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  1. #1
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    Post Hidden Camera Investigation: Home Inspectors

    Thursday, May 17, 2018 06:59AM
    PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) --
    Potential home buyers entrust home inspectors to look for flaws to help avoid buying a money pit. But, as our hidden camera investigation found, not all are as reliable as you think.

    Like many prospective buyers, Chaney Widmer counted on a home inspection to reveal whether a house in Fairmount was a deal or a dud.

    "We didn't want to get into something that was going to be a total gut job just because we were first-time home buyers," she said.

    Fortunately, her home inspector was thorough and flagged problems for the existing owner to fix.

    But an investigation by Checkbook Magazine found the people you hire to catch flaws may not spot or even look for clear signs of trouble.

    "We identified 28 problems that we thought were just too obvious for home inspectors to miss," said Kevin Brasler with Checkbook.

    For its undercover investigation, Checkbook rented a 3-bedroom house and then hired twelve random home inspectors to check it out.

    Some of the obvious problems Checkbook identified included a big leak under the kitchen sink, a clogged utility sink, inactive outlets, rodent infestation and filthy filters. The home also had obvious signs of water and roof damage, plus a missing chimney damper.

    According to Brasler, "some home inspectors just don't do that much work."

    Checkbook said it paid an average of $540 per inspection.

    Their investigation found that nine inspectors never raised a ladder to look at the roof. Seven inspectors missed a major leak, plus a defective garbage disposal with faulty wiring. And four inspectors failed to record obvious signs of water damage.

    "If you don't do an up-close inspection of the roof, test every outlet, if you don't open and shut every window or really thoroughly test the plumbing, then what are you doing for the $400 to $700 fee that you're charging?" Brasler added.

    Checkbook magazine said as a group, the inspectors caught the 28 obvious problems only half the time.

    So how can you find a reliable inspector?

    According to Brasler, "One key to hiring a home inspector asks them to share with you previous reports that they've done."

    He also said home buyers should ask to look at sample reports to see how thorough they are. A big warning sign is a ten page turner without photos.

    Brasler also suggests asking home inspectors what they will look for and what they won't. For instance, while some inspectors check chimneys, crawl spaces and attics, many won't.

    "Ask them how long are you going to be doing this inspection. Some inspectors were in and out in like 90 minutes, which is just not long enough to check everything," said Brasler.

    Brasler said home buyers should be present for the home inspection. He also pointed out it is a good idea to go with an independent inspector not someone your real estate agent recommends.

    See the video


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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Hidden Camera Investigation: Home Inspectors

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hannigan View Post
    Thursday, May 17, 2018 06:59AM
    PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) --
    According to Brasler, "some home inspectors just don't do that much work."
    Checkbook magazine said as a group, the inspectors caught the 28 obvious problems only half the time.


    They don't mention how many found all of the defects. She also comments that some inspectors did not get on the roof, but doesn't let us know if the roof was accessible on the day of the inspection. Assuming the inspection took place on a day that the roof was accessible (no snow or ice), access would probably have been limited to the lower-sloped portion. One of the problems with this type of sensational reporting is the lack of data. In my opinion, reporter did as poor a job as the inspectors.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hannigan View Post

    According to Brasler, "One key to hiring a home inspector asks them to share with you previous reports that they've done."
    The problem there is confidential information. I don't give out contact information for clients or reports. I do have a couple of reports on my website where I changed the address and names, but I am not going to do that for every potential client.

    Having whined a bit, I agree that there are folks (in every profession or trade) that just don't do a good job.

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  3. #3
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    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    26,454

    Default Re: Hidden Camera Investigation: Home Inspectors

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    In my opinion, reporter did as poor a job as the inspectors.
    So ... the home inspectors in that area should turn that into a sting / counter-sting operation and expose the reporting methods of the reports ... COOL!

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  4. #4

    Default Re: Hidden Camera Investigation: Home Inspectors

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post


    One of the problems with this type of sensational reporting is the lack of data. In my opinion, reporter did as poor a job as the inspectors.
    "Lack of data" sums it up pretty well. If you go to Checkbook's website to learn more about the study, you find the following:


    "When Checkbook’s undercover shoppers paid for 12 inspections we were astonished by how poorly many of them performed. Of the 28 problems we deemed any inspector should catch, as a group they caught them only half the time."

    Twelve home inspections do not provide enough data to draw any relevant conclusions. The blanket statement that the inspectors caught the 28 problems "only half the time" is somewhat misleading as we don't know how far the inspectors fell short. For example, did 4 of the 6 who "failed" catch 27/28 problems? Or 0/28 problems? There's a substantial difference.
    "But what really surprised us was how little work many inspectors bothered to do. For instance, few performed up-close inspections of the roof, several didn’t test all the windows, outlets, or fixtures...."
    Now here's where I think we as an industry can learn a valuable lesson. The above indicates that there are some really bad expectations. Just a quick look at the SOP would reveal that inspectors test a "relative sample" of many items. In addition, weather and other conditions--or choosing to inspect by drone--may prevent the inspector from getting up on the roof.

    My takeaway: The public still don't have a good understanding of the nature of home inspections. Only by continuing to strive to set expectations with clients (and journalists) can we hope to better educate the public to prevent misunderstandings and claims.

    We actually did an article recently that touched on setting (and resetting) expectations with clients. One of the inspectors we interviewed gave a nice example of what she says to underscore inspections' limitations.

    "Inspections are a snapshot in time. The snapshot in time is today. You could have drainage issues that I will not be aware of if it’s not raining.” (Jan Banks)

    You can read the entire article here.

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