the inspection process and for training and quality purposes. As the law of unintended consequences would have it, we have also found other uses for this technology.
Before we discuss this in detail, please allow me to be clear about a few things. South Carolina is a single party state. Meaning that only one-party need be aware of the recording. Prior to implementation, we asked for and received, through a local state representative, an Attorney General’s opinion regarding the use of BWC’s and recording by a private company. The Attorney General’s office confirmed our understanding of the one-party consent rule. In fact, in this same opinion, the use of video cameras inside a home was recognized as having similar protections. At the end of the day, we have had very little push back, and given the litigious nature of our society – most Realtors have embraced this technology. The cameras are worn clearly on the inspector with an LED light indicating it is active. We aren’t trying to hide it. In fact, we have videos of positive reception by Clients and Realtors. We have even had cases where Clients have benefited from having access to the video upon request.
Yet, there’s always a first for everything. This past Wednesday I received the email below at 7:50 AM.
“We had an inspection on our new home at XXXXXXXXX on 8/4/2022 and are very unsatisfied with the results. Our realtor XXXXXXX reached out to you company I believe on 9/2 and informed us that we are to email you with our concern.
When we first arrived at the house after closing on 8/31 I noticed that the there was no hot water. I checked the hot water heater and the pilot lite was out. Trying many methods over the next couple days it would not lite.
My wife and my father were present during the inspection and the inspector never mentioned anything about any concerns for the water heater but did not voice concerns about other things that were not as important. My wife even asked him if everything was good along the lines of water heater and furnace and such with no issues? Again, the inspector never voiced a concern regarding the hot water heater.
You can contact myself or my wife if you are unable to reach me at the numbers below. Thank you”
I immediately responded stating I would look into this for the client. The same day I viewed the report and watched the video. I provided the following response at 9:00 PM after speaking with inspector, reviewing the report and video.
“Just wanted to close the loop on this. Your wife appears to be looking out the sliding rear door. Your father-in-law, and another young man, who I assume was not you since you said you were not there can be seen walking around with Bumper in the section of video I have provided. Your wife did not ask the inspector, but her father did specifically clarify the fact the water heater was not working after being told by Bumper. He did not ask – he was told.
Bumper clarified the gas was on and the pilot light was lit yet there was no hot water. This begins at about 14 minutes into the conversation on this section of video.
I reiterate I have empathy for your position; however, the item was clearly reported to you on site and in writing ion the report. I am confident that we satisfied out duty to you sir. This is also an example of a great realtor who hires people like us to document and confirm all these things as she too acted in your best interest.”
The client continued to respond about how we were wrong. It was not in the report, then adding it was not conspicuous enough and that it was not reported onsite. We aren’t in the business of making people mad. In fact, in a later email I told the gentleman that had it not been reported – or otherwise missed – we would have gladly taken care of this for him.
However, the report contained a comment that the water heater temp was low with a picture of the water temperature at 87.5 F. The report contained a second comment that the water heater was not operating and should be repaired, and operation confirmed prior to closing. There were two (2) specific items in the report addressing the water heater and the fact there was no hot water in the home.
Further, there is video evidence where his Father-in-Law and Bumper discussed the water heater. Bumper clearly told him the pilot light was lit, the gas was on, but there was no hot water being produced inside the home. The Father-in-Law goes on to say “the water heater is not working in other words” – his words.
The pic at the beginning of this blog is from the video of the inspection and has purposely been blurred to protect the client’s identity. Remember this from the original email – “My wife and my father were present during the inspection.”?
Remember in my reply where I stated – “Your father-in-law, and another young man, who I assume was not you since you said you were not there can be seen walking around with Bumper in the section of video I have provided.”
He did not say that he was not at the inspection. Rather he just alluded to the fact he wasn’t there by saying his Wife and Father-in-Law were. Facebook is a powerful tool! Because in fact, I was able to confirm the young man walking around was indeed him and this part was conveniently omitted.
I’m sure this is likely some saving face between a son-in- law and father-in-law. That’s fine. However, to expect the home inspector to cover a $1500 replacement of a gas water heater because you didn’t bother to read the report or act upon our recommendation – yeah, we’re not going to cover that…
Our use of technology protects us – allowing us to control costs and keep fees reasonable. Our use of technology also protects you as a referral partner. Which reminds me, here’s the last part of the email I sent him, which maybe you didn’t notice…
“This is also an example of a great Realtor who recommends and refers people like us to properly document and confirm these things, as she too acted in your best interest.”