I think son and DIL were hosed by their inspector...true?

greenhavenJuly 15, 2014

Son and DIL just purchased and closed on their home (an obvious flip, but clean and sound) a couple weeks ago, showed up on time for their home inspection, the guy had already been there for an hour. Everything seemed pretty straight-forward, there were a couple minor-mid issues that were taken care of or resolved to their satisfaction.

On moving day several key issues started to come to light: the kitchen faucet rapidly declined in output, ice-maker in the fridge started leaking. Then we noticed there was NO DRYER VENT. I mean none. Not even a hole in the wall to connect to.

Bath time that night revealed a tub drain that would not seal at all so no bath for the baby. The first SHOWER revealed a very slow-draining tub that caused gurgling in the sink and TOILET. Second shower produced backflow from the toilet into the tub.

A call to the plumbers produced the discovery that there was no drain cleanout on the plumbing (or so the plumbers said, not sure I believe that one) and they had to install a new one. Turns out there were RAGS in the line!!!!! As in, actual shop towels!

Then when son went yesterday to prep the gas line for their ng dryer the rusty valve practically crumbled in his hand and he had to have the gas company out late last night. (Don't yet have the full story, there.) DS said there was an issue where the gas valve was so close to new tile and drywall that it would not open fully, and he thought he would have to knock out some tile.

And now I am po-ed on their behalf. I think their inspector was crap. DH and I have purchased five homes in our 25 year marriage, and we learned a painful lesson right at the beginning about crap inspections. IMO this was one.

But maybe I am wrong. Can anyone with experience weigh in on this? If they have recourse against the inspection company what would that look like?

This is a young couple who barely scraped enough money together to get into a reasonable home. The expenses that have incurred already seem to me to be outside the realm of their responsibility. They asked for and got a home warranty, but money is still flowing out of their pockets.

I understand (boy howdy, do I!) that owning a home comes with expenses, and stuff happens. But this seems excessive. Anyone agree or disagree?

(cross-posting this in the Kitchens forum)

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Does your state have a written disclosure from the seller, what does it state?
I believe they may a refund of the inspection fee paid, but I can't believe it is much money.
As parents I would suggest you help them find out what recourse they have, do that then help them move on and understand home ownership entails expenses.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:49AM
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Yes, they have a written disclosure, which (for the most part) jives with the inspection report. It is the things that are not disclosed and were not caught by inspection (and should have been, IMO, that are at issue here.

PS, I should add that the icemaker was an easy fix, there was a piece of packing styrofoam jammed in the outlet valve. But if this easy spot and fix was overlooked, what else was missed?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:00AM
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So, the ice maker is fixed w/o cost.
The rags could have been thrown down the toilet after the inspection and probably were. I can't see that costing more than $300.
The tub drain stopper costs $10.
And the gas company probably fixed the gas valve for free.
The only potentially big deal I see here is the lack of a dryer vent. How did they take care of that?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:21AM
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ncrealestateguy, thanks for weighing in from a realtor's perspective.

Don;t you think this is not really about the money spent but about the fact that this inspector does not appear to have done his job?

I just got off the phone with DIL and she said gas company turned off the gas main, furnace valve was leaking too. And that the inspector never went into the crawl space, just did a flashlight visual (of a 1500 sq ft crawlspace?) from the opening. How do they even know he went into the attic and inspected that properly?

Again, this is not about the money. yes, they have spent about 300 dollars so far on tradesman, additional money on tools and parts to fix problems (she and I installed a dryer vent ourselves, and quite successfully...but again, beside the point)

This is most certainly about a crappy inspection. And believe me, I have a history that allows me to know a crappy inspection from a thorough one.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:09PM
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If that is the case, that he did not enter the crawlspace, I would demand to be reimbursed for the inspection cost. Send him a certified letter, list all of the missed items, let him know that you know that he did not inspect the crawlspace, and based on this you need to be reimbursed.
His response will let you know where to take it next.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:51PM
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Fair enough. Any chance they will foot the bill for a LEGIT inspection from a different company? At this point they may as well not have had one at all and now they are stuck with what they've got.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:22PM
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greenhaven, so sorry to hear that your son and DIL have had to deal with all of this.

Maybe you can look at a copy of the inspection report and help them interpret it, and maybe get another inspection done to catch potential problems? Did they know at the time of the inspection, or does it state in the report, that the inspector did not physically enter the crawlspace? In our area that seems to fairly typical that general inspectors will look but not crawl/enter attics/walk the roof -- you'd need to make special arrangements for that. (Also, our area has a lot of homes without cleanouts, I've never seen the lack of one disclosed or on an inspection report -- but maybe that is a local thing.)

Good luck, I hope they are able to enjoy their new home soon.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:36PM
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Oaktown, thank you. They were actually there when he opted out of entering the crawlspace. I am in total agreement that it is time to go through the documentation and try to get a clearer picture.

As for special arrangements, I am not sure but I think they paid for a higher level of inspection on our advice (because we have sooo been screwed in the past.) I cannot, ATM, verify that, however.

They were so excited to move into their first home! We all know stuff happens, they get it. But this has definitely put a damper on their spirits. Hopefully nothing else major is wrong and they will soon be able to forget the early pains of adjustment.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:45PM
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Nothing else major? With all due respect, I don't think any of this was really major.
The non-existant dryer vent is strange and should have been caught. The plumbing problems (ie. rags) probably happened after the inspection. So that's not the inspectors fault.
I won't comment on the gas valve since you don't seem to have a clear picture of what the problem was there.

The inspection may have been crap. I'm not saying otherwise. But the problems found so far have not been a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:08PM
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After talking to my realtor and reading my buyer's inspection report I have a better idea of how limited a buyers inspection is. Realtor told us that the inspector isn't allowed to move much or turn on any valves due to liability if that causes a problem. Not to mention everything in the walls is off limits. So our house report has a lot of "could not verify X recommend hiring an X inspector." I am not saying this is how your son and DIL report is written, but it might be a bunch of "can't verifies" and the inspector is covered.

Not helpful, but I have heard that your only recourse with an inspector is to get the inspection fee back and any real damages would have to come from the sellers (flippers), but you don't seem to be at a significant loss yet.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:25PM
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greg_2010 said: "I won't comment on the gas valve since you don't seem to have a clear picture of what the problem was there."

Turns out both gas valves were some sort of spring valve that was a huge hit when they first came out many moons ago. It was not long before they were known to have major problems with leakage. My DIL's father knew this. You would think an inspector would know, too.

As for the rags, there is no way of telling when they went in the pipes. But the house was finished and empty at time of both showings, inspection and closing. My guess is the rags were used to plug a drain before toilets went on and then forgotten. If someone wanted to be malicious there are a lot worse things they could have done.

The point was, and still is, they have not gotten a proper inspection.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:43PM
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The OP wrote: " They were actually there when he opted out of entering the crawlspace"....did that raise flags with the buyers?

No dryer vent? How old is the house? Was it built back when people used clothes lines?

If all the things that the new owners have found was on the inspection would they still have gone through with the closing?


This post was edited by maddielee on Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 15:58

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:54PM
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maddielee said: "The OP wrote: " They were actually there when he opted out of entering the crawlspace"....did that raise flags with the buyers?"

Yes, it did, but they are young and inexperienced and decided to trust the professional. The house was built in the early 70's, so not that old. The things they have uncovered so far would not have kept them from buying the house, but they certainly would have asked the seller to fix them at his cost. It is what is, as yet, unknown that is the bigger worry.

So they found out today their home warranty will cover the gas line work that needs doing, which is good. I have never heard of so many accepted claims on the warranty!

I still think they have a strong case for getting their fee refunded, but it is up to them whether to pursue it or not. I think they should get a second inspection done at no cost to them, since the first guy was all-but-useless. But their decision.

Thank you ALL for your input, this was an educating conversation for me, even though it was on my kids' behalf. Always something new to learn.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:33PM
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The only thing that can be recovered from a worthless inspection is the cost of the inspection itself. They are not liable for any damages beyond that. Home inspectors are generally worthless IMO.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 7:28AM
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This thought is not true. Even if it is printed on the report. It is only what they want the public to think.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 7:59AM
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It is true in my state of Georgia. They are legally protected from liability as long as they use the proper language on their contracts and inspections forms and letters.

We had a retired engineer home inspector inspect our current house. His incompetence was breathtaking in its scope and depth. Just ONE example:
The previous owners built two decks on either side of a second story screened porch with steps down on both sides to the back yard. Each deck was one step down from the porch. It so happened that the exhaust pipe for the condenser of our main 5 ton Trane furnace projected through the back brick wall where they put the step down, so the previous owners simply HAD IT CAPPED OFF by the idiot who built their (unpermitted) decks and the step built over it. They did not run the pipe elsewhere, just capped it off. The inspector, whose "specialty" was HVAC systems, did not notice this, and said in his report that the furnace was working normally. The condenser exhaust pipe was in place in the basement but there was nothing coming through to the outside.

A few months later, when we went to turn on the furnace for the winter it would not heat appropriately, used much more gas than it should have, etc. the HVAC contractor who came out told us we were very lucky we called right away, for reasons ranging from personal safety, code violations, further damage to the system, etc. He put this in writing and documented what he did to relocate the pipe -- at a cost of about $500--- just so we could recover the actual cost of the repair. Our letter to the inspector cited his disclaimer and our attorney confirmed that he was ONLY liable for the cost of his inspection, not any damages or repairs resulting from his erroneous report and/or incompetence.

This post was edited by kswl on Sat, Jul 19, 14 at 8:53

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 8:15AM
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