In our case the man we used, recommended to us, was a nice enough guy and seemed moderately through, but in retrospect I am amazed what he missed:
- The basement was not permitted
- The basement was not a legal living space
- The attic was not permitted
- The stairs up and down were not built to code
- The kitchen door was not to code
- He did not do any manner of thermal inspection to see what state the insulation was in
- He missed the problems with the sewer connection
- He missed the lack of venting for the downstairs bathroom
- He missed the incorrect drain pipes and improper connection between the downstairs bathroom and kitchen plumbing
- He missed a main support joist having been cut in two and no shoring up on either side
An older local realtor once let me in on the reasons he uses home inspectors. The only purpose he saw for them was to use the report as a negotiating tool. He was very cynical about them and said that all home inspectors take their direction from realtors because that is where the business comes from.
I would like to see some changes to to liability on home purchases:
- Home inspectors should be held accountible for the reports they issue - certainly the home inspector should be able to point all the work that was done without a permit and make a note of it. The home inspector should be responsible for detailing everything in a house that is not up to the building code.
- Realtors should be held responsible for the state and condition of a property - if you are listing a house, you are responsible for finding and advertising all major defects. The selling realtor should be the one responsible for doing the home inspection and then making it available to everyone.