Dear Barry,

I’ve heard about a trend among buyers to waive a home inspection in a “hot” real estate market. Is this something a buyer has to do in order to get good deal and an accepted offer from a seller? –Edwina

Dear Edwina,

In a sellers’ market, buyers sometimes agree to waive a home inspection, just to make the offer more attractive to the seller. But this is not a way to “get a good deal.” It’s a way to get a risky deal.

Waiving the right to a home inspection makes as much sense as bidding at an auction while wearing a blindfold, the primary difference being that far more money is at risk when buying a home. Not only is there the certainty of buying unseen defects, there is the potential risk of undisclosed safety problems. Homes are simply too costly and too complex to be purchased without knowing what you are acquiring for your money. Even if you agree to an as-is purchase, at least get an inspection for your own information, for your protection, and for your peace of mind. To make your offer more attractive to the seller, it is possible to have a home inspection without it being a contingency of the purchase. So waive the contingency if you must, but at least know what you’re buying before you buy it.

Dear Barry,

We’re about ready to make an offer on a house, but the seller has disclosed a damaged retaining wall. I know nothing about retaining walls and have no idea if this is a serious problem. Other than getting an inspector, is there anything else we can do to protect ourselves? –David

Dear David,

The importance of a retaining wall depends upon its location and purpose. If it is a landscape retaining wall, upholding a garden area, the importance is less than if it is a structural wall or a site wall, supporting soil near a foundation or property line. To evaluate a retaining wall problem, a licensed structural engineer should be consulted.

As to the question of “getting an inspector,” you don’t need a damaged retaining wall to justify the need for a detailed home inspection. Having a home professionally inspected is necessity for every homebuyer. Don’t buy a home without it!

Dear Barry,

There is a door in my house that keeps swinging shut on its own. I’m tired of using a doorstop to keep in propped open. How can I fix it once and for all? –Diane

Dear Diane,

Sometimes, the slightest leaning of a doorjamb can cause a door to swing open or shut on its own. Fortunately, there is a simple three-step solution for the average handyperson:

1) Remove the hinge pins. These are the long, smooth, bolt-like inserts that hold the two sides of the each hinge together.

2) Bend the hinge pins. This is a simple process whereby you set the pin on the pavement, prop up one end on a solid object, and then strike the pin with a hammer.

3) Reinsert the bent pins into the hinges. The pressure and friction caused by forcing the curved pins into the straight hinges will resist the self-closing tendency of the door.

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


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