Dear Barry,

Your repeated endorsement of home inspectors should be taken with more than a grain of salt. When I bought my home, the inspector approved the roof without ever having looked at it. After moving in, I had two roofing contractors evaluate the roof, and both said that it was totaled. I called the inspector back to the house and showed him the damaged shingles and the rotted wood in the attic. To my surprise he admitted that he hadn’t crawled in the attic or walked on the roof during his inspection. He said the seller had assured him that the roof was in good condition. I filed a small-claims action and recovered all but $500 of the cost of roof replacement. My advice to your readers is to hire plumbers, electricians, roofers, etc., rather than wasting money on home inspectors. –Chad

Dear Chad,

You certainly can’t be blamed for some anger and disillusionment with regard to home inspectors, but don’t let one bad apple turn you off to apple pie. If you were to hire an incompetent plumber, or if an inept auto mechanic had messed up your transmission, would this convince you that all plumbers and mechanics are unworthy bunglers? Probably not.

Within every profession, the full range of human conduct is represented, from the exemplary to the reprehensible. Amid this spectrum, we find those outstanding individuals who set the standards, as well as those embarrassing specimens who denigrate the collective reputations of all. Among the worst we find the doctor who performs an unnecessary surgery, the public official who accepts a bribe, the contractor who overcharges his customers, the parents who deprecate their children, the truck driver who drinks while operating his vehicle, and the home inspector who relies on seller disclosure, rather than performing an inspection. But none of these individuals is the representational standard of these respective fields, and others should not be judged according to their levels of misperformance.

In the locale where I do business, all home inspectors walk on roofs and crawl through attics. In fact, industry standards, as set forth by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA), and similar associations, require that roofs and attics be inspected, as long as they are reasonably accessible.

The most surprising aspect of your unfortunate home inspection experience was your inspector’s reliance on seller disclosure when reporting the condition of your roof. To any reputable home inspector, seller disclosure might serve as a lead toward further investigation, but definitely not as a final conclusion.

Next time you buy a home, be sure to research the available home inspectors in your area. Find someone with a well-established reputation for detailed disclosure and professional competence.

Dear Barry,

Construction is nearly completed on our new home, but we’re concerned about the windows. We ordered low E glass, the windows that filter out the heat rays from the sun. They cost quite a bit extra, but we’re not convinced that’s what we got. The contractor assures us these are the right windows, but we want to be absolutely sure. What should we do? –Cliff

Hi Cliff,

If you suspect that the windows which you ordered may not be the ones you received, try calling the window manufacturer and expressing your concerns. Window companies typically have field representatives who investigate possible problems involving the contractors who install their products. Upon request, they may send someone to the site to ensure that all issues involving their products are satisfactory.

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

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