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  1. #1
    tcg242's Avatar
    tcg242 Guest

    Default how did this happen...?

    Hi Everyone
    My story - bought a house 3 months ago in PA and had an inspection done by a member of NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors). The report came back very benign, a few plumbing issues, minor things that the seller addressed.

    The house sits on an open crawlspace, on piers. After beginning what I planned to be a "face lift" - drywall, paint, etc., I noticed a large section of one bedroom wall bulging out. After a bit of investigation, it turns out the entire wall was rotted and termite damaged. It's a non load bearing wall, so I planned to just fix it myself.

    However, after probing some more, 90% of the house structure is rotted out to the point that I'm surprised there hasn't been a collapse in portions of the house. Rotted joists are connected to rotted girders (double 2x material that I can push a screwdriver through).

    Now, I understand that they are not required to enter a crawlspace with low head room. Mine varies from about 2.5' down to a few inches. However, he did go in there and took pictures of the aforementioned plumbing issues, etc. In the report "The Sub floor and framing is warped or buckled at the Kitchen / Dining Room. This is a cosmetic issue for your information. A qualified person should repair or replace as needed". This cosmetic issue turned out to be a rotted girder and floor joists in the problem area. What info could he have had to deem it "cosmetic"? He noted there was no vapor barrier and that could lead to moisture, but apparently did not check for existing moisture problems because if he did he would have found all the rotted joists. No moisture meter was used because he claims there was no evidence of moisture, even though it is a 50 year old house sitting on a crawlspace with no vapor barrier that was closed off along the front due to poor grading. I found these things by crawling under and visually looking. I'm 6'2", 225lbs.

    I've had a very reputable local general contractor come and look at it. Within 5 minutes he showed me how the front of the house structure was basically sitting in dirt and this was a huge factor in all the rot that manifested over the years. He's providing me with an estimate, but said I should consider a full tear down (house is only 900sf).

    There were so many indications of moisture/rot issues that were missed. Had any one of them been reported, I would have had the knowledge to investigate further and would have found the mess that I'm now stuck with, but it would have been BEFORE I bought it.

    Many people refer to the "pre-inspection agreement or contract" that often limits the inspectors liability and details what I should and should not expect from them. I never signed, or was even presented with one. The wood destroying insect inspection passed with flying colors. It was part of the home inspection, but was done by a separate pest company. Also no contract or agreement that this was not a "structural inspection", as was indicated in the report afterwards. I would love to hear what other inspectors think. I've contacted my attorney, and I hate to have to do that, but I have no choice at this point as all I've gotten from the inspector was "sorry". I'm not looking to make money on this, I just want what I thought I was buying. I apologize for writing a short novel here, but I have my life savings tied up in something that's really not worth more than the land it's sitting on.

    Similar Threads:
    Inspection Referral

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Columbus GA
    Posts
    3,746

    Default Re: how did this happen...?

    Membership in an association is not an indication of an experienced inspector or of getting a good inspection.
    Go to the association website an print the SOP. This will say what the minimum inspection should include. Chances are, the inspector did not even perform a minimum inspection as required by the association.

    Hire another inspector to document the defects you know of, and to find if there are others that are unknown to you. Find an inspector that is willing and able to help you in the process of recovering any expenses from the first inspector.

    Send the first inspector a certified letter informing him of your concerns.

    Find out if the inspector has insurance, if so, file a claim.

    Inform:
    Your real estate agent
    If your state has licensing laws, inform the state agency

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  3. #3
    tcg242's Avatar
    tcg242 Guest

    Default Re: how did this happen...?

    Rick,
    Thank you for your reply. I was hoping I wasn't crazy thinking that at least one of these issues would have been discovered. According to PA law:

    The law in Pennsylvania provides a uniform definition for the term "home inspection" and for a national home inspection association. It establishes that a home inspector shall conduct their inspection in accordance with the standards of practice set forth by a professional home inspection trade association such as ASHI or the National Association of Home Inspectors.
    It further outlines consumer remedies as they relate to a home inspection, and establishes penalties for misrepresentations of fact in an inspection report. Under the law, home inspectors are required to maintain errors and omissions and general liability insurance with coverage of not less than $100,000 per occurrence and $500,000 in the aggregate.

    I'm beginning to feel a little bit better. I'm looking at significant $$ to repair.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Re: how did this happen...?

    My SOP (CAHPI, similar to ASHI) requires me to probe a representative number of structural components where deterioration is suspected.

    I went to the NAHI website but could not get past the start page for the Standards of Practice. Maybe a NAHI member could chime in here.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Oregon, USA
    Posts
    333

    Default Re: how did this happen...?

    Why not just knock it down and replace with a double-wide? Very few reputable contractors will be willing to replace all of the rotted members you've described, at a competitive price, and then provide a warranty that the infestation won't spread into the replacement members.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: how did this happen...?

    Sounds like you have a very good case for 'negligent misrepresentation' in tort law.

    There are five elements which you must prove to succeed in court, those are:

    1. there must be a duty of care based on a special relationship between the parties,
    2. the representation made by one party to the other must be false, inaccurate or misleading,
    3. the representation must be made negligently,
    4. the person to whom the representation is made must have reasonably relied on the representation and,
    5. the reliance must have been detrimental to that person with the consequence of his suffering damages.

    In addition to what Rick suggested you should also file a complaint with NAHI.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,777

    Default Re: how did this happen...?

    Here some ASHI links:
    ASHI Client Bill of Rights | The ASHI Reporter | Inspection News & Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

    Code of Ethics | ASHI, American Society of Home Inspectors

    Standards of Practice | ASHI, American Society of Home Inspectors

    Structural
    3.1 The inspector shall
    1. inspect
      • the structural components including the foundation and framing.
      • by probing a representative number of structural components where deterioration is suspected or where clear indications of possible deterioration exist. Probing is NOT required when probing would damage any finished surface or where no deterioration is visible or presumed to exist.
      3.2 The inspector is NOT required to
    Exterior is 4.1
    4.1 The inspector shall:inspect:

    5. vegetation, grading, surface drainage, and retaining walls that are likely to adversely affect the building.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,847

    Default Re: how did this happen...?

    Quote Originally Posted by tcg242 View Post
    Hi Everyone
    My story - bought a house 3 months ago in PA and had an inspection done by a member of NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors). The report came back very benign, a few plumbing issues, minor things that the seller addressed.

    The house sits on an open crawlspace, on piers. After beginning what I planned to be a "face lift" - drywall, paint, etc., I noticed a large section of one bedroom wall bulging out. After a bit of investigation, it turns out the entire wall was rotted and termite damaged. It's a non load bearing wall, so I planned to just fix it myself.

    However, after probing some more, 90% of the house structure is rotted out to the point that I'm surprised there hasn't been a collapse in portions of the house. Rotted joists are connected to rotted girders (double 2x material that I can push a screwdriver through).

    Now, I understand that they are not required to enter a crawlspace with low head room. Mine varies from about 2.5' down to a few inches. However, he did go in there and took pictures of the aforementioned plumbing issues, etc. In the report "The Sub floor and framing is warped or buckled at the Kitchen / Dining Room. This is a cosmetic issue for your information. A qualified person should repair or replace as needed". This cosmetic issue turned out to be a rotted girder and floor joists in the problem area. What info could he have had to deem it "cosmetic"? He noted there was no vapor barrier and that could lead to moisture, but apparently did not check for existing moisture problems because if he did he would have found all the rotted joists. No moisture meter was used because he claims there was no evidence of moisture, even though it is a 50 year old house sitting on a crawlspace with no vapor barrier that was closed off along the front due to poor grading. I found these things by crawling under and visually looking. I'm 6'2", 225lbs.

    I've had a very reputable local general contractor come and look at it. Within 5 minutes he showed me how the front of the house structure was basically sitting in dirt and this was a huge factor in all the rot that manifested over the years. He's providing me with an estimate, but said I should consider a full tear down (house is only 900sf).

    There were so many indications of moisture/rot issues that were missed. Had any one of them been reported, I would have had the knowledge to investigate further and would have found the mess that I'm now stuck with, but it would have been BEFORE I bought it.

    Many people refer to the "pre-inspection agreement or contract" that often limits the inspectors liability and details what I should and should not expect from them. I never signed, or was even presented with one. The wood destroying insect inspection passed with flying colors. It was part of the home inspection, but was done by a separate pest company. Also no contract or agreement that this was not a "structural inspection", as was indicated in the report afterwards. I would love to hear what other inspectors think. I've contacted my attorney, and I hate to have to do that, but I have no choice at this point as all I've gotten from the inspector was "sorry". I'm not looking to make money on this, I just want what I thought I was buying. I apologize for writing a short novel here, but I have my life savings tied up in something that's really not worth more than the land it's sitting on.
    It sounds like you need an attorney to help you protect your rights and give you legal advice on your options. They will most likely tell you to get another inspection(not from a contractor but another home inspector) that identifies all of the problems in the home.

    I would say the company/person that issued the WDO inspection as well as the home inspector share in the liability of not fully disclosing the conditions of the home. From what I understand the PA home inspector law does not have much in the way of enforement or teeth so it might not be of much help with the home inspector.

    I'm sorry but warped and buckled subfloor and framing is not cosmetic!

    And yes, we will always have two sides to the story.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Bennett (Denver metro), Colorado
    Posts
    1,394

    Default Re: how did this happen...?

    NAHI SoP:

    4.2.1 Describe the type of structure and material comprising
    the structure and other items inspected.
    4.2.2 Observe the condition and serviceability of visible,
    exposed areas of foundation walls, grade slab, bearing
    walls, posts, piers, beams, joists, trusses, subfloors,
    chimney foundations, stairs, and other similar
    structural components.
    4.2.3 Inspect foundations for indications of flooding,
    moisture, or water penetration.
    4.2.4 Observe subfloor crawl space ventilation and
    vapor barriers.
    4.2.5 Operate the sump pump when present.
    4.2.6 Inspect the visible and accessible wooden members.
    4.2.7 Observe the visible condition of floor slab when present.
    4.3 Limitations.
    The inspector is not required to:
    4.3.1 Enter subfloor crawl spaces with headroom of less than
    3 feet, obstructions, or other detrimental conditions.
    4.3.2 Move stored items or debris or perform excavation to
    gain access.
    4.3.3 Enter areas which, in the inspector’s opinion, may
    contain conditions or materials hazardous to the
    health and safety of the Inspector.

    Bad rookies and incompetent inspectors can pass a license test and/or join a professional organization. Rookies sometimes become competent, but crummy inspectors rarely succeed, but can cause some havoc before disappearing from the profession. As for #4.3.1, I regularly enter crawlspaces with head clearance far less than 3 feet and most of my fellow inspectors that I know do likewise. I crawl around, over, and under all kinds of obstructions. But your state's SoP overrides ASHI's or NAHI's SoP, so I advise you to see what Pennsylvania uses for a SoP.

    As a long time professional home inspector and NAHI member, I hate to hear stories like yours. I agree with the comments presented by others here for your recourse.
    It's hard to be perfect and catch every defect in every inspection, but based on your description, it sounds like your inspector should have seen the problems you described.


  10. #10
    tcg242's Avatar
    tcg242 Guest

    Default Re: how did this happen...?

    The thing that's killing me is that he admits he entered the crawlspace, even says so on his report. I didn't need him to identify every rotted piece of wood, just one would have been more than enough. I'll post back and let you know the outcome, my lawyer is asking for an estimate of damages as a first step.


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,847

    Default Re: how did this happen...?

    Quote Originally Posted by tcg242 View Post
    The thing that's killing me is that he admits he entered the crawlspace, even says so on his report. I didn't need him to identify every rotted piece of wood, just one would have been more than enough. I'll post back and let you know the outcome, my lawyer is asking for an estimate of damages as a first step.
    It will not be a quick process. Once your attorney issues a demand letter or whatever the first step is decided on this will start the wheels turning. The inspector will then turn it over to his insurance company who will then do some research and eventually contact an attorney in the area to represent the inspector. We are about 6 months now after the first contact from your attorney. Next they will issue their rebuttal and wait..... After this your attorney will file a formal lawsuit if it has not been done already....... We are now at month 9 to 12.... Then it will bounce back and fourth a few more times and a trial date will be set if nobody has settled by then....

    Good luck with it...

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Lake Barrington, IL
    Posts
    1,363

    Default Re: how did this happen...?

    Quote Originally Posted by tcg242 View Post
    "The Sub floor and framing is warped or buckled at the Kitchen / Dining Room. This is a cosmetic issue for your information. A qualified person should repair or replace as needed".
    Can't get much more confusing than that. Did you follow up on the "repair or replace" recommendation?

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    South-West Michigan
    Posts
    469

    Exclamation Re: how did this happen...?

    How did you find this home inspector?

    How much experience with real estate and home inspections does your attorney have?

    Randall Aldering GHI BAOM MSM
    Housesmithe Inspection
    www.housesmithe.com

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