Home Inspection Nightmares

There are times when you should do things yourself and times when you would be better off if you hired someone. How can you tell the difference?

For example, if you think a chewing tobacco can would make a good junction box, you should always hire someone.

Home Inspection Nightmares VIII [This Old House via boingboing]


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  1. HeyThereKiller says:

    They just wanted it to fit in with the skoal burning stove!

  2. Echomatrix says:

    Are home inspectors liable for anything they miss?? I’m about to hire one myself and am very curious about this.

  3. timmus says:

    Maybe there’s still tobacco in there. Ouila! A Kentucky-style Glade plug in.

  4. juri squared says:

    Also, don’t use car parts in your ventilation system. See also: my basement. Fun times!

  5. I totally got burned by the guy I was recommended last year when I purchased a house. We knew it was a fixer-upper and told the guy to make me a laundry list of things we would have to do…. Well, I’m not sure if the dude was blind or if his palm was greased by the sleezer who we bought it from, but the laundry list was nowhere near as long as it has turned out to be. I really regret having to work that day, but I chose an inspector a coworker has recommended and figured I would be alright.

  6. samurailynn says:

    No, home inspectors are not liable for anything they miss. When we had an inspector, we had to sign a paper saying that the maximum amount they can be liable for is the amount you paid them. I’ve heard of other inspectors that make you sign something saying they are liable for absolutely nothing.

  7. Scuba Steve says:

    You have an extra [] in your link there. Takes you to a particularly unimpressive site.

  8. lockdog says:

    @rainmkr: I don’t know if you can call that totally burned. Take me to just about any house more than 15 years old (and a good number of new McMansions) and I’ll find enough work that needs to be done that you’d feel better off bulldozing and starting from scratch. Asking a home inspector to identify every problem in a fixer-upper is an impossible task. It just can’t be done. Home inspectors are supposed to look at the big picture: is the foundation stable, the electrical safe, were permits pulled for renovations, and is the plumbing functional? Does the roof leak? They simply can’t look for specifics…has your breaker box been recalled (tens of thousands in the late 90s were)? How bout your hot water heater (ditto)?. The list would never end, especially on an admitted fixer upper. But if you want a complete and total list, I’m available…I’m not licensed or insured, so I’ll only charge you $1500 plus expenses, but expect me to spend three or four days in your home, and to leave some holes in the walls where I checked the framing….

  9. Alan Thomas says:

    Our home inspection–done by a national inspection firm–was a total waste of money. DO NOT get anyone recommended by the realtor(s)–that’s a conflict of interest.

    Next time I buy a house, I’m going to find an independent, general contract to do the inspection.

  10. North of 49 says:

    No, they are not liable. Which I think is a crock.

    We were looking for a place recently and one of the rentals we were looking at we ran from. It had an unfinished basement. Now, in and of itself, that isn’t that bad, but the unprotected wires that were quite probably live and right beside insulation made us run.

    We probably should have told the realtor, but in the end, we decided to not to.

  11. homerjay says:

    Wait- Isn’t that Skoal can junction box the work of Meg’s dad? Whatever happened to him being the Consumerists resident handyman?

  12. Sudonum says:

    If they were liable then everyone would be bitching about how much an inspection costs.

    If you are buying a used car and you take it to your mechanic and he inspects it, is he liable for anything he missed?

    And that Skoal junction box is covering what appears to be low voltage thermostat wires. No conduit or j-box required.

  13. Charles Duffy says:

    @Echomatrix: I had a friend (a master carpenter, though licensed in a different state) hang around while the home inspector suggested by my real estate agent did the work. $FRIEND found stuff $PAID_DUDE didn’t — but neither of them pointed out that the house had no visible evidence of preventative termite treatment. (No termites either — but getting the prevention cost a good chunk of money that I could have made the seller’s problem had it been pointed out that such is conventionally a condition of sale).

  14. zolielo says:

    Just inspect to HUD code. It is higher than you think and fairly complete.

  15. humphrmi says:

    I’ve got two home inspection horror stories. I’ll try to keep it short. :)

    First townhouse, we loved it. Long story short, the inspector likes to turn on every faucet and flush every toilet just to stress the plumbing system. After he flushes the upstairs toilet, the ejector pump for the overhead plumbing kicks on. Repeat, same behavior. Turns out the upstairs bathroom was repiped and the decided to just have the pipe terminate above the ejector pit to save time. I can explain with more words, but think “poop going through a pump”.

    Second one, we show up on a mildly rainy day and the owner opens the door with a mop in her hand. She’s mopping up the basement. She might as well have been bailing, there are 2″ of water in some places. Good thing it rained.

    In both cases, I had a very reliable inspector who saved my ass on several occasions, well worth the $350 I paid him.

  16. JiminyChristmas says:

    I went to the Home Inspection Nightmares link and looked at every last one. I really couldn’t look away. The scary thing is about 1/4 of those cluster@#$%s were done by “professionals.”

    On a related note, I occasionally browse through a National Electric Code forum. All of the inspectors carry cameras or have camera phones. To document their work? No, for evidence, because otherwise no one would believe the crap they see.

  17. MercuryPDX says:

    Sweet jeebus Meg…. hell of a set up to just let it pass by….

    “For example, if you think a chewing tobacco can would make a good junction box, you might be a redneck.”

    Thank you! I’ll be here all week! Tip your server and try the veal!

  18. MercuryPDX says:

    @MercuryPDX: Crap… They used the same joke on the site.

    FAIL :(

  19. Mary says:

    Wow, people are PARANOID. We just bought a house last month, and we went through the home inspection with the guy, I specifically took time off work so that I could because there is NO reason not to be there when they inspect the home. He walked us through everything, explained what he was testing and how, and what the codes were, etc.

    He was a nice guy, very talkative, and told us the three or four small things that probably should be fixed, all of which were things we were perfectly capable of doing ourselves for less than $20.

    Of course, maybe the fact that both of us have enough experience and common sense to know what he was talking about, and the realtor required a termite inspection on file before the deal could go through…but it was a painless and perfectly acceptable process. I was very happy with him, and trust what he told us. Even if he was recommended by the realtor.

    Of course, we also made sure to buy a condo that had been newly renovated specifically to sell it, because we knew we didn’t have the time or money for many repairs. I can only imagine what we would have found in the “fixer upper” we looked at…

  20. Elvisisdead says:

    That is most definitely NOT a chewing tobacco can. It’s snuff, which is totally different. Chewing tobacco comes in loose or as a plug in pouches.

    My grandfather, as he held a pouch of Beech-Nut: “Your great Aunt Martha dips snuff. THIS is chewing tobacco.” He was a tobacco farmer that kept moonshine in his workshop. Great Aunt Martha did, indeed, dip snuff.

  21. humphrmi says:

    @Elvisisdead: My grandpa used to tell me “It’s only moonshine if it’s illegal, remember that boy.” :)

  22. mrearly2 says:

    The important thing is whether or not the wiring connection is sound.