In November of 2009, a home inspector in North Vancouver was ordered to pay nearly $200,000 after a faulty home inspection. I read about all of the mistakes that were made at this inspection, and the most important piece that I came away with was that the judge decided that the home inspector didn't give his client enough time to read the home inspection agreement, because the inspector had the client fill out the inspection agreement on-site, at the time of the home inspection. You can read more about the story here.
That's the same procedure that we've always followed, and as far as I know, that's what most home inspectors do.... but to be proactive about this issue, we've changed our procedure. Starting in January of this year, we began having our clients read and sign their home inspection agreements well in advance of the home inspection, and it's worked out quite well.
We signed up with Echosign, which give us the ability to email our clients a link to our inspection agreement, with can be viewed and completed online. I've come up with nine great reasons to send out inspection agreements ahead of time with Echosign:
- This reduces our liability.
- It saves us time during the home inspection.
- It gives our clients the opportunity to address any potential concerns with the inspection agreement well in advance of the inspection, rather than at the time of the inspection while everyone is already there.
- It's green - no paper needed.
- I can read my clients writing. I used to get a lot of email addresses and phone numbers that I couldn't read. That doesn't happen any more. I know this is a small benefit, but I really do appreciate this.
- We include a link to our web site in the email, so if our clients want to learn more about our company or about other services we offer, they now have the opportunity to do this. This is especially helpful for the times when a third party, such as a real estate agent, arranges the inspection.
- For clients that can't attend the inspection, this is way easier than emailing the agreement and having our clients fax it back or scan it and email it back after they fill it out and sign it.k
- We include the date and time of the inspection as well as the cost of the inspection in our email - this definitely helps to eliminate any confusion.
- Our tech-savvy customers love this service. I've received a ton of positive feedback from them.
So why am I telling you about Echosign? I think it's a cool service that most people don't know about. If you have a need for electronic signature captures, check them out. They even have several standard forms, such as I-9, W-4, and W-9. There's a similar competing service called Docusign, but it costs about ten times as much, and the only benefit that they could provide was 'better customer service'... at least that's what they told me.
If you'd like to see how this works, you can view a sample home inspection agreement.
Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections