My Big Fat Home Inspection

Originally Posted By: Ray Yachtze
This post was automatically imported from our archived forum.

Hi all. This is the first installment of my story I’d like to share with you. (I’m the guy who posted in HVAC Forum re doing my own inspection).

Part 1 - The Search for the Perfect Home

The search for the perfect home is a tough one.

I finally find something that "looks" good. Shows very well at the open house. Yes, that's the term the Realtors use: "Shows well". The design and floor plan seem to fit the bill too. And it's a great location.

The selling Realtor emphasizes the private backyard with "fruit trees". Actually there is really only one small tree growing little green apples. "Here...take a bite!", urges the Realtor.

"Tastes a bit sour!", I say with a bit of a contorted look on my face.

"Oh, c'mon...make an offer. Don't you just love the vaulted ceilings? And don't let the price scare you. It's flexible!", she assures me.

" tell you the truth, the price seemed a bit high, but now that you are prepared to substantially lower it, I'll have my Realtor contact you with an offer", I reply. I noticed the grimace on her face as she heard the words "substantially lower". Hmm...must have something to do with those little green apples she's been eating.

I get my Realtor to do a bit of research. It turns out that the owner is a Dentist who is extremely passionate about golf and spends a great deal of time in the Bahamas. That sure explains all the golf equipment in the garage. Well, at least he is a responsible professional who should have maintained his home with the same meticulous attention to detail and care as he would with people's teeth. "Write him an offer...and make that conditional on a satisfactory home inspection!", I instruct my Realtor.

Part 2 - The Search for the Perfect Home Inspector

The Dentist didn't turn out to be the easiest to deal with. He absolutely insisted on his asking price. It was like pulling teeth trying to negotiate with him. Anyway, I liked the place and we more or less ended up agreeing to a price. Great. Just need a Home Inspector to do a quick home inspection. Just a formality really for this place, I'm sure.

Hmm...I've never done this before. I do a bit of research on the nature of home inspections. Seems like there's a lot to it. I ask around at work if anyone has a good recommendation. Someone laments about the good old days when one simply bought the place and just moved in.

The first guy I call from the phone book says he's an experienced contractor and also has his full certification. He says the inspection will take a minimum 4 hours, possibly longer, but that he doesn't charge by the hour and will be there for as long as it takes. I call another guy who says he can do it more quickly -- maximum 2 hours and he's a bit cheaper. I call the first guy back and arrange an appointment.

Part 3 - The Perfect Home Inspection

The Inspector arrives before me and has already done a preliminary assessment of the exterior. The main concern seems to be drainage from the downspouts. They don't feed into the ground and rainwater is draining too close to the perimeter of the house. Should be able to correct with a few extensions to the gutters. "Whew...not a big deal...looking good!", I think.

Then we get into an animated discussion about home inspectors in general. My guy, who appears to be a crusty, semi-retired type, mutters something about these "kids" in the industry today who have no practical experience, and when they come across something they don't understand, they think it is as simple as finding the answer in some manual. I start to like this guy more and more. He's a crusty old fart, but he seems cool.

Suddenly, the home inspection starts to deteriorate. We open the automatic double garage door. It's solid wood and its weight has caused it to warp. The mechanism is due to imminently fail. The door has to be replaced with a lighter weight material. "How much?", I ask in a halting voice. "About $1,000 to replace", says the inspector. I quickly fumble for my pocket calculator.

The inspector points to the garage ceiling and some obvious damage and old repairs to the drywall. A peice of tape dangles ominously from up high. The inspector climbs a ladder and peers into the attic with his flashlight and shakes his head. As far as the eye can see are boxes stacked upon heavy boxes simply resting on the drywall panels. My mind thinks "drywall repair job". The inspector's mind thinks "possible structural damage to the roof" and the only way to know for sure would be to get all those boxes out of there and get an assessment from a structural engineer. "Sh* I really want the hassle of doing that? Can I really afford NOT to if I intend on purchasing the house? That Dentist has lived here 13 years!". I glance at some of the dental equipment and supplies stored on the floor of the garage, including a box of patient dental records right next to the golf clubs.

Inside the home proper, things go from worse to bad. It's obvious that being a homeowner was not a priority of the Dentist. In fact, I have downgraded him to the class of "slob" in my mind. But he is the worst type of slob. He is the type of slob who disguises things well as per sweeping the dirt under the carpet. Absolutely nothing had been maintained or updated. The kitchen cabinets which "looked" nice did not open properly and hinges needed adjusting. The counter was an old design which was significantly water-logged and needed replacing. You couldn't use the shower and/or bath in both bathrooms. One needed a plumber to replace a fitting. The other involved replacing an inexpensive bath tub faucet had someone been inclined to do so had they not been so busy with their golf swing. Both bathrooms needed fans installed for ventilation. The list went on.

The clincher was when the Dentist's cat jumped up and did a quick pee in the sink. I quickly turned the tap on to rinse the smell away. At least the tap worked and the drain didn't appear clogged. Check!

Outside again, the gutters had never been cleaned. In fact, the weight of the debris and water had caused them to separate from the roof. The roof itself was on its last legs. You had to look hard at the black shingles to notice, but they were distinctly saying "Replace us in one year!".

What was the Home Inspector's final assessment? Well, he concluded that there were no "serious problems" but that the home just needed what he called a "20 year upgrade". "What about the possible structural damage to the roof?", I pressed. This, the Inspector would not and could not commit an answer to. In fact he had this scary look in his eyes as if he was standing in front of a firing squad.

Hmm...20 year upgrade, I thought? So, let me see how this works. I've got to pay the Dentist top dollar for his house and then immediately start pouring thousands more dollars upgrading stuff because he couldn't have been bothered himself during the last 20 years. Then I've got to worry about possible structural damage done to the roof, because the attic was used as a warehouse. The Dentist needs a severe reality check, in my view. This house may be suitable for someone but I just know it is not the one for me.

"Oh, by the way, the Seller's Realtor wants to have a word with me before I go", smiles my Home Inspector, "But...I'm not for sale..the house is". I thank him for his honesty and thoroughness and immediately write him a cheque. Best $400 I ever coughed up in my life. I would recommend this guy to anyone. [In the area of Vancouver, Canada? Ask me]

Bottom line: An inspection by a qualified Home Inspector is an absolute MUST for any detached dwelling or duplex you are considering to purchase.

The only trouble is, I still don't have a place and I'm out $400 bucks. Can't afford another miss.

I must weigh my options. Let me tell you what I came up with. My story will continue.

Originally Posted By: ekartal
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Originally Posted By: gjohnson
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You said in the HVAC Forum that you did the inspection yourself... Which one was it... Did you do it yourself or did you pay someone $400.00

Gary (Snicker's) Johnson - Free NACHOS
The NACHI Foundation
Executive Director


Originally Posted By: jpeck
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This is what I tell my clients who seem to have a hard time finding a 'good' house and seem a to like paying me a little less each time I inspect a POS house for them. By the way, I charge much more than your inspector, he could do 3 or 4 homes for what I charge.

Now, when you go to look at a house, ask this stuff (and others will add more stuff to ask);
[*]How old is the roof?
[*]Have you replaced the a/c system? No? How old is it (contains two units per system)?
[*]Have you replaced the heating system? No? How old are they?
[*]Have you replace the water heater? No? How old is it?

Then, when you look at your next home, look at the items your inspector pointed out about the previous one. First, you will be enthralled by the house, then you will be dismayed (if it has not been kept up).

Now ask yourself "Am I paying top dollar for this house?"

If the answer is Yes, then you should be get a top maintained home.

If the answer is No, then think about how much less than top dollar you are paying, and, when your inspector shows you all the things it needs next time, you will have a yard stick to measure it against.

I'm paying $15,000 less than top dollar but it is going to take $20,000 to make it a top dollar house. Does that make sense? Probably not.

I'm paying $15,000 less than top dollar but it is going to take $15,000 to make it a top dollar house. Does that make sense? Still, for the effort you will need to put in having the work done, possibly not.

I'm paying $15,000 less than top dollar but it is going to take $10,000 to make it a top dollar house. Does that make sense? Maybe. You still need to put effort into getting it fixed up, but you have a little room to work with that. Can you renegotiate some of that cost as a credit at closing? If so, quite possibly.

I'm paying $15,000 less than top dollar but it is going to take $5,000 to make it a top dollar house. Does that make sense? Probably, unless you want to walk in and not need to do anything but sweep the floor (my wife says that the next house we buy, she does not want to even have to sweep the floor - our current house needed a lot of work when we bought it). Maybe you can still get some renegotiation off the sales price.

In the end, it will be your decision to make.

I've had people who were paying top dollar AND planned on spending big $$$$ doing a lot of work to the house. Go figure, but it was their choice. When they were done, there was no way they could recoup their investment, but to them it was not a $$ investment, but a 'comfort' investment, so it worked for them.

I've had people buy dumps, gut them, rebuild them, and sell them for a profit. So it all depends on what your needs are and what you desires are.

I just had a client pay $3mil for a house which he is tearing down. Paid me $2,900 to inspect it. However, he was able to negotiate about $300,000 off the sales price. Was the inspection worth it (dollar wise)? You bet, by a factor of about 100 times.

Jerry Peck
South Florida

Originally Posted By: psabados
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Originally Posted By: roconnor
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Ray … there is no such thing as a perfect used home … ya just need to know what you are getting into, and ya have to budget for home inspections to be done.

I guess the "realestators" didn't explain that to you. You could have also tried geting yourself a buyers agent ... they genrerally know the deal, and will work with you and your home inspector.

BTW ... The home inspector you hired was right on the money when he said "I'm not for sale ... the house is"

Just my 2-nickels ... ![icon_wink.gif](upload://ssT9V5t45yjlgXqiFRXL04eXtqw.gif)

Robert O'Connor, PE
Eagle Engineering ?
Eagle Eye Inspections ?
NACHI Education Committee

I am absolutely amazed sometimes by how much thought goes into doing things wrong

Originally Posted By: rray
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Hey, Gary.

Note that Ray said "Can't afford another miss." So I believe his first inspection was the one described here.

The inspection he is talking about in the HVAC forum is the second inspection since he now knows how to do an inspection after watching his first inspector do it. That's how I learned, by watching all the inspectors I hired over the years. ![icon_wink.gif](upload://ssT9V5t45yjlgXqiFRXL04eXtqw.gif)