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Are home inspectors alarmists?

Real Estate Agent with BHHS - California Properties

I attended a home inspection with a client today and a fairly new house.  The inspector was very thorough which I always appreciate.  This particular home was on a downslope lot and had a crawl space that had some efflourescence on the back wall which was made of block.  On the side of the house part of the crawl space was constructed out of wood with a stucco exterior.  We have had a lot of heavy rains lately and the crawl space smelled damp and some of the wood was wet.  The inspector noted the efflourescence, noted the damp wood, and suggested that the client get a mold inspection although there didn't seem to be any visual evidence of mold.  Inspectors, like many agents, always like to make clients aware of the real potential for problems and sometimes alarm the clients by their recommendations.  After this particular inspection the wife was understandably concerned and phoned the husband who became very concerned. 

We went back to the property and spent quite a bit of time looking at the foundation, the drainage, the stucco, and the weep screed.  The husband determined that it was an issue that could easily be resolved with some drainage changes and by lowering the grade near a part of the house where the dirt was covering the weep screed.  Surprisingly enough, the space was not vented, which would likely help ventilate and dry out the area, helping to prevent mold growth.

So was the the inspector an alarmist by recommending a mold inspection?  I think the inspector was trying to cover all the bases for his client and minimize his own risk as well.  A few things to consider:

1. A home inspection is very important even on newer homes.  It's a cheap insurance policy that helps protect the buyer and help in decisions about the future cost of making repairs.

2. Home inspectors have different levels of competence and different levels of risk.  Some may completely miss a problem, some may overstate a problem, and some may understate a problem.

3. Sometimes a second opinion or specialty inspection is necessary to get to the facts of the issue.  Home inspectors are not specialists usually and their reports are usually very general in nature.  If you want the house and you are concerned about an issue, get a specialty inspection or get a second opinion from a contractor who specializes in the particular system or component.

What do you think?    

Kevin Nash
Shorewest Realtors, Metro Milwaukee - Germantown, WI

A good home inspector is not an alarmist, rather an information gatherer and will call it as they see it based in general guidelines.

 In Wisconsin, they are not a specialist on any one particular area of the home, rather general practioners. Their job is to point out general working characteristics and potential defects, the question is what is a defect. By definition means a condition that would have a significant adverse effect on the value of the property ; that would significantly impair the health or safety of any future occupants of the property;or that if are not repaired, replaced or removed would significantly shorten or adversely affect the expected normal life of the property. in otherwards something significant.

For the most part I don't have issues with home inspectors because I've been using the same ones for over ten years and after I check out the home prior to the inspection, if there is something wrong, I let the chips fall where they may.

Feb 09, 2011 01:05 AM