Q. I've been a home inspector for about five years. One of the homes I inspected three years ago is now being resold, and the buyers want me to do the inspection. The seller, therefore, was the buyer who hired me three years ago. So I'm wondering if taking this job would be a conflict of interest, especially if there are differences in the findings of the two reports. What do you think about this?
A. The longer you are a home inspector, the more often you will find yourself inspecting homes for the second time. Doing so is not a conflict of interest if you simply report the condition of the property as you find it. Those findings should never be weighted in anyone's favor. They should simply describe the physical reality of the home.
The problem, however, involves professional liability. Every home inspector becomes more skilled with experience. This means you may find a defect you overlooked three years ago. If the new buyer asks the seller to repair that defect, the seller might call you and say, "I hired you to find this problem three years ago. Why should I have to pay to fix it now?" At that point, you may have to accept some financial accountability. However, if you decline to inspect the property again, some other home inspector may find something you missed three years ago, and then you could get the same call from the seller.
Hopefully, you did a thorough inspection three years ago and no such problems will arise.
Q. The upstairs rooms in our home become unbearably hot, compared to the downstairs rooms, whenever the outside temperature is above 85 degrees. What can we do to eliminate this problem? Do you think it would help to increase the ventilation in the attic?
A. When the weather is hot, the surface of your roof becomes a large solar panel, soaking up heat and transferring it to your attic. There are two ways to keep this heat from entering your home. One is to provide adequate ventilation, which dispenses heat in the attic to the outside air. The other is to install sufficient attic insulation as a barrier, to prevent attic heat from penetrating the ceiling.
The most effective type of passive ventilation is a ridge vent. For this, you should consult a licensed roofing contractor for advice and a price quote. The other option is mechanical ventilation. A vent fan can be installed and connected to a thermostat. When the attic temperature reaches a specified level, the fan turns on and expels hot air through one of the roof vents or gable vents.
The color of your roofing can also affect the amount of heat gain in your attic. Dark colors are popular, especially with shingle roofing, and as most people know, dark colors soak up heat, while lighter colors reflect heat.
For recommendations that are specific to your situation, you should hire a qualified professional to conduct an energy audit of the building. You local utility company may provide this service for free.
• 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.
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