Understanding the Home Inspection
Maya and Jack Smith were diligent about getting their home ready for sale. They ordered a pre-sale termite inspection report. The report revealed that their large rear deck was dry-rot infested, so they replaced it before putting their home on the market.
The Smith’s also called a reputable roofer to examine the roof and issue a report on its condition. The roofer felt that the roof was on its last leg and that it should be replaced. The Smith’s didn’t want Buyers to be put off by a bad roof, so they had the roof replaced and the exterior painted before they marketed the home. The Smith’s home was attractive, well-maintained and priced right for the market. It received multiple offers the first week it was listed for sale. But the Buyers’ inspection report indicated that the house was in serious need of drainage work. According to a drainage contractor, the job would cost more than $20,000. Jack Smith was particularly distraught because he’d paid to have corrective drainage work done several years ago.
First-Time Tip: If you get an alarming inspection report on a home you’re buying or selling, don’t panic. Until you see the whole picture clearly, you’re not in a position to determine whether you have a major problem to deal with or not.
What happened to the Smith’s is typical of what can happen over time with older homes. The drainage work completed years ago was probably adequate at the time. But since then, there had been unprecedented rains in the area which caused flooding in many basements. Drainage technology has advanced. New technology can be more expensive but often does a better job. The Smith’s considered calling in other drainage experts to see if the work could be done for less. After the Buyers studied their inspection report and the contractor’s proposal, the Buyers’ offered to split the cost of the drainage work 50-50 with the Sellers, the Smith’s concluded they had a fair deal.
The solution is not always easy, especially when contractors can’t agree. Keep in mind there is an element of subjectivity involved in the inspection process. For example, two contractors might disagree on the remedy for a dry-rotted window: one calling for repair and the other for replacement. Recently, one roofer recommended a total roof replacement for a cost of $6,000. A second roofer disagreed. His report said that the roof should last another three to four years if the owner did $800 of maintenance work. Based on the two reports, the Buyers and Sellers were able to negotiate a satisfactory monetary solution to the problem for an amount that was between the two estimates.
It’s problematic when inspectors are wrong, but it happens. Inspectors are only human. Here is another example: A home inspector looked at a house and issued a report condemning the furnace which he said needed replacement. The Sellers called in a heating contractor who declared that the furnace was fit and that it did not need replacement. The Buyers were unsure about the furnace, given the difference of opinions. The Seller called in a representative from the local gas company. The Buyers knew that the gas company representative would have to shut the furnace down if it was dangerous. He found nothing wrong with the furnace, and the Buyers were satisfied.
In Closing: Sometimes finding the right expert to give an opinion on a suspected house problem is the answer, but it is always good to get two opinions.