Ask Your Question

Angie's List Answers is the trusted spot to ask home improvement and health questions and get answers from service companies, health providers and consumers. For ratings and reviews on companies in your area, search Angie's List.

 
 
or
Submit
Top 30 Days Experts
Rank Leader Points*
1 kstreett 240
2 Guest_9020487 110
3 Guest_9190926 105
4 GoldenKid 100
5 ahowell 95
6 KnowledgeBase 95
7 skbloom 80
8 Guest_98024861 70
9 Guest_9311297 70
10 Guest_9400529 70

*Updates every 4 hours

Browse Projects By Category

Question DetailsAsked on 5/5/2011

did I get scammed on my home inspection report?

I recently paid more than $350 for an home inspection on the home that I now own. According to the inspection company's web site, they were to perform a thorough exam of the house, and provide detailed reports on things that I, as a potential buyer, needed to be aware of before buying. The inspection report came back with minor things, which we were able to negotiate with the seller, however, upon moving into the house, we discovered major problems with an external door that was clearly never checked, and was completely dry rotted on the bottom. We received estimates, and the door replacement will end up costing us more than $2500. I called the inspection company, who did come back out to look at it, but they basically laughed off our concerns and said that they inspect a select number of doors and windows, and that the other door opened and granted them access to the room, so that was all they needed to check. They have not been back in touch with us since then, so they clearly do not think that they were in the wrong. Neither my husband nor I were able to be at the inspection as we were living up north at the time. What is the point of hiring an inspector to look at the house, if they are only to look at a number of things in the house. It seems to me they will always have a loop-hole to protect themselves, and that buyers then become victims of their own actions to protect themselves. Am I crazy, or does it sound like I got scammed? What course of action can we pursue at this point?

Do you have the same question? Follow this Question


26 Answers

0
Votes

That seems like a shoddy inspection to me. Other than making a report on Angie's List, I don't know if you have any recourse. Please do the report though so you can save the rest of us in the future!!!

Answered 7 years ago by michelemabelle

0
Votes

Actually, many states don't even license the inspectors - so if you don't get one that belongs to a professional organization that sets standards for performance, you pay your quarter and you take your chance.

Your first call should be to the realtor who helped you buy the house. Find out from that person where you stand with the inspector. You should also think of how you found the inspector...does that give you a path for going back on someone for a substandard report?

Where states license the inspector, you should get a complete inspection. I don't mean one that has representative samples!

You don't say where you are from so I can't tell you what, if any, regulations exist in your area for inspectors. Without that, any more is a guess.

Answered 7 years ago by Old Grouch

0
Votes

Thanks for your replies. I live in Florida.

Answered 7 years ago by chili

0
Votes

I'm sorry that your move began on a sour note but welcome to Florida anyhow.

Answered 7 years ago by michelemabelle

0
Votes

[quote user="chili"]Thanks for your replies. I live in Florida.
[/quote]

One site in Florida, Certified Building Inspectors, pretty well sums it up for you:

Did you know that currently the State of Florida has no licensing or certification requirements for Home Inspectors? This may change in the future. However, right now, anyone can obtain a Florida Occupational License or buy a franchise and call themselves a "Home Inspector." This can occur with little or no training nor requires any experience.

I was not able to find anything to contradict that statement by looking through the state's web site. I did find one web site that seems to do a good job of describing what a building inspection should include at http://www.fabiorg.com/ . They are the Florida Association of Building Inspectors. Often, state laws to regulate or set license requirements for a profession come from associations like this since it works to their advantage to have a voice in the rules that their members will follow.

Are you stuck? Not yet. Look at the report your "inspector" gave you to see if he claimed any professional associations that you could use to report him. Again, go back through your notes to figure out who recommended him and if they will stand behind his work (or lack thereof).

You may be able to call on local or state consumer protection folks. I have had great success in the past using service of the Indiana Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division to resolve problems.

The Florida Attorney General's website with information about consumer protection matters is http://myfloridalegal.com/consumer .

Hope this points you toward some relief.

Answered 7 years ago by Old Grouch

0
Votes

Mike - thank you so much. I just checked the inspector's site, and they are a member of the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors. I am going to do more research and find out about filing a claim through them.

You have helped more than you know! This has been a HUGE disappointment for us since we've moved into our new house. This opens up a new avenue for us to resolve this issue.


Again, thanks for taking the time to respond!

Answered 7 years ago by chili

0
Votes

Walk gently.

First, go to the web site that the inspection company has and make copies of the pages that you put your trust in.

Then, look at the web site for the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors ( http://www.nachi.org/ ) . At first glance, it looks like it could be either a valid association of good inspectors or a sham. Things on it that cause me heartburn are notations that their membership is capped and folks should join or renew soon, and their standards of practice....the section on doors and windows does indicate they test a representative sample (notice I even guessed the right phrase in my earlier post).

When your goof says he tested a representative sample, agree that he might have tested or inspected a representative sample of operable doors. But, did he test a representative sample of fixed-in-place doors?

Doesn't matter though. Take your documentation and still make one attempt through the real estate person that was involved. You'll want to see if there are any seller disclosure documents that you might have overlooked and it gives the realtor time to know you are about to stir up a hornet's nest over the inspection. At the least, they might avoid sending new business to this particular company.

Then, go ahead and hit the attorney general or an attorney of your own. I like using the attorney general when I can because I'm already paying their salary and it helps prevent others from falling into the same snake pit.

You didn't mention, did your mortgage depend on your home being inspected? Does the mortgage company feel good about their investment because your goofball inspected? If so, you might want to give them a heads-up too. Nothing like a mortgage company or an underwriter who thinks they have money at risk over a substandard piece of security.

At some point, you will want to get pictures. At least pictures of the door from eye-level and from down near the rot or whatever. If you have the door replaced, get pictures of the floor and sub floor as the work progresses. Pictures are better than he said, she said.

All this gibberish is to keep you from getting too excited and to point out that it could be tedious and it's completely without certainty that you'll get anyplace. It is the sort of pain I like to plan and inflict on people who deserve it. I just don't want you to think it is a short-cut to recovery.

Good luck.

Answered 7 years ago by Old Grouch

0
Votes

ah ha! After leaving the last note, I found a link on the national association's chat board that you will find useful.

Florida's legislature seems to have passed a law this year to require a license for both home inspectors and mold inspectors.

You will want to click this link to open the PDF file and then save a copy on your pc. http://www.nachi.org/documents/FLlicense.pdf

It's 18 pages of typical legislative wording. Take time to read it and add it to your toolkit.

Answered 7 years ago by Old Grouch

0
Votes

You weren't scammed, except inasmuch as the home inspection biz itself is a scam, which might be the case. When we moved recently I looked for a home inspector who was a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). I found them on Angie's List, and they had rave reviews. Turns out the man who inspected our home was only a trainee and was not licensed by ASHI himself. He also told me that in Ohio (laws vary by state, but tend to be more lax the further south one goes) ASHI mandates that inspectors check two outlets and one door per room. That's nice, isn't it? He seemed very proud of himself because he checked all the outlets. If your inspector gave you paperwork, read the fine print. They usually say that they don't have to inspect anything they can't readily see, such as wiring under insulation in the attic, walls behind boxes left by the former owner, etc. Many of them won't even go up on the roof and instead look at it from the ground.

In many states - and this is the case in Ohio - anyone with a general contractor's license or a licensed plumber or electrician can be a home inspector. Unless they carry Errors and Omissions insurance - which they are not mandated to do in Ohio - there is no comeback. Even so, the problems you experienced would not be covered.

There is just no way to have a good inspection without first arming yourself with knowledge ("Home Buying for Dummies" was my bible for a while) and then being there at the inspection. Even after doing all that, there are always nasty surprises. Our master bedroom door doesn't latch and never did (strike plate in the wrong place). The toilets are worn out at ten years old and have had to be replaced already. We had a minor mouse issue which had obviously been going on for the previous owner too. The oven left by the previous owners does not heat up adequately. These things are just par for the course and are not really something I'd expect an inspector to find.

On the house before this one we were out of state and were not able to be at the inspection. We also went with the inspector our real estate agent recommended, so we were hit with a ton of surprises after we moved in. There were things anyone with adequate eyesight should definitely have caught. Still, there was no comeback.

You're not really a victim here, even though you probably feel like it right about now (I know we did for a while). You expected that a home inspection would turn up everything that was wrong, but that is an unrealistic expectation that most of us have at one time or another.

Welcome to the board.

Answered 7 years ago by Commonsense

0
Votes

Thanks so much for everyone's advice. I will keep you posted if make any progress! Again, I appreciate all of the time and research you've done to help us. We will be in touch with our mortgage company (great idea!) , the realtor and trade association. We'll keep our fingers crossed that we get somewhere.


Have a great weekend!

Answered 7 years ago by chili

0
Votes

Sorry to hear about your situation. In my experience you have to be on top of home inspectors or for that matter termite inspectors. Since neither you or your husband were present they probably did as little as possible unfortunately.

Most home inspection companies report on major home systems- heating, air conditioning, roof, plumbing, washer, dryer. The ones that I have dealt with in the Washington DC area also point out damage to driveways (cracks), wood damage from faulty gutters, condition of windows, attic, they look for structural damage, signs of moisture and paint peeling among other things. They'll tell you what the big ticket items are so you can either decide to pass on the house or budget for the future expenses.

Damage to a exterior door is something that they should have reported since replacing a door is not small change. Besides it was probably obvious if they opened it, which they probably did not.

I think there may be several things you can do. Call the Realtor who you dealt with you. If she/he was at the house during the inspection they should have picked up on it. Maybe you can get some $$ from them. Call the Better Business Bureau and also the county and State that you live in. Most home inspectors have to be licensed and you may be able to file a complaint.

If you ever buy another home...always be present at the home inspection and never use a home inspector recommended by the Realtor. See an article I wrote on how to get a good independent home inspection at http://www.millennialliving.com/Activities/Homeownership/independent-home-inspe
ctions.htm
. Also move on and focus on decoratoring and landscaping your new home as well.

Good luck

Answered 7 years ago by Tom at Millennial Living

0
Votes

OK - in the interest of full disclosure, I am a home inspector (in PA) and also a former member of NACHI.

To the original poster, I would say that your inspector should have tested the door, but our industry has a laughably weak Standards of Practice that I feel protects shoddy inspectors (for the exact reason you state). For examply, we are not required to walk on roofs, open every door or window, or test every outlet. I ask you - how long can it take to test every door, window and outlet? 10 - 15 minutes, tops?

So, what justification can there be for only testing a "representative sample?" Simple, to cover the butts of inspectors who miss stuff.

Now, having said that, hiring a good inspector can make all the difference in the world (if I do say so, myself)! There is nothing inherently wrong with using someone your Realtor recommends, but you should interview them as well as at least 2 others (don't we all interview and get estimates from at least 3 contractors for any job?)

Questions to ask are:

How long have you been inspecting homes? (3 years plus is what you should be looking for here)

How many homes have you inspected? (anything less than 100 is a total rookie, anything less than 500 and you should keep shopping)

What did you do prior to inspecting homes? (many inspectors were tradesmen or contractors - helpful in many instances).

What do you charge? (If they start with "you get what you pay for" and you believe them, then you get what you deserve - you don't get gas at the highest priced gas station simply based on cost, do you?)

Do you carry Errors and Omissions Insurance? (Many inspectors think consumers who ask this are litigious bloodsuckers - I think they are smart consumers, I am certainly not about to let anyone work on my home who is uninsured!)

What do you cover and what, specficially, is excluded (I have time, go over it all for me)? (Inspectors will point you to the Standard of Practice, and then you can work from there. If they do not exceed the SOP, keep looking.

In the end, you want someone with a strong buiilding and construction background, who carries E&O, has been inspecting for at least 3 years, and is not afraid to listen to your needs and questions and give you an inspection that will answer your last question and give you total peace of mind.

Oh yeah, all of that should be guaranteed (or your money back).


Just my 2 cents - I hate it when anyone gets a bad inspection.

Answered 7 years ago by Sherlock Homes

0
Votes

For future knowledge, most inspection contracts (that "agreement" you sign when the inspector gets there) includes language about what to do when you have a complaint.

First, do NOT repair it until the inspector can review it. Notify them when you become aware of the problem, and allow them reasonable time (usually 3 days, but check the contract) to review it.

Next, communicate with them in writing so that you get a written record of everything.

Finally, if you feel wronged, file complaints with the Association they belong to, the BBB, Angie's List, any licensing boards, and then proceed with legal action.

Hope this was helpful!

Answered 7 years ago by Sherlock Homes

0
Votes

Thanks for taking the time to respond.

We, unfortunately are still dealing with this. We have filed a complaint with the BBB, but have not yet received a reply from them.

Sadly, we are discovering more and more problems...(no we're discovering dry rot inside the home) and feel as though this inspector is completely incompetent.

Good advice for our next home purchase!

Answered 7 years ago by chili

0
Votes

Sorry to hear of your continuing problems.

My advice (and most inspectors will flame me for saying this) is to proceed with legal action. If the inspector is insured, more than likely his insurance company will settle the claim (even if only for his deductible amount - most likely at $2500). If this does not cover the costs, and you can demonstrate that the damage is in a visible area, an area that was inspected, or an area that is listed in their Standards of PRactice as an area that SHOULD be inspected, then your case is strong.

Even if only in small claims court, you can win a juedgement against the inspector.

Contacting them is the right thing to do, to afford them the oppoertunity to respond -and this may be critical in your proceedings (did you tell them there was a probelm and give them the chance to review it and make you whole?)

All this is (of course) sight unseen and knowing nothing but what you have posted, but for consumers, this is the next best step when dealing with the company prove fruitless.

Answered 7 years ago by Sherlock Homes

0
Votes

I'm a realtor. First, I want to say I really enjoy reading Sherlock Homes' posts. They're always enlightening.

I would add that referrals are a good way to find a home inspector. I found mine while hanging out with another real estate agent at a home she was having inspected. (By the way, the buyer's real estate agent should always be present for inspections.) This inspector loved his work so much he invited me to shadow him all over the house, educating me while he made notes.

The next time one of my home buyers needed an inspector, I referred him. He spent several hours examining a small house. Then he spent another hour walking the buyer through the house as he discussed each item on his report. His report even included maintenance recommendations that would be important for the buyer to keep in mind for the coming months/years. After that, he became my primary referral. He's so thorough, he usually has to begin his report by reassuring the customer that the home is in good shape (if he thinks it is) and not to be alarmed by the detailed nature of his report.

I'm shocked to hear there are "professional" organizations out there that think it's OK to do a representative sample of something as easy to check as a door!

Answered 7 years ago by VirginiaJeff

0
Votes

As a potential buyer, I would expect to be able to accomplish a home inspection before making an offer the idea being that I want as much information possible before I can figure how much money I'm willing to offer. However, that doesn't seem to be the way it is done. (Same thing with condo rules and regulations. Evidently, buyers don't seem to be allowed to see this stuff until an offer is accepted.)

Answered 7 years ago by harry

0
Votes

Hi Harry!

I can see why the order of things -- getting the inspection after you've made an offer -- might seem contradictory at first. But there isn't anything nefarious about it. Most of the time it's just more practical for the buyer to do it this way. One exception: Some buyers are contractors, who renovate and resell houses for a living. These folks do their own inspections. So, if they like a property they do their inspection on the spot, before making an offer.

For the rest of us, bringing an inspector along for the ride is cost prohibitive -- to the tune of $500 per house. Instead, you spend a few weeks or months looking for just the right place, one that meets a lot of different criteria as well as your personal aesthetic. When you find that place, you want to make an offer. Otherwise, you may lose that house to another buyer while you're waiting for your inspector to have an opening in his schedule. Along with your offer, you include language making the sale contingent upon a good inspection report. For example, depending on the home's asking price, you might state that if recommended repairs exceed $5,000 you can opt out of the contract. (Be reasonable about the amount. No house is perfect. If you want the buyer to take her house off the market, she needs to know you won't easily get cold feet.)

But what happens if estimated repairs DON'T exceed $5,000, are you stuck with fixing them all yourself? Not necessarily. Unless, it's an "as-is" sale, most sellers will meet you halfway and make some concessions in order to keep a deal on track.

You also mentioned condominiums. I agree that getting a hard copy of the rules and fees can be more trouble than it should be. Here in Virginia, some associations charge the seller $300 for each official copy. (Which is why our state is on the verge of setting a price ceiling of $100. Still too high, in my opinion.) So it's prohibitive for the seller to hand out kits to everyone who asks. Even so, there are a couple of ways to get what you need. First, many sellers include the fees and association services in the listing, so you should have some idea of what you're getting into. Next, ask to see the seller's personal copy of the rules. Most won't mind doing you this favor. Caution: make sure they have the latest version. You might follow up with a phone call to one of the association officers to verify the major points.

But again, if in all other respects you've found the condo that suits you, you'll want to make an offer so as not to lose it to another buyer. In Virginia, once the seller accepts an offer, the buyer is entitled to an official copy of the rules. From the time the condo packet is delivered to the buyer or his Realtor, the buyer has three calendar days rescind the offer. (Check with your Realtor to verify the laws in your state.)

I hope this information helps.

Answered 7 years ago by VirginiaJeff

0
Votes

Good Morning Chili,

I am a Home Inspector in Virginia Beach, VA and I have performed over 4000 inspections. I have read your post and it interests me. First of all, was the house vacant when it was inspected. This could possibly affect the outcome of the inspection if there were obstructions. Secondly, was the door that was damaged readily accessible and was the damage easily detectable. Was this an interior or exterior door? Did you take any photos of the damage? I can not comment further without more information but I would like to help if I can.

Answered 7 years ago by Home Inspector

0
Votes

Thanks for the compliment, Jeff! Sounds like you haev an excellent inspector there - a great help to your clients, I am sure. I, too, begin and end most inspections by telling clients that we are there to find potnetial concerns (and I will) and that no house is perfect, so do not be alarmed or concerned that items are "major" problems unless I specifically say so.

Our industry Standards of Practice are laughably weak, if you ask me. It does the consumer a disservice - I know I would want more from my inspector, so I make sure to provide more to my clients.

Your advice about the condo docs is excellent! I also try to encourage buyers ot ask for Assocaition meeting minutes. This can help them determine a lot of practical things like:

    how the Association handles complaints (timelines, thoroughness, etc)common problems (is everyone having window issues, etc)upcoming assessments or discussion of future assessments

Great advice, and good posts!

To the Home Inspector from VA Beach, I think the original post mentions that it is an exterior door and that the damage would have been visible had the inspector elected to operate that door (but that may just be my interpretation of the facts).

Answered 7 years ago by Sherlock Homes

0
Votes

[quote user="harry"]As a potential buyer, I would expect to be able to accomplish a home inspection before making an offer the idea being that I want as much information possible before I can figure how much money I'm willing to offer. However, that doesn't seem to be the way it is done. (Same thing with condo rules and regulations. Evidently, buyers don't seem to be allowed to see this stuff until an offer is accepted.)[/quote]

Harry, as Jeff pointed out, that is not typically the order of things, although I have heard that in some areas (like Long Island) inspections can preceed the bid (not sure if that is true or not).

If you look, you will find that there are a number of inspectors (myself included) who take a creative and more buyer-firendly approach. I offer a "WALK" inspection for clients who are unsure of whether or not they should enter a bid on a property. It is strictly a visual, basic observation of the conditions of the home and some general comments designed to let you know whether on the surface the place is a potnetial money pit or whether it seems typical for its age (offering broad ballpark cost estimates). Our WALK consulatations involve no tools (this assurs sellers that we are not ripping the place apart or creating potnetial liability for them) and there is no report. They are also priced very reasonalby ($59-89 covers most homes in our area) and the price can be credited towards your full home inspection should you enter a bid and need a complete inspection (so you don't pay me twice for the same property).

The clients who like this inspection the most are those with no construction backround, people who want to be sure that a pro sees what they see, or first time buyers who are new to the area or who do not have friends and family to house hunt with them.

Good question!

Answered 7 years ago by Sherlock Homes

0
Votes

Answered 7 years ago by gbrand1950

0
Votes

The inspection company is liable for their finding and or lack of findings. They should be insured for errors and omissions and you should request the owner of the company come out and inspect the said omission and then see what they say. If you are still not satisified take them to small claims court if it is less than your states maximum. If it is more than your states maximum, hire an attorney and have them sued. On a side note, the termite inspection company is really the ones who should have found the dryrot, moisture damage, or termite damaged door and should have reported that in their inspection report.

Respectfully,
Submitted,
Ron Cantor
Cantor Property Inspection
3128 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92104

Answered 7 years ago by inspecthms

0
Votes

Whether or not you were "scammed" comes down to a matter of opinion. Forgive me, but it seems as if you are relying on a person who is being paid a few hundred dollars to uncover years, if not decades worth of deferred maintenance and cover ups by previous owners. The inspector is also required to carry expensing errors and omissions insurance which eats into their profit. Combine that with constantly marketing themselves to new clients, home buyers are quite fickle, and you have a tricky business model. In the future avoid these common mistakes, assumptions:


1. Do not use an inspector who is referred by you realtor. Period.

2. Educate yourself about the process and do not be cheap. If you want a deeper inspection other than the mandated one by a licensed inspector, then hire an electrician, plumber, etc. but realize that this will cost you.

3. Understand that life has risk, and buying a home full of risks. Stop looking for someone to blame and take it as a learning experience.


When end my house was inspected I found an independent, bright, young inspector who was eager to build his business with referrals from buyers. He was aware, and made it be known that further inspections from electricians and plumbers etc. may be needed.


Bottom line one is that here in Florida you need a licensed Home a Inspector to sign off on any property with a mortgage/insurance, but you should do more than the bare minimum. Would you buy a used car if some "inspector" you paid 40$ told you that it was safe? I personally would hire a mechanic for this job, even if my car passed "inspection"


try ray these guys if you ever are in Florida buying a house as they are ethical, and not beholden to realtors/insurance companies. Http://www.masonbuildinginspections.com


Thomas

Answered 2 years ago by Leafjam

0
Votes

In Florida, this is entirely possible, when you got your inspection. Anyone then could hang up a "Home Inspector" shingle. Fortunately Florida recognized this and chnged the law. However, most home inspectors, get their leads from real estate agents so there is a conflict of interest. For example if a home inspector is through and as a result the sale falls through, then the home inspector may lose that lead in the future. It's best to have a home inspector that avoids conflict of interest by obtaining leads from lenders. The bank and you have a common interest in the property. For you, it's your home; for the bank it's collateral. Go with a licensed inspector that you find independly or better yet a lead from lender. Avoid leads from real estate agents. Recently I found a home in Port Charolette on two lots for a good price. My wife and I went to look at it. I figured another $40k-$50k I could put in a pool and provide some repairs. When we go there I found that the roof most likely would need replacing in 3-5 years, The back yard had outside lighting that didn't meet code. The air conditioning system was not only outdated but was installed two years before the listing date for whivh the house was built. The wall and door between the house and garage didn't meet code. At that point I told the real estate agent that I was terminating the inspection because I wanted a home I could live in and improve with a pool and lani; I wasn't looking for a fixer upper. There was the plumbing, water heater, attic, fuze box, electrical outlets and more remaining to be looked at. My wife loved the property, but she couldn't see what I was seeing. Nowdays if an inspector is not through you hsve legal recourse, but who wants litigation when you really want a livable home. The best home inspectors work are associated with banks because if you default on your loan, the bank has a property in good standing that the bank can resell to recover the loan. The bank and you have a common interest in the property.



Answered 2 years ago by Guest_9574380

0
Votes

We live in California. I have hired home inspectors twice during house shopping over the years. The first one missed the fact that the homeowners had done a DIY electrical project over all the bedrooms installing the ceiling fans and left exposed and arcing wiring which was causing burned areas and could have eventually started a fire in the attic. The second one missed the fact that the homeowners had removed a main load bearing wall in the center of the house to create that "open concept" look that everyone wants. The weight of the new roof was causing imminent collapse. I even pointed out obvious damage beginning to happen and the home inspector blew it off and recommended that I buy the house because it was a "jewel". Home inspections are a scam. They miss major life-threatening issues and nitpick at little unimportant things that serve no purpose but to cause friction between buyers and sellers. The home inspection industry is a scam. I will never hire one again.

Answered 1 year ago by GwenSutton




Related Questions


Terms Of Use
|
Privacy Policy