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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had an odd ball today.
Government funded non-profit org reached out to me to do an "inspection" of a home that had been "flood damaged". I told them my rate would be the same as for troubleshooting, and they agreed to it.

Went to check out the house today, and it's a 25+ year old mobile with an 80 y/o lady with dementia living in it. Her answers to what happened are less than reliable, but the long and short is that the roof leaks and someone cut off her power because its unsafe.

I spent about 15 minutes looking at the outlets on the wall with the leak, and besides being gross as hell, they obviously all should be replaced. They're the "quick install RV" style outlets. The walls and floor are very soft, I almost stepped through the floor twice.

I have no intention of taking the work. I know a can of worms when I see one. What is a polite way to say that I'm not interested in the work, and should I still charge for the "inspection".
 

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That is entirely up to you. They are aware of your rate so they expect an invoice. The inspection doesn't automatically mean you will do the job.
I personally would bill for the inspection. You have bills to pay too.
 

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You performed the inspection, you should be paid. You can always say in your opinion that repairing the home is inadvisable. That may be what they want, a report telling them just that. You never know.

You did the work. You should be paid. If you want to work for free, I have some things that need done. :)

Seriously though, if you feel uncomfortable doing that work, I would say just that.
 

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Of late I've been saying, I appreciate the kind offer of work, but with my current schedule, I am too busy to take on anything new. Simply charge fairly for your time and say that the scope of work is such that you don't have time to complete the repairs necessary.
 

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I would just tell people I don't do residential.
 
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Hackenschmidt
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You didn't mention anything about what this non profit is trying to do, I'd want to know more just so I know what I'm getting into. I can think of a number of possibilities I just wouldn't have the stomach for getting involved with this. There are probably code enforcement people that can come and condemn the building, why didn't they call them? Are these people going to fix her house? Place her in some senior high rise? Put her away in some state nursing home?

I think you're opening a can of worms if someone asks you to do an inspection any time. Are you sure your license and especially your insurance cover you for doing inspections? Home inspectors have a whole pile of waivers and etc., and they have the insurance to do that work. This one sounds like a whole next level of potential trouble. You could wind up getting hurt, getting sued, getting subpoenaed, getting somebody pissed for putting their mother out of her home, getting somebody pissed off for not getting their mother out of their home, etc. etc. I don't see any way you could make a happy outcome here.

I am thinking I'd call them, tell them I won't be able to help out after all, not even tell them I visited the site, and hope they forget my name and phone number.
 

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You didn't mention anything about what this non profit is trying to do, I'd want to know more just so I know what I'm getting into. I can think of a number of possibilities I just wouldn't have the stomach for getting involved with this. There are probably code enforcement people that can come and condemn the building, why didn't they call them? Are these people going to fix her house? Place her in some senior high rise? Put her away in some state nursing home?

I think you're opening a can of worms if someone asks you to do an inspection any time. Are you sure your license and especially your insurance cover you for doing inspections? Home inspectors have a whole pile of waivers and etc., and they have the insurance to do that work. This one sounds like a whole next level of potential trouble. You could wind up getting hurt, getting sued, getting subpoenaed, getting somebody pissed for putting their mother out of her home, getting somebody pissed off for not getting their mother out of their home, etc. etc. I don't see any way you could make a happy outcome here.

I am thinking I'd call them, tell them I won't be able to help out after all, not even tell them I visited the site, and hope they forget my name and phone number.
Your electrical license allows you to perform home and business inspections on electrical systems. At least in my state it does. I do them from time to time for lighting strikes that get submitted to insurance companies.

Thats a quick buck if the price is right and the paperwork isn’t too long.
 

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I get the idea that these people are trying to help and the intent is altruistic. I think having a discussion with your insurance agent about mistakes made, omissions I think it is, because you can’t see or find everything. I work in housing and I’ve sat at the table with the lawyers and my customer when the latest “lottery winner and their lawyer have come seeking $$$” for whatever reason. Don’t shy from things but protect yourself along the way.
 

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Be simple and concise. Bill for the inspection, "non profit" doesn't mean that they can't afford to pay for your services.

Are they even trying to repair the property? Do they want an insurance inspection so they have documentation that the repairs will cost more than replacing the mobile home?

If it's as bad as you say, I would tell the non-profit, in my professional opinion, the home is not habitable or safe to repair.
 

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Hackenschmidt
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Your electrical license allows you to perform home and business inspections on electrical systems. At least in my state it does. I do them from time to time for lighting strikes that get submitted to insurance companies.

Thats a quick buck if the price is right and the paperwork isn’t too long.
That's the thing, it varies from state to state. If your state license expressly qualifies you to do inspections, it's likely your insurance covers it, but liability and errors and omissions are two different things - at least in some / most states.

You'd also be on shaky ground talking about roof leaks, weak floors, etc. in an inspection report, cost to repair versus replace, etc., even if it's obvious to common sense, that's not how lawyers operate. You'd be on perfectly stable ground refusing to work in there if you deem it too dangerous for you to do your work.
 

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Hackenschmidt
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I get the idea that these people are trying to help and the intent is altruistic.
I have done quite a bit of work for a number of these organizations, and I defintely do not make that assumption about a non-profit, some are, some are anything but.

One in particular, they are well run and can pay my bills but I am giving them freebies all the time because I see the people they help and I feel bad taking any money at all. Others, well, for moral standing, picture if you took Enron and let them stop paying taxes, that kind of rotten.
 

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You'd also be on shaky ground talking about roof leaks, weak floors, etc. in an inspection report, cost to repair versus replace, etc., even if it's obvious to common sense, that's not how lawyers operate. You'd be on perfectly stable ground refusing to work in there if you deem it too dangerous for you to do your work.
I don’t really talk about anything that isn’t electrical. The insurance company will usually advise them to have a HVAC, plumbing and GC inspection too.

1)Plug test all outlets and turn on all switches.
2)Turn on all appliances. Whirlpool tubs, ovens, landscape lights, microwaves, hot tubs, everything.
3)Visually inspect the attic & crawl. Note any visual damage.
4)Ask them to check all their electronics to see if anything got fried.
5)Write it all up in a small report. Take tons of pictures

Usually everything can be done in an hour or two for a house around 2000 sqft. We used to do a bunch of these at the last place I worked. The big houses can take a lot longer.
 

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Sometimes a non-profit will need an honest inspection report to use when attempting to place a person in assisted living. Those with dementia are the hardest to work with. They will not give up their safe place with out a fight. Even the courts have a hard time intervening. It’s not easy to have a person diagnosed with dementia, there are so many different types.

I would do the inspection report, charge the fee and then leave it at that.
You might be helping someone who doesn’t know they are being helped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thank you everyone for your thoughts on this.

To clarify, I was not doing a whole home inspection, just looking at the electrical (switches, outlets, panels, etc), nothing that's outside of my scope of work.
I politely informed the NP that I don't do work in manufactured homes and that even if I did, it is unsafe to work in with the weak floor.
I did send them a bill for the inspection, and told them it was my opinion the power should not be turned on.
As always, y'all are a great source of insight!
 
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