"Would You Buy This House?"

Home Inspector with DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit County Home Inspector

Last week, while on an inspection, I was asked "Would you buy this house?" numerous times by both the husband and wife.  They are planning to buy a house from a FSBO, an investor flipping this house.  The main reason for the question was a past roof mold issue, which appeared to have been eliminated by a new roof with the exception of residual mold still present.

old mold on rafters and sheathing

 The much larger problem and threat to their health was the crawlspace.  It was saturated with moisture, even some standing water in a few places.


Covered crawlspace vent 


One of the visible problems was sealed-off vents, ALL 10 of them.  I explained that this could be one of the main problems, inadequate ventilation, as well as no vapor barrier present.  I also report that the water supply lines and sewer drains where mainly buried underground and couldn't be properly inspected and may have leaks that are contributing to the standing water problem.

 My answer to them on their repeated question.

I have no idea what the purchase price is and don't want to know, but the house is built like a tank, and structurally very solid and sound.  However, the severe moisture problem in the crawlspace is of great concern and MUST be corrected. As well as some electrical issues that need to be addressed.

Later that evening, I provided them with a very detailed report with plenty of photos showing all of my findings.

How do you handle this question when asked?


Comments (15)

Tom Davis
Harrington ERA,DE Homes For Sale, $$ Save $$ Buy Today ! - Dover, DE
FREE Delaware Homes Search!, $$ Save $$ - Find Homes! Delaware Realtor

Uh yea sounds like some issues with the home!

Tom Davis - Realtor in DE

May 03, 2008 04:44 PM
Venturi Realty Group
Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque's Trusted Real Estate Team

Be afraid, be very afraid... I would not want the possible liability.  With so many homes on the market why take the chance.  It would have to be a great price to make it worthwhile.

May 03, 2008 04:53 PM
Tony & Darcy Cannon
Aubrey and Associates Realty - Layton, UT
The C Team
David, I think that you did a great job advising them.  I would have to say that it would have to be an incredible bargain in order to take on the remediation of those problems.
May 03, 2008 05:15 PM
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector
David, I try to deflect these comments back to them.  I tell them my background---that I can and have corrected all of these problems (and worse) as a builder.  Because of that it wouldn't be meaningful for me to give an opinion unless they were capable of making the repairs themself as well.  (Of course if they could do that they probably wouldn't need my opinion:)
May 03, 2008 05:24 PM
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector


I tell them I am here to provide them with the information to make their decision on wether they want to buy the house. I can not make up their minds for them for I do not know what they may be comfortable taking on.

May 04, 2008 12:19 AM
Ron Parise
LocateHomes.com - Cape Coral, FL

Have these folks contracted on the house or was this a "pre contract" inspection. If they have contracted on the home They need to be told to refer to their contract for direction, They may or may not be able to back out at this point.

 If I was the seller I would say that the roof does not leak and that the plumbing is in working order (at least the inspection hasn't shown otherwise) Of course if I was the buyer I would insist on vents and  a vapor barrior being installed in the crawl space and a further inapection of the mold issue (Id want to know if that mold in the attic is dead or alive)

May 04, 2008 12:29 AM
MC2 Home Inspections
MC2 Home Inspections LLC - Indianapolis, IN
Indianapolis home inspection service 317-605-3432

I get asked that question all the time as well. I just tell them that "I am sorry but I cannot answer that question", I also come right out and tell them about the liability issues I could face if I answered that question. 

That answer has worked for me 100% of the time.

May 05, 2008 04:57 AM
Dana Bostick
True Professionals, Inc. - North Hollywood, CA

LOL, I usually answer that "NO, I've been married 4 times and I'm tired of giving the houses to my ex-wives."


May 17, 2008 03:57 AM
Tim Howe

Hi Dave,

How do you handle this question when asked?

The same way I answer every question that I know the answer to; by telling the truth. If I would buy it I say so. If I wouldnt buy it because I like mine better, I say so. If I wouldnt buy it because I couldnt afford it, I say so. If I wouldnt buy it because it is a POS, I say that. If I dont have enough information to have an opinion, well, you get the idea. I just tell them the truth as I know it. I know that home inspector folkelore says that you cannot answer THAT question. Poppycock. My clients pay for my opinion and I give it to them. It is really a very simple question, easily answered by anyone. If any concerned parties want to sue me for giving an honest opinion to my clients, let er rip. There is a big difference between answering a question and giving advice.

As for the building in question;

 It was saturated with moisture, even some standing water in a few places.

 How old is the home?  The vents may have been closed as an earlier response to moisture and mold (modern theories seem to be reaching  consensus that sealed crawlspaces are less prone to condensation and moisture problems). In any case, that crawl has some (as you pointed out) serious issues. I would have those drains scoped (or if the house were more than about 40 years old, I would recommend replacing the cast drains).

You said that "The main reason for the question was a past roof mold issue, which appeared to have been eliminated by a new roof with the exception of residual mold still present"

That mold sure looks to have been caused by poor ventilation (its on pretty much everything, and not isolated around a leak). did they properly ventilate when they put the new roof on? Bathroom ventilation?

I am extra leary of flippers and believe nothing the owner says. But thats just me.


May 19, 2008 04:43 AM
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

I answer much like James said. Tell them that I cannot answer the question for them but that I will provide them with detailed information so they can make an informed decision.

Here is the west northwest we see a fair bit of attic mold. Heavy mold is often the result of lack of roof vents but, when a crawl space is that wet, it would not be at all surprising to find that much of the humidity in the attic is coming from the soaking wet crawl space. Water evaporates up and keeps right on going. If it cannot get out of the attic, there it stays. The solution to this problem looks to be many fold, no single quick fix.

May 21, 2008 05:10 AM
Mark H. Roe
BeSure Home Inspection Service - Lancaster, OH
BeSure Home Inspection Service

I am with James and Steven on this one. Great Post.

May 21, 2008 08:46 AM
John Cundiff
HomeWise Building Inspection Services - Fairview Park, OH

Well- in usual home inspector bravado, this thread is already full of the "you shouldas" and "I woudas" I won't add to the tradition that requires so much one-up-manship when you get two or more HI's together.

I will say that we are seeing more and more of these issues, especially in winterized or unoccupied properties. Whats more, the dirt floor in the basement or crawl is a real problem. Moisture-rich air from the basement or crawl often migrates to the attic where it condenses into liquid. Of course, that is the paradoxical nature of attic ventilation.  I do agree, unvented crawlspaces make better scientific sense as long as there is a vapor barrier and the space is adequately conditioned with house air. When I teach HI's, I often spend the better part of a day on moisture migration, crawlspace ventilation and insulation etc. It is very easy for a home owner to screw this one up, and the implications can be drastic.  


May 30, 2008 09:11 AM
Michael Reel
Integrity Home Inspections LLC - Parkersburg, WV

Hello David, You are the Man,

Based on your comments the home was solid. For me that is the key. Either I believe the house to be solid or it needs evaluated by a structural engineer. I try not to make any further comment regarding the structure except for the variances that you mentioned for fear of throwing the client off-track. NOW, "If the water/electrical issues are resolved" as you stated then you have been exactly on-track as far as I am concerned. There are far to many alarmists out here who create more of a problem than exists. Everything is correctable in home. Of course, IF you feel that an issue exists then you have to say something, that is our job. What you have done with what you have told us is right on the money. Keep up the good work. Oh Yeh, I never tell anyone I would buy a house of this is a good deal. I think a person is just asking for trouble with comments like these.

Blessings on you

Jun 01, 2008 08:32 AM
Robert Lawrence
Prestige Home Inspections - Akron, OH

Hello David, I experience this quit often in your same market area, I know how you feel. Your report, pics, and sound advise during the inspection will help make the buyers decision. Turn the question around back at them. My response- You know Mr or Mrs. Home buyer, My wife and I had to make a similar decision many years ago, look at your report and digest the facts, I'm sure you will make the wright decision. This response works great, they normally move to a different subject. Last week I was asked that question 3 times! Definitely puts us in a unique situation, liability etc...

Jun 04, 2008 03:09 PM
Shawn Martin
Crosby Inspections - Vancouver, WA

I always answer no. I already have a house (Kinda breaks the ice a little bit) Then I tell my clkients that I can not answer that question for them.  I can only report on the condition of the house and it's up to them to decide based on my findings if they want to buy it or not.



Jun 05, 2008 03:55 AM