Agent

Home inspectors shouldn’t contract repair work

Repairing homes they've inspected would be a conflict of interest

DEAR BARRY: Our home recently fell out of escrow and the circumstances were very suspicious. The buyers’ home inspector said we have mold. We were unable to see it, but the inspector said it was visible only with a special flashlight. We agreed to remove the mold, but the buyers said they wanted it professionally removed.

It turned out the home inspector was also in that line of work, and he could do the job for $1,500. While we were negotiating this, the buyers canceled the sale. What do you think of this situation? –Valerie

DEAR VALERIE: It is a conflict of interest for a home inspector to contract repair work on a home that he has inspected. Furthermore, performing work under such circumstances violates the codes of ethics of every established and reputable home inspector association.

The fact that the home inspector was ready to remove mold that no one else could see is highly suspect. But the main issues for now are whether you actually have mold and what to disclose to future buyers.

To confirm whether or not you actually have mold, you should hire a professional mold inspector for an evaluation. If mold is found, you can hire someone to do the remediation. Whoever does the work should be a disinterested third party, not the person who did the inspection.

If it turns out that you do not have mold, you can use the mold report for disclosure to future buyers. You can also use the report as evidence if you file an ethics complaint against the home inspector.

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DEAR BARRY: When we bought our house, the home inspector identified several roof defects and recommended repairs by a licensed roofing contractor. The seller hired a roofing contractor to repair the conditions in the inspection report. But now we are having leaks in places that were not mentioned in the inspection report. Do we have recourse against the inspector? –Frank

DEAR FRANK: The home inspector identified the fact that roof repairs were needed. It is possible that he failed to recognize other problem areas. However, it is also possible for a roof to leak in places where there are no visible defects. You should call your inspector and ask for a reinspection of the places where the recent leaking occurred.

You should also ask the roofing contractor to attend that meeting. It was the job of the roofing contractor to review the entire roof to make sure that there were no visible defects besides the ones mentioned in the inspection report. If the contractor merely repaired the reported defect, without reviewing the entire roof, then he was not doing a thorough job.

Another possibility is that the roofing contractor did review the entire roof and did discover additional defects. In that case, it would have been the seller’s decision whether to pay for the additional repairs.

Whatever circumstances led to the lack of adequate roof repair will be matters for discussion when you meet with the inspector and the contractor.

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

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