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posted: 8/31/2012 5:45 AM

Association probably can't help with questionable inspection

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Q. Before I bought my home, I hired a professional home inspector, but he did not do a very thorough job. This week I asked him to show proof that he is in good standing as a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors. However, he has refused to provide any documentation. Do I have any recourse against this inspector?

A. If the home inspector claims to be a member of ASHI, you can verify this by visiting the association's website at www.ashi.com. Click on "Find an Inspector" and type in his name. He either is or is not a member. However, home inspector associations such as ASHI do very little in the way of policing the professionalism of members. Unless someone fails to pay dues or does not participate in ongoing education, it is unlikely that the membership status would be adversely affected.

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The main issue is whether your inspector performed a thorough inspection. If there were defects that he did not report, he should respond to your concerns. If he is dodging you, that is a more serious issue than whether he is a member of an association. If the inspection was substandard, the inspector should respond to your concerns by reinspecting the issues at hand. If he is unwilling to stand behind his work, you probably should have another inspection by someone who is truly qualified. A second inspection report can be used to support a case against the first inspector.

Q. The house we are planning to buy has wetness on the foundation stemwall in the garage. The seller says this problem has come and gone for three or four years. She has had a plumbing company check it and they couldn't find a leak. The wet area has white chalky residue when it dries, and we believe this is soap residue. What are the dangers of mold forming in this area?

A. Mold does not grow unless it has some form of organic material for food. Concrete is a barren mixture of minerals on which mold growth is unlikely. Nevertheless, there is a moisture problem that should be evaluated and corrected.

The two most likely sources for the moisture would be a plumbing leak or faulty ground water drainage. The fact that the wetness comes and goes indicates that ground drainage is the problem, assuming that the wetness coincides with wet and dry seasons. To determine whether ground drainage is the issue, the property should be inspected by a geotechnical engineer. A qualified engineer can determine the direction of ground water movement and recommend specific ways to correct faulty drainage.

The white chalky substance on the concrete is probably not soap residue but a substance known as efflorescence, a formation of mineral salts that typically appears on concrete surfaces whenever there is prolonged water seepage.

• Email questions to Barry Stone through his website, housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.

Action Coast Publishing

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