News story about North Carolina inspector/consumer complaint.

[FONT=Arial]By Parul Joshi[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]Published: November 13, 2008[/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]Today at 6 we introduced you to two families who had nightmare home buying experiences. [/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]From moisture issues, to severe water damage, the Grays and Hinrichs family say they had so many problems they had to move out of their dream homes. [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]In both instances the homebuyers thought they were doing everything right. Both used home inspectors and used their reports to make their final decision to buy. Their inspectors stand by their initial findings leaving the home owners on their own to pick up the pieces. [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]In Part 2 of our I-Team Investigation we explain what home inspectors can and can’t do when it comes to guaranteeing your home and what everyone needs to know about the process. [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]Shon Wicker was hired to re-inspect the Hinrichs’ home a year after they moved in. He says, “There’s no doubt that the problems were pre-existing prior to the sale, the short time they owned the property was simply not enough time for that damage to have occurred. It was there and it was covered up.” [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]Structural issues, rotting wood, and extensive water damage, just a few of the problems found. but Wicker says even though it is obvious now those problems were there before the sale, he cannot say whether the Hinrichs’ first home inspector did anything wrong. [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]He says, “In certain cases homeowners rely too much on inspectors.the fact is, homeowners need to better educate themselves prior to making a purchase.” [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]We contacted the Hinrichs’ original inspector; he says citing licensing rules, he can’t speak about this or any other specific inspection but says in general: [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]"I make perfectly clear to all of my clients that what I do is a visual inspection only. This means what I can see I will inspect and report. This and other information is made clear in the written agreement.I never make the recommendation to any client whether I think they should or should not purchase the property. " [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]Meanwhile. the Hinrichs family is renting a second home in Onslow County and facing foreclosure on the house they own but cannot live in. [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]The Grays of Greenville, who have now moved on, faced a similar disaster: “This whole experience was just devastation.” The Grays lost tens of thousands of dollars and learned a costly lesson. Alice Gray says, “We’ve learned to be more thorough on checking out anybody you’re purchasing a home from, or any type of business.” [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]Attorney Jim Wall works for legal aid of North Carolina in Wilmington. His team is representing the Hinrichs family and many others in similar situations. He has serious advice for anyone buying a home: “You must not just rely on inspectors, you need to be willing to get dirty, you need to crawl under the house and see if there’s any rotten wood, or any dampness and if there are any places under the house you can’t get to, that is a warning sign, be very, very wary.” [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]In addition to hiring a home inspector, Wall says hire experts to examine specific areas of the house: “Hire a plumber to inspect the plumbing, hire an electrician to inspect the electrical system and a heating and air expert to inspect the heating and air unit. These are all expensive, but for most people this is the biggest investment you’ll make in your whole life.” [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]Don Warner is Executive Director of the North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board under the North Carolina Department of Insurance. He says, “Our home inspectors are great people, they’re educated, they’re trained, they have experience, but they’re generalists.” [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]Warner says before you hire a home inspector do some research. Buyers need to read the Standards of Practice and Rules home inspectors are expected to follow. [/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]Warner says, “It’s what the house is on the day we inspect it and as we walk away and hand you the report and drive down the street something could happen. A home inspection was never intended to guarantee anything in the home…no guarantees at all.” [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]You heard him right; no guarantees at all. Once the board licenses a home inspector, the inspector is free to inspect homes, with no oversight. [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]Reporter: “There’s no way of telling whether an inspector is doing a good job, if they’re abiding by the rules?” Warner says, “That’s a fair statement, the licensure board is never certain every inspector is complying by the standards. The tell-tale sign is when the board receives a complaint.” [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]But for the Grays, Hinrichs family, and countless others like them, all the complaining in the world doesn’t get their homes fixed or their family’s finances back on track. [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]And if you’re wondering how effective complaining is with nearly 4,000 home inspector licenses issued since 1996, only 92 have ever been disciplined, with less than 5 percent of those inspectors losing their license. [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]By the way the home inspector licensure board recently began issuing random report audits to home inspectors. The point of this story is not to bash home inspectors. Everyone I spoke with says you need to have a home inspected and that most do a good job. The bottom line is, you are the one ultimately responsible for the home you buy and an inspection is nothing more than a snap shot in time. And from everything I have seen it is well worth a few hundred extra dollars spent to get specialists involved. [/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]If after an inspection, repairs are done to the house you are about to buy, make sure you get proof of those repairs in writing. Don’t accept people’s word no matter how trust worthy they may seem. This is obviously a complicated issue; to help you sort it all out we have several resources to help guide you through the process. Just go to our homepage and type in the keyword: “Inspection.”[/FONT]

Licensing solves nothing.

A infrared camera might have helped in this situation… if the moisture was present at the time of the inspection.


Registering, licensing, certification only creates headaches for everyone involved in the real estate transaction. The more tools are used, the greater chance for lawsuits. Moisture is everywhere. What are the levels used for moisture reporting? Mold? There is one for radon; 4.0 or greater. The home owners just made a poor choice, most likely by emotion, and not reality. It happens in anything anyone buys. Let’s license everyone who sells/markets/repairs everything. It will still solve nothing.

I am licensed in New Jersey, at first I was pi$$ed off to have to go through all the paperwork send reports do classes, but now I’m o.k. with it cause I have to get 20 CEU’s a year. It makes me force myself to learn,it also got rid of alot of fly by night guys with spackel buckets and some tools undercutting good wages. The insurance part is no good with the 5000 deductable we have here, thats my biggest problem with it. Also we can no longer inspect septics not sure who sold that out that was 1\3 of my income.

Ron writes:

Ya, I do a lot of sewer inspections. I would be pissed too. So do plumbers perform sewer inspections in your state? Anybody in Missouri can inspect sewer systems if they want to wade through the red tape and keep caught up on their CEUs.
I am a big believer in education. I have been averaging over 60 hours a years, and I am in an unlicensed state. The more I learn, the more I earn. So licensing does solve nothing.

I think that the point of this report is the public.

Too often, the public expects others to do their work for them. They expect a home inspector to have ALL the answers and be able to COMPLETELY inspect the house. The problem is the public’s lack of understanding of what a “visual” inspection is.

And, the press being the press, work to further confuse and change the issue. They demand “oversight”, like that will somehow change things. It never does, especially when the client’s expectations are of a complete, total inspection.

We, usually, do a better job than the local code inspectors, but we cannot see what we cannot see.

And, the use of state-of-the-art tools (thermal imaging, sewer and duct cameras, circuit anylizers and gas and CO detectors) do help (provided one knows how to use them) cover the inspector’s butt, and thereby help to cover the client’s as well.

Hope this helps;

From the article: “You heard him right; no guarantees at all. Once the board licenses a home inspector, the inspector is free to inspect homes, with no oversight.”

Sensationalism by the media. I do the majority of my inspections in NC. I consider their oversight to be very tight. Annual training is required. They strictly enforce reporting according to the NC SOP. They randomly audit inspector reports. Each quarter the put out a list of home inspectors censured or suspended. Anyone, anyone, in NC can file a complaint against a home inspector with the oversight board (the buyer, seller, builder, agent, neighbor, etc.). It’s a pretty tough state to work in compared to my native SC.

A home inspection is similar to a general office physical performed by a RN at your doctors office **OR **getting your car safety inspected for its annual license renewal.

You’re going to summer camp and they require a general physical from your doctor to do so. The doctors RN took your temperature, weighed you, took your blood pressue, listened to your heart beat, looked in your ears and in your throat, maybe even took a urine sample to send to the lab for analysis - if there was a reason to do so. BUT no, they did not do a MRI, give you a cat scan or EKG, NOR did they put you into the hospital for 24-48 hours and do a biopsy on the wart on your shoulder, or take a bone marrow sample or perform a colonoscopy, etc.

While at camp 2 months later, you get dizzy and collapse. They take you to a hospital, do a series of SPECIALIZED tests for a WHOLE lot more $$$$ than the general office physical and discover you have a blocked artery and need heart surgery. SURELY the doctors office guarantees their work and will pay for it. **OR **maybe you fell and broke your leg - SURELY the doctor or his nurse should have predicted that as out of shape as you are that this might happen **AND **not allowed you to go to camp. This is disgusting - these medical folks need to be licensed and take FULL financial responsibility for US - RIGHT.

I’ve done home inspections for 30 plus years. I’m getting real bored with the NEW crop of buyers that act like for $300 and 2.5 hours of a 1-time visit to a house that we’re gonna find every problem the house might ever have AND warranty it too.

The inspection is a visual CURSORY screening process, and will help reduce the risk in buying a home BUT will not eliminate it NOR will it assume the risk. I’m not your momma or daddy and I didn’t agree to adopt and raise you and take foinancial responsibility for anything bad that might happen to you - All I did was agree to inspect the house, 1 time for a small amount of $$$. You want a warranty - BUY one.

Although the article left a lot of the details out what about the disclosure or more properly lack of disclosure by the previous owner?

More than likely the previous owner failed to disclosure flooding, water damage, bad pipes, etc. All that gets covered up when the house goes on the market. Home inspectors are supposed to read the stains, bad repairs, and what may be behind the walls of the house in our 2-3 hour snapshot. Then after the new owners moves in and starts remodeling we hear from the contractor that the home inspector should have found this, yea right.

And please don’t tell me that a infrared camera will find this stuff unless you have years and years of experience and the right conditions.


That is why I may never get, or use, an infra-red camera, or a moisture meter. Too many questions to answer when you get to court because of moisture. Less tools, less litigation. More tools, more headaches, and chances of getting sued. I know iNACHI promotes these tools, but you better be an expert, proof of classes, and superior tool knowlege or you will look like a fool on the witness stand.

I find such tools to be litigation safety. I, regularly, catch things that I would not have without the tools.

But, you make a very important point. All the tools in the world will not compinsate for the ol’ Mark I brain.

These last 2 months, I have gotten about 70% of my work from water intrusion inspections, not regular home inspections (part of a RE transaction). I have also teamed up with a local insulation contractor and a local HVAC guy and work with them to provide energy audits. Good paternership because we are all marekting multipliers for each other. It also allows me to tag along with them and learn their specialties, and they, mine.

Hope this helps;

It is NOT sensalitionism. It is truth. That is why licensing is harmful to consumers.

In a free state, the market gets to determine who is good and who is not. Inspectors thrive…or die…by their skills and reputations.

In a licensed state…any knucklehead who passes a test and pays a fee receives a “license” from the state reflecting (in the eyes of the public) that he is equally qualified and competent as any other license holder.

This article should be copied and published in every state where HIs are licensed as a warning to the public.

Ditto, James.