Originally Posted By: bkelly1
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Savannah man claims he had a bad home inspection
What to look for
WSAV News 3
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Home inspections are supposed to help a buyer make sure nothing goes wrong, but what if the inspector misses something? If so, it could be an honest mistake or even negligence.
Sandy Streater of Savannah says buying his dream home turned into a nightmare before he had even moved. In. Right after closing, he hired a contractor to do some remodeling work. While at the back part of the house where the master bedroom and bathroom is located, work crews discovered a problem that ultimately cost Streater $10,000 in repairs.
"He just came in and told me the master bath was going to cave in," Streater says, remembering the conversation with his contractor, Terrell Nielsen.
Streater and Nielsen showed me pictures they took of the damage.
"You can see here the sub-floor's falling through and all the wood is rotted," Nielsen says. He continues by saying "the drain pan underneath the shower had been leaking over a period of time and actually rotted all the wood out."
The repair work includes putting new studs in the walls in both the mater bedroom and bathroom, tearing out part of the shower and then reinforcing the walls and bathroom floor.
"This is a ten thousand dollar interview," Streater jokes.
But he says there's really nothing funny about it. Both he and his contractor believe if work crews found the problem so easily, that it should have been spotted by the home inspector before Streater bought the place.
"It was very obvious," Nielsen told me. He says the crawl space on one end of the home would have led to the bathroom on the opposite side. Nielsen wasn't there when the inspector did his work, but from what he's , doesn't have much that's positive to day.
"I just think basically he (the inspector) laid underneath the house for 30 or 40 minutes and came out and got his check and left,." Nielsen says.
Both he and Streater believe that the inspector might have even found the problem by just looking into vents along the home near the master bathroom.
"If I had know about this, I of course would have tried to negotiate some of the repairs off the cost of the home," Streater says. "Or I would not have bought the house."
No one really knows what happened, maybe the inspector just didn't see the damage. But Streater is also concerned about the inspection form.
"He said sign here if you want to pay $350 or if you don't want to waive your rights, you have to pay another $500 for that," Streater says. "I felt coerced."
Streatrer says he was basically being asked to give up his rights to sue for damages if any problems were found in the home. He didn't want to pay any extra money and he had purchased homes before. He assumed everything would be find.
But after the damage was found, Streater and Nielsen took pictures of the damage to small claims court to try and collect money from the inspector. But Streater says because he had signed the form, his claim was thrown out.
"As far as Mr. Streater is concerned, I'm sorry that he can't hold him (the inspector) accountable," Nielsen says.
Streater may have been able to pursue the case in a higher court by hiring an attorney but decided not to do that. The inspector did refund the cost of the inspection which was $350, but Streater says that's not the point.
"If I had it to do it over again, I'd say what's your price and if you want me to waive my rights to sue, then I'm not going to hire you to do the home inspection," Streater says.
This story brought up a lot of questions and we put some of them to Don Rader, a local home inspection.
Rader says if an inspector has liability insurance, he person shouldn't need a client to sign anything to limit liability. Rader does say the form that Streater signed is legal in Georgia, but he wouldn't do that.
"You have to have a homeowner knowing you'll do your best to find problems, " Rader says. "And if I miss something big, I want to be responsible, that's why I carry E and O (Errors and Omissions) insurance.
Rader thinks that the way it should be, although he knows that some inspectors may not have a lot of insurance coverage. That may be the reason some may want to limit their exposure.
Still, Rader says you should know up front, how the inspector does his billing and what to expect during the job. Rader says in general, he believes it should take an inspector who is doing a thorough job about one hour per 1,000 square feet. In other words, if you're buying a 2,000 square foot home, the inspection should take about 2 hours.
"Do you crawl underneath the house?" I ask, remembering Streater's story. "Oh, absolutely," Rader says quickly. "If you have a crawl space house you have to go underneath the house unless it's so low you can't possibly get underneath."
Rader has done 2,200 home inspections since opening his business five years ago.
"Typically, when you do a crawl space house, you have to go under and the primary place you look are bathrooms and kitchens where all the water is," Rader tells me.
When I tell him Sandy Streater's problem and that the inspector would have had to crawl about 80 feet from one end of the house to the other, Rader doesn't blink.
"I have crawled much farther than that on some jobs," he says. "It is definitely something that can be done."
Rader says clients should expect a good job but it is a "visual" inspection.
"when you go underneath a house, there's a lot of plumbing, pilings, lumber a lot of things there that block your crawling ability," he says.
Rader says if an inspector can't get to a certain place under the house, it should be noted in the report so the potential homeowner knows there were some areas that couldn't be seen.
Rader is a member of the America Society of Home Inspectors. He has taken three weeks of consecutive training, had to pass a national test and is required to have 20 hours of new course work each year.
He says find out how your inspector bills before the job along with their qualifications. In Georgia, they don't need formal training, but Rader supports it.
"You know it doesn't make sense to me," he tells me. "An electrician has to be certified, a plumber has to be certified, a real estate agent has to be certified, all these tradesmen have to be certified. but a home inspector's not, that doesn't make any sense to me."
The Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs has a list of tips on how to pick a home inspector. You can visit their website at http://consumer.georgia.gov/00/article/0,2086,5426814_38710368_39274763,00.html
The American Society of Home Inspectors also has helpful information. Visit that website at http://www.ashi.org/
Full story here http://www.wsav.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=WSAV/MGArticle/SAV_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1128768168644&path=!frontpage
"Do, or do not. There is no 'try'." -Yoda (The empire Strikes Back)