Inspected Once, Twice...

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

Home inspectors are not omniscient, all though at times there seems to be that perception. I have heard on many occasions, "the inspector should have caught that". This includes things like damage found inside walls, leaks that occur years after the homeowners have moved in, and stuff that doesn't necessarily fall into a home inspection. Often I find by asking a few questions, the inspector wasn't at fault, the perception is off. However, there are times when it is clear to me things were missed.

I have found during my own inspections items that were not caught by previous inspections. Now I do not say something was missed easily. It has to very clear that the defect was in existence when a previous inspection was done. If I'm not certain, well then I'm not going to fall into the same "the inspector should have caught that" mentality.

During a recent home inspection, I found items that were probably not missed and almost certainly missed.Unsafe deck railings

The home I was inspecting has a huge wrap around deck. Decks are my personal nightmare. I rarely find one that is without fault. Many have numerous issues. The deck on this particular home was poorly constructed and almost assuredly never permitted or inspected. The most glaring defect was the railings. A kid could drive a Big Wheel through those openings. I can not imagine any home inspector missing this or not reporting it. My "theory" is it was ignored, as well as the other issues with the deck, by the homeowners.

The second item I found was an incorrectly wired sub panel in the garage. The homeowner happened to be there when I was inspecting the panel. He stated this was never discovered during his inspection seven years ago.

I tend to believe that statement.An incorrectly wired sub-panel

This is a safety issue. It is also easily rectified by a licensed electrician. Hard to believe this defect would not have been on a list of home inspection issues for repair given to the sellers.

Once again there would be a question of permits.

What all this proves is that not all home inspectors and thus home inspections are alike. It also shows that buyers may not always fix the problems discovered by their inspector, and that, "the inspector most certainly may have caught that".



James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
2010 - 2011 SNEC-ASHI President
NRSB #8SS0022
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

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Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.


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  1. Lenn Harley 04/25/2011 02:35 AM
ActiveRain Community
Connecticut New Haven County
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electrical issues
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items missed during a home inspection

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Nor Yeretsian
Envoy Capitol Realty Inc. - Toronto, ON
Envoy Capitol Realty Inc., Brokerage Toronto

Thanks James, I would always use a professional to inspect your home.

You always get more for your money.



Apr 25, 2011 02:11 AM #1
Peter Schattenfield
Turning Point Estate Services LLC - Wilton, CT
Estate Dissolution and Preparation (203)388-8092 CT.

James, I find it best to put everything in writing. Down the road if accusations begin to fly, there will be documented answers.

Apr 25, 2011 02:51 AM #2
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

The 'theory' classification of your report finding says it all.

Apr 25, 2011 02:56 AM #3
Peter Pfann @ eXp Realty Pfanntastic Properties in Victoria, Since 1986.
eXp Realty, Victoria BC - Victoria, BC
Talk To or Text Peter 250-213-9490

HI James,

the railing on the deck seems pretty obvious and supprised that nobody caught a free flight earlier, the sub-panel, I am not seeing the error from the picture, but I know that many are not installed properly with supply wiring that is rated to low.

Thanks for sharing

Apr 25, 2011 03:42 AM #4
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jim, I think it happens a lot where the things we call out just plain never get fixed.

Apr 25, 2011 03:52 AM #5
Peg Barcelo
Fluff My House! Home Staging Inc. 250.486.6369 - Summerland, BC
The FlufftasticStager from Summerland, BC

James, great post! Many people must think the things are too nemerous or not important enough to fix. Is there ever a priority list on a home inspectione? This has to get fixed right away type thing?

Apr 25, 2011 03:56 AM #6
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

James every part of this Industry have good and bad people in it.  It is one thing to honestly miss something, but to just look the other way is inexcusable.

Apr 25, 2011 12:10 PM #7
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

The guardrail ladder is pretty common on older decks, but people who do them themselves seem to think that is how they are still done!  You are so right about inspectors being different.

What, we're not omniscient?

Apr 25, 2011 01:13 PM #8
Jeremy Wrenn
Winslow Homes - Youngsville, NC
C.O.O., Winslow Homes

Amen that not all inspectors or inspections are alike.  I've read too many of them for the repairs needed, and you can tell who has it "together" and who doesn't.

I think I can fit my work van through those rails.  :)

Apr 25, 2011 01:34 PM #9
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond

Wow James...never a dull moment for you guys either...that deck would make me nervous...

Apr 25, 2011 02:11 PM #10
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

So true, not all inspectors are alike in skill and quality.  not worth skimping here

Apr 25, 2011 03:23 PM #11
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC


Tried to post earlier when the Activerain gods got me ; ) So true in what you and Charlie are saying.

I know I have been in several homes that had been inspected and found some pretty obvious items not reported. I wonder what an inspector following me would find. I sure hope not much.

Apr 25, 2011 03:32 PM #12
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector


Up here, as often or not, I find that the state electrical inspectors do not cite, as a problem, co-mingled neutrals and grounds in the sub-panel. Makes it tough for home inspectors, with all the state tags all over it saying it is okay. I find this over and over again, at least in older houses of ten years or so back.

Apr 25, 2011 04:50 PM #13
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

James, I find that if the inspector doesn't take the cover off the panel he can't call out the issue even if he can identify it.

Apr 26, 2011 06:43 AM #14
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Nor, Thanks.

Peter, Yep, good way to to handle things in this business.

Robert, Sorry, not sure what you mean.

Peter & Linda, Yes , the deck railing is a no brainer. The panel actually has several defect, but the feed isn't one of them.

Charlie, I know that it does happen. I reinspected the same house years later and the same problems were still there.

Peg, Yes, that would be anything safety related like the sub-panel. I usually give a verbal priority list at the end of the inspection.

George, Yes there will always be good and bad in everything.

Jay, I believe we are thought to be.

Jeremy, I wish I could read some of those lists. Those openings are a bit large :)

Ginny, It made the buyers nervous too. They actually didn't want to walk on it.

Debbie, Skimping will get you paying when you sell, like my example.

Don, I'm certain we all miss things. It's why and how they get missed that is the real issue.

Steve, I have heard of that happening here many years ago. May still go on in some of the small towns. That has to be hard when the building official tags it as okay and here you come saying different.

Jack, Where you been man! Yep, that could make it hard to see a defect :)

Apr 26, 2011 11:53 AM #15
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

When you report unsafe guardrails, what percentage of your clients would you guess have the guardrails fixed?  For me, I'm guessing right around 1 %.

Apr 26, 2011 02:47 PM #16
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Reuben, Never really thought about it, but I bet way less than half.

Apr 27, 2011 12:30 AM #17
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James Quarello

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