Why Home Buyers Should ALWAYS have a Home Inspection

Real Estate Agent with Boardman Realty Minnesota License#90858

A headline in a April 2018 St Paul Pioneer Press article reads, "White Bear Lake Man Believes Old Batteries Robbed him of Health and Home". The foundation of his 1939 built lake home and surrounding retaining walls around the property were constructed using emptied out battery casings filled with concrete. 

White Bear is  a community where I have sold many homes, and this situation is highly toxic. While this issue was not apparent to him when he purchased decades ago, it was to a local home inspector who actually mentioned the very home in another article about why get a home inspection. 

This is not only a very sad story and unbelievable situation, this is a reminder of why buying  a FSBO (For Sale By Owner) can be costly. The form for a home disclosure in Minnesota wasn't as comprehensive as it is today. A homeowner could get an inspection but not all buyers did. Which is happening again today.

Because of the low housing inventory and extremely high demand for existing single family homes buyers, who are often desperate for their opportunity to own a house, take short cuts. This is not a wise decision. As an professional REALTOR®, it is my job to make certain my home buyers have contingencies in place for the opportunity to have one (or more) professional inspectors comprehensively view the home before moving forward on with their purchase. 

Inspectors cannot see everything but do guide home buyers on where to look further if necessary. In the White Bear home the basement was unfinished and the battery casings complete visible when this family purchased. While this is a very unusual circumstance, home inspectors do uncover many issues that help home buyers make good informed decisions

I always encourage a thorough top to bottom home inspection to my home buyers. Buying a home is one time where cutting corners does not make sense--even in a hot seller's market!


Posted by

Teri Eckholm. REALTOR with Boardman Realty, is a native Minnesotan who has lived and worked in the Minneapolis St Paul metro all of her life. She specializes in lakeshore homes, acreage properties and first time home buyers but assists anyone making a move in the north and east Twin Cities metro.

If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give Teri , a call or visit her website for a FREE Home Buyer Success Guide or FREE Home Value Report She specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2019 terieckholm.com



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Comments (18)

Harry Norman, REALTORS® - Atlanta, GA
Associate Broker

Good day 

Thank you for sharing your information with us

Have a great day.

May 12, 2018 05:52 PM
Teri Eckholm

Hi Anthony,

Thanks, You too!

May 14, 2018 08:54 AM
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

Home inspectors are trained to see the abnormal.  The stuff that you should have been told about that were just covered up

May 12, 2018 07:18 PM
Teri Eckholm

Hi Bill,

Home inspectors cannot see what is behind walls but can give buyers insight into situations that they might not be able to notice themselves.

May 14, 2018 08:56 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi Teri,
I think we all have some home inspection (or lack of) stories.  This is an extremely unfortunate situation.  The low inventory and waiving of home inspections is a very bad combination.  I think it is ALWAYS in the buyers and sellers best interest to have a home inspection done!  Thanks for the post.

May 13, 2018 06:56 AM
Teri Eckholm

Hi Carol,

I am not certain that the current owners had a home inspection, the inspector was intereviewed for the article and mentioned the home before they took ownership. They discovered the article in a file at city hall when they tried to split their lot over a decade later. Had their been a home inspection, the might not be in the same situation. I also am guessing they purchased direct from the bank without representation. Both of these are just guesses from reading the article though. As agents we really do want to help our clients avoid these situtations...getting a home inspection is always a good investment.

May 14, 2018 08:54 AM
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

How sad. Your story does underscore the importance of getting a home inspection. Sadly, we can't expect people to do the right thing in terms of disclosure. :( 

May 19, 2018 07:48 AM
Teri Eckholm

Hi Debb & Bernie, This was a foreclosed home and nearly abandoned. The city knew about the potential hazard but issued building permits for finishing the basement without disclosing it to the homeowner. He might have still been out money but wouldn't have spend those many years in the basement if he understood the danger.

May 19, 2018 09:11 AM
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Broker
Elizabeth Anne Weintraub, Broker - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

I have relatives today who still live in White Bear Lake. But what a chilling story. I didn't even realize you could build a home out of battery casings.

May 19, 2018 09:02 AM
Teri Eckholm

Hi Elizabeth,  I don't think anyone realized someone would do this. It is highly unusual and no one seems to know what to do about it.  But it is why all building permits are so important today. People thought upcycling anything was okay pre-1960. Inspections are critical when buying an older home anywhere.

May 19, 2018 09:08 AM
Matthew Klinowski, PA
Downing Frye Realty - Naples, FL
Naples Golf Guy | Find Your Dream Lifestyle

Teri, I agree with you 100%!  Many home buyers have been saved due to a home inspection.  You could end up with a money pit if you're not careful.  The cost of the inspections are minor compared to the risk you run if something is really wrong.

May 19, 2018 10:12 AM

So true Matthew.

May 19, 2018 12:14 PM
Teri Eckholm

Matthew...This poor man really shows why the inspection is essential. Thanks for your comments

May 19, 2018 09:12 PM
Sybil Campbell
Fernandina Beach, FL
Referral Agent Amelia Island Florida

I agree, home inspections are very important. This is a sad story for the buyer Teri Eckholm.

May 19, 2018 10:13 AM
Teri Eckholm

Sybil...Thanks for your comments and yes this is such a sad situation.

May 19, 2018 09:12 PM
Paul McFadden
Responsive Pest Control - Seattle, WA
Pest Control, Seattle, WA.

Good advice. Thanks! We waived our inspection many years ago as our home was practically brand new and built by the owner/contractor. But I can see how a home inspection would make sense in many cases.

May 19, 2018 10:19 AM
Teri Eckholm

Paul...I have had buyers with limited funds bring in knowledgeable friends/family members and sometimes they are more thorough than an inspector. But rarely do buyers waive the inspection...new construction is different but sometimes an inspection is a good idea then too.

May 19, 2018 09:11 PM
Evelina Tsigelnitskaya
SIB Realty - Sunny Isles Beach, FL

Yes, buyers NEED to have a licensed inspector. No matter what. We always advise buyers to do it. 

Great post! Thank you.

May 19, 2018 10:21 AM
Teri Eckholm

Evelina...You are so right. It is so very important to know about what you are buying.

May 19, 2018 09:09 PM
Ricardo Mello
Manhattan Miami Real Estate - Manhattan, NY
Manhattan & Miami Real Estate Agent

Sad remainder!

May 19, 2018 10:29 AM
Teri Eckholm

Hi Ricardo...yes very sad for the family.

May 19, 2018 09:08 PM
Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC - Bowie, MD
I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES

Teri reading a blog like this reminds me as well as all of us why we should always have our client's best interest in mind. I came away with two potential blogs that I am going to write just from reading your blog. But you are right "Buying a home is one time where cutting corners does not make sense--even in a hot seller's market!". Thank you very much for sharing.

May 19, 2018 12:13 PM
Teri Eckholm

Hi Lanre,  Long time no chat! Nice to see you! Thanks for your comments.

May 19, 2018 09:08 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Teri

That's a pretty scary story (we lived in White Bear Lake, in Dellwood, for about 15 months). I cannot imagine not taking the time nor spending the funds to get a thorough home inspection, and other inspections if recommended or they seem prudent.


May 19, 2018 01:31 PM
Teri Eckholm

Hi Jeff,  Dellwood is a beautiful area. And yes, this particular situation is highly unusual. Buying a boarded up place site unseen is just not a good idea. In this case very costly too.

May 19, 2018 09:07 PM
Hannah Williams
HomeStarr Realty - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-820-3376

Teri Eckholm  Thank you for this useful information .I am so glad that Carol Williams featured this post in SCS

May 20, 2018 08:50 AM
Teri Eckholm

Thanks Hannah!

May 21, 2018 06:13 PM
Eric Sztanyo
Keller Williams Advisors Realty - Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati & NKY Realtor® | TeamSztanyo.com

True. Good point that items can be overlooked in a hot seller's market. Still necessary to get that inspection!

May 20, 2018 07:39 PM
Teri Eckholm

Hi Eric, Yes just because the market is hot, doesn't mean you should forgo an inspection.

May 21, 2018 06:13 PM
Jim Holder
HomeSmart Connect - Arlington Heights, IL

Always good to suggest a home inspection to remove your own professional liability. But,  be careful who you suggest, as it should be more than one.

May 21, 2018 07:37 AM
Teri Eckholm

Hi Jim,

Yes it is a good idea to offer a few inspection options and let the inspector do his/her job.

May 21, 2018 06:14 PM
Sally Vetstein
Coldwell Banker Real Estate - Framingham, MA
Real Estate Agent serving Metrowest-Framingham MA

Great story and gives me something interesting to think about.

May 22, 2018 04:42 AM
John Wiley
Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Thanks for sharing an important message. 

I always recommend a home inspection, even on new construction.

May 22, 2018 07:18 AM
Theresa Akin

I strongly suggest to all my buyers to have a home inspection. I give them a list with the most thorough at the top. i have been told I almost go into overkill suggesting the inspection. When I tell them some of the horror stories I have seen in the past and how a few hundred dollars have save thousands, they gratefully review the list. When they become adamant about not having an inspection I have them look over the waiver of the inspections and right before they sign i ask again . One buyer signed then got to his car, turned around asked if he could change his mind again . I let him dispose of the waiver and deposit it into the shredder. He got onthe phone and called the inspector at the top of his list. I asked him what made him change his mind; "My wife told me I was an idiot if i didn't have it inspected." LOL. He was glad he did.  He decided not to buy the house and moved onto the next, same inspector, who gave him a big break on cost but saved him thousands on the first. It was a win win for him. 

May 22, 2018 06:29 PM