What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

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B4Xt3r
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What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by B4Xt3r »

Hi Guys,

I'm posting a follow up to a different thread since the conversation of that thread wasn't quite focused on the details.
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=345816&p=5937602#p5937602

Right now, market offers for houses do not have housing inspections. I'm wondering if I can become fluent enough to inspect a house and avoid the big issues. For the purpose of this thread, let's define big as starting as greater than roughly starting at $5k+. I would imagine things like foundation structurally unsound, roof imminently in need of replacement, pest infestation, etc. I'm sure there are more and I'm curious if more experienced bogleheads can help me recognize the "real issues"

What are some substantial issues? Can they be spotted enough by a layman?

Thanks for any help, we are a young family which is trying to break into the housing market and the inspection contingency is a substantial barrier right now to our entry.

-b4xt3r
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anon_investor
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by anon_investor »

B4Xt3r wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 3:35 pm Hi Guys,

I'm posting a follow up to a different thread since the conversation of that thread wasn't quite focused on the details.
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=345816&p=5937602#p5937602

Right now, market offers for houses do not have housing inspections. I'm wondering if I can become fluent enough to inspect a house and avoid the big issues. For the purpose of this thread, let's define big as starting as greater than roughly starting at $5k+. I would imagine things like foundation structurally unsound, roof imminently in need of replacement, pest infestation, etc. I'm sure there are more and I'm curious if more experienced bogleheads can help me recognize the "real issues"

What are some substantial issues? Can they be spotted enough by a layman?

Thanks for any help, we are a young family which is trying to break into the housing market and the inspection contingency is a substantial barrier right now to our entry.

-b4xt3r
I would not buy a house that I was not allowed to inspect. Too much risk, unless you planned to tear down or it was a real steal (land worth more than price).
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JoeRetire
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by JoeRetire »

B4Xt3r wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 3:35 pmI'm wondering if I can become fluent enough to inspect a house and avoid the big issues.
Maybe. How much experience do you have building/repairing houses? Are you intimately familiar with your local electrical and building codes?
Maybe you can buy a book. Search on Amazon for "home inspection". Purchase a few and see if they seem good enough for you.
Maybe you'll get lucky and the house will be issue-free.
Can they be spotted enough by a layman?
Some can. Many cannot. For many you won't know how to interpret what you are seeing. Here are some lists of common issues found:
https://www.hgtv.com/lifestyle/clean-an ... nspections

You can decide if you are capable of detecting these things or not.

I would never purchase a house without professional inspection. The potential consequences are too expensive for me.

I've heard of people who hire a professional to accompany them every time they look at a house. You wouldn't get a formal inspection that way, but might get some decent informal advice. It could get expensive. I don't know how effective it would be.
Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.
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Watty
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by Watty »

B4Xt3r wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 3:35 pm Right now, market offers for houses do not have housing inspections. I
That would most likely be not accepting offers that have a home inspection contingency where you could walk away from the deal if there is a problem that the inspection uncovers.

I have not done it but you may be able to have home inspector look at a house before you make an offer.

In a hot market you may have to take an inspector on call that can be with you the first time you see the house but I vaguely recall people posting about doing that.
B4Xt3r wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 3:35 pm For the purpose of this thread, let's define big as starting as greater than roughly starting at $5k+.
It would be better to define "big" as a percentage of a homes price. 2% to 5% of a homes price might a more reasonable definition of big. This is why in some crazy markets people will buy a million dollar+ home with no inspections contingency. Few problems that are not obvious would cost more than 5%, or $50,000 to fix so if the house ends up costing 5% more than expected that would not be a dire situation assuming you could afford that.

With a $300K home in a reasonable cost of living area there are a lot more things that could qualify as a "big" problem because of the cost relative to the value of the home.

I am not a building guru but some big things like that which I can think of are foundation problems, really bad mold problems, or a septic or well problem where you could not put in a new system for some reason.

What price range are you looking at?
allones
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by allones »

A house with a wood foundation. The interior basement walls were finished and the exterior siding went to the ground. It didn't occur to me that there wouldn't be poured concrete underneath, but the inspector caught it.

The opinion of the inspector was that it could last 25 years but at some point would need to be replaced.
tim1999
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by tim1999 »

I have passed on the purchase of many potential investment properties and personal residences after professional home inspections revealed:
Extensive mold due to unrepaired roof leaks
Extensive past unrepaired termite damage, but no active termite activity.
Brick walls on old brick house basically falling apart on the inside (found this in the attic...the bricks were literally crumbling and popping out of the wall)
Almost all of the pipes on a hot water boiler heating system were wrapped with asbestos insulation in poor condition.
Knob and tube wiring throughout the house.
Aluminum wiring throughout the house, plus Zinsco electric panel (fire risk)
Yard drainage issue requiring re-grading to correct was causing standing water in the unfinished basement after heavy rain.
The roof, which due to the style of building was mostly not visible from someone standing on the ground, was in extremely poor condition and would have been more expensive to replace than the roof on a more typical building type.
Large second-story deck was constructed in a very amateurish fashion using inadequate supports and mostly warped/poor quality lumber.
1950s-era in-ground oil tank was never removed after converting to electric heat and was in unknown condition.

There were a few more I might think of later. These all occurred in normal markets unlike today's, where it was easy to pass on a property due to such issues because there were plenty of others without issues for reasonable prices.

I am not a handy person. I accompany the inspector the entire time and rely on their observations. I found a very thorough and blunt inspector years ago and only use him if I can.
Last edited by tim1999 on Sat May 08, 2021 4:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
London
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by London »

I’ve never had an inspection that was of any value and didn’t bother with my last house purchase. They will caveat out anything important. Everything thing else, you could uncover yourself if you are moderately handy.
KESP
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by KESP »

Septic system. It’s a thing around here. My son had to replace his to get the sale, even though it gave him no problems. The house he bought had to have theirs replaced as well. I believe it was $20,000. Seems like something the inspectors are looking for in my area.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by Silverado »

London wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:38 pm I’ve never had an inspection that was of any value and didn’t bother with my last house purchase. They will caveat out anything important. Everything thing else, you could uncover yourself if you are moderately handy.
This was my thought also. Especially for a newer home.
Ollie123
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by Ollie123 »

I'd add electrical problems to the mix. Rewiring a home can easily break 5k depending on locale, size of home, exactly what is wrong, etc. I'm not sure these can be easily spotted by a layman, though I'm also not 100% convinced a typical inspection will do a great job of catching it. I'm paying an inspector 50% to actually know what might be wrong with the house and 50% as an insurance policy since they will usually have some liability in case something major goes wrong.

I'd really strongly discourage you from doing what it sounds like you are about to do. It would be one thing if you were a master electrician with 20 years of experience flipping houses, but from the questions it sounds like you are relatively inexperienced/not very handy overall (not a dig - I'm not either). I just can't imagine any situation in which it is that important to buy "now." Why buy? Prices may not fall, but this current system of having to bust down the door with a barrel of cash for the full value of home while agreeing to waive all contingencies within 30 seconds of something going on the market definitely isn't going to last forever.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by shunkman »

Chimneys can be a big deal to repair and often the damage is not obvious.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by runner3081 »

London wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:38 pm I’ve never had an inspection that was of any value and didn’t bother with my last house purchase. They will caveat out anything important. Everything thing else, you could uncover yourself if you are moderately handy.
Agree. We did not buy an inspection our current house when we purchased 8-years ago.
brian91480
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by brian91480 »

You are correct. In this market... if your offer includes an inspection... you're likely not getting the house.

Read the DISCLOSURE document closely. By law, the seller needs to let you know about mold, past water issues, infestations, foundation problems, etc. If you buy the home and they lied on the disclosure form, you have legal recourse in court.

As for appliances... Often times you can buy an appliance insurance policy for about $500. These repair / replace anything that dies within the first 12 months of you buying the home.... heat, ac, fridge, water heater, etc.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by lazynovice »

Aluminum wiring
Swimming pools with plumbing issues (pools often require a specialized inspection)
HVAC on last leg
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by fortunefavored »

runner3081 wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:53 pm
London wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:38 pm I’ve never had an inspection that was of any value and didn’t bother with my last house purchase. They will caveat out anything important. Everything thing else, you could uncover yourself if you are moderately handy.
Agree. We did not buy an inspection our current house when we purchased 8-years ago.
"general" inspections are indeed pretty useless. 9 times out of 10 they say "Consult a specialist" for anything important (chimney, septic, foundation, etc etc.) They tend to make a long list of minor things that won't break your $5000, but are useful to know about.

I find it interesting that the market the OP is in that sellers are going in with NO inspections at all vs. a Seller provided inspection. That is standard in most hot markets - so yes, it's not "your" inspector, but you have an idea of what you're getting into. This also covers the sellers in the case they did not disclose everything.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by CurlyDave »

London wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:38 pm I’ve never had an inspection that was of any value and didn’t bother with my last house purchase. They will caveat out anything important. Everything thing else, you could uncover yourself if you are moderately handy.
About 9 years ago we purchased a rental 4-plex and it was "professionally" inspected during the process. About 4 years later we installed security cameras and had to string ethernet wire in the attics.

We discovered that a previous tenant about 20 years prior (date established by prescription bottle dates found) a tenant had been generating more garbage than the landlord had contracted for and had stored full plastic garbage bags in the attic. There were about an entire full-sized pickup truck full of garbage bags, which had obviously been there during the inspection and yet the inspector missed them. Prescription bottles, dirty diapers, etc. Thankfully by that time the odor had dissipated.

IMHO the inspector was worthless. How do you miss an entire pickup truck's load of garbage in the attic?
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by AlohaJoe »

B4Xt3r wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 3:35 pm What are some substantial issues? Can they be spotted enough by a layman?
Some can but I'd expect many would be easy to miss for a layman. (See below for my example.)

London wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:38 pm I’ve never had an inspection that was of any value and didn’t bother with my last house purchase.
I am definitely sympathetic to this point of view. Many years ago I bought a house. Had an inspection. He gave the me a printed report (which is hard to interpret unless you already know what you're doing) and orally said it was fine, no major issues.

Fast forward two years and I have a somewhat minor plumbing issue. The guy gets out and tells me I have polybutylene pipes which are a huge problem, he doesn't have the tools to deal with them, he'll have to go rent specialty tools from somewhere and the $100 quick fix turned into more like $500 and half a day without water. (This was many years ago so my numbers might be off a bit.)

Turns out polybutylene pipes were the cause of (at the time) the largest class action lawsuit in US history because of how many problems they caused. In 1995 the manufacturer had to pay out over $1 billion in damages. You can read things like "they deteriorate over 10-15 years and fail from the inside out, so it is hard to know when catastrophic failure is imminent". My house was 15-20 years old at the time.

I was like how the $!**&@ was this not mentioned at all in my inspection?

Turns out the National Association of Home Inspectors says "Home inspectors are not required to note the presence of polybutylene, and no tests for weaknesses should be performed. Any deterioration of polybutylene pipes happens from within and cannot be detected without turning off the water and dismantling the pipe, which is far beyond the standards of practice of home inspection".

I went back and looked at the printed inspection report and it turns out the inspector had noted the presence of polybutylene -- there was a check mark by it in the report. But nothing, in either the written or oral report, flagging the issue.

The plumber I called out said you basically have two options: spend a ton of money replacing all the plumbing preemptively or wait until it fails catastrophically, maybe have to deal with water damage, and then replace it all anyway.

Yay.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by Dfree »

My parents were electricians. You wouldn't believe the horror stories. Actual fires. Floods. Foundation failures. Septic tanks still in use DECADES after a previous buyer assumed the sewer line was connected.

Almost every old house was owned at one time by somebody who thought they could figure out electrical, plumbing, foundation, roofing, etc. They were almost always wrong.

You don't want to buy those mistakes.

A single home inspector is the minimum I would accept. I would prefer an electrician and plumber have a look as well.

Improving an inadequate system can be $10K easy. Now, imagine being forced to move out while your house is gutted and restored after a fire or flood.

Also, the factors making this a seller's market have made remodeling a contractor's market. It would be hard to get a good contractor right now. They are already busy. And they are not offering discounts.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by JoeRetire »

CurlyDave wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 12:14 am
London wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:38 pm I’ve never had an inspection that was of any value and didn’t bother with my last house purchase. They will caveat out anything important. Everything thing else, you could uncover yourself if you are moderately handy.
About 9 years ago we purchased a rental 4-plex and it was "professionally" inspected during the process. About 4 years later we installed security cameras and had to string ethernet wire in the attics.

We discovered that a previous tenant about 20 years prior (date established by prescription bottle dates found) a tenant had been generating more garbage than the landlord had contracted for and had stored full plastic garbage bags in the attic. There were about an entire full-sized pickup truck full of garbage bags, which had obviously been there during the inspection and yet the inspector missed them. Prescription bottles, dirty diapers, etc. Thankfully by that time the odor had dissipated.

IMHO the inspector was worthless. How do you miss an entire pickup truck's load of garbage in the attic?
I can't imagine not personally looking in the attic when buying a house. And then never looking in the attic for 4 years?
Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by Mr. Rumples »

Old home electrical panels that are not made anymore and for which the manufacturer is not around.
Repointing. Turns out my entire house has been repointed. It sits on shrink swell soil. Right now I can handle repairs myself.
Relining chimney/repairing fireplace
Trees: dead limbs, disease, overhanging the house.
Asphalt / driveway failing

I've owned four homes. Each was inspected and frankly two missed somethings large. In one case, the inspector gave me my money back when he did not even catch the double tapping in the electrical panel.

The other thing I noticed was the cozy relationship between some inspectors and real estate agents, but I digress.
Last edited by Mr. Rumples on Sun May 09, 2021 6:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by smitcat »

CurlyDave wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 12:14 am
London wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:38 pm I’ve never had an inspection that was of any value and didn’t bother with my last house purchase. They will caveat out anything important. Everything thing else, you could uncover yourself if you are moderately handy.
About 9 years ago we purchased a rental 4-plex and it was "professionally" inspected during the process. About 4 years later we installed security cameras and had to string ethernet wire in the attics.

We discovered that a previous tenant about 20 years prior (date established by prescription bottle dates found) a tenant had been generating more garbage than the landlord had contracted for and had stored full plastic garbage bags in the attic. There were about an entire full-sized pickup truck full of garbage bags, which had obviously been there during the inspection and yet the inspector missed them. Prescription bottles, dirty diapers, etc. Thankfully by that time the odor had dissipated.

IMHO the inspector was worthless. How do you miss an entire pickup truck's load of garbage in the attic?
"IMHO the inspector was worthless. How do you miss an entire pickup truck's load of garbage in the attic?"
As with just about everything, there are good inspectors and there are poor inspectors.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by smitcat »

B4Xt3r wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 3:35 pm Hi Guys,

I'm posting a follow up to a different thread since the conversation of that thread wasn't quite focused on the details.
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=345816&p=5937602#p5937602

Right now, market offers for houses do not have housing inspections. I'm wondering if I can become fluent enough to inspect a house and avoid the big issues. For the purpose of this thread, let's define big as starting as greater than roughly starting at $5k+. I would imagine things like foundation structurally unsound, roof imminently in need of replacement, pest infestation, etc. I'm sure there are more and I'm curious if more experienced bogleheads can help me recognize the "real issues"

What are some substantial issues? Can they be spotted enough by a layman?

Thanks for any help, we are a young family which is trying to break into the housing market and the inspection contingency is a substantial barrier right now to our entry.

-b4xt3r
"What are some substantial issues?"
- major electrical issues in boxes, design and/or distribution
- problems with water intrusion, poor roof design
- water runoff issues due to design or construction
- flooding potential affecting insurance rates
- stuctural design or construction issues by date or implementation
- radon, CO or otherpotential outgassing
- zoning, access, right of way and other plot limitations
- domestic water, drains, waste system and gas lines
- plot lines, clearances, outbuilding locations
- wall and roof construction affecting wind mitigation and insurance rates
- floor and wall coverings , asbestos
Some of the major ones that jump out.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by Mako »

AlohaJoe wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 12:24 am
I am definitely sympathetic to this point of view. Many years ago I bought a house. Had an inspection. He gave the me a printed report (which is hard to interpret unless you already know what you're doing) and orally said it was fine, no major issues.

Fast forward two years and I have a somewhat minor plumbing issue. The guy gets out and tells me I have polybutylene pipes which are a huge problem, (snip)
Last time I was buying I made an offer on a house, the inspector pointed out the polybutylene pipes. I would never have known. After researching the issue I got spooked and ended up walking away, the seller was pretty indignant about this and other issues so it was an easy choice.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by RickBoglehead »

OP clearly lacks the expertise to waive inspection. Now may not be the time to buy.

Most lack this expertise.

In addition, if the house has septic, a qualified septic inspector is necessary. We bought an 11 month home in 1996. Septic failed inspection. Inspector noticed the poor design after pulling plans and opening checkpoints. Entire new field had to be installed, we put in a bull run valve to switch between them on a cycle. Where we currently live, county requires the owner to inspect septic and test water (well) before house is sold.

If Radon is prevalent in the area, that test should also be done.
Last edited by RickBoglehead on Sun May 09, 2021 7:39 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by jabberwockOG »

Get a professional inspection performed for any house purchase - unless you have done a lot of rehabbing or flipping houses, AND are very familiar with local building codes, AND are very familiar with local building problems/issues and their time frames (polyethylene pipes, galvanized pipe, corrosive Chinese drywall, aluminum wiring, GP siding, etc. - the list goes on and on)
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by RickBoglehead »

JoeRetire wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 6:11 am
I can't imagine not personally looking in the attic when buying a house. And then never looking in the attic for 4 years?
This ^^^
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by JoeRetire »

London wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:38 pm I’ve never had an inspection that was of any value and didn’t bother with my last house purchase.
Sometimes you get lucky. Other times you don't.
They will caveat out anything important.
What does that mean? Who is they?
Everything thing else, you could uncover yourself if you are moderately handy.
As with anything, if you are competent enough and willing enough to do all the work, you can save a few dollars.

It's not clear what "moderately handy" means in this case. If it means thoroughly understanding building codes, electrical codes, construction, sewer, pests, etc - then maybe. Perhaps very few people are "moderately handy" enough in this case.

For an investment the scope of a house, this seems like the wrong place to DIY.
Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by Dude2 »

fortunefavored wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 5:21 pm"general" inspections are indeed pretty useless.
Silverado wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:45 pm
London wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:38 pm I’ve never had an inspection that was of any value and didn’t bother with my last house purchase. They will caveat out anything important. Everything thing else, you could uncover yourself if you are moderately handy.
This was my thought also. Especially for a newer home.
CurlyDave wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 12:14 amIMHO the inspector was worthless. How do you miss an entire pickup truck's load of garbage in the attic?
Agreeing wholeheartedly with the posters above. My experience has been that an inspection is essentially just a tool that the buyer can use to haggle a lower price. In other words, nobody is treating it as an actual inspection. The inspector shows up with the mindset of "what can I look for that is going to enable my client to negotiate a few thousand dollars" (thus earning his salary and providing return on investment), not "let me run through this checklist and be sure to dot all i's and cross all t's to ensure I've done the job I was hired to do". They go in armed with a list of items that fit into that category, i.e. they are biased to examine a few things. Anything else is going to have to be very obvious for them to make note of it, i.e anything behind walls, painted over, hastily quick-fixed, forget about it -- then they cover their ass by providing a giant pdf file of all of the general information type things so you can't say that nobody ever told you about x, y, or z.

That being said, if you as a buyer are going to do your own, well, when you get to the negotiating table, probably it is going to mean much more coming from a guy with the credentials as a home inspector.

If even a real home inspector isn't going to find the major items, then no, I don't think you will be able to either. It's going to take lots of time to uncover things as a homeowner. This is where human nature gets ugly, and you find out after the fact how you got screwed. New construction takes out much of this, but you get so much less for the money.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by F150HD »

anon_investor wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 3:39 pm I would not buy a house that I was not allowed to inspect. Too much risk, unless you planned to tear down or it was a real steal (land worth more than price).
around here homes sell so quick people are putting in offers w/ no inspection contingencies. That is what one is up against when buying (by me at least)
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by jfn111 »

In our market most of the housing inspectors are now offering an abbreviated inspection that can be made before an offer is submitted. The usual price is around $100 for a 30 minute "walk-thru" with the potential buyer looking for any major problems. They won't be climbing on the roof to inspect every shingle or checking every outlet for proper grounding but they can alert you to the costly stuff you might encounter.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by Soon2BXProgrammer »

B4Xt3r wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 3:35 pm Hi Guys,

I'm posting a follow up to a different thread since the conversation of that thread wasn't quite focused on the details.
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=345816&p=5937602#p5937602

Right now, market offers for houses do not have housing inspections. I'm wondering if I can become fluent enough to inspect a house and avoid the big issues. For the purpose of this thread, let's define big as starting as greater than roughly starting at $5k+. I would imagine things like foundation structurally unsound, roof imminently in need of replacement, pest infestation, etc. I'm sure there are more and I'm curious if more experienced bogleheads can help me recognize the "real issues"

What are some substantial issues? Can they be spotted enough by a layman?

Thanks for any help, we are a young family which is trying to break into the housing market and the inspection contingency is a substantial barrier right now to our entry.

-b4xt3r
don't skip the inspection. if you can "afford to" make an offer without a contingency, then pay for the inspection before you make an offer.. this happens in Seattle a lot... Houses go on the market on thursday. offers are due on sunday night. They are reviewed on monday. Everyone rushes to see them on friday, and its common for multiple peoples home inspectors to be there on saturday...

"pre-inspect" is common.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by smitcat »

Dude2 wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 7:26 am
fortunefavored wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 5:21 pm"general" inspections are indeed pretty useless.
Silverado wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:45 pm
London wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:38 pm I’ve never had an inspection that was of any value and didn’t bother with my last house purchase. They will caveat out anything important. Everything thing else, you could uncover yourself if you are moderately handy.
This was my thought also. Especially for a newer home.
CurlyDave wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 12:14 amIMHO the inspector was worthless. How do you miss an entire pickup truck's load of garbage in the attic?
Agreeing wholeheartedly with the posters above. My experience has been that an inspection is essentially just a tool that the buyer can use to haggle a lower price. In other words, nobody is treating it as an actual inspection. The inspector shows up with the mindset of "what can I look for that is going to enable my client to negotiate a few thousand dollars" (thus earning his salary and providing return on investment), not "let me run through this checklist and be sure to dot all i's and cross all t's to ensure I've done the job I was hired to do". They go in armed with a list of items that fit into that category, i.e. they are biased to examine a few things. Anything else is going to have to be very obvious for them to make note of it, i.e anything behind walls, painted over, hastily quick-fixed, forget about it -- then they cover their ass by providing a giant pdf file of all of the general information type things so you can't say that nobody ever told you about x, y, or z.

That being said, if you as a buyer are going to do your own, well, when you get to the negotiating table, probably it is going to mean much more coming from a guy with the credentials as a home inspector.

If even a real home inspector isn't going to find the major items, then no, I don't think you will be able to either. It's going to take lots of time to uncover things as a homeowner. This is where human nature gets ugly, and you find out after the fact how you got screwed. New construction takes out much of this, but you get so much less for the money.
"My experience has been that an inspection is essentially just a tool that the buyer can use to haggle a lower price. In other words, nobody is treating it as an actual inspection"
In my experience inspections include important details about the current homes condition , a few examples only:
- remove electrical panel cover measure temps and look for wiring issues
- inspect roof condition, rafter ties, all attachment points for updates and insurance
- measure CO of any combustion units for safety and efficiency
- potential pest conditions and certs for remedial costs and insurance
etc...
Dependent upon the age and the area of the home YMMV.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by smitcat »

jfn111 wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 8:25 am In our market most of the housing inspectors are now offering an abbreviated inspection that can be made before an offer is submitted. The usual price is around $100 for a 30 minute "walk-thru" with the potential buyer looking for any major problems. They won't be climbing on the roof to inspect every shingle or checking every outlet for proper grounding but they can alert you to the costly stuff you might encounter.
I guess this accomplishes something but may give a false sence of security for many big items.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by anon_investor »

F150HD wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 8:14 am
anon_investor wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 3:39 pm I would not buy a house that I was not allowed to inspect. Too much risk, unless you planned to tear down or it was a real steal (land worth more than price).
around here homes sell so quick people are putting in offers w/ no inspection contingencies. That is what one is up against when buying (by me at least)
No inspection contingency is different than not doing an inspecting before an offer. If no inspection contingency, I would definitely inspect before making an offer.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by Horologium »

anon_investor wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 3:39 pm I would not buy a house that I was not allowed to inspect. Too much risk, unless you planned to tear down or it was a real steal (land worth more than price).
I keep hearing that buying houses "as is" is the norm in this market, but I agree and would not buy a house I wasn't able to have inspected.

In my house buying experience, I've seen the full spectrum of issues from sellers.

Our second-to-last house we bought from a guy who was an engineer. He prided himself on improving what was already a very well-built house. I had an inspector look at it anyway. He agreed that the house was in immaculate condition. I trusted the owner, but was glad to have the inspection confirm it.

We bought our current house pretty much "as is". It was just what we were looking for as far as style, neighborhood, etc. However, the sellers hadn't maintained it very well. It needed a lot of work, but the sellers said 'take it or leave it'. Even though we went through with the purchase, we had it inspected so that we knew what we were getting into and had an idea of what it would cost. So, the inspection was still worth the money.

I saved the best for last. Back in the 90s, I was relocated to California and we found a place we liked. I had it inspected and we found out that the owner had built an addition 'under the radar' and never got permits. He'd also done some other work himself and done a lousy job. All in all, the inspection uncovered about $50,000 worth of work the house needed. This was structural stuff I would never have been able to spot on my own.

The owner was going through a divorce and needed to sell, so he agreed to have the work done. After the work was supposedly done, I had the inspector revisit to make sure. It cost me another fee, but it was well worth it as he discovered that the owner had lied and not all the repairs had been done. I heard he was pretty unhappy when the inspector showed up for that second visit! :shock:

What we paid for those two inspections was just a fraction of what we would have paid in repairs.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by Horologium »

CurlyDave wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 12:14 am
IMHO the inspector was worthless.
Kind of a thread drift, but I agree that there are lots of "inspectors" out there who are worthless.

That being said, I still would not buy a house without having it inspected. The key (obviously) is to hire a qualified inspector.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by Random Poster »

London wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:38 pm I’ve never had an inspection that was of any value and didn’t bother with my last house purchase. They will caveat out anything important. Everything thing else, you could uncover yourself if you are moderately handy.
Maybe for a general inspection, but a radon inspection isn’t something that can usually be DIY’d before purchase and a proper one doesn’t contain any caveats.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by vested1 »

We paid for an inspection. The roof looked great from the ground, fairly new. Our inspector was very thorough and climbed up on the steeply pitched roof. He found hail damage and took pictures. The sellers didn't know about the hail damage and turned it into their insurance, which paid for a new roof and had it replaced before close of escrow. The other things the inspector found were also fixed. His price was well worth it.

Contrast that with the house we sold, Two different buyer's inspectors refused to climb up into the attic because it was tight. Moral to the story, get a highly rated inspector who isn't lazy or too out of shape to get into tight spaces if needed. It can be a physically demanding job if done right.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by MathWizard »

Our inspector found a hole in the furnace heat exchanger, which would allow for Carbon Monoxide in the home.

The seller offered to install an 80% efficient (cheap) furnace or knock that much off the price . We took the latter and installed s high efficiency furnace.

Other safety hazards the seller didn't want to repair,but we knew what needed to be fixed going in.

I inspected when we toured the homes and rejected homes where the basement wall was cracked , or where a plate had to be installed to prevent buckling.

Most things can be fixed, just factor an estimate if what that would cost into what you will pay.

I put $30K into the house in the first year, including the furnace .
It was a fixer upper.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by BolderBoy »

London wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:38 pmI’ve never had an inspection that was of any value and didn’t bother with my last house purchase. They will caveat out anything important.
+1.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by Isabelle77 »

The septic problems are interesting, when we had a septic tank we were required by law to have it inspected before closing, along with a fire inspection. I guess this is a state rule?

We've sold two houses without inspections and bought two without inspections. We've never had anything crazy but we do ask for a home warranty and actually used it to replace our water heater with this house. I have heard of horror stories of course, usually foundation issues or in one case, all the windows were bad. In our market right now though, if you're demanding an inspection, you're not getting the house.

Of course, back in 2008 when we sold our home, the buyers asked us to fix 36 things in our 4yr old house. 36. Including things like new paint and new screens in all the windows. We did every single one because in 2008 that was the cost of doing business :)
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by CurlyDave »

JoeRetire wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 6:11 am
CurlyDave wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 12:14 am
London wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:38 pm I’ve never had an inspection that was of any value and didn’t bother with my last house purchase. They will caveat out anything important. Everything thing else, you could uncover yourself if you are moderately handy.
About 9 years ago we purchased a rental 4-plex and it was "professionally" inspected during the process. About 4 years later we installed security cameras and had to string ethernet wire in the attics.

We discovered that a previous tenant about 20 years prior (date established by prescription bottle dates found) a tenant had been generating more garbage than the landlord had contracted for and had stored full plastic garbage bags in the attic. There were about an entire full-sized pickup truck full of garbage bags, which had obviously been there during the inspection and yet the inspector missed them. Prescription bottles, dirty diapers, etc. Thankfully by that time the odor had dissipated.

IMHO the inspector was worthless. How do you miss an entire pickup truck's load of garbage in the attic?
I can't imagine not personally looking in the attic when buying a house. And then never looking in the attic for 4 years?
This was a rental. The tenants had already been imposed on during the sale, and the inspection. I did not live in the city where it was located (moved there later as our retirement plan), and could not accompany the inspector.

A 4 plex has two attics with a firewall between them. This makes inspection twice as hard.
Answering a question is easy -- asking the right question is the hard part.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by London »

JoeRetire wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 7:00 am
London wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 4:38 pm I’ve never had an inspection that was of any value and didn’t bother with my last house purchase.
Sometimes you get lucky. Other times you don't.
They will caveat out anything important.
What does that mean? Who is they?
Everything thing else, you could uncover yourself if you are moderately handy.
As with anything, if you are competent enough and willing enough to do all the work, you can save a few dollars.

It's not clear what "moderately handy" means in this case. If it means thoroughly understanding building codes, electrical codes, construction, sewer, pests, etc - then maybe. Perhaps very few people are "moderately handy" enough in this case.

For an investment the scope of a house, this seems like the wrong place to DIY.
Sorry, not playing the definition game with you. If you want an inspection, get one and feel good about it.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by Lookingforanswers »

I have sympathy with anyone who has to buy a house today without an inspection. I've bought 3 homes, and found the inspection invaluable each time, partly because I got early input/advice on maintenance issues that didn't stop me from buying the house but were important. Most memorably, when we were buying our first house 30 years ago, an inspection kept us from completing the purchase of a home we'd placed an offer on, due to:

- numerous problems related to poor drainage over the years. (I hadn't connected the dots between a roof problem, a gutter problem, some siding problems outside and some signs of water in the basement).
- electrical problems
- general maintenance throughout the home.

We were buying a fixer upper owned by an older couple who hadn't maintained the house well, and we thought we understood what we were doing with a "bargain" price on the house, but we had overlooked a lot of things the inspector caught. At one point, when we just out of hearing range of the listing agent who was generally sticking right by our side, the inspector leaned over to me and said quietly: "You know, a guy could go broke owning a house like this." Right after we got the written report, we backed out of the deal.

A second anecdote: when I was managing the sale of my parents' home several years ago, the inspector caught a couple of serious issues in their home I didn't know about (settlement issues and foundation issues). It led to my granting a concession on the selling price that more than paid the price of the inspection.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by blackburnian »

The inspector informed me that the central AC was near the end of its life and replacing it would cost thousands of dollars because a different refrigerant is now required. Because of that and some other things I was able to negotiate a lower price. The seller wasn't happy, but I was offering cash as well as flexible moving date--otherwise they probably would have moved on to one of the offers without inspection contingency.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by weirdsong1 »

Well, let's see. Just to name to two such anecdotes, my in-laws have friends that purchased an uninspected house that turned out was infested with bats. Took a while to reveal itself, but basically the remediation cost more than the house was worth. And currently, my new neighbors are suing our former neighbors because for some reason many of the windows in the house (and all of the 12 skylights) were plexiglass and not glass. Though in this case, the home inspector missed that too. So count me amongst those who would not buy a house without an inspection.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by F150HD »

anon_investor wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 11:31 am
F150HD wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 8:14 am
anon_investor wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 3:39 pm I would not buy a house that I was not allowed to inspect. Too much risk, unless you planned to tear down or it was a real steal (land worth more than price).
around here homes sell so quick people are putting in offers w/ no inspection contingencies. That is what one is up against when buying (by me at least)
No inspection contingency is different than not doing an inspecting before an offer. If no inspection contingency, I would definitely inspect before making an offer.
people are not getting inspections before making any offer here, so no 'inspection contingency' as stated b/c there is nothing to be contingent upon.

To restate, no one here, where I am in my area, is getting an inspection as homes sell within 24, many even faster.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by BogleFan510 »

One can buy a stock, even an index fund, and have it drop in value 10% or more in a month. Most see that as par for the course. A home with an issue that costs 1-2% of the total price is seen as a huge deal. Just get it fixed and move on.
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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by Sandtrap »

I have accompanied licensed home inspectors that missed major issues.
HVAC issues, water supply plumbing failures, and foundation issues, and more.
In some areas it doesn’t take much to be a licensed home inspector.

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Re: What "substantial" issues have you seen/heard of housing inspections flagging

Post by Quercus Palustris »

On the purchase of our current house, we had a very thorough inspector. He sent a detailed report outlining things that were (1) immediate safety / health hazard, (2) future hazard, and (3) annoying / you-might-want-to-fix-this, with pictures and good explanations. Keep in mind a good inspector will have his own tools & gadgets that you either might not have, or might not be welcome whipping out at the open house! Think the realtor will mind if you bust out a drone or 15' selfie stick to check the flashing on the roof?

I think if you're handy enough and nosy enough, and have lived in older houses (more years = more things going wrong = more shoddy repairs, etc), maybe you can do the inspection yourself. If you've only ever lived in new construction and are looking at a house from the 60s or earlier... I'd get a good inspector. Of course in the current housing market that might also mean your offer gets ignored. Can't win!

Some stuff uncovered at our house (1964 vintage):
  • Old electrical panel (Pusmatic). Not a fire/shock hazard (like a Federal Pacific panel), but can't get new breakers or add circuits
  • Mouse tunnels in attic loose fill fiberglass insulation
  • Mouse droppings on top of ducts in unfinished basement
  • Sinking concrete slabs in walkway (water and/or tree roots)
  • HVAC return register in "remodeled" shower stall (!! :oops: )
  • Looked up the age of the AC condenser and furnace (19 and 22 yo, respectively -- but still measuring adequate temperature drop/raise)
  • Sump pumps powered by extension cords hooked to light socket adaptors w/ 3-to-2 prong "cheaters" (!! :annoyed )
The inspector also recommended a separate chimney inspection (he wasn't qualified) which turned up a leaking steel flue liner (old, rusted from busted chimney cap) and brick spalling and cracking on the outside and inside of the chimney.
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