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Blame The Home Inspector

by Russel Kirk of The HomeTeam Inspection Service
05-28-2004

Home inspectors get blamed for a lot of stuff, especially when the residence is occupied and fully furnished or when the residence is vacant and unfurnished; in other words, all the time.

A home inspection is a visual inspection of the structural and mechanical components. A furnished home presents problems for inspectors because many areas typically are not visible due to floor coverings (carpet, tile, area rugs, etc.), furnishings, storage, packed moving boxes, wall hangings and mirrors, etc. Use of electric outlets typically prevents the testing of every electric outlet because weíre not going to unplug equipment that belongs to someone else to test an outlet. Interior furnishings and storage typically prevent access to, inspection of, or opening every window, cabinet, closet, or door.

Hereís what typically happens with occupied and fully furnished residences. Since the residence is being lived in and systems are being used on a daily basis, it is possible that something will be damaged or fail during the escrow period and during the move-out/move-in process, especially when children are present. Homeowners rarely damage something during escrow and file a claim against their homeownerís insurance policy because, hey, they think itís not even their home anymore. They think you own it. Why should they fix something that belongs to you? Some sellers actually do not understand (or do not care) that they still own the home during the escrow period and should continue to take care of it.

Selling a home and leaving is a stressful event. To help relieve that stress, sellers and buyers typically have "moving parties", "last parties", "first parties", or "housewarming parties". Or they move hurriedly so they donít have to take too much time off from work or use up vacation days or sick leave. The actual days of moving are when most post-inspection damage occurs, and usually it is by the guests (or movers) helping the owner (seller or buyer) move, so the owner may not even know anything about the damage that has occurred. In both these instances, sellers like to say, "Your home inspector must not have seen that". Buyers like to say, "Our home inspector missed that".

Hereís what we know, though: Windows and window screens, and doors and door screens, are easily damaged during the escrow period and during the move-out/move-in process. Lights, switches, outlets, etc., can be damaged or fail. Because of the location of water supply and drainage pipes in our sink cabinets, where we start cramming things immediately upon move-in, plumbing pipes are easily damaged during the escrow period and during the move-out/move-in process, possibly causing loose pipes and leaks. Lights, wall switches, and outlets (electrical, telephone, and cable) get a lot of use during the escrow period, during the move-out/move-in process, and for those various parties, and thus are easily damaged.

In other words, by the time the buyer is completely moved in, there could be anything that just isnít right or isnít the same as it was on the day of the inspection. That, of course, is the nature of real estate.

So how do you remedy all this post-inspection damage? There are a couple of ways. First, we believe the purpose of your final walk-through is not only to make sure that any requested items have been repaired, but also to make sure that additional damage, deterioration, and destruction beyond normal wear and tear has not occurred. We recommend a careful, slow, and thorough observation with your Realtor at your final walk-through to ensure your satisfaction. Second, after you have had your own moving parties, walk around your home and check for damage caused by your guests. Youíre very likely to find some; in many instances, your guests may not even know that they caused damage.


Russel Kirk owns and operates Buyer Peace of Mind, dba The HomeTeam Inspection Service, in Spring Valley, California. He is a member of the Better Business Bureau and the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI). The HomeTeam Inspection Service performs home inspections in all of San Diego County California.

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