It is only natural that home inspectors (and those that hire us) like to think we will find everything.
The hard reality is that we are not going to find everything and nobody should expect us to find everything. On a good day we are not going to miss anything vital. In fact even on a bad day we hopefully are not going to miss anything vital.
But when it comes to things that are not in the “deal breakers” category, I can pretty much guarantee that things will come up that it would have been nice to have documented in the inspection report.
Because some of these lesser evils will be missed, it is important to not only “set appropriate expectations” but for our clients to “have appropriate expectations.”
I think most clients are pretty realistic in their expectations–after all, in their own jobs there is likely some leeway as to the level of performance expected of them. Unless of course they are brain surgeons, and then I am being reasonable to expect that while I am under anesthesia for them to at least be working on my head and not on my big toe.
On a recent inspection I came across a good example of something that was of concern to the tenant (and thus it might also be of concern to a buyer) that I would have totally missed based on a “visual only” inspection of their apartment. The inspection was of a 17 unit apartment building and the focus of the inspection was not nearly as detailed as a typical home inspection. In fact some amount of remodeling of the units was being planned. At the end of the day one of the tenants approached me and asked if I would include the bad countertop in their unit in the report. I said sure, and asked if I could see it again to take a picture for the report. Their unit was one of the first ones I did earlier in the day.
The countertop was delaminating at the kitchen sink. This is a sanitary issue in a food preparation area and obviously the countertop should be replaced or properly repaired.
This next picture shows the same countertop and what it looked like at the time I “inspected” it the first time.
This is a pretty good example of how easy it is for the inspector to “miss” something. Of course we all have CYA’s that say that we are not responsible for “concealed” issues, but when your focus is providing as much information as possible it is a shame to resort to one’s CYA’s for something like this–but it does happen.
The example above is the type of thing commonly missed in occupied homes.
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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