Know your home real estate inspection rights
Don’t fall victim to surprise defects after move-in
DEAR BARRY: When we purchased our house, the home inspector didn’t want us to attend the inspection. He simply mailed us the report, but we never got to meet him. Since moving in, we’ve found defects that were not reported to us, and now we feel that our presence at the inspection should have been allowed.
Among the undisclosed problems were ungrounded outlets (discovered later by our contractor) and several safety issues with our forced-air furnace (discovered by the man from the gas company). Not being allowed at the inspection should have been a red flag. After all, we paid for the inspection. Why shouldn’t we have been there? –Ben
DEAR BEN: No home inspector with a healthy understanding of the profession would deny homebuyers the right to attend their own inspection. There is simply no excuse for such a ban. You paid the home inspector’s fee, and for this you had every right to be there; to ask him questions; to learn, firsthand, what he observed at the home.
Inspectors who bar their clients from attendance have no concept of the service business they are in and should either re-evaluate their professional function or find another way to make a living. It’s a matter of attitude, of realizing that the purpose of the inspection is to provide buyers with a thorough understanding of the condition of the property they are buying.
The home inspection is the buyer’s private consultant and advocate. That should be the essential approach. Without it, all other aspects of the inspection become suspect, particularly the thoroughness of disclosure.
Qualified home inspectors routinely test accessible wall outlets and report when they are not grounded. Failure to note such an obvious and common defect is a sign of professional negligence. Additionally, various defects involving the safety of a forced-air furnace are commonly reported by qualified home inspectors, as these can significantly affect the safety of occupants.
If you were represented by a Realtor, that agent was equally at fault for not ensuring your attendance at the inspection. Real estate professionals typically arrange for their buyers either to attend the home inspection or at least meet with the inspector at the end of the inspection for a full review of the findings. For this reason, representation by a competent, ethical agent or broker is vitally important.
The unanswered question now is, “How many additional defects remain to be discovered and disclosed?” This uncertainty can be resolved only by hiring another home inspector; someone who is thorough, experienced, and well known for competent professionalism.
DEAR BARRY: Construction is nearly completed on our new home, but we’re concerned about the windows. We ordered low-e glass, the windows that filter out heat rays from the sun. We paid extra for this, but we’re not convinced that’s what we got. The contractor assures us these are the right windows, but we want to be absolutely sure. What should we do? –Cliff
DEAR CLIFF: If you have doubts about the windows, contact the window manufacturer for clarification. Window companies typically have field representatives who investigate possible problems involving the contractors who install their products. Upon request, they should send someone to the site to ensure that all of their products are properly installed and functional.