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Fischer: Tales of woe from botched home inspections

By Jen Fischer - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Jul 29, 2022

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Jen Fischer

As serendipitous as it may seem, it is uncanny how a specific circumstance or real estate-related obstacle tends to rear its ugly head on more than one occasion in the same week. I take this as some sort of felicitous divination that needs to be addressed to the public. Therefore, this week is brought to you by the unregulated industry of home inspectors.

Before beginning my diatribe on the lack of industry consistency in Utah, I will preface my rant with the attestation that there are some very credible, experienced, authentic and professional home inspectors out there. Most of these are not a part of a large company. They are a one man or woman show. The more respected inspectors have had some experience in the construction field or have apprenticed with other pros in the field and have significant field experience. While there are classes and certifications that can give prospective home inspectors a theoretical education, it pales in comparison to practice.

I received a phone call from a past client of mine this week. He had a good “friend” inspect the home at the time of purchase, several years ago. I had advised him against this; however, he wanted to help his friend get a start in the business by offering to be his first client. This was his “friend’s” first inspection and his last as well. Apparently, he missed some major items that should have been caught during a standard home inspection. As a result, he has had some plumbing issues ever since he purchased the home. All I was able to do for him at this point was give him the names of a couple of different respected plumbers in the community.

This is just one potential result of a botched home inspection. It seems that anyone who can go get a business license can pose as a home inspector. Some larger companies will “train” kids just out of high school to do home inspections. They likely don’t come on the job site with much more knowledge than how to flush a toilet and open the fridge.

One of the other possible liabilities with a rogue home inspector can occur when they find things that are called out as wrong when they are actually not. Or worse, as what happened with one of my other clients this week, they can leave the home in unacceptable condition.

This particular group of inspectors were chosen by the buyers, who are out of state and chose to remain unrepresented by a Realtor. They found the number online and called to book. My client spotted the marked truck as it approached. The truck had a wrap with the name of the company on it. Since she had seen these trucks around the neighborhood before, she assumed legitimacy. Yet, alas, a wrap and a business license does not one accredited make. Rather than one inspector, three inspectors popped out of the vehicle. They informed my client that they would be about three hours inspecting the home.

I had previously briefed my client that the expected amount of time for a home inspection of her home size (5,600 square feet) would be between three and four hours. However, that is if one home inspector were performing the task. One would assume that if there were three, the time would at least be cut in half? To no avail.

My client vacated the home so they could do their “job.” When she returned several hours later, however, her home was not as she had left it. The air conditioning had been turned off, the handheld shower heads were off the mounts and left hanging in the bottom of the shower and tub, there were wall hangings which had been taken off the walls and left on the pool table, and the door to the wood-burning stove had been left open and ash had blown out onto the floor surrounding it.

Oh, how I wish this were the end of this tale. Yet it is not. However, limited space prohibits the continuation of this story for today. Thus, stay tuned next week for part two of the “Home Inspectors from Hell.”

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jen@jen-fischer.com.

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