There may come a time after you’ve lived in your house for a while that you discover something wrong with it. At that point, you may be upset or dis-appointed that your home inspection did not reveal this issue. There can be a number of reasons why the home inspection did not find it.
Intermittent or concealed problems
Some problems can only be discovered by living in a house and will never be found during the few hours of a home inspection. For example, some shower stalls leak when people are in the shower for a period of time, but do not leak when you simply turn on the tap for a few minutes. Some roofs and basements only leak when specific conditions exist. And, some problems will only be dis-covered when carpets are lifted, furniture is moved or finishes are removed.
Inspections are based on the house’s past performance. If there are no clues of a past problem, it is unlikely that a future problem can be foreseen.
The main source of dissatisfaction with home inspectors comes from comments made by contractors. Contractors’ opinions often differ from those of home in-spectors. Don’t be surprised when three roofers all say the roof needs replace-ment when the inspector said that, with some minor repairs, the roof will last a few more years. Contractors fear that the last person to look at or work on the roof will get blamed if the roof leaks, regardless of whether the roof leak is the contractor’s fault or not. Consequently, many contractors won’t want to make a minor repair with high liability when they could re-roof the entire house for more money and reduce the likelihood of a callback. This is understandable.
Why didn’t inspectors see it
Contractors may say, “I can’t believe you had this house inspected, and they didn’t find this problem.” There are several reasons for these apparent over-sights...
The wisdom of hindsight: When the problem manifests itself, it is very easy to have 20/20 hindsight. Anybody can say that the basement is wet when there is 2 inches of water on the floor. Predicting the problem is a different story.
A long look: If inspectors spend 30 minutes under the kitchen sink or 45 minutes disassembling the furnace, they would find more problems too. Unfortunately, the inspection would take several days and would cost considerably more.
Generalists: Inspectors are generalists; they are not specialists. The heating contractor may indeed have more heating expertise than your inspector.
An invasive look: Problems often become apparent when carpets or plaster are removed, when fixtures or cabinets are pulled out, and so on. A home inspec-tion is a visual examination. Invasive or destructive tests are not performed. A home inspection is designed to improve your odds. It is not designed to elim-inate all risk. For that reason, a home inspection should not be considered an insurance policy.
The above article is reprinted with the permission of Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., Consulting Engineers – Expert Home Inspections.