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Question DetailsAsked on 10/15/2012

Would I be wasting money and possibly risking code violations if I hire an inspector just for my own peace of mind? House built in 1947.

I was a first timer when I bought my house in 1998. My brother, an atty, helped. He also had someone else help - don't know if this guy was a realtor or what. I can only assume that an inspection was done. After moving in I found that I had a leaking roof, NO insulation, an old Fed. Pacific panel which I understand is considered a fire hazard, and then there's this, that and the other. So some things should have been caught by an inspector whereas some are just plain pesky things. I've also discovered over the years that certain things aren't up to code. So for my own peace of mind, I wonder if I should hire an inspector. I know I can't do anything about the past, plus my house is 100% paid for, but I'd like to start a list of needed repairs to prioritize and budget for. (Have little $$.) If I did hire an inspector, would he be required to report any current code violations to the city? Plus,would I be wasting my money? And how to find good inspector anyway? Thanks for any advice.

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6 Answers


There are a few things to consider.

You mentioned for your "own peace of mind" which is a legitimatereason, especially if you want to avoid any unforeseen problems or problems youdo not feel you would be qualified to or capable of finding yourself. Youshould research what a home inspector provides and evaluate if that issomething you could otherwise do yourself by doing your homework online, in thelibrary or bookstore. If you’re not a type of person that can or wants toattempt that then a home inspector may be a good idea. Word of caution:always be present when the inspector is at your home and watch everything hedoes to see if he is actually doing an "inspection" vs. a pencilwhipping exercise. Does he get down and look closely at individual items, ordoes he glance things over and check it off his list? A good inspector withcredentials and obviously a good Angie’s list rating should definitely bringyou peace of mind and do a proper inspection. Just make sure they are certifiedand qualified and hopefully Angie’s list can help find that inspector. Peace ofmind and a list of priority repair items is what you would get in this case.

As old as your home is I doubt code violations would be present, although locallaws may dictate otherwise. (A qualified and certified inspector should be ableto answer this) Your home (and in most cases) is only required to meet the codeit was built under (1947 code), unless something has been done since that is agross and dangerous violation, such as some kind of poor electrical work, whichyou would want to know about anyway. But even a home inspector may not be ableto find an electrical problem, as they are not necessarily qualified electricalinspectors or a licensed electrician capable of locating these types ofproblems. Another possible dangerous situation would be a wood burning stove orgas appliance improperly installed, and a qualified and certified inspectorshould be able to find this.

If you ever decide to sell your home you will definitely want to require thebuyer to include an inspection by a certified home inspector on his dollar, noexceptions.
I am speaking from experience on this as I sold my last home in a state thatdid not require a home inspection but was an option for the buyer. In my casethe buyer chose not to have the inspection done. This caught my eye whenreviewing the purchase offer with the Realtor and I specifically asked why theychose not to have an inspection as I thought it was odd to specifically"not" have an inspection. His answer was "they said they have arelative, uncle or somebody capable of completing the inspection and didn'twant to pay for a professional inspector" ($200 at that time).
Months after the sale was final the buyers filed a lawsuit saying there weretermites, I live in a Rocky Mountain state with very low year round humidityand had never heard of or seen termites (and definitely not in my home when Ilived there). The Realtor (who was included in the lawsuit) was as surprised asI was and did say on rare occasions they do exist in this region when wediscussed the lawsuit situation.

A long story short we settled for $1500 from me and $1500 from the realtor toavoid court. At that point and time I vowed to never sell a home again withoutthe buyers having a professional certified inspector complete an inspection onthe buyers dollar to avoid any conflict of interest (as they choose theprofessional certified inspector) and to prevent any future lawsuits from thebuyer due to an "un-disclosed" situation.

A side note, I had let the buyersmove in early prior to closing (one week), the buyers father was a lawyer (whofiled the lawsuit) and the husband of the buyers was a police officer. My takeon the situation was the buyers were in too big of a hurry to move in and foundout they didn't like the home as much as they thought they did at first andwanted a rebate and used dad the lawyer (who possibly may have been theunqualified inspector they chose) to do the inspection and file the lawsuit forthe rebate. Don't trust anybody is the bottom line in this story.

One last note, I mentioned "qualified" and "certified"quite a bit, purposely, as certification is a minimum requirement which theinspector can most likely provide some type of certification, whether it'slegitimate or not will require some investigation on your part, IE: whocertifies the inspector, the state or the company he works for, or a legitimate organization? Qualificationis an entirely different issue, and that's where hopefully Angie’s list canhelp from good reviews. It's hard to tell if someone is qualified unless he canprovide some kind of history and has a verifiable background and trainingrecords in the home and/or commercial building business with an additionalhistory doing inspections.

Good luck! Hope that helps and doesn't confuse.

Answered 7 years ago by Guest_9292912


Hi, Confused.

As you can imagine, we get a lot of questions regarding home inspections. I'm adding a link to what a home inspector does (below), how to hire one and a video of what's involved. Hope that helps!


Answered 7 years ago by HughV


Dear Confused,

If you truly want to know what issues lie in your home, get it inspected by a professional. While you may be able to glean some info from the web or books, unless you do it day in and day out, you will not have the inspector's eye that takes years of experience to obtain. Home Inspections is not something you can learn from Youtube or google. You would not be able to purchase the " piece of mind" that you seek.

Here in NC, a inspector would not be required to report any code violations to the local authorities. NC forbids inspectors from talking about codes anyway. So an inspection will reveal what safety problems you may have as well as improper construction, worn out items, and those that do not function as originally intended.

if you want to find a good one, use an inspector that has a low license #, plenty of experience, other licenses such as General Contractor license and of course Angie's list referrals.


Answered 7 years ago by ramdino1


I don't know where you are located but as I'm sure you know different states have different laws and standards for home inspectors. In Texas, a home inspector does not get into great detail testing electrical, plumbing, or other intricacies. They only go by what they can see and have been trained to see. They also often make their reports very vague. In the age of lawsuits they don't want to be accused of exagerating or omitting anything so everything seems to need some sort of attention. As a former Realtor I dealt with this and as a Contractor I still do as we often repair concerns brought up by inspectors during the home sale process.

The point I'm trying to make is rather than some vague report that may or may not tell you how serious a problem is I think it would be better for you to hire independent professionals to check the home over. An electrician that will test continuity in wiring and check for overloaded circuits & panels will tell you a lot more than a visual check by an inspector who is only trained to make sure there are gfi plugs in the correct areas and that everything works. A plumber will snake your drain pipes and run a camera through to make sure you don't have any breaks or other problems with the lines that should be addressed. I've never seen a home inspector do this. A plumber will also tell you if a gas supply line or branch is properly sized. They'll test the water pressure into your home to make sure it's within an acceptable range. These are some of the things inspectors aren't trained to do and don't do.

As far as framing and structure a structural engineer is going to give you the most detailed report. He should check that the house is level, has adequate support framing where necessary, and has no structural damage. In conjunction with these professionals hire a professional General Contractor, someone who has been around these things. In fact he can help you find and hire these professionals. He'll likely already have contacts to call on for these inspections. He'll be able to speak with the inspecting prefessionals and give you ballpark pricing for repairs to help you prioritize the order of projects based first on necessity and then on cost. The GC will also take some of the headache off of your shoulders by organizing the inspections and making sure everything is covered. Some engineers will do this also and have teams they call on for these inspections.

Todd Shell
Todd's Home Services
San Antonio, TX

Answered 7 years ago by Todd's Home Services


Todd is right. Having all those specialist come in would be the best way, but it is going to cost you a ton more. Think of a home inspector as a general practitioner. When you get a pain somewhere or need a physical, you go to you general practiioner DR and get looked at. If they find you have bad bllod levels, or somehting that they cannot detemine in a simple office vsit'they will refer you out for more test and maybe to a specialist. Same thing with an inspector. Most inspectors are not going to make a judgemtn call on somehting they are not experts in like framing or HVAC. They refer you toan expert. They can't tell you definitly what is wrong with your HVAC, but can tell you if it is not funcitoning correclty and refer you to someone who can. Some may have there GC license like myself. In which case I am qulaifed to offer repair solutions. Hope this helps.


Answered 7 years ago by ramdino1


I agree with the Doctor's analogy previously posted. Requirements vary by state, but here in Florida a license is required for all home inspectors. In addition, you should look for an inspector that is part of a trade organization like InterNACHI or ASHI since their educational and ethical requirements far exceed what is required for licensing in most states.

I do disagree with some of the items listed that are not typically included in an inspection, but this does vary by location and inspector. For example, when we are checking the plumbing, we are going to check for leaks of course, but we will also do things like flush the toilet while other fixtures are running and check to see if the water pressure is within an acceptable range. The idea is to expose a problem if it does exist, then you would be recommended to the proper professional for that item or system.

The report should prioritize or call attention to any items that are in need of immediate attention. What the homeowner thinks is a small issue may really be a big issue - and homeowners rely on their inspector to explain the difference.

As far as code violations are concerned - with the age of your home, it is likely that there would be a few items that do not meet today's standards. Depending on your location, and considering the age of the home, it is possible that there was not a code in effect when it was built. Contractors of that day and age relied on experience and general knowledge to build a quality home. Today, there are several different building codes across the U.S. The State of Florida has some of the strictest codes in the country to help avoid disaster during major storms, but there are hundreds of thousands of homes that were built prior to these codes that have withstood numerous storms.

In many instances, an older home with items that are not to code is often considered a legal non-comformity if there are no life-safety issues present. I was told yesterday by the head municipal inspector in our area that the only time an inspector would be required to report a code violation is if it could pose a significant threat to the structure or its occupants, like a major structural defect or improper electrical work that could cause a fire.

I know this is late, but I hope it helps!

Jenni Boucher @ Manatee Home Inspection Services


Answered 6 years ago by ManateeHomeInspector

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