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Seven Deadly Home Inspection Sins

Every industry has its no no's.  Home inspecting as a profession is no different.

Certainly, no list of anything is definitive, but can I suggest seven deadly things a home inspector can do?

  1. MISINTERPRET - Home inspecting is about gathering information.  It is very important that the information one gathers is correctly interpreted.  A leak stain can sometimes come from many different things.  A stain in an upstairs bedroom ceiling might manifest in one spot, but the source can be far away.  Or it might be an exploded soda can!  Tools, like a Thermal Infrared Camera, can reveal colors that may or may not indicate a problem.  A home inspector has to be thoroughly trained in many things and understand many industries in order to properly interpret a finding during an inspection.
  2. MISUNDERSTAND - Closely related to the first sin, things aren't always as they appear.  What you see might not be what you get.  But very important - the client is the process during a home inspection.  It is very important to understand the client's needs and concerns.  And clients aren't always as understanding of what they see or what the inspector says as a home inspector might think, so communication is crucial.  Communication is a two-way avenue.
  3. MISTAKE - Even something as small as a typo on the report can become something big.  Words mean things and so, during the inspection, what is said must be said properly.  That "sump pump" might be an "ejector pump" for the bathroom, and has to be explained for what it is.  If the amperage is not stated clearly on the panel box or main breaker, be sure what is said to be the amperage is correct.  Which leads to the next sin:
  4. MISSTATE - one very important aspect of a home inspection is what happens after wards.  The report is probably one third of the home inspection (after construction knowledge and client education).  It has to be right.  It has to be understandable.  It has to accurately describe what it is trying to convey.  Be sure that when something is an inspector's opinion, it is expressed as such and/or reported the same.  Like it says above, words mean things, so the proper words and proper wording is essential.  And we inspectors put down our reports electronically and on paper for all to see and for all time.  It has to be right.
  5. MISQUOTE - Again referring to the report, if an inspector is going to quote a code, or a phrase from a manual and cite the reference, it has to be correct.  References to websites or other URLs have to be exact!  Some builders are getting finicky and are requiring a code reference to be included in the report when something on their house is cited by an outside inspector.  I notice they don't require that of the County Inspector, but that is just me.
  6. MISREPRESENT - An inspector needs to truthfully state who he is, what his certifications are, his licensing agencies or organizations.  If not, that is something that will bite quickly and hard.  His appearance and professionalism should also represent who he is, reflect well on his industry and even the Realtor who referred him!  An inspector wants to be referred to others and be called on again and again.  We are all missionaries for something and certainly professionalism should be one of those things we convey!
  7. MISS - Nobody is 100%.  No where and no how.  But, unfortunately, a home inspector is expected to be!  Don't miss anything!  Anything!  Sometimes a little thing can blow up to become a bigger-than-it-needs-to-be thing.  There is always somebody looking to blame others for whatever happens later and a home inspector has a big target on the back of his logo-festooned shirt!  Most people are in their house for a long time.  So don't miss anything!  This is a very hard sin not to commit however...

My recommendation:  While this might not be THE definitive list of seven home inspector sins, it sure is a good start!  These lists could go on for a while.  After all, this list just describes the M's!!  If any of these seven sins is a problem for you, may I suggest sincere repentance and a change of heart or mind.  Seek out an industry professional in the know and learn how corrections can be made!  And let's be careful out there!

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 70 commentsJay Markanich • March 28 2010 07:23AM

Comments

I love the post. I have seen them miss things and pointed out a couple of times.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) about 9 years ago

What a great post and very fitting picture to go along. . .I'm bookmarking it!

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) about 9 years ago

I would have expected the whole alphabet from you Jay....are there other letters to come ? We'll let you skip Q & Z.... I  infallible, J  Jay

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 9 years ago

Thanks for sharing this information. Home buyers should understand what to expect with a home inspection.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) about 9 years ago

Thank you Gita!  I am certain inspector miss many things every day...

Fernando - it took a while to find the right picture!  Most images list the seven deadly sins, which are not a part of the post.

The whole alphabet?  Isn't that more than 7 things Sally?  I am sure I can come up with more under different letters - maybe a post about seven positive things about home inspectors...

Roy - thank you.  You reblog a lot!  Home inspections are about details.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

I know that Home Inspectors are not there to misinform, they are on a mission to advise the new homeowner things to look out for any problems that may come down the line in the near future, not just today.  Some times they miscalculate the severity of the issue, so it is great to bring a professional in to get a second opinion.  This way your covering yourself and not having things mismanaged.  So to avoid any mishaps, seek a second opinion at all times.  Best wishes.

Posted by Don Spera, Serving York and Adams County, PA (CR Property Group, LLC) about 9 years ago

That, Don, is why you need to hire EXPERIENCED home inspectors!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Inspectors do need to be trained and experienced. I read a post yesterday that said there were 3 things necessary for a smooth transaction and one of them was a competent thorough inspector. And that is so true.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) about 9 years ago

Jay, I would be willing to bet that the 7th deadly sin gets committed the most.  Hard to know what you missed if you know what I mean----if you knew----then it wasn't missed:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

Glenn - that may be true!  We are kind of an inexpensive part of the transaction, but a large part and probably the part blamed the most for failure.

Charlie - we don't know what we don't know!  Nobody is 100%, at least not all the time.  But we try!  If our clients see us giving our best effort that goes a long way.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay, for sure.  Clients will overlook a lot if they know we have done our best.  If you are a "minimalist" you are nothing more than litigation fodder:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

Unfortunately!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Great blog Jay.

Posted by Vince Santos, Southeast Michigan Home Inspector (StepByStep Home Services LC) about 9 years ago

Thank you Vince, as always!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay- I also find that being honest with clients is huge, sometimes there are things we don't know. Doing research and/or bringing in another professional shows clients our commitment.

Very nice post!

Posted by Eric Middleton, Professional Property Inspector (Closer Look Property Inspections Inc.) about 9 years ago

I think clients notice when we are trying hard and are on their side Eric.  Nobody expects us to know everything.  But the blame game is alive and well!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

A very well thought out post!  Most of my clients are terrified at the inspection -- afraid that the house that they have fallen in love with is going to be riddled with problems.  And then relieved when it is not.  While I agree that some inspectors may miss some things -- I think the bigger problem is buyers ignoring things that should be fixed after they move in!

Posted by Richard Strahm, Lansdale and North Penn Real Estate (American Foursquare Realty) about 9 years ago

Are any of them truly deadly? Although I understand what you mean, and it's a great list.

Posted by Not a real person about 9 years ago

This is a great post to read 2 weeks after witnessing, firsthand, an inspector completely lose control of an inspection and having the buyers subsequently walk away. 

Posted by J. Philip Faranda, Broker-Owner (J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY) about 9 years ago

Richard - that is a nail hit right on the head!  I would love to have clients that regularly read the inspection report!

Russel - I know inspectors (one I met in the parking lot of the grocery store the other day) who are out of business from committing one or more of those sins!  That is pretty dead, so to speak!

J. Phillip - wow!  I have never seen that happen and I have been doing this a long time!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay, an excellent and informative post. Thoroughness is important when doing an inspection. Thanks.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA about 9 years ago

Good advice. Works in all facets of life.

Posted by Gregory Bain, For Homes on the Jersey Shore (Mezzina Real Estate & Insurance) about 9 years ago

Michael - but we are all sinners, right?  We have to do our best.

Gregory - it does pay to pay attention!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Those are great.  Now I waiting for the realtors' seven great sins.  that should be interesting.

Posted by Russ Ravary ~ Metro Detroit Realtor call (248) 310-6239, Michigan homes for sale ~ yesmyrealtor@gmail.com (Real Estate One) about 9 years ago

Russ - I wouldn't be good at writing those!  Get on it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay, right on! I do like the "source" one -- that stain could actually be a problem from far away. Had one with a wet spot on the carpet. Nothing on the walls, along the floor. I did have to think -- hmmmm, do the pipes to the bathroom run under this floor? Could there be a leak since it was right after the shower was run?

Proper wording is so important to have agents be able to complete a request later. You are so right about that as well.

Great, great, great list!

Posted by Marney Kirk, Towson, Maryland Real Estate (Cummings & Co. Realtors) about 9 years ago

I know that inspectors HATE it, but I do recommend that the buyer be present for the home inspection.  THE WHOLE THING.  Why?  Because they can't SEE you guys/girls doing your job if you insist that they only show up at the end to hear the report.

 

Posted by Jenna Dixon, Empowers You With a Better Real Estate Experience (DRA Homes | Cobb County Real Estate ) about 9 years ago

Thank you Marney for stopping by!  Two of my kids were born at Towson State hospital.  That was just a few days ago...  It isn't called that now!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

You had me at the thermal infrared camera. I don't know of one Oklahoma City inspector that has one. Is this more common in your neck of the woods? 

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) about 9 years ago

I have had mine for 6 years Joe.  I think they are rare nationwide and have read that only about 3% of home inspectors have them.  I don't understand why - the costs have come down significantly in those 6 years and it is the truest arrow in my quiver.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Great post. Thank you!

Posted by Charles Edwards Bentonville, AR REALTOR, Bentonville Real Estate Agent and Broker (Coldwell Banker Harris McHaney & Faucette 479-253-3796 ) about 9 years ago

Ha!   thanks for the good post.

Posted by Patricia Aulson, Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate ) about 9 years ago

Charles - thank you!  And thanks for stopping by.

Patricia - sometimes what I find on home inspections is a big HA!  You are right...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Hi Jay, this is invaluable information! Thank you for posting it and I have to reblog it. :)

Posted by Jackie Connelly-Fornuff, "Moving at The Speed of YOU!" (Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Babylon NY) about 9 years ago

You may Jackie.  I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

The home inspection is probably the biggest and most feared hurdle to get over for the buyers so an experienced and professional Home Inspector is worth their weight in gold! 

Misdemeanor...don't misbehave by scaring the wits out of the buyer!  Stick to your professional standards, knowledge and expertise in doing your job and explain your findings in a mild-mannered demeanor.  If not, you have done a Misdeed to all parties.

Thanks for sharing your points...all very good!

Posted by Terri Adams-Scott, Realtor, Walnut Creek CA Real Estate (J. Rockcliff, REALTORS) about 9 years ago

Just this past Saturday I overheard a home inspector telling clients in no uncertain terms that the wall insulation contained asbestos. The deal fell apart the following afternoon. Did the inspector test for the presense of asbestos? I'm fairly certain that he did not. While it is entirely possible that it does, and while it is entirely likely that it does due to the type of material and age of the home, it surely isn't appropriate for a home inspector to make positive statements such as that regarding potential health hazards. It would be far more appropriate to suggest that if the buyers are concerned they should have additional testing done by a certified specialist.

 

Posted by Nick Snow about 9 years ago

Jay - this is excellent and something all buyers, agents, adn even sellers should read. THe inspection is so critical and so often a source of much anxiety and frustration. It's key for buyers to undertsand your role - what you can and cannot do and say and what you can't.

Jeff

Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) about 9 years ago

Well done Jay. What is the inspectors liability in Virginia. Here in North Carolina by law the inspectors only liability is the cost of the inspection.

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) about 9 years ago

Terri - I agree with all that.  Experience counts for a lot in my business.  We experienced inspectors know how to say things and yet be informative.

Nick - I don't think anyone should say something like that without a lab report to back it up!

Jeff - Thank you!  We try to be as informative as possible, without saying too much off the cuff that can be detrimental!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

My agreement says that my liability is the inspection fee Tom.  But I think anyone can be repsonsible for anything in our world...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay, thank you for the very good points to keep in mind. I find the ceiling stain to be very common.

Posted by Mark Montross, Listing and Buyer Specialist (Catamount Realty Group) about 9 years ago

Hello Jay - Great post.  Thanks for posting this.  Have a great day.

Posted by Andy Chaudoir, Your Home Inspection Connection in Central Texas (Professional Inspection Services - Georgetown, Texas) about 9 years ago

You are welcome Mark.  Ceiling stains from water or soda?

Andy - Glad you liked it!  I have been thinking about this post for some time.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

You are welcome Mark.  Ceiling stains from water or soda?

Andy - Glad you liked it!  I have been thinking about this post for some time.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Great post Jay, and you only included the M's!

Communication, communication, communication, can play a major role in defense if/when we commit any of the seven deadly.

Posted by Christopher Currins, Metro East Home Inspector - IL. (CBC Home Inspections) about 9 years ago

Great list! These are relevant to agents and other professionals as well as inspectors!

Posted by Billy Studstill, First Time Home Buyers, Foreclosure, Luxury (Victory Realty, first time home buyer, foreclosure ) about 9 years ago

Jay ~ Great points! I have encountered some of these before.

Posted by Monique Hailer, South West Florida & Southern Maryland Homes (Schooner Bay Realty., Inc. & CENTURY 21 New Millenniun) about 9 years ago

Good advise. Some buyers think that inspectors have super x ray vision and will see every thing.

Posted by Mike Yeo (3:16 team REALTY) about 9 years ago

This is a definte reblog in my book. Thanks for the great and insightful post.

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com) about 9 years ago

Hi Jay, Thanks for the great post. Very good points on home inspections.

Posted by David J. Lampe, Realtor - Web Savvy Denver (Your Castle Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Wow Jay! Great article, well written and dead on. It is great to see that the same things that are important to inspections in your area are the same as those in mine. It is crazy how different things can be from state to state. 

Posted by David Selman, Certified Master Home Inspector (Selman Home Inspections, Inc.) about 9 years ago

Christopher - I think we all commit some of them here and there!

Bill - I think you are right.  I like seeing the word "relevant."

Thanks!  And I think we all have Monique!  And that is when the work begins...  I have had this post on my mind for some time.

Only the super inspectors Mike, have super x-ray vision.  With my IR camera I can see things that couldn't be seen otherwise!  Does that count?

Thank you Cheryl.  I love southern Maryland and would like to get by there more often.  We used to go to Shady Side every summer.

J. David - thanks, and thanks for stopping by!

David - there are probably many more home inspection similarities than there are differences state to state.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay,

Lots of strong points. Understandable is the secret word when writing these inspection reports. Sometimes it can become a chore to try to figure out what is actually meant.

Posted by Esko Kiuru about 9 years ago

Jay,

Lots of strong points. Understandable is the secret word when writing these inspection reports. Sometimes it can become a chore to try to figure out what is actually meant.

Posted by Esko Kiuru about 9 years ago

Esko - I agree.  The report must be worded properly, understandably and well.  The report is essential to the process!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Yeah, #7 is certainly a tough one to follow.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 9 years ago

Hi Jay -- The home inspection, imho, is one of the most important aspects of the entire process, and the competency of the home inspector is absolutely critical.

Posted by Chris Olsen, Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate (Olsen Ziegler Realty) about 9 years ago

Great post. I'll keep these things in mind at my next inspection.

Posted by Whitney Peddy (de Luxe Homes & Estates) about 9 years ago

It looks to me like these are the seven "mis"es of home inspection.  Seriously, this is important for people to understand.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) about 9 years ago

I think the 8th sin should be:  Do not Overstate.  I sometimes feel like some inspectors are trying to prove their worth.

I have seen home inspectors make a mountain out of a mole hill and put transactions unnecessarily at risk or at a minimum put their clients under stress over a few minor repairs.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) about 9 years ago

Reuben - the hardest and certainly the most committed!

Chris - experience is essential.  Really...

Thank you Whitney.  I am glad you liked it.

Christine - I think so too.  This post has been on my mind for some time.

Randy - that is a common problem I hear from realtors.  It seems to be nationwide as well!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Thank you for the information, very insightful. I am on my way to a re-blog...:)

Posted by Catherine Chaudemanche - Edison & Central NJ, Full Time, Informed and Involved- Results Driven (Metuchen Keller Williams Elite Realty / Middlesex County, NJ) about 9 years ago

Thank you Catherine!  We try, we try...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Good post -- and I love the picture!

Posted by Pam Turner, REALTOR®, e-PRO®, SFR (Century 21 Belk Realtors Dalton GA) about 9 years ago

Thanks Pam.  It was hard finding a picture with seven somethings that didn't say the other seven sins.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Thermal imaging is great. I love mine. You better have a good second witness like protometer to go with it though. Too many 40 hour wonders out there think it is point and shoot. LOL

I can tell you from experience that clients are very happy if they see you take a few extra minutes to explain something or forensically try to determine the cause of something discovered. They see it and tell others. Believe it.

Posted by Mike Gillingham (Eastern Iowa Inspection Services LLC) about 9 years ago

Mike - you are so right!  I once had a client say, "Wow, this is great!  Just like CSI on TV!"

A thermal image is always better with back up, like a moisture meter, which leans toward the science side, not the art side.  But either way, clients are real happy with the cameras.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay, this is all true. I enjoy working with an inspector that will take the time to explain what he is doingto the buyers and also make a distinction between routine maintenance and something that is wrong.

In my scenario, I would not have let the full report go to the underwriter but just the summary in which big items would be detailed, and if there were something that would affect the homes' habitability by all means something would be documented or if allowable a credit given to make the repairs.

This home was a Freddie Mac foreclosure so nothing was going to be done as the issues did not affect the homes safety except for the noted items.

Good post, sorry I missed it when originally offered.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) about 9 years ago

Thanks Ed.  Here in Virginia all parties get the entire report!  Everybody!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

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