I carry out more risk by providing verbal consultation to my clients and not charging any extra for that service and that is why most inspectors do not provide such services. My hourly earning gets more if I do not provide verbal consultation not talking about lowering my professional risks. There are some decent reasons for spending my time absolutely for free for such services, which should be seriously considered by lawmakers and other building inspectors or building surveyors:
- For people not understanding English, verbal consultation is the only chance for them to receive the benefit of having inspection services;
- Verbal consultation is the only way for me getting to know my clients in person. Written reports can only get better tailored when I know the clients. Any house can be a good house as long as it is owned or sold to the right family, which I can only tell when I know them. I do ask some questions to my clients during my verbal consultations so that I know if they are targeting the right property;
- There is always something which cannot be incorporated into written reports, but is so valuable for clients to know. I deliver that kind of information to my client through verbal consultation. Yes, I may carry more risk by doing that, but putting risk avoidance in priority can never make myself a good inspector;
- Verbal consultation is such a good way for people to enjoy the benefit of having professional inspection services when otherwise would be unaffordable, specially if failing one auction after another one;
- In situations when inspection findings are so negative that clients simply give up for attending to the auctions, what the point for issuing the written reports in a country when housing affordability becomes a real issue?
I have been providing verbal consultation as part of my inspection services for more than 7 years since 2009. Here are some interesting findings:
- More and more clients, which ordering full inspection reports, changed mind and stayed for verbal only after my onsite consultation;
- Asian clients seem to order verbal consultation more than any other nationalities;
- More and more client upgrading to full written report after winning auction or signing purchase agreements comparing to past years;
- Most people, including English speakers and even many lawyers, having difficulties reading inspection reports;
- Most and more clients wanting to ask questions, which would not be answered in standard written inspection reports;
- Significant number of clients think that written report is simply putting in writing for what had been said by inspectors during verbal consultation;
- Most clients, who ordered full written report for their first inspections and failed auctions, would go for verbal consultation next time and thereafter;
- Many lawyers, who know me well, asking verbal consultations for themselves when they were buying, even though they know better than anybody else that verbal report legally is not a report in terms of NZS 4306;
- Most Asian clients would present themselves on site during my inspection, while other nationalities more likely to make phone calls after inspections for verbal consultation;
- Almost every client would ask me during verbal consultation how much I thought the property would worth even though they perfectly know that I’m not a valuer.
What I have decided so far is I will keep going with my verbal consultation service regardless all the critics, meanwhile, I would appreciate if my clients could understand the following points:
- Please DO upgrade to the full written report when the purchase is secured, i.e. after winning the auction or signing the agreement;
- If you have any doubt about the legality of the verbal consultation service, please ask for written report, as I would love to do that, which is what I rely on for living;
- Please treat verbal consultation as the first half of my inspection service rather than a different type of report comparing to a full written report;
- Please take the advantage for asking me regarding ideas or possibilities of proposed alterations, additions, improvements, future potential, comparison with other properties, suitability for family status, related cost estimates, architectural or aesthetic perspective etc. as long as time allows;
- Do not follow me during the inspection as I will get disturbed and lose my focus. Ask me questions or remind me for your concerns before I start and I will talk to you in a private environment after finishing my inspection;
- Try not asking me if I’m qualified, certified, registered or insured when I’m already on site. Do your homework regarding my background before booking the inspection.