Q. Your articles often advise people to hire home inspectors. In my opinion, that is bad advice. I had an inspection and it was a total waste of money. All the inspector did was walk around and report what was obvious. I could have done that myself and saved a few hundred dollars. Besides that, he missed some obvious defects that I discovered after moving in. Home inspectors should be much more aggressive. All I got was a cursory overview. How about giving homebuyers what they expect, instead of promoting a useless profession?
A. It is unfortunate your home inspector did not do a thorough job, but what conclusions can be drawn from that experience? It may be that he was inexperienced or inadequately trained. Either way, is it fair to judge an entire profession on the basis of one person's questionable performance?
What if we applied that standard to all trades? If an electrician failed to wire a home properly, would you dismiss the competence of all electricians? If a doctor misdiagnosed an illness, would the entire medical profession be discredited? If a police officer's conduct was rude or abusive, would you condemn the majority of committed law enforcement officers who routinely risk their lives and safety to protect citizens?
All that can be learned from your experience is that not all home inspectors are good at what they do. Next time you buy a home, try to find an inspector who is known for comprehensive thoroughness. There are plenty of good ones out there.
Q. We bought a house that shares a water well with six other homes. All seven owners are supposed to share the maintenance costs, but only three of the owners are contributing for repairs, annual dues and the electric bill. The people who sold us the property said there was a well agreement, but there turned out to be none. What can we do to get everyone to share in the costs for our water supply?
A. The person who subdivided the property and set up a well situation with no written agreement was shortsighted, to say the least, and laid the groundwork for inevitable disputes among the homeowners. The culprits in your situation, however, are the people who sold you the property and lied about the well agreement. On the other hand, you were remiss in purchasing the property without receiving a copy of that agreement. Standard procedure when buying a property is to have all documents available for evaluation and approval before closing.
The logical solution at this point is for all seven parties to hire a contract attorney to draft a standard well agreement. Hopefully this can be done without creating a community feud. If and when an agreement can be reached, dues should be paid on a regular basis to provide a fund for payment of essential expenses. If some of the homeowners are unwilling to participate, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit to compel cooperation.
If there is a mutual or municipal water company in the area, you might consider donating the well and becoming water service customers.
• 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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