Dear Barry,

When we purchased our home, the home inspector didn’t want us to attend the inspection. He simply mailed us the report. Since moving in, we’ve found defects that were not reported to us, and now we feel that our presence at the inspection should have been allowed. Among the undisclosed problems were ungrounded outlets and several venting problems affecting furnace safety (discovered by the man from the gas company). I guess not being allowed at the inspection should have been a red flag. – Ben

Dear Ben,

My question to you is, were you represented by a qualified real estate agent. Real estate professionals typically arrange for their buyers either to attend the home inspection or at least meet with the inspector at the end of the inspection for a full review of the findings. Lack of adequate representation, or no representation, can adversely affect the outcome of a real estate purchase.

Refusal to permit buyer participation at a home inspection is indeed a red flag. No home inspector with a healthy understanding of the profession would deny home buyers the right to attend their own inspection. The buyers are paying for it and have every right to be there. Inspectors of this ilk have no concept of the service business they are in and should either reevaluate their professional function or find another way to make a living. It’s a matter of attitude, of realizing that the purpose of the inspection is to provide buyers with a thorough understanding of the condition of the property being purchased – to be the buyers’ private consultant and advocate. That’s the essential approach, and without it all other aspects of the inspection become suspect, particularly the thoroughness of disclosure. This fact has now become painfully apparent to you, as undisclosed defects are gradually revealed.

Qualified home inspectors routinely test accessible wall outlets and report when they are not grounded. Failure to note such an obvious and common defect is a sign of professional negligence. Additionally, various defects involving the ventilation of gas-burning fixtures are commonly reported by qualified home inspectors, as these can significantly affect the safety of occupants.

The unanswered question now is, “How many additional defects remain to be discovered and disclosed?” This uncertainty can only be resolved by way of another home inspection, performed by the most thorough, experienced, and well-reputed home inspector you can find. Call a few real estate offices in your area and ask who is known for meticulous investigative detail. Find someone who has many years of experience in the business, who is a member of a recognized home inspector association, and who welcomes you with open arms to the inspection.

Dear Barry,

We want to build an addition on our home but can’t get a permit because of an easement on the property. The original purpose of the easement was to provide access to two homes situated behind ours, but those properties now have their own driveways. Is there any way this easement can be removed? – Elizabeth

Dear Elizabeth,

If the easement on your property was established for purposes that are no longer necessary, there should be a legal means of having it nullified. To determine what procedures stand between you and that objective, consult your local building department or whatever governmental agency regulates easements. As is the nature of such entities, you may or may not find the response to your application to be logical, reasonable, and/or equitable, but you never know until you try. If you encounter difficulties in that regard, the advice and services of a real estate attorney may be needed.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at


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