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Mike Bryant's book, "What You Should Expect From a Home Inspection" is full of interesting facts that will help you navigate through the maze of technical jargon used by insurance companies, home inspectors and the like. Mike uses in part a light-hearted way of writing but at the same time keeps in mind the seriousness involved when buying or selling your home. Here then is a short extract from his book which can be bought and downloaded here for $1.99 or if you wish can be purchased through amazon.com.
~~Will this book benefit you? Are you thinking of buying or selling your home? Are you a homeowner? Then the answer is definitely yes, it should be read by people that are buying and/or selling a home, whether as a first time buyer; or as a seasoned home buyer. As a home inspector I can give you an insight into what to expect and what you should hope to get out of a home inspection. The book is Florida specific but has many features that will appeal to home buyers in other parts of the US too. The home that you intend to buy might be an old one, where there’s possibly lots of inherent problems. A newly constructed home, which you would think should be free of problems, may not be however, and should be inspected as well for any deficiencies. I’ve personally witnessed showers that leak, faucet handles that have fallen off, roof tiles that were missing and electrical work done incorrectly - and all this in brand new homes. OK, moving on, let’s say you’ve narrowed your search down to one or two houses. You’ve selected the location, style and how much you want to pay. What next? Your realtor should have a disclosure from the seller listing all known defects in the property. However, some sellers may try to cover up certain problems or maybe they’ve had a handyman do a less than professional job. Before you go and get a full-blown home inspection, there’s a service which I’ve recently started offering and I’m trying to get other inspectors to do the same and that’s called a “look-see”. This is where I will go with the buyer before they get emotionally attached to the home and just give it a look-see and point out any glaring defects. I charge a small fee which is deducted if they decide to proceed with the full inspection. In this way they’re not paying $350+ with every home they get attached to. With all this in mind I want to help you make an informed decision before you enlist a home inspector and avoid making a big mistake like a friend of mine did.
He thought he was buying his house with his eyes wide open. He’d done all the necessary research. What type of house would it be? He decided on a single family, single story, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home, not too big, about 2000 sq. ft. and of course in the right location for him; South Florida. He enlisted a realtor who found just what he wanted and they helped him get the finance and negotiate with the seller to get a good price. Things went smoothly. Probably too smoothly, as it turned out. He had the inspections on the property done – home inspection, Four Point and Wind inspections for the Insurance companies. Termite and mold inspections were also performed, although this was more for his own peace of mind, not as a requirement for the lender or insurance company. The home inspector gave him the 60 page glowing report. It sounded like the house, although older (about 25 years old, at that time,) was in fantastic shape. A few minor blemishes, but $1000 would take care of all the problems. The price he paid for the house was adjusted accordingly. The closing went well and moving day came. And that’s when the nightmares began - and continue till the present day. For me to list all the inherited problems would take another book, but I shall list a few of the more important ones. From day one the toilets backed up – he had a septic tank issue. The roof leaked – ceilings had been repaired prior to his purchase, but the inspector hadn’t bothered to go right into the attic to check for leaks, he’d just taken pictures from the attic entrance. The electric panel was sub-standard and needed to be replaced. Some remodeling had been performed in the kitchen during the 80s with polybutylene piping – known by most inspectors to cause leaks but that hadn’t been put on the home inspector’s report. Concertina hurricane shutters had been installed incorrectly. There were cracks in the foundation which stretched across the patio to the pool – which turned out to be a subsidence issue, again not reported. Of course when these problems came to light he spoke with his realtor who directed his comments to the home inspector who showed him the agreement that he had signed. The agreement basically said that the inspector wasn’t liable for any repairs or recourse. The inspector didn’t have Errors or Omissions Insurance and the best my friend could hope for was his $450 back for the inspection. The $1000 for repairs was now approaching $25,000. He had to have a new roof, new drain-fields, a new electric service panel. My friend called me in a frenzy. “What can I do?” He screamed. Apart from the obvious, like why didn’t you call me, I told him that there was very little he could do. The agreement had been signed. In my business I always tell people to read the agreement thoroughly and if in doubt consult with a lawyer. So, yes he had to swallow hard and bite the bullet, but he was determined to find out how he ended up in this mess and to try to help other people avoid making the same mistakes he made. So, what did he do? He became a home inspector too. He wanted to find out how the system works and how it was that he could be defrauded in this way. He wasn’t a total novice, he had a basic knowledge of construction. He had studied engineering at college and had spent several years in the construction and remodeling industry. He had also bought and sold several houses in the past. A few years have now passed and since becoming an inspector he has learned a great deal, both good and bad about the industry. He has helped me with some aspects and anecdotes in this book.
Before I start with the actual finer points I want to go on record and say that 99.9 percent of home inspectors and realtors I’ve met (and I’ve met a lot) are decent, honest, helpful people, unfortunately it’s the other minute percentage who give the rest a bad name. I will expand on this later on in the book but I want to emphasize that a home inspector is a generalist and as such you may get several different opinions of the same house as to its performance and overall condition. Which brings to mind a joke:
Q) How many home inspectors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A) 300. One to screw in the bulb; the other 299 to give alternative methods of screwing it in!