Need advice on home inspection

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I'm in the process of purchasing a home, and I need to have it inspected. What should I be sure the inspector checks so that the in inspection is very thorough? Thanks.
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Having had several home inspections lately I'd recommend placing more emphasis on the qualifications of the home inspector than on telling him how to do the job. The ones I've seen are doing home inspections because it is easier than doing construction and they aren't good enough to keep a job doing home construction.
RB
J. Cameron Davis wrote:

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I would suggest that you requre all inspections to be done by a paid service --- and don't allow any service that gives "free" inspections (especially foundation inspections) to have access to your property.
In my experience, they are usually unqualifed, and are rip-off artists drumming up business for themselves or another service for which they receive a fee, and are almost certainly going to exaggerate minor and miniscule defects into major reconstruction jobs....
This can be written into a sales contract, i.e.," inspections shall be done at the buyer's expense only by a licensed registered professional engineer......" It isn't perfect, but it's better than an out-of-work convenience store clerk who works on commission...
Andy in Texas ******* *********************************************

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I am licensed P.E. and one of my licenses is in Texas. I still wouldn't get a warm feeling just because the home inspector can write P.E. after his name. Look carefully at the inspector's qualifications. From my experiences I'd say that home inspection as practiced in Texas is a joke in most cases.
RB
Andy in Fink wrote:

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Well, let's see. Is it a new house, nearly new house or a 90-year-old house? Is it a conventional house or a modular home? What part of the country is the house in? One would need to know a lot more than you have provided to answer that question. First, make sure the seller provides a list of all known defects. Let me try to answer your question this way. You will want a thorough inspection so if you call around for prices you should stay away from the dirt cheap inspectors. A full-time inspector is usually more committed to the job than a part-timer. Find out what experience the inspector has, whether he belongs to any home inspector associations (ASHI, NAHI) and whether he takes any continuing education classes to keep abreast of things. Ask how long the inspection will last; a 90-minute inspection will naturally not be as thorough as a 3-hour inspection. Ask what kind of report you will get (a simple check list at the end of the inspection or a more detailed narrative report with photos provided the next day). The inspector should inspect the house top to bottom. Exterior (siding, windows, doors, grading, decks, walks, drives), roof, structure, electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, insulation, ventilation, interior finishes. Keep in mind that he will inspect what is visible; he cannot look inside walls to see the wiring or plumbing and he most likely will not move furniture, boxes, clothes, etc. to see behind them. An inspection of the roof by actually walking on the roof is much more thorough than an inspection from a ladder or from the ground with binoculars (that is how some inspectors inspect the roof). The inspector should make sure that there is proper drainage all around the house. The inspector should take a close look at the water heater, furnace (if there is one look for a crack in the heat exchanger), electrical panel (look for double tapping, oversized breakers, aluminum wiring, Federal Pacific panel), plumbing (watch for polybutylene piping). If the house has stucco be VERY careful if it is EIFS (synthetic stucco); this type of stucco can retain moisture behind it and rot out the structure. The inspector should inspect the attic for any roof leaks, adequate insulation and adequate ventilation. He should also ensure that all exhaust fans vent to the exterior and NOT into the attic. The garage door opener safety devices should be tested (electric eye and auto-reverse mechanism). Hope this helps.
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Good luck to you. A friend just purchased a 25 year home. In the one month since their closing, they've had to replace the furnace (Cracked heat exchanger). God knows if the a/c works or not, since it's the middle of winter here. She also said it appears as though the water softner hasn't been powered up in years, with a sludge filled brine tank, and judging from her descriptions, the water heater is on it's way out. During the installation of her new furnace, the installers had to call in an electrician to come in later and finish the wiring, for some reason I still don't quite understand, but is possibly related to a hack job electrical modification, and when the same installers were hooking up her humidifier, they disocvered that the main water shutoffs won't hold water back. All of this in the first month, and none of it caught by the inspector. Dave

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To the person looking for a home inspector...try getting some recommendations. Another thing I would recommend is a home warranty. I had never heard of one until I moved to Virginia but it sure came in handy. The heat exchanger on my gas furnace crapped out on me and my home warranty covered the installation of a new gas furnace.
Regarding the home inspection...the major components they should be inspecting are Heating, Electrical, Air conditioning (difficult in winter) and Plumbing. I agree with the person who mentioned the roof should be assessed from on the roof, not from below on the ground. In Virginia, termite & moisture inspection is done separately from home inspection.
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I recently had my home inspected for sale. The maroon who did the inspection wrote up things like " the gates around the pool do not have self closing/latching devices. Have a licensed contractor repair."
I use the word maroon because I have two dogs and no children. There are quarter twenty bolts and nuts in the latches so that the dogs will not get locked way from water or the house. I guess the maroon was to blind to see that the latches are there just fixed for my situation. There were other things like he could not find the switch for my pool light. Another get an licensed contractor to repair. I painted the plastic 4 inch deep cover for the switch the same color as the house. Even the new home buyer figured it out.
I sent an Alice's restaurant complaint to the agency that certified this maroon.. You know the one with the 8.5x11 color glossies with circles and arrows and a description on the back.
Good luck finding one that has a brain and a set of eyes.... I have not found one yet.
As said before most could not make it in construction. Call some realtors, and check the references. Good luck your going to need it.
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First, check that the inspector doesn't work for the realtor.
Second, check the qualifications of the inspector. I called my insurance company and asked for recommendations. In all honesty, it will probably be very hard to find someone who has the training and experience to look at everything from roofs to basements. I think there are some associations of home inspectors, but I suspect it doesn't take much to become a member.
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There are qualified and reputable home inspection companies. Check with people you know who have used one of them. Most of those in the Toronto area are pretty good. I think they have to be licensed. I don't know about elsewhere. Your insurance company probably could make a reliable recommendation. ds .

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All home inspectors work for realtors. If they kill deals they don't get called for work. They depend on realtors to give them business.
I'd like to see a home inspection service that advertises that it does not ever take referrals from realtors, and provides some form of guarantee for their work.
When I bought my first house the inspector found nothing of consequence. When I sold it, the buyer's agent insisted on using her own inspector, and he found $34,000 worth of alleged urgent life-threatening problems that needed repairs. Funny though, he missed the leak under the bathroom sink that I had already mentioned to the buyer and found one under another that had just been repaired. He seemed to have gotten his sinks mixed up.
I had a contractor come in and estimate the actual costs of the repairs the home inspector found, and it totalled about $3500 after he discounted most of the findings as rubbish.
I gave the buyer $1500 at closing to cover what I was willing to cover, and that was it. So far the house hasn't burned to the ground as the inspector said it would because of all the "dangerous wiring" problems he found that were the same as when I bought the house, and the same as every other identical house in the development.
Otherwise, it's a big joke, and I'd rather use someone I know who isn't a part of the real estate network, but who knows their stuff.
Probably most of the regulars here would do a more comprehensive job than any licensed home inspector. I've seen them come around in nice clean white shirts and ties to do the inspections. Let's face it, they aren't even planning on getting dirty, what are they inspecting?
It's a big scam if you ask me, another parasitical industry that feeds off the biggest one, the real estate industry. And my apologies to any honest home inspectors out there, if there are any.
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I don't know that they're not honest, I find that they just aren't very knowledgeable. If they were they would probably be doing something else.
RB
ZsaZsa wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@queenvic.com says... ~ All home inspectors work for realtors. If they kill deals they don't get ~ called for work. They depend on realtors to give them business. ~ Some of them in our area get most of their work from insurance companies and home buyers. These are the ones you want.
Rick
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DON'T use anyone that they recommend. Real estate agents never recommend inspectors who are very through because those inspectors tend to be "deal killers".
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I am a home inspector. I am also a licensed Professional Engineer. I am educated, skilled and knowledgeable and I have high ethics. I am "very through" (sic) (thorough) and don't care if Realtors think I am a "deal killer" because my allegiance is to my client and not the Realtor. I will repeat what I said before: Look for a full-time inspector that belongs to a home inspector association, takes continuing education classes, will do a thorough inspection and will provide a detailed report. SQLit: Why do you call your home inspector a "maroon"? I thought that was a color. (Maybe you meant "moron".) It looks like the home inspector you hired did an OK job. The new owners may not have dogs that let themselves through the gates but instead may have children that need to be protected from the drowning danger that latches like that pose. If that and not finding your light switch were your only complaints then I don't see what you have to complain about. Sounds like you just don't like home inspectors. DaveG: Home inspectors are generalists and usually recommend that a heating technician inspect the furnace heat exchanger before closing. Did your friend's inspector do that and did your friend have the heat exchanger inspected? Did the inspector include the water softener in his inspection? (Most specialty equipment like that is excluded.) And did you friend not look at the water softener herself? I am also curious as to what the inspector said about the water heater. Water heaters generally last somewhere between 8 and 12 or 15 years so if it is close to or over 8 years old it should not be any huge surprise if it is "on it's way out". A home inspector cannot guarantee that all the appliances will last for any amount of time; he inspects and reports on its condition as of the day of the inspection.
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This one did not. What's the point of hiring an inspector if they can only recommend hiring another inspector?

No- She probably assumed the inspector would inspect this. It was their first home purchase.
Did the inspector include the water softener in

Since I was not there, probably not. But how damn hard is it to pull the cover off the brine tank? But then again, the inspector would probably just have recommended that she hire a plumber to inspect this.
And

Probably not. She probably assumed that the $300+ bucks she had to pay the inspector he would have actually inspected something.
I am also

Apparently these inspectors have it pretty cushy. They get $300+ bucks for basically not doing anything and having no accountability to the homeowner. In my friends case, they would have been better off saving the money they paid this guy and applying it to the cost of the repairs that the "inspector" missed.
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Dave, Neither one of us is going to change the other's stance here. I am simply trying to educate you as to how most home inspectors operate. Yes, some do a poor job or are unethical but you don't do justice to the rest of us by painting the entire profession with such a broad brush.
" This one did not. What's the point of hiring an inspector if they can only recommend hiring another inspector?"
Home inspectors are generalists. We cannot be an expert on everything in a house. We do not do destructive testing (e.g., cutting holes in walls, disassembling furnaces, etc.). We inspect what we can see but have to defer to an expert when something is beyond the scope of our inspection. I confess that I am not an expert on furnaces and heat exchangers but I inspect what I can see. Since I can usually see only 15% or less of the heat exchanger I typically recommend that the client bring in a furnace technician to adequately inspect the heat exchanger. I could do this if it would make you happy - I could bring in the furnace technician (and all the other experts that may be needed) and increase my fee accordingly.
"No- She probably assumed the inspector would inspect this. It was their first home purchase."
You know what they say about "assume". Did your friend not read the contract she signed? My contract clearly spells out what is included and what is not included in the inspection.
"Since I was not there, probably not. But how damn hard is it to pull the cover off the brine tank? But then again, the inspector would probably just have recommended that she hire a plumber to inspect this."
Again, I suspect that the contract stated that specialty items like this would not be inspected so she should have known. Forgive me but did she attend the inspection and if so why did she not ask about the water softener when the inspector did not inspect it? And if she did not attend the inspection why not?
"Probably not. She probably assumed that the $300+ bucks she had to pay the inspector he would have actually inspected something."
So the inspector inspected NOTHING? Give me a break.
"Apparently these inspectors have it pretty cushy. They get $300+ bucks for basically not doing anything and having no accountability to the homeowner. In my friends case, they would have been better off saving the money they paid this guy and applying it to the cost of the repairs that the "inspector" missed."
So we don't do anything? Yeah, right. And $300+ bucks got her nothing? I am curious, what percentage of the total price of the house was that? 0.1%? 0.06%? How does the inspector's fee compare to the commission paid to the Realtors? I bet that was closer to 6% or 7%, 60 to 100 times the amount paid to the inspector. But don't get me started.
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Well said Bruce.
Bruce wrote:

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I'm the one who asked the question about home inspections originally. I've hired someone who belongs to professional organizations, has a background in electrical engineering, has a number of years of professional experience, has had continuing education for more certifications, and advertises that he is not embedded with any realtors. He'll do a three to four hour inspection, take lots of digital pics, and at the end give me both a written report and a cdrom with all the photographic information. I think I've done about as well as I can unless I find an inspector who has been personally blessed by the pope. Thanks for all the responses to my question.

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Some good advice , some bad. Do not use inspectors that the selling realtor recommends, because of the tie-in issues. Do look for independent firms with industry accreditation.
Whomever you get, be sure to go with them on the inspection. You will get more information that way. More information can be relayed verbally than will get written down.
But people that expect inspectors to be omniscent super-men with x-ray vision, are not being realistic. A couple hour home inspection will only identify issues that can be found by visual inspection and minor probing. They will not find hidden problems, or predict un-obvious future failures.
Dave.
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