Dear Barry,

The people who are buying my house just had a home inspector invade my space, and you should see the crazy repair list they hit me with. Just for samples, they want replacement of some moldings, a new bathtub drain stopper, replacement of loose bathroom tiles, replacement of the window wells, extension of the bathroom vent from the attic to the exterior, and inspection of the air conditioner. Oh yeah, they also want the house treated for termites, and it’s only been five years since we killed all those bugs. Anyway, that’s what they want done. Nothing major, just petty things. Is this normal today when you sell a home? –Louis

Dear Louis,

In most cases, sellers are not required to repair every single defect that is listed in a home inspection report. In your case, some of the repair requests are reasonable, while others have a somewhat nitpicky flavor. Minor items not worth a haggle would include loose moldings and a faulty drain stopper. Items of greater importance would be the bathroom exhaust fan that currently vents into the attic (a code violation) and the recommendation to have the air conditioner professionally serviced. It’s better to discover a major A/C problem before the sale than after.

Negotiable conditions, those that may or may not be serious, would include defective window wells and loose tiles. You didn’t mention what specifically is wrong with these components. In each case, however, there is the potential for moisture damage, and this could be significant.

In most states, termite infestation is not included as part of a home inspection. Such conditions are typically evaluated by licensed pest control operators. And by the way, five years is more than enough time for termites to reinvade a home.

The main thing to keep in mind is that repair lists arising from home inspections can be viewed as requests, rather than demands. Except for repairs and upgrades required by law or specified in the purchase contract, all property defects are matters to be negotiated between buyers and sellers. All that is necessary is for all parties to be fair and reasonable in their considerations.

Dear Barry,

We are presently buying a brand-new home and haven’t decided whether we should hire a home inspector. If so, are there inspectors who specialize in inspection of new homes? –Terry

Dear Terry,

Apparently, you’ve missed the numerous articles appearing in this column emphasizing the critical importance of inspecting brand-new homes. It is an aspect of home-buyer protection that cannot be overemphasized. In fact, an entire chapter of my upcoming book is devoted to this subject and I will be posting excerpts from that chapter on my Web site.

Rather than repeating what has been explained in many past columns, let me underscore this unvarying fact: All brand-new homes have defects. No exceptions. It just takes a qualified, experienced home inspector to identify the glitches. Once you have the report in hand, the builder makes the appropriate corrections.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no home inspectors who perform inspections exclusively on new homes. You just need to find an inspector with years of field experience and a reputation for unrelenting thoroughness.

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

***

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