Having a home inspection done in the context of a home purchase is pretty common now.
This was not always the case. There is still some resistance to getting them done and the perception they are not necessary is still strong in some cases.
For example, some people see new construction as less risky and forego a home inspection. While this may certainly be truer than it would be for a 100 year old home, the reality is that in the newly constructed homes that I have inspected, I have never not found at least the cost of the inspection in defects.
With new construction the buyer actually has a ghost of a chance of having these defects fixed by the seller/builder. They might just be pissing into the wind when making the same requests on an older home–especially if the home is bank owned or the seller is seriously under water. Even cosmetic issues will usually get fixed on new construction.
Another example of where home inspections are not done is when everyone knows there is going to be multiple offers made on the home.
Sometimes buyers are coached that if they waive inspection they might be held in a more favorable light than the offer that comes in contingent on inspection.
Makes perfect sense!
It makes perfect sense at least on paper. But as is so common with so many things in life, if one is not careful one gets what one wants. I did a “walk-through” inspection the other day for a buyer that wanted me to give the house a quick look-see prior to making an actual offer on the home. The problem is that after the walk-through there were some expensive issues that would need to be addressed and the buyer would not have considered making an offer without an inspection contingency.
In my market there are people willing to just run naked and blind into a deal by waving the inspection. In this case the prevailing buyer was willing to wave inspection. It was a pretty good example of “not knowing what you do not know.” Based on the very superficial walk-through (actually crawl through too–as I still had to take a look at the crawl space), here are a few of the things that a buyer would have to deal with–sooner or later.
1. The listing stated the house was built in 1950: Actually, the first part, was constructed in the early 40’s and completely remodeled at least twice–the latest in the early 60’s. In the context of this remodeling two additions were made to the house resulting in not one but three crawl spaces.
2. No vapor barrier in any of the crawl spaces: The largest crawl space, approximately 16’x30,’ had NO access at all, due to inadequate clearances. None of the crawl spaces had a plastic ground cover.
3. Heating ducts lying on the ground: This was true of all of the crawl space with no access.
4. High moisture levels in the woodwork of accessible crawl spaces: This condition would likely be even worse in the crawl space with no access that also had no foundation vents.
5. A current leak in the corner of the inaccessible crawl space: This leak will not be going away on its own. From the opening I could see where the leak was, but could not get to it due to lack of access. Vegetation growing in the area and obvious decay/rot in the rim joist and sill plate in the area was testament to this leak being long standing. In the following picture–taken by sticking my camera over the ductwork that made the crawl space inaccessible–one can see the wet ground and the wet foundation covered with vegetation in the far right corner.
6. Missing crawl space vents: the original house foundation had two vents open and two covered over. The other two crawl spaces had none.
7. Wood roof needed significant repairs: Not a deal killer but certainly something that needed to be addressed.
8. The flat roof over the attached carport was leaking: Of course the fact that the downspout location had been covered over with roofing materials and forced the roof to drain over the edge was a bit of a problem.
9. Zinsco electric panel: Again not a deal killer but something that needed to be addressed. The fact that all the wiring from the panel to the home was run underground through 12’ of 2″ conduit from the attached carport closet into the crawl space of the home was a significant problem. None of the wiring run through the conduit was rated for installation underground—and of course that many wires should not be bundled together regardless.
10. Rodent infestation in the crawl space: This was a no-brainer given the number of access points noted.
11. Leaking at Master Bath Shower: Somewhere, buried in the shower wall, there was a leak. When the water to the shower was turned on, water poured into the crawl space around the pipe running to the shower. It had been doing this for a LONG time given the amount of “washing” of the crawl space floor.
I am sure there was an even dozen, but I think you can get the picture
This house had GREAT curb appeal, awesome interior, killer yard and overall pretty well built.
Don’t be tempted by the lure of waiving inspection.
It is likely to be a false economy.
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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