Dear Barry,

I’ve been renting my home for seven years and am now in the process of buying it. I was approved for a HUD housing program and need to prepare for a HUD inspection. What conditions should my landlord and I look at before that inspection takes place? –Kathy

Dear Kathy,

Dear Barry,

I’ve been renting my home for seven years and am now in the process of buying it. I was approved for a HUD housing program and need to prepare for a HUD inspection. What conditions should my landlord and I look at before that inspection takes place? –Kathy

Dear Kathy,

If you have lived in the home for seven years, you have probably noticed whatever defects would be obvious and apparent to the untrained eye. As a buyer preparing to make a costly investment, you should rely on the expertise of an experienced home inspector, not a HUD inspector. HUD inspectors do not perform the in-depth level of evaluation that would be standard procedure for a qualified, experienced home inspector. To ensure that you obtain adequate disclosure and to reduce the chances of costly mistakes, hire a home inspector with many years of experience and a reputation for thoroughness.

Dear Barry,

We had a home inspection that was provided by a relocation company, and now we have a problem. At the time of the inspection, the front porch had a very small crack (1/16 inch), and we asked the inspector if this would be a problem. The inspection report reads, "No noticeable defects in concrete walkway or front porch." Fifteen months later, the crack is half an inch wide, and the porch is pulling away from the house. Repairs could cost thousands of dollars. Are the home inspector and the relocation company liable for this problem? –Fred

Dear Fred,

The home inspector and relocation company are liable only if there was evidence of a significant problem that was overlooked when you purchased the house. A small crack, only 1/16 inch wide, is not a significant defect. Unless there were other apparent factors that were overlooked by the home inspector, no one can be faulted for their failure to foresee that the porch was subject to settlement. On the other hand, the relocation company may provide some kind of warranty. You should check with them to see if they are willing to help. You should also contact the home inspector and request a reinspection of the porch. The questions that demand answers are, "What caused the porch to crack and separate from the building?" and "Why was that cause not discovered at the time of the home inspection?"

Dear Barry,

I’ve made a purchase offer on a four-unit commercial property. Do investors typically hire home inspectors for this kind of property? –Don

Dear Don,

The purchasers of commercial properties often overlook the importance of a professional inspection — a surprising omission for a major investment of this kind. Yet the same buyers would never purchase a home without a detailed physical evaluation. For some reason, there is a perceived difference between residential and commercial properties where defect disclosure is involved.

The fact is, commercial buildings are prone to all the same defects likely to be found in a residence, including roof problems; issues with plumbing, electrical and heating systems; faulty site drainage; foundation settlement; safety glass violations; trip hazards; and more.

The bottom line is obvious: Commercial real estate is expensive. It pays to know what you’re buying before you buy it. Buying commercial property without a professional inspection a risky way to do business. A qualified inspector can provide valuable disclosure to prudent buyers of commercial real estate.

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

***

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