Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

How shallow an actual home inspection really is

Canadian Contractor Insurance Liability Property

"I have found the inspections to be somewhat cursory in nature and, unless you are totally blind, for the most part a waste of money."

This from Jiggs, posted two days ago.

Seems like more work went into Jiggs’ post than some of the home inspections he is talking about.

Over the past 35 years I have bought & sold nine resale homes. I have never used a home inspector and IMHO after selling homes that were “inspected,” I have found the inspections to be somewhat cursory in nature and, unless you are totally blind, for the most part a waste of money. When you read over what they “do” inspect and what they “do not” have to inspect, one realizes just how shallow an actual home inspection reallyis.

For example, a friend was buying a home that was only eight yrs old. I went with him & the inspector to check out a home that he had placed a conditional offer on. Here is what I found that the inspector missed or didn’t report on.

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-Basement window broken
-Sewer gas coming from a former drain pipe where the water in the trap had dried up from non-use
-Rust – and a lot of it – all over the side of the furnace where the humidifier was attached
– Sump pump not working correctly
-An extremely and I mean extremely loud furnace motor
-Bathroom fan not working. There was mold on the ceiling and when I put a kleenex on the running exhaust fan, it fell off!
-Downspout blocked
-Living room window would crank open but wouldn’t shut
– Shingles turning up on the south side exposure
-Holes in the ceiling drywall in the garage..there is a bedroom above the garage.
-A half dead 40 ft high willow tree that overhangs part of the house.
-A portion of the fence that surrounds the yard is leaning over towards the neighbors property as it appears that a cement patio is actually moving! Several repaied cracks in the patio also indicate a very large amount of stress is present due to the shifting.
– In-ground pool liner is pulling away from the side of the pool.
–It “appears” that the liner is floating!
– The pool pump sounds like “popcorn”
– The property is extremely wet at the back even though it hadn’t rained in days, lots of moss growing instead of grass….possible drainage problems.

Here is what the home inspector reported on….

NOTHING!!

Are you kidding me? When my friend asked the inspector about the other things we had found he said that he was not obliged to report on them. For example, there was nothing structurally wrong with the house. The wiring appeared to be in good order, the plumbing, absent the sewer gas (yeah he admitted he missed that) was functional. He did not “observe” the humidifier leaking so he could not comment on that; the tree although half dead did not “appear” that it was going to pose any immediate problem as it was still partially alive, the fence although leaning was still intact, he wasn’t authorized to report on the pool.

OK, what the heck good was he? My friend was still facing the prospect of incurring some significant expenses with repairs, etc. in the very near future and this “inspector” was not “obliged” to report them as defects as they “technically” weren’t defects yet. Wow, what a waste of money and time. As it turned out, although the house “passed” inspection, my friend suddenly couldn’t get “suitable” financing… another saving grace condition.

Anyway, onto contractors.

Having totally renovated three of my homes, I have a process I follow. 1) research research research. Research the type of renovation I’m doing, estimate the cost of the material (Home Depot) so I have a general idea of that cost at least. Research the trade that I need. I will do the Yellow Pages first, google the contractor and look for complaints. Check the BBB and of course get estimates. If I choose one, I will ask for proof of insurance, liability & WSIB and I will call and verify where I can. They, of course, will show me their photo albums of their before and after pictures so I will ask them for names and addresses: You would be surprised how many I have “weeded” out by doing this alone!!!

Once I have agreed on a contractor we write up a contract in which I specify that all major work must have a permit & inspections.

Money in advance. Most will ask for 25% down. I will do 20% at the most with another 20% payable at what is agreed as the half way point of the job. The remainder payable upon final inspections/approvals & job completed in full. I have never been burned and with a contract in place everyone knows the ground rules up front.

If people use common sense & do their own due diligence up front, a lot of potential problems can be alleviated before they even arise.

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