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posted: 8/30/2013 11:32 AM

Make sure blame for inspection is placed on right shoulders

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Q. We had a lousy home inspection experience. When we bought our house, our inspector said there appeared to be roof problems and issues with mold. He admitted that he was not a licensed roofing contractor or a mold expert, and he recommended further evaluation. After closing escrow, we hired a roofer and a mold expert. Both said there were no problems. Thus, we wasted hundreds of dollars on needless inspections because of this home inspector who, by his own admission, is not qualified. He certainly won't get our business again, and we intend to spread the word about his meager services. If a home inspector is not qualified to inspect, he should find another line of work!

A. Your disappointment is understandable, but the situation may not be as it appears. You hired a home inspector to let you know the condition of the property you were buying, and you trusted him for factual and reliable information, which he may or may not have done. So let's consider the issues.

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The purpose of a home inspection is to identify apparent defects and recommend further evaluation and repairs when and where they are truly needed. Roofing is a primary aspect of this process. Qualified home inspectors should be competent in the discovery of roof defects. When roofing problems are found, they should be described in specific detail, not in generalities, and recommendations for repairs by a licensed roofing contractor should be made accordingly. If a roof condition is questionable, further evaluation should be advised, but with a description of the conditions to be evaluated.

Mold is not included in the standards of practice for home inspectors, and most inspection reports specifically list mold as an excluded item. On the other hand, a home inspector would be remiss to ignore common mold stains when they are clearly visible. In such cases, home inspectors may recommend further evaluation by a qualified mold specialist. As with roofing defects, a description of the condition to be evaluated should be included in the inspection report.

Unfortunately, there are some home inspectors who recommend experts and specialists, simply to avoid liability for undisclosed defects. This practice is an overreaction to frivolous lawsuits filed against home inspectors. It should not be assumed that your home inspector did this, but if the roofing contractor and mold expert found no problems, your inspector should explain what he found that prompted his recommendations.

It may be that your home inspector actually did a thorough and accurate inspection and that the roofing contractor and mold expert were the ones at fault. This is something to be considered before throwing the home inspector to the wolves. You should ask the inspector to return to your home for a review of the conditions in his report. If he found roof problems, ask him to take some photos, or you can walk the roof with him if you're up to it. If he found evidence of mold infection, have him show it to you. If his findings appear to be factual, then the "experts" may be the ones who owe you an apology -- as well as a refund.

• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at www.housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.

Action Coast Publishing

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