Unfortunately it has become a very bad practice to hand out previous inspection reports to prospective buyers of a home as a marketing tool to sell the home. But can you trust these reports and use them instead of hiring your own Home Inspector?[tab: Introduction]
I very recently performed a home inspection for a client who chose to walk away from the home. My home inspection revealed many more issues with the home than the client was expecting or wanted to deal with. However they initially chose the home based partly on a glowing previous home inspection report prepared for another buyer who also walked away from the home for whatever reasons. My clients were very savvy and realized that the previous inspection report should not be trusted. Good thing for them they did have their own home inspection performed! After they received my report they commented that my report showed WAY MORE than this report they were handed. Later after inspecting another home for them they also commented:
“Thanks so much, we really appreciate your skills and thoroughness. Without your FULL inspection and knowledge we would have purchased the first place out in “City name here” and been very unhappy.”
Unfortunately Real Estate is a business regardless of who the Agent is working for (buyer or seller). The concept is to sell you a house, and some Real Estate Agents have taken that effort to low levels by handing out previous home inspection reports that are worthless even for the original buyer they were performed for! In this particular case the home has been on and off the market for over 18 months with the same listing Agent. It was a one owner home that is not very old, improperly added to, and allowed to deteriorate without proper ongoing maintenance. The owner wants to sell and the listing Agent wants the commission. As a result a recent and poorly performed home inspection, and report, was being used as a marketing tool by an Agent that has been in business as an Agent for a long, long time! There were so many readily visible deficiencies in this home that I just did not understand how this report would have been allowed to be used in this way? Once we are done you will see and understand what I am saying and make your own decisions.
So what was wrong with this bad inspection and report? Read on and you will be amazed.
[tab: The Bad Inspection/Report]
I performed my inspection only 60 days after the day the bad inspection/report was performed. To say that it was a bad inspection and bad report is a very significant understatement of fact! It is good that the previous potential buyer did not go through with the purchase as they would have been in for some very nasty surprises. You will hear from Home Inspectors that a home inspection is only a snapshot of the conditions on the day of the inspection. Some will even try to cover their ineptness when called out on the failure to find deficiencies with claims that anything can happen to a home between the time of their inspection and the time the deficiencies are finally uncovered. Where this can some times be true this particular Home Inspector failed to find issues that were not the type that happen in 60 days. These are but some of the many, many deficiencies this Home Inspector missed or chose not to report on.
The Water Heater That Was Claimed As Fully Functional And Properly Installed
To the left is a copy of the actual report page from the bad inspection displaying the reporting of the home’s water heater condition. The Home Inspector reported that the water heater was inspected and no deficiencies were found as noted by the lack of a check mark in the “D” (Deficient) box and the wording in that section. The bad Home Inspector even commented that “It is achieving an operation, function, or configuration consistent with accepted industry practices for its age.”. It gets even worse than this as the Home Inspector failed to even cover his own errors by using pictures in another section of the report that included water heater faults.
This is the page in the different section of the report that displays the Home Inspector failed to call out a significant safety hazard with this home’s water heater. It is a bit difficult to see these pictures clearly and I will provide almost identical pictures that I took during my inspection of this home. To help point out the potentially deadly and/or damaging error this Home Inspector made I have added the red arrows. In the left picture I am pointing to a pair of discharge pipes that appeared to be the Temperature & Pressure Relief Valve (TPRV) discharge pipe and water heater drip pan discharge pipe. In the right picture the red arrow points to only one of those pipe discharge points being partly visible.
These pictures were used in my report not only to report on the blocked TPRV and drip pan discharge pipes, but also to report the extension cord use (more on that later). The sunroom had been added after the build and during the construction of it they covered over the water heater discharge piping. The discharge piping had also been either initially terminated horizontally (instead of downward) or had been modified during the sunroom installation. The two discharge pipes could not be identified as to which is which and in their current installation state are a significant hazard to the water heater as well as the structure. As part of our required inspection duties, as defined in the rules and laws, we are required to identify deficiencies with the routing and termination of the TPRV discharge piping, and test the TPRV to ensure it functions, is properly terminated and drains correctly. If we do not test it we are required to specify why. As you can see in this bad home inspection report there was no indication that the bad Home Inspector tested the valve because if he did he would have seen this. It is also obvious that the bad Home Inspector did not even look to ensure the discharge piping was properly terminated. This sunroom had been there a long time and was not built after the bad Home Inspectors inspection.
But that was not the only thing wrong with the water heater and its installation.
- The water heater was located in the attic and the electric element cover had been removed on the front of the water heater case. The protective caps and wiring were disheveled as if a known issue was being experienced. The cap could have been removed during that 60 days but there was a heavy layer of dust and debris on top of it suggesting it had been in that condition for quite some time.
- The sacrificial anode bolt on top of the water heater case was badly rusting and in its current condition posed a high potential for leakage. The amount and extent of rusting that was there again is not something that would have occurred in 60 days time.
- There was heavy corrosion on the cold and hot water pipe joints where they attached to the water heater. Again the amount of corrosion suggested long term rusting.
- The water heater located in the attic did not even have a proper working platform around it. It appeared to have only enough platform for the size of the water heater. That is a serious safety hazard for anyone who has to do anything with that water heater including the occupant if they want to adjust the heating element temperatures.
Other Issues Not Reported
There were many, many issues that went unreported or not properly reported in that bad home inspection report. For example:
- As you saw above the Home Inspector called out the improper use of an extension cord for permanent wiring. What he failed to report was that extension cord was being run to an outbuilding, supplying a daisy chain of outlet strips, lights, etc., and was heavily overloaded causing a real potential fire hazard!
- Significant grading and drainage issues that can affect the foundation.
- High soil levels all the way up to and beyond the bottom course of brick which can allow water penetration and damage to the framing.
- Exposed and rusting post tension cables/rebar.
- Significant spalling of the foundation in various areas where the foundation pieces were beginning to detach from the surface.
- Missing and damaged roof flashings that could readily be seen from the ground!
- Significant damage and rot to roof trim that would have been obvious even from the ground but clearly visible if the Home Inspector has walked the roof.
- Improperly installed roofing materials and siding.
I could literally continue to go on, and on, and on, and on, through all of the various missed items and bad reporting. Almost all of what I did see missing in that report was also in direct violation of the rules and laws we must follow. The best way to display how bad that report was is to compare it to my report, at the risk of sounding self aggrandizing. However the comparison will give you an idea of how bad this Inspector and report was. This Inspectors report was a total of 17 pages long of actual reporting (minus the headers, etc.) with a lot of white space as seen on the example pages above. My report was a total of 67 pages long of actual reporting (minus the headers, etc.) with a little unavoidable white space.
It was a very good thing that the bad Home Inspector’s client apparently walked on the home as they would have been in for a world of nasty surprises later! So what should you do with these reports? Read on for more.
[tab: What You Should Do]
Simply stated DON’T TRUST ANY PREVIOUS INSPECTION REPORT AS A FINAL GUIDE TO THAT HOME YOU’RE BUYING! I have rarely seen one of these marketing pieces of junk that were anywhere near accurate in describing the condition of the home. In this case a total piece of trash inspection and report was being handed out to prospective buyers simply because the report made the house look a lot better than it was! With the Texas disclosure laws the seller is only suppose to advise you that they have had a previous inspection performed on the home. Sellers are not required to make these reports freely available unless you ask for them and they do have a copy. So take a moment and think about it. Do you think that the seller of that home would want to make my 67 pages of deficiencies and issues readily available to you if they had it? Absolutely not as it would kill the offer before you even made it!!!
Another set of problem reports floating around are the sellers’ own “Pre-listing Home Inspection Reports”. This is where the seller will bring in a licensed Home Inspector to perform an inspection of the home and generate a report that they can use as a marketing piece to help sell their home. Again most of these type reports are craftily written junk that was performed to not only gain your interest but also try to convince you that you don’t need to have your own home inspection performed. After all a licensed Home Inspector did this report didn’t they? And we know that the licensed Home Inspector has rules to follow don’t they? Well the rules can be easily manipulated and done regularly to generate these junk reports! I offer pre-listing home inspections but have a reputation as being very thorough on inspections and detailed on reporting. Whenever I get a request for one of these pre-listing inspections I always send a sample report to the seller so they understand how I will inspect and report on their home as I won’t create a junk report or do a junk inspection. Would you like to guess how many sellers have taken me up on a pre-listing inspection?
Don’t get burned by these junk reports and always have your own thorough inspection and detailed written report. Check your Home Inspector out thoroughly and always get a sample inspection report from them to compare with other Home Inspectors. You can tell a lot about a Home Inspector just by looking at their reports.
[tab: Links and References]
PS Inspection & Property Services LLC is a full service home inspection and light commercial inspection company servicing the entire Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. We strive to for the satisfaction of our customers in everything we do. Our services offerings include:
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