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.
J. Cameron Davis wrote:
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
It isn't perfect, but it's better than an out-of-work convenience store
clerk who works on commission...
Andy in Texas
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.
Andy in Fink wrote:
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.
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.
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.
"Are you still wasting your time with spam?...
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
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.
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.
J. Cameron Davis wrote:
SPAMBLOCK NOTICE! To reply to me, delete the h from apkh.net, if it is
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
Your insurance company probably could make a reliable recommendation.
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
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.
~ 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.
Ask a few real estate agents for a list of recommended home inspectors, and
DON'T use anyone that they recommend. Real estate agents never recommend
inspectors who are very through because those inspectors tend to be "deal
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.
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.
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
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
" This one did not. What's the point of hiring an inspector if they
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
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
cover off the brine tank?
But then again, the inspector would probably just have recommended
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
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+
basically not doing anything and having no accountability to the
In my friends case, they would have been better off saving the money
paid this guy and applying it to the cost of the repairs that the
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
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.
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
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.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.