DEAR BARRY: Six months ago, we purchased our first home. The house passed inspection, but within weeks of moving in we discovered asbestos in the basement, some of which needed removal to replace a failing furnace. After this, we noticed that rain was getting behind the roof gutters and wetting the ceilings, walls and basement. Three contractors have told us that the siding, gutters and some shingles were installed to conceal problems and sell the house.

Why are home inspectors unable to find such problems? And when they don’t find them, do we have legal recourse? What’s the point of having a $300 inspection if the inspector overlooks serious problems? Had we known in time, we would not have purchased this home. –Kurt

DEAR BARRY: Six months ago, we purchased our first home. The house passed inspection, but within weeks of moving in we discovered asbestos in the basement, some of which needed removal to replace a failing furnace. After this, we noticed that rain was getting behind the roof gutters and wetting the ceilings, walls and basement. Three contractors have told us that the siding, gutters and some shingles were installed to conceal problems and sell the house.

Why are home inspectors unable to find such problems? And when they don’t find them, do we have legal recourse? What’s the point of having a $300 inspection if the inspector overlooks serious problems? Had we known in time, we would not have purchased this home. –Kurt

DEAR KURT: One thing that is often overlooked about home inspectors is their relative inequality with regard to knowledge, experience and forensic skills. The purpose of a home inspector is to discover and report defects. The ability to do this effectively involves skills that take many years to develop and refine. Some inspectors are far better at this than others. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize this when they hire a home inspector, and spend little, if any, time selecting one. In most cases, people hire the inspector who is recommended by their agent. Those recommendations are sometimes good ones, but sometimes they are not.

Another problem is price shopping. Some homebuyers simply call a list of inspectors to see who charges the least. No consideration is given for possible quality differences, just price variations. Instead of asking for a price quote, buyers should inquire about experience and qualifications. Questions such as "How long have you been a home inspector?" and "How many homes have you inspected?" are far more important than "How much do you charge?" In fact, the home inspector with the highest price may cost the least in the long run.

If your home inspector missed serious defects that were visible at the time of the inspection, you probably did not hire the best inspector available in your area. A home inspection can be a highly beneficial experience or a low disappointment. It all depends on which inspector you hire. Whether you have recourse against the inspector depends on whether the defects were visible during the inspection.

Here’s a tip for next time. Real estate agents know who the best home inspectors are. Some recommend the best inspectors, but others will not risk the deal on a thorough inspection. So take the time to check out home inspectors. Find one who is highly experienced and who has a reputation for thoroughness.

DEAR BARRY: How many layers of asphalt roofing shingles are OK before it becomes an illegal amount? –Twyla

DEAR TWYLA: The building code allows no more than three layers of composition roofing material. However, some building departments set the limit at two layers. Therefore, check with your local building official to see what is required.

On the other hand, the best way to replace a roof is to remove the old roofing first. This limits the amount of weight on the framing structure and ensures more secure nailing of the shingles.

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

***

What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

Show Comments Hide Comments

Comments

Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
Success!
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
We are less than 1 week away from Inman Connect! Get your ticket for $99 before prices go up next week.GET YOUR TICKET×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription