About Home Inspectors...(a rant)

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Today we went and looked at a leaky roof.
Back story: This woman bought a house back in July. She looked at over 100 homes before deciding to buy the one she has. She's had carpet replaced, she's painted, she's having new windows installed, etc. Before she bought the house she hired a very highly recommended home inspector to go over it. This highly regarded home inspector gave the house a passing grade, including the three year old roof.
Today: We went and looked at this roof. Just about everything that could have been done wrong was. The leak that is showing is a valley leak. This valley has just about everything wrong with it. To begin with the wrong plane of the roof was installed first (it is a closed, non woven, non "California" valley). When doing valleys, the lower plane should be done first. On this one the higher plane was done first which makes water from the higher plane go under the shingles on the lower plane at the valley. Next, there are fasteners as close as 1/2 inch from the center of the valley. Small pieces of shingles that do not cross over the valley anywhere near far enough were used on the first plane installed.
Other clues the "inspector" missed are face nailed shingles all over the various planes of the roof. Poorly done counter flashings on the rakes, some shingles exposures stretched so far that it seems water can directly penetrate under the shingles below, etc., etc., etc.
Home inspectors. Anyone who's read some of the opinions I've posted about home inspectors won't be surprised by my disdained for this particular "inspector." Admittedly, not all home inspectors are nearly as bad as this one was, but this woman came to this fellow in good faith in order to learn something about the state of this house. She paid him good money for his service and supposedly well educated opinion. I have to wonder what else this fellow missed? Standing on the ground in the front of the house I could tell the roof was a problem. It has been a long time since I've seen a roof as poorly installed as this one, and then that a home inspector, licensed by the state, gave this roof a passing grade? The fellow needs to be horse whipped and put out on display for stealing this woman's money and then be made to refund it.
As for the storm chasing vultures who installed this roof, well they just need to be chased back to their country of origin and not allowed back.
We'll fix this leak tomorrow by removing the shingles in that valley and re-installing the valley correctly. We'll even look over the rest of the roof and patch obvious problems. At this point she doesn't want to re-roof the entire house. But she'll have more leaks, to be sure. Thanks to bad installers who are no better than thieves and thanks to a "home inspector" she hired to tell her if she'll have any problems with the house. That "inspector" is just as competent as the originators of the roof problem. -- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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I do a lot of work with real estate brokers. As a licensed electrician I'm forever writing letters to home buyers or sellers, correcting mistakes made on home inspection reports. I'm not exactly sure how these folks become "qualified", but I know their reports have healthy disclaimers on their

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call a lawyer.
sounds like an average home inspection to me...
randy

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Most home inspector contracts are written such that they are not really responsible for anything they miss and most states do not license them. In Florida, where we require a state certification and a license to braid hair or paint toenails, a home inspector only needs an occupational license from the county. There are no requirements beyond having $30.
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yeah, lots of these guys have an area of 'expertise' and some general experience watching how the rest of it it all goes together after building houses for a while, but not much else. and as you say if they have some sort of license, it didnt require much more than paying the fee to get it... get in good with a few real estate agents, kick them back a couple bucks for each recommendation, and its not very hard work for some pretty good money.
i realize they werent the ones that screwed it up in the first place, and you cant expect them to inspect every nail in the house, but missing something like a completely botched roof should not be able to be written off by some 'im not responsible' clause.
i dunno. there are some reputable home inspectors out there. but mostly its a bunch of hacks.
randy

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Greg,
I don't believe that such disclaimers of responsibility are valid in court. The inspector is clearly selling his expertise. The prospective buyer is clearly buying this expertise. For the inspector to then argue that in fact there is no expertise won't wash. This homeowner should file a claim with the inspector's insurer for an entire roof replacement based on the OP's testimony.
Dave M.
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wrote:

Which is the point. Nearly all home inspectors are a total waste of money.

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"Which is the point. Nearly all home inspectors are a total waste of money."
I strongly disagree with that. Sure, like any contractor, how good a one you get depends on how you pick them. If you just use the yellow pages, you have no way of knowing. If you check the inspectors qualifications, background, ask friends/neighbors for recommendations, you have a much better chance of getting a good one.
And even a not so good one is better than none for a homeowner that is totally clueless and may not even have owned a home before. For example, in the missed bad roof example, we don't know how many other things the inspector did find that would have cost the homeowner money. Finally, in most cases, the inspection more than pays for itself for the buyer, because in an average home, even a mediocre inspector will find enough things to go back to the seller and negotiate down the price more than the cost of the inspection.
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On 12 Jan 2005 04:49:29 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net scribbled this interesting note:

This inspector was recommended by a realtor with almost thirty years experience in the area. The inspection was paid for by the prospective buyer, not the realtor, not the seller, not the mortgage company. The inspector was an agent for the buyer, no one else, so there was no realtor to keep happy, no mortgage company to keep happy, no other axe to grind.

Not true in this case. If our new customer who just bought this home had gotten an accurate report she would not have purchased this home and instead kept looking for one that had fewer (or no) real problems. Her stress level would not be what it is today and she most likely would have more money in her pocket.
I suspect the only real problem the "inspector" caught was the obvious moisture inside most of the insulated windows. The new homeowner was savvy enough to negotiate down the price in order to pay for new windows instead of having the seller fix them.
As to your last point, I feel the reverse way of looking at the situation is more realistic. If this inspector missed such glaring and obvious problems as those found on the roof, what else did he miss?
BTW, in Texas there are two ways to obtain a home inspector's license from the state. One is to show from experience that you already know it all, and the other is to take a prescribed number of hours of coursework and take the state mandated test. How do I know this? Easy. A friend of my niece's took the coursework, studied the exam guides, and failed the test I don't know how many times before finally passing it recently. This has been going on for years before she finally passed the exam!
We too have had to go out and instruct home inspectors in how houses are put together. One time a home we roofed was up for sale and some inspector claimed it had two roofs on it, which it did not. This fellow looked at the eve, at the double thickness at the eve, and surmised that was two roofs, not knowing how a properly installed composition asphalt shingle roof is assembled with a starter course before the first shingle that will see the weather is installed! Because of his incompetence the sale of a couple of hundred thousand dollar home was postponed causing untold stress on both the seller and the buyer. (By the way, how a house is properly roofed is part of the prescribed coursework.)
Home inspectors need some sort of mechanism that weeds out the bad ones. A bad home inspection is worse than no home inspection because a buyer may be mislead into thinking a home has few or no problems when the reality is, after they buy the house they will be spending thousands of dollars to fix the problems the inspection should have caught. Sellers may be prevented from selling a home that has no real problems when an inspection report shows items that are of no consequence or are outright wrong. In either case the inspectors have stolen their fee, either intentionally or unintentionally, and should be prevented from doing further harm to unsuspecting customers who are paying for their supposed expertise.
-- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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John Willis wrote: ...

Well, superficially maybe, but...
If the recommendation came from the realtor showing the house, there's an implied benefit to the inspector to approve the deal and there's a clear motive for the realtor to provide an inspector who will ensure the deal is closed. There's a tendency for prospective buyers to believe the realtor is "working for" them, but that is absolutely not so...
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<snip>

of course there was. they had to keep the realtor happy to continue further references.
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wrote:

If the inspector was recommended by the realtor, how could there be no conflict of interest? Sure, they're "suppossed" to be working for the buyer, but what do you think the realtor will do if this particular inspector keeps finding too many problems and nixing deals for this realtor?
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this interesting note:

Because this realtor is mostly retired and elderly and does very little business these days.
-- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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John Willis wrote:

So he/she isn't still using the same one(s)???
Sorry, the same motives still exist at all ages--I know, I'm getting to be a geezer meself and "retahred" a couple of years ago--but, I didn't change personalities. :)
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mark wrote:

and snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net responded:

in my case, the home inspection was required by our lender. the guy was nice enough, and was probably competent, but the whole thing just seemed like "going through the motions" - there was nothing in it that wasn't pretty obvious. reading the report went something like this:
report: roof is >20 years old and needs to be replaced me: duh report: wiring is knob & tube and needs to be replaced me: duh report: smoke detectors should be installed in all bedrooms. me: duh report: thanks for your $150 me: doh!
--
forrest_m
forrest underscore m at hotmail
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forrest wrote: ...

That inspection wasn't for you, it was for the lending institution for their use in deciding whether or not to write the loan and as input to the rate if so...if you get something useful out of it or not is no concern of theirs. For many neophyte home owners there may well be some eye-opening revelations, for experienced/knowledgeable ones, obviously less so...
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What is the problem with knob and tube wiring? Seems to me that stuff should last for ever.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
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Actually, I read somewhere recently that K & T will pretty much last forever; that is if left alone and not hacked into; and any new circuits are run back to the main.
The article talked about how in the days of K & T, electricians were still VERY paranoid about electricity, and went to great pains to make sure that the installation was done as close to perfectly as possible.
Which I tend to believe. My brother owned a house built in the K & T days for many years, which for whatever reason was in pristine condition and had managed to make it through the decades without a single renovation. I was pretty young at the time, this would have been about 1978 or so, but I do remember going down in the basement and marveling at the wiring and the care put into installing it. I mean it looked like they used a laser to line up all the insulators; when the wires took a turn I recall that they were all very crisp 45's, again with the insulators placed exactly in line with one another, with each wire exactly the same distance from it's neighbor; all throughout the length of the house. It actually looked like a giant living piece of art... to me anyway.
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On Wed, 12 Jan 2005 14:39:44 -0800, "Roger Shoaf"

It seems it would if people wouldn't mess with it. Originally it was setup for just general lighting, then today's boob-brother-in-law-electrician-wanna-be run receptacles off of it to give power to kids video games and tv.
That's when all heck breaks out.
imho,
tom @ www.ChopURL.com
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On Wed, 12 Jan 2005 19:07:04 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@intertainia.com wrote:

say whatever you like, insurance companys (at least in ontario) hate it. if you want home insurance, you have to replace it. ...thehick
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