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by CareyBot

Dear Barry,

We are purchasing a new home and haven’t decided whether to hire a home inspector. When we sold our previous home, my husband accompanied the buyers’ home inspector to learn what inspectors do. Next week is the final walkthrough with the builder. Our Realtor advises us to hire a home inspector, but my husband says we don’t need one. Instead, he plans to go through all the same exercises as our buyers’ home inspector, and he should be able to find any serious defects. Best of all, the builder lives a few doors away and is willing to fix any problems that arise. With a one-year warranty, any faulty conditions not spotted during the walkthrough will certainly surface during that time. Our family and friends also believe a home inspection is unnecessary, but your opinion would be greatly appreciated. – Lori

Dear Lori,

Your inclination to forego a home inspection on a brand-new home reflects the common wisdom in most new-home purchases, but it is an invitation to costly trouble, and here’s why:

You say that your husband plans to repeat all the same exercises as your buyers’ home inspector. Please understand that these were not exercises. They were the carefully considered applications of years of home inspection experience and of cumulative knowledge related to property defects. Your husband observed the inspector’s movements only, not the forensic processes that occurred within the inspector’s mind while he evaluated your home. It takes at least 1,000 home inspections to become truly qualified as a professional home inspector. There is simply no way that an average homeowner could discover the defects that would be apparent to a well-seasoned home inspector.

You also say that any problems not spotted during the walkthrough will certainly surface during the one-year warranty period. This is only true of defects that become visibly apparent or that affect observable functions, such as rubbing doors, a leaking dishwasher, or a noisy garbage disposal. Here are just a few examples of the kinds of problems that would most likely not be discovered on a walkthrough inspection or during the first year of occupancy:

1. Construction defects within the attic;

2. Faulty wiring within the breaker panel;

3. Improper flashing at roof penetrations;

4. Chimney contact with combustible construction;

5. Noncompliance at the garage firewall;

6. Substandard flue connections at the water heater;

7. Inadequate combustion air supply for the furnace;

8. Reversed polarity at wall outlets;

9. Lack of ground fault (shock) protection at required outlets;

10. Improper vent configuration at drain pipes;

11. Unsafe venting of exhaust at the furnace;

12. Inadequate height of the chimney above the roof, etc., etc….

Problems such as these would eventually be discovered when the time came for you to sell the home. The buyer’s home inspector would then reveal them, the builders warranty would probably have expired, and the responsibility for repairs would then be yours. To resolve these details now, while the warranty is in effect, find the most qualified home inspector in your area. A competent inspector will definitely find problems that would otherwise escape discovery.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at www.housedetective.com.

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