The Importance of a Good Home Inspector

Why is choosing the right home inspector so important in your real estate transaction?  Of course there are the obvious points that everyone knows. Like being as certain as possible the house you’re buying isn’t a pile of junk. Getting a professional to check for those dangerous hazards unseen to the world, hidden away in attics, crawlspaces and that spot behind the furnace that no one ever ventures, is a great idea. We also must remember that using an inspector with common sense who does the right thing helps ensure the items above are checked.

 Totally improper installation of stairs that are also covered in mold. 

Totally improper installation of stairs that are also covered in mold. 

I’m pretty sure I use and recommend our cities best home inspector. I even affectionately gave him the nickname “Deal Killer David.”  One would think a home inspector who’s working in the buyer’s best interest is also working in the agent’s best interest.  If the person I recommend to inspect one of your largest purchases misses a break in the furnace flue you could literally die. This puts a kink on your ability to recommend me :)

It’s very rare that I see other home inspectors in action. I exclusively recommend one person for home inspections. The only time I see another inspector is when a buyer decides to hire their own inspector. Recently that happened and spawned the desire to write this. In fairness things got off on the wrong foot when the inspector called me 15 minutes prior to the inspection time asking for the combo to get in. I was five minutes away and kind of felt like they could have waited or done some outside inspecting.

Inspection on the outside was already done… it only took them about 5 minutes. In fairness it was a small house, but bringing a ladder may have helped their ability to do a more thorough inspection. Did you pay attention there? They came (two of them, in separate vehicles) to do an inspection and NEITHER brought a ladder!  How does this happen? Seriously… think about your job. Maybe it’s a computer, possibly a wrench, maybe it’s a pen, perhaps it’s a lock-box key… what happens if you show up to work without that tool?

 Not a big deal, but typically cardboard isn't part of a gas line hanger

Not a big deal, but typically cardboard isn't part of a gas line hanger

The real problems arose when they disallowed ME to turn on the water because the heat wasn’t on. If I defy their recommendation to leave the water off and stuff happens they’re easily off the hook. I was willing to sign a waiver or anything else they wanted, however their policy was not to turn on water without heat being on and there was no budging on the position even after calling the “boss.”

The gas company would not be out for another three days and the inspection period ended in two days. We didn’t have time to wait to test the plumbing. We argued but rather than get into a fist fight if they tried to stop my attempt to turn on the water I simply explained that their policy was stupid and we all left. I immediately contacted “Deal Killer David” to see if he could do us a favor.

The inspection company my buyer hired (literally) spent more time documenting information about the appliances than checking out the roof. Oh yeah, they forgot their ladder. The inspection report they sent over was very thorough at listing the missing switch covers, HVAC vents and in fairness some electrical issues. Of course the appliance serial numbers and such were notated with gobs of information.

I sent a copy to my inspector prior to his arrival to test the plumbing just for his knowledge. Rather it was one-upmanship, more experience, or more care, the Deal Killer found a lot of issues missed by the previous inspection company. Like broken and improperly repaired floor joists and poor drainage being the cause of foundation settling. Reviewing the more than 75 inspections done for my clients by “Deal Killer David” I can tell you this is just his standard thoroughness. It’s why I recommend him exclusively.

 Without a ladder how would an inspector know how bad this rot is on a second story window?

Without a ladder how would an inspector know how bad this rot is on a second story window?

I can’t be positive because I’ve never asked the buyer, however it’s safe to speculate that he chose the inspection company he did because they charged $15 less than David. I know that he would have matched the other companies charge… and if he wouldn’t I’d have ponied up the extra $15 to get a quality inspection.  The buyer is fighting with the first inspection company about their fee as they didn’t bring ladders, wouldn’t turn on the water and were only there for 90 minutes. These add up to a lot of question marks as to what they’re charging for. On top of everything he ended up paying two inspection companies to get one complete inspection and that is just silly.

I would say by and large the inspector recommended by your agent is likely a great choice. However, think about asking them why they recommend them. Do they offer appliance information? Is it because they throw in a $10 book from a Home Goods Store on home maintenance? Or because they are extremely picky and do a quality inspection?  That’s the inspector you’re looking for.  If you want my advice, hire Block Home Inspections.