Tales From a Home Inspector: The Good, the Bad and the Weird

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Bill says that's the sign of a lazy home inspector. "When he went to look at the attic, he just peeked up in there and came right back down. Unfortunately, you've already hired the guy, he's at your house -- how're you going to fire him? It's awkward."
I Would Never Work With That Real Estate Agent
"I was doing a home inspection for a couple who couldn't speak English," Bill

Bill says that's the sign of a lazy home inspector. "When he went to look at the attic, he just peeked up in there and came right back down. Unfortunately, you've already hired the guy, he's at your house -- how're you going to fire him? It's awkward."

I Would Never Work With That Real Estate Agent

"I was doing a home inspection for a couple who couldn't speak English," Bill says. "Their son could speak good English, and he was there to let his mom and dad know what they were buying. The furnace was rusted, and when it started up, the carbon monoxide detectors went off. I told the son, 'Tell mom and dad they need a new furnace.'"

He says the real estate agent got upset and left. "She went to her car and called me on her cell phone and said, 'You are not to have any more conversations about the furnace with these people.' I would never inspect a home for that real estate agent again."

Bill believes the high liability nature of the business keeps most home inspectors honest. "You have to have insurance. If something goes bad in the house, I have no recourse." Still, it's possible some home inspectors may give lax inspections in order to receive referrals from real estate agents.

How Far Will They Go, and Where Do They Draw the Line?

Bill says inspections are visual and do not entail destructive examining. "Home inspectors are generalists and not experts. We're like the general practitioner who sees the patient, takes blood and refers them to a specialist if there's a problem. When I see a water leak in the roof, I refer it to a licensed roofing contractor. If there's a crack in the foundation that needs attention, we refer that to a structural engineer. They carry the 'expert' behind their name and they can put in writing that a correction has to be made."

When asked what home inspectors hate checking, Bill says, "It's different for every home inspector. Some will charge extra to go into horrible crawl spaces. Most won't go into really nasty places. Some crawl spaces are so small you can't get into them, or they're not safe -- there are snakes, bees, all kinds of creatures. I'm only checking for structural issues.”

Be There or Be Sorry

Bill says the buyer should always be present during the home inspection. "It's your opportunity to learn how to operate the house and where everything is." Bill says once he was busy inspecting a home when the buyer flew down the stairs in a panic. Bill couldn't imagine what the man had seen to cause such fright. The man said to Bill, "I bought the wrong goddamn house!"

Bill explains, "He had seen so many houses with the agent and he got confused about which one it was that he'd wanted. He thought he had bought one with a huge master bedroom and he'd gone upstairs and then realized that this wasn't the house he intended to buy."

Small Bucks, Big Assurance

While there is no set price for home inspection, Bill says the general guideline is 1 percent of the sale price of the house. "Others go buy square footage of the home. It depends on the area and the age of the home."

Bill says, "Every buyer should have a home inspection. It's such a small amount of money for such peace of mind going into such a big expenditure. You're only going spend around $500 for an inspection on a $500,000 house. After everything I've seen, it amazes me that someone wouldn't."

Also See: Tips on Buying Foreclosure Properties

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