Unless I am familiar with a particular builder, when I walk into a home I never know what I will find. And that is the fun and interesting part of my work. While my end goal is to make sure families and homes are safe and secure, the discovery of what this house has to say to me and what has been happening in this particular house is the interesting part of the work. No two houses have the same issues. But all houses have issues because they are built by human beings and we all make mistakes. Some small and some big. It’s the big issues we all care about the most.
When the big issues are ugly they can be a show stopper for a buyer and that is why a buyer needs an inspector, who has no investment in the real estate deal. The Texas Real Estate Commission requires this arm’s length relationship between inspector and house. And that is a good thing. Because everyone else, while wanting a win-win for everyone including the buyer and seller, don’t get paid unless the deal happens.
But an independent inspector is paid before the report is published. Their job is to show the good and bad and well…ugly.
The good doesn’t get talked about much but is obvious by the absence of issues.
I have recently been in several homes where I was surprised by the quality and construction that went into the house. Cabinets were made of solid wood, trim and casings all solid and well connected. Electrical panel wiring installed with pride by electricians who saw their work as an expression of best practices and beauty. Plumbing that was thought out, from gas lines to fresh water to wastewater where it was obvious a master plumber was at work. The good in my report doesn’t get much coverage as it is not the goal but I do see it and as a general contractor who grew up remodeling homes, I appreciate it.
The bad you will find on the report. It will include mortar that is poorly mixed and cracking, sinks that don’t drain well because vents are not doing their job, toilets that are loose, ovens that don’t reach 350 degrees and attics that make me afraid to go on roofs because the trusses have holes in them.
I recently inspected a house where the grading would drain water against the foundation and had the potential of causing not just flooding but potential foundation issues. It was easily fixable and could just be monitored.
But these are just bad…not ugly.
The ugly comes in when changes were made without consideration for code, safety or best practices that a licensed tradesman follows. Recently this has been varied. A couple of days ago it was a wall with no insulation at all. Thermal imaging showed the whole wall was missing insulation…in a new house. Before that, it was ductwork that was tied off to electrical cabling. Then there was the sink with no Ptrap where sewer gases could come into a family’s home. I approach every home as if my family was going to live there. It has to be safe.
Less fixable was the foundation to the addition that had shifted an inch away from the original foundation. Cracks in drywall were painted over inside but the windows, doors, and foundation told the story.
Lastly was the crawlspace where piers were 8 layers of brick and wood and already leaning to one side…and there was a row of them leaning on one side of the house.
Every house has issues. Even brand-new ones. Or especially brand-new ones, or recently remodeled ones. And lately, with the flipping craze, I am finding issues that I cannot even mention here. Plumbers and electricians and engineers and others should be consulted so that homes are built and remodeled using codes that were established for safety and integrity. I see a lot of flipping where safety and integrity of the house was not considered.
When you get your inspection report remember that every house has a long list. But what matters is what is bad and what is ugly and which of those are going to cost you money to fix.
Let us know if we can help you, whether it’s inspecting a home you want to buy or sell or just getting a good understanding of what home improvement you should be working on first. As a 30-year inspector veteran and teacher once told me, “listen to what the house has to say” and tell them what you hear.
The good, the bad and the ugly.