The cover of “Inspecting a House, Third Edition” by Alan Carson and Robert Dunlop says: “A guide for buyers, owners, and renovators.” That’s correct. But a better description would explain the book provides a very thorough explanation of what to anticipate when inspecting a house and what the results mean.

But the book is more than just a home inspection guidebook. Along the way, the authors provide sound advice so that a home defect discovered won’t be taken out of perspective. For example, Carson and Dunlop advise “A house that needs $20,000 worth of improvements may be a great investment if it is priced $30,000 below market value.”

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

The authors, co-owners of a professional home inspection company for over 25 years, are well qualified to write this fascinating book. Throughout the book, the superb drawings show what to look for in typical houses, both good and bad.

To illustrate, I discovered from one of the drawings my house doesn’t have “cricket or saddle flashing” around the chimneys to divert water away from the bricks. However, that alone would not be cause to reject a house, the authors explain.

This new book provides well-written authoritative information for home buyers and sellers, real estate agents, and anyone who wants to understand the components of good and bad houses. Carson and Dunlop not only explain what well-built houses contain, but how to evaluate an older home which might not be up to today’s standards. The sections about roofs, gutters, and exterior surfaces are especially enlightening.

However, as I enjoyed learning about the hundreds of components of well-built and poorly built houses, I wondered what the motivation of the authors was for writing this book.

Although they are professional home inspectors, they never explain how to select a competent, qualified professional inspector. They didn’t even mention the names of the nationwide home inspection societies, how to find honest, capable inspectors, and what to expect from a professional inspection.

Maybe Carson and Dunlop wrote the book to make readers feel qualified to inspect their own house. But there are so many home components, most readers would have to spend virtually full-time to become expert inspectors.

The authors advise readers who want to inspect their own homes to read the book and then use the end of chapter checklists to note the home’s strengths and weaknesses.

Frankly, I was expecting and would have preferred the authors add a chapter about how to find competent professional home inspectors. That information is completely lacking in this otherwise superb and very thorough home inspection book.

Chapter topics discuss the exterior; structure; electrical service; plumbing, heating system; basement and crawl space, interior; insulation, and the attic. There are also two chapters about home renovation with a sample contract.

The outstanding feature of this book is the many easy-to-understand illustrations of the topics discussed. Without those drawings, the book would be very boring. Although the authors state which home components should be inspected by experts, such as the electrical service, they neglect explaining how to find qualified expert inspectors. On my scale of one to 10, this new book rates a nine.

“Inspecting a House, Third Edition,” by Alan Carson and Robert Dunlop (Dearborn-Kaplan Trade Publishing Co., Chicago), 2004, $17.95, 214 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries and

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center


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