Agents said home inspection 'unnecessary'
Q: I need to know if home inspections are advisable for condominiums. Home inspection is listed as an option in my purchase contract, but my Realtor and the listing agent both say that a home inspection is unnecessary. They assure me that the property manager performed a thorough inspection before the property was listed for sale and that there were no problems with any of the appliances. Should I rely on this advice?
A: Realtors who advise buyers against hiring a home inspector undermine the trust that is essential in a client relationship. The fallacy in this advice is to equate the scope of a professional home inspection with the superficial walk-through inspection that is likely to be conducted by a property manager. Be assured that no management company is qualified to conduct the kind of property evaluation that is routinely performed by an experienced home inspector.
To test what you have been told by the agents, ask if the property manager's inspection was done in accordance with the standards of practice of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or a similar state association. Ask also for a copy of the manager's inspection report. If they have such a report, is it limited to appliances only? Was the electrical system evaluated, including an inspection of wiring inside the breaker panels and testing of outlets for grounding, polarity, and GFCI compliance for shock protection. Did they test and evaluate the plumbing and heating systems? Did they walk on the roof to determine the condition of the material, the quality of installation, the likelihood of leakage, or the need for repairs and maintenance? Did they inspect the fireplace and chimney, the firewall in the garage, conditions in the attic and drainage near the foundation?
The likelihood that these were included in the property manager's inspection is equivalent to the probability of a white Christmas in Jamaica. Common sense and buyer prudence clearly outweigh the advice of your agents.
Bottom line: Do not close the deal without having a professional home inspection. A qualified, experienced inspector will find defects that were never noted or even considered by the property manager.
Q: I'm about to buy a 1920s house and am concerned about possible moisture problems in the two-room basement. The walls, floor, and ceiling in one of these rooms were recently resurfaced with new cement. Could this possibly have been done to disguise water damage or water stains?
A: Although it is possible that the basement was refinished to conceal a moisture problem, further evidence is needed to draw that conclusion. Make sure that your home inspector gives serious attention to this concern and to the likelihood of any moisture problems in the basement, as well as musty odors and visible signs of mold. You might also have the property reviewed by a geotechnical engineer to evaluate ground water conditions in general.
• 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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