Advice for new inspectors

I performed an inspection last September on a vacant rural home. At first glance the house looked okay. But upon going into the basement I noticed some unusual things. There was a lot of moisture staining around the perimeter of the basement and quite a bit of cracking of the finished walls. I ran all the plumbing in the home and had no water backing up anywhere. I commented on what I saw but couldn’t locate the source of the water. When I met with the guy I made special mention of the foundation and moisture concerns.

Well, this week I got a call from the guy who bought the house. He said that they’ve been having plumbing issues where the water doesn’t drain properly and backs up into the basement. He called in a guy to clean the drain and found that it is cracked and dropped about 8 feet from the house and causing a restriction and backing up into the drain tile. The roto rooter guy went beyond his expertise and said it would cost $30,000 to dig up the line to repair it and suggested to the buyer that I was “legally responsible” for the repair. When he called I went over my Report and noted how many times in the various areas of the house I had mentioned the water issues and also that I can’t inspect anything I can’t see. Clearly underground pipes are out of the scope of the inspection. The water didn’t back up for me because the water hadn’t been used for months.

I would strongly caution to clearly mark the areas that you can’t see in your Report and don’t take any signs of moisture lightly.

good advice and reminder.

Worth repeating. Even if it means losing your favorite Realtor referrals :D. I put anything and everything related to moisture in the summary, no matter how small or nitpicky.

Same here. Those are the calls you will get from the buyer later on if not mentioned in the report or even if in report. Most realtors won’t get mad if you are catching things like this, they understand how bad water can be

I agree, I’ve told clients the fastest thing that damages your home, other than fire, is water where it isn’t supposed to be.

Thank you, this is very sound advice only gained through experience.

Thank you Curtis.

You should also consider adding something like this to the report, Especially for vacant/foreclosed homes.

Both of these were posted in a recent thread.

The property appeared to have been vacant for an extended period of time. Roots from common vegetation can compromise the main drain-line as they seek sources of moisture. During our evaluation, we do not flush solids such as paper through the drain lines and water will generally flow freely even when the pipes have substantial root intrusion. Paper products and other solids will accumulate on roots and create severe blockages, which will not become evident until after you have occupied the property. Therefore, you should have the main drain-line video scanned during your inspection contingency period to determine the actual condition of the main drain-line, and to ensure it will continue to function adequately.

Waste and drain pipes are equally varied, and range from modern PVC (poly-vinyl chloride) and ABS [acrylonitrile butadiene styrene] to older ones made of cast-iron, galvanized steel, lead, clay, and even a cardboard-like material that is coated with tar. The condition of these pipes is usually directly related to their age. Older ones are subject to damage through decay and root movement, whereas the more modern PVC and ABS drains are virtually impervious to damage, although some rare batches have been alleged to be defective. However, since significant portions of drainpipes are concealed, we can only infer their condition by observing the draw at drains. Nonetheless, blockages will occur in the life of any system, but blockages in drainpipes, and particularly in main drainpipes, can be expensive to repair, and for this reason we recommend having them video-scanned. This could also confirm that the house is connected to the public sewer system, which is important because all private systems should be evaluated by specialists. We may not determine whether the sewer system is public or private. And, because of the damage that could result to flooring systems, we may not test the overflow drains for bathtubs, shower pans or floor drains. The supply, drain, waste, and vent piping materials were only visible from within the crawl and attic spaces (if provided) and at the interior fixture locations."

A very nice advice that happened to me in a deferent way. Couple of months ago I inspected a house and the basement was full of stored personal properties. I took photos of the areas that was fully uninvisible and mentioned as unaccessible areas.

On the closing date, the real estate called me and said that there was one area in the basement that was wet and might be leaking. I reviewed my report to find that this area was included in my report as unaccessible areas as stored materials were there and covered the space and I reminded the real estate about the photos that confirmed it.

Yes it is so important to be careful about our client and about our due diligence too.