Issues with home inspector?

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XtremeSki2001
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Issues with home inspector?

Post by XtremeSki2001 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 10:30 am

All,

Wanted to get your input as I suspect many of you have had experience in this area. I bought a house in May of 2013 and paid ~$500 for a home inspector prior to closing. The inspector was recommended by our realtor (who we had a great experience with) and we independently validated them by looking up online reviews. Should we pursue anything with our inspector? After all, I don't think these were issues the buyer was negligent in disclosing, but they could be argued as such.

In our first ~16 months in the home we've discovered quite a few concerns. Most of these concerns are easy to identify if you know what to look for.
  • Roof had a leak and water got into the house in May/June 2014. Inspecting the roof from the inside the decking had significant damage and mold. I suspect this was something that started before we purchased our home. We replaced the roof for $10k in June 2014.
    • Inspection report indicated some shingles were damaged and needed to replaced (nothing about the aforementioned area). The inspector verbally communicated the roof would be good for an additional 3-5 years.
    The house is primarily vinyl and brick, but our exposed foundation as part of the daylight basement is stucco. There is significant stucco damage and we received a quote for $10k. Two different independent companies had people say the damage should have been identified by the inspector (company that did the roofing repairs, company that did the stucco quote).
    • Inspection report did not indicate any stucco damage. Damage is significant and results from years of damage.
    The 250 sqft wood deck (elevated due to daylight basement) was installed improperly and is not level. This result in sitting water against our house. Since water is not penetrating into the home, we don't plan to remediate.
    • Inspection report did not indicate any installation issues beyond the lack of hurricane clips.
I'm a pretty realistic (reasonable?) person so if it was just the roof I'd say it's a push ... after all they did call attention to the roof in the report, even if the severity of the damage was understated. Plus it's already been repaired so it's basically a done deal. However, it's tough for me to get past the other items especially since they were in-scope for the inspection. We'd be out an extra $10k and to fix the deck we'd basically need to replace it (there are other issues), which wouldn't be too much but at this point it's adding up. In PA, home inspectors are required to maintain insurance against errors and omissions and general liability coverage, which I'd argue the aforementioned are errors/omissions.

I plan on contacting the inspector and our realtor to discuss, but wanted the groups input. Anything I'm not considering?
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Boglegrappler
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by Boglegrappler » Fri Sep 05, 2014 10:55 am

I've never thought much of home inspectors. They're usually referred by realtors, and they know never to be "deal killers" or they won't ever be referred again. I'll hire one the next time, as usual, but I don't actually rely on them.

Not sure what recourse you have. The first home I ever bought, the inspector said something like "annual maintenance program should be instituted to extend life of roof". What that meant was "needs new roof". I didn't figure it out until later.

Rupert
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by Rupert » Fri Sep 05, 2014 10:56 am

What sort of paperwork did you sign when you contracted with the home inspector? Read it carefully because their liability is often limited to the price you paid for the home inspection. You might get your $500 back.

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XtremeSki2001
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by XtremeSki2001 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:08 am

Rupert wrote:What sort of paperwork did you sign when you contracted with the home inspector? Read it carefully because their liability is often limited to the price you paid for the home inspection. You might get your $500 back.
Yes - says it's limited to $500. If I could get that back it would be a start. However, PA statutes title 68 states the following:
§ 7507. Contracts with home inspectors.

(a) Prohibited provisions.--The following types of provisions in a contract with a home inspector for the performance of a home inspection are contrary to public policy and shall be void:

(1) a limitation on the liability of the home inspector for gross negligence or willful misconduct;

(2) a waiver or modification of any provision of this chapter.

(b) Scope of inspection.--The scope of a home inspection, the services to be performed and the systems and conditions to be inspected or excluded from inspection may be defined by a contract between the home inspector and the client.
Last edited by XtremeSki2001 on Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Flobes
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by Flobes » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:09 am

Many states require a Seller's Disclosure form, which describes the homes condition and/or lists any known defects.

It appears you are in Pennsylvania, and a quickie Google indicates such Seller Disclosures are the law there.
http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/ ... e-law.html

Did you receive the form? And do you still have the copy? Were problems with the roof, stucco and deck disclosed?

Your legal issue may be with the Seller, the Seller's Realtor, and your Realtor. And not with the careless inspector.

nelson1015
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by nelson1015 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:11 am

Rupert wrote:What sort of paperwork did you sign when you contracted with the home inspector? Read it carefully because their liability is often limited to the price you paid for the home inspection. You might get your $500 back.
This. Home inspectors in most states are required to carry E&O insurance and this definitely falls under that category. Most Home Inspectors also belong to a "group" that has a lawyer on hand. If you try to pursue legal recourse you will probably get a letter back from an attorney and they may offer to refund your inspection fee. Other than that I don't foresee you getting anything else out of this unless you decide to lawyer up yourself and potentially waste some funds pursuing this further. Personally, I wouldn't pursue it myself.

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XtremeSki2001
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by XtremeSki2001 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:16 am

Flobes wrote:Many states require a Seller's Disclosure form, which describes the homes condition and/or lists any known defects.

It appears you are in Pennsylvania, and a quickie Google indicates such Seller Disclosures are the law there.
http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/ ... e-law.html

Did you receive the form? And do you still have the copy? Were problems with the roof, stucco and deck disclosed?

Your legal issue may be with the Seller, the Seller's Realtor, and your Realtor. And not with the careless inspector.
I can't find the copy right now, but I know these problems were not mentioned. However, given the nature of the issues I'm not sure how (or if) the sellers even knew about the issues. There was a small repair done to the stucco before we moved in, but it's not clear why the repair was made.
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HueyLD
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by HueyLD » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:20 am

.............
Last edited by HueyLD on Sat Feb 07, 2015 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

EagertoLearnMore
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by EagertoLearnMore » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:37 am

Did you receive any type of homeowner's warranty from the seller when you purchased? Not saying they are very helpful. We have had them in several houses and both times they were totally worthless. And to even start the process you have to pay to have someone look at the problem, so ask LOTS of questions before that.

indexmeasap
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by indexmeasap » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:45 am

Sorry to hear about your issues. Sounded like you needed a "Holmes" inspection. I found Mike Holmes Canadian TV show about sub-par homes inspections and the unfortunate results extremely informative on the process. Just curious, instead of paying $500 for a standard home inspection, has anyone just paid extra to have specialized inspections of the:

Roof/Chimney
Foundation
Plumbing
Electrical
HVAC

Would the buyer have more recourse from the individual inspectors if something were to fail?

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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by Phineas J. Whoopee » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:51 am

I used a home inspector recommended by my attorney, the one person involved who was legally required to be loyal to me, rather than to the seller, lender, or coop. The attorney was recommended by a colleague who also owns and manages several residential properties. That style of investing isn't for me, but he sure did know a good real estate lawyer to use.

PJW

Rupert
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by Rupert » Fri Sep 05, 2014 12:24 pm

indexmeasap wrote:Sorry to hear about your issues. Sounded like you needed a "Holmes" inspection. I found Mike Holmes Canadian TV show about sub-par homes inspections and the unfortunate results extremely informative on the process. Just curious, instead of paying $500 for a standard home inspection, has anyone just paid extra to have specialized inspections of the:

Roof/Chimney
Foundation
Plumbing
Electrical
HVAC

Would the buyer have more recourse from the individual inspectors if something were to fail?
Do you honestly think any one of these contractors would agree to do an inspection for you if you could turn around and sue them if it turns out they missed a problem? That would be one loser of a business to go into. Many problems simply cannot be identified by visual inspection. The most expensive problems tend to be lurking in walls and under shingles, etc. That's why an inspector's liability is limited to the cost of the inspection. No one could afford to go into the business of home inspecting if the rule were otherwise.

The only realistic way to protect yourself from what the OP is experiencing is to only buy a house that comes with a home warranty of some sort.

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XtremeSki2001
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by XtremeSki2001 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 12:37 pm

EagertoLearnMore wrote:Did you receive any type of homeowner's warranty from the seller when you purchased? Not saying they are very helpful. We have had them in several houses and both times they were totally worthless. And to even start the process you have to pay to have someone look at the problem, so ask LOTS of questions before that.
We did, but it was one year. We called about our roof, because it was covered by this warranty. At the end of the day the money they were going to give us was a few hundred dollars, we had to use their guys, go through them for everything, and decided it would be better to go it alone.
indexmeasap wrote:Sorry to hear about your issues. Sounded like you needed a "Holmes" inspection. I found Mike Holmes Canadian TV show about sub-par homes inspections and the unfortunate results extremely informative on the process. Just curious, instead of paying $500 for a standard home inspection, has anyone just paid extra to have specialized inspections of the:

Roof/Chimney
Foundation
Plumbing
Electrical
HVAC

Would the buyer have more recourse from the individual inspectors if something were to fail?
What I learned from this process is bringing someone by the house to do an estimate or an off the books consultation. I've learned a tremendous amount about my house by having a few estimates for: replacement roof, stucco repair, advice on an addition, and HVAC/furnace. While I don't anticipate buying another house for the foreseeable future, next time I will have the home inspector, my handman, and a roofer/hvac guy come out to do estimates for replacement.
Last edited by XtremeSki2001 on Fri Sep 05, 2014 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ohiost90
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by ohiost90 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 12:41 pm

I would think you will have a hard time proving the following:

(1) a limitation on the liability of the home inspector for gross negligence or willful misconduct;

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steadyeddy
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by steadyeddy » Fri Sep 05, 2014 12:49 pm

I know the contract I signed for my home inspection gives me virtually no recourse. I think I could win up to $300 in arbitration. Housing is an undiversified risk. Sometimes you get unlucky. You can probably get a token sum back from the home inspection company with an informal complaint, but you have virtually no chance of being made whole.

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rustymutt
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by rustymutt » Fri Sep 05, 2014 1:09 pm

Boglegrappler wrote:I've never thought much of home inspectors. They're usually referred by realtors, and they know never to be "deal killers" or they won't ever be referred again. I'll hire one the next time, as usual, but I don't actually rely on them.

Not sure what recourse you have. The first home I ever bought, the inspector said something like "annual maintenance program should be instituted to extend life of roof". What that meant was "needs new roof". I didn't figure it out until later.
Plus one.

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sailfish2
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by sailfish2 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 1:17 pm

Boglegrappler wrote:I've never thought much of home inspectors. They're usually referred by realtors, and they know never to be "deal killers" or they won't ever be referred again. I'll hire one the next time, as usual, but I don't actually rely on them.

Not sure what recourse you have. The first home I ever bought, the inspector said something like "annual maintenance program should be instituted to extend life of roof". What that meant was "needs new roof". I didn't figure it out until later.
Never accept the inspector referred to by a realtor, obviously. :oops: :)
I selected an inspector independently during the last purchase I was involved with. I believe there is an organization of independent home inspectors, that are ardently unaffiliated with local realtors.

Next time I buy, I am planning to hire not one but TWO independent inspectors...

Rupert
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by Rupert » Fri Sep 05, 2014 1:22 pm

steadyeddy wrote:I know the contract I signed for my home inspection gives me virtually no recourse. I think I could win up to $300 in arbitration. Housing is an undiversified risk. Sometimes you get unlucky. You can probably get a token sum back from the home inspection company with an informal complaint, but you have virtually no chance of being made whole.
This is so true and I feel for OP, having bought a similar stinker of a house myself a long time ago. From that experience, I learned enough about houses to do my own inspection next time, but I've also determined that it's a good idea to become close friends with at least one general contractor. I would never consider buying a new house without having my contractor friend look it over, in addition to having a formal inspection done by someone not in anyway connected to my realtor or lender.

indexmeasap
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by indexmeasap » Fri Sep 05, 2014 1:40 pm

Rupert wrote:The most expensive problems tend to be lurking in walls and under shingles, etc.
How does a buyer discover these issues? I guess I don't know enough about the specialized inspection process and assumed they could uncover these lurking things better than a general home inspector. How would the issuer of the home warranty identify and price in the risk of these hidden issues? A home warranty issuer would go out of business real quick if had to pay out numerous large sums (10K, 30K, 100K), no?

There has to be a way to pull back dry wall, poke holes in things viewing areas with snake cameras and open hidden spaces to ensure everything is in order. If nothing is found, the dry wall is repaired out of buyer's pocket and sale is completed. If issues, the negotiation continues....

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XtremeSki2001
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by XtremeSki2001 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 1:46 pm

indexmeasap wrote:
Rupert wrote:The most expensive problems tend to be lurking in walls and under shingles, etc.
How does a buyer discover these issues? I guess I don't know enough about the specialized inspection process and assumed they could uncover these lurking things better than a general home inspector. How would the issuer of the home warranty identify and price in the risk of these hidden issues? A home warranty issuer would go out of business real quick if had to pay out numerous large sums (10K, 30K, 100K), no?

There has to be a way to pull back dry wall, poke holes in things viewing areas with snake cameras and open hidden spaces to ensure everything is in order. If nothing is found, the dry wall is repaired out of buyer's pocket and sale is completed. If issues, the negotiation continues....
The home warranties are generally useless. Most will pay for very little towards a repair ... at least in my experience.
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Fri Sep 05, 2014 2:46 pm

I've had two houses inspected. The first inspector, recommended by a friend, was wonderful. He went over everything thoroughly and had me with him so he could show me what was wrong and needed to be fixed, and produced a very detailed report.. The second inspector was useless and a complete waste of time and money.

If I ever need an inspector again, I will look long and hard at references from people he or she has done work for, and ask to see a report (that should be possible with no privacy issues if the name and address is blacked out.)

I didn't buy the house the second inspector looked at, so I can't say anything about your chances of getting any money back.

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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by DueDiligence » Fri Sep 05, 2014 4:15 pm

indexmeasap wrote:
How does a buyer discover these issues? I guess I don't know enough about the specialized inspection process and assumed they could uncover these lurking things better than a general home inspector.....
Realtor recommendations not recommended. If you want better than a general home inspection check National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers
http://nabie.org/.

Worked very well for me.

DueDiligence
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XtremeSki2001
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by XtremeSki2001 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 4:49 pm

Inspector actually returned my call within a few hours (probably because of the e-mail I sent my realtor). I was very friendly and cordial and we walked through my concerns. He stuck to his guns and said a lot can happen in a year and when he inspected it he didn't noticed any problems that I mentioned. He asked why I called and I said I thought he'd recognize some of the items should have been identified and he give me back some or all of the inspection fee. He got pretty adamant he did nothing wrong and started lecturing me a bit. I won't pursue him anymore.

Going to get the disclosures from the realtor, but I suspect I'll be left with paying for this out of pocket.
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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by rayout » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:02 pm

I used an inspector that charged $100 more than typical. He was recommended by a real estate lawyer and was worth every penny. I probably spent close to $2,000 on various inspections of rental properties with him before I made purchase. He was extremely well versed on the construction methods of homes throughout my area

I would not do business with an inspector recommended by my realtor as they are selected to rubber stamp the deal.

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Re: Issues with home inspector?

Post by stan1 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:20 pm

My recommendation is twofold: 1) pay the inspector more to spend more time on the property (at least 4 hours longer if the house is very large or very old). Treat the inspector like a professional and you'll get better answers; 2) accompany the inspector for the duration of his time on the property asking a lot of questions. Go into the attic and crawl space. Ask questions like "how would you fix this?"; "what is that smell?"; "why is this wet?"; "what is that crack?"; "is this level?"; "what is that noise?"; "have you seen that before?"; "does this look like substandard quality work?". If you've done 1) you are now paying him to answer your questions not just write a cursory report.

Sorry this doesn't help OP with his problem.

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