A buyer's bad experience with home inspector
Overlooked defects fuel small claims action
By Barry Stone, Tuesday, September 20, 2011.
DEAR BARRY: Your repeated endorsements of home inspectors should be taken with a large grain of salt. When I bought my home, the inspector reported no problems with the roof, but he never even looked at it. After moving in, it leaked, so I had two roofing contractors check it out. Both said that the roof was totaled.
I called the inspector back to the house and showed him the damaged shingles and the rotted wood in the attic. To my surprise, he admitted that he hadn’t crawled in the attic or walked on the roof during his inspection. He said the seller had assured him that the roof was in good condition.
I filed a small claims action and recovered all but $500 of the cost of roof replacement. My advice to your readers is to hire plumbers, electricians, roofers, etc., rather than wasting money on unqualified home inspectors. –Chad
DEAR CHAD: No one can blame you for being disillusioned after your disappointing home inspection. But don’t let one bad apple turn you against apple pie.
If an incompetent plumber failed to repair a bad leak in your sewer line, you would not conclude that all plumbers are unqualified.
If a third-rate auto mechanic ruined your transmission, you would not assume that all mechanics are incompetent bunglers.
Instead, you would realize that you had hired a bad example, not a representative sample. The same conclusion should apply to the shortcomings of an unqualified home inspector.
The full range of human conduct, from the top deck to the bilges, can be found in every profession. In all fields, there are those who set the standards and those who redefine "substandard," and those who uplift and those who degrade the collective reputations of their colleagues.
There are doctors who perform unnecessary surgeries, contractors who do substandard work for inflated prices, public official who accept bribes, parents who abuse their children, teachers who fail to educate, truck drivers who drink while operating their vehicles, and home inspectors who rely on seller disclosure rather than conducting thorough inspections.
In the locale where I do business, all home inspectors walk on roofs and crawl through attics. In fact, industry standards, as set forth by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and by similar associations, require that roofs and attics be inspected, as long as they are reasonably accessible.
It was surprising to learn that a home inspector would rely on seller disclosure rather than conducting a complete inspection of the roof and attic. Home inspectors are hired to make their own discoveries, not to parrot the opinions and observations of others. A competent inspector views seller disclosure as a lead toward further investigation, not as a final conclusion.
The next time you buy a home, be sure to research the available home inspectors in your area. Find someone with a well-established reputation for detailed disclosure and professional competence. A truly qualified home inspector will not disappoint you.
To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at www.housedetective.com.
Contact Barry Stone: Letter to the EditorCopyright 2011 Barry Stone
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