Question Details

Carla Pennin…, Real Estate Pro in Georgetown, TX

Differences of opinion between inspectors; what to do about disclosure (I say disclose disclose disclose) BUT is it really a problem?

Asked by Carla Pennington, Georgetown, TX Sat Jun 23, 2012

From my client who flips houses: (his buyer walked away) The issue is that the home inspector says we have a twisted "I" beam in a house that is 11 years old. That sounds SCARY!! I went to the house to look at it today and YES, it is twisted by like 1/2" in the middle section of about 6 feet. In other words, the top is over approximately 1/2" from being straight up and down. I talked to my welding buddy that installs these "I" Beams in houses and he said that generally speaking the mfg tolerances are up to 1/2" on a 50' I beam. I had to look up and down the beam for like 15 minutes before I could even identify where this inspector was looking. In looking at it carefully, I can see NO concern for this post not holding the load. I took my home inspector buddy to look. He says he's seen it many times....So in the final analysis, it's one guy's opinion over another. I could call a structural engineer but feel like that opens me up to who knows what.

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Is the inspector an engineer? If not I would hire an engineer have an engineering report done on the beam and disclose the report. Also, if there is nothing wrong with the beam in the engineers report I would send the bill for the engineers report to the inspector and expect them to pay the cost of the report. If they balk and they are not an engineer, then I would sue their company and sue them personally for damages and the cost of the reports and anything else I could come up with! Inspectors far too often comment on items they know little or nothing about and are often unqualified & not educated in some fields to make determinations on electrical services & engineering services.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 23, 2012
It seems the home inspection industry has devolved into that of cosmetic consultants. They are more focused in proving their worth, not in appropriate analysis of the structure, but solely on the length of the list of IMPERFECTIONS!! Of course these imperfections are NEVER graded as cosmetic and having no influence on function or operation.

An inspection company in the Tampa Bay area actually GUARANTEES they will find sufficient issues that the seller WILL adjust the selling price to more than compensate for the inspection fee. To assist with the strategy, they will provide and estimated repair cost estimate for the purpose of the continuation of negotiation. A real estate professional would be wise to make the buyer aware this company will be prevented access to the home by the seller. The long lived consequences of an inspection rigged for this outcome will be more significant than kicking this buyer and inspection company to the curb should they choose NOT to go with another inspection outfit.

The above company, when the list was insufficient, created a list of speculations of what may have occurred!! "it is likely," they wrote, "that a leak existed before the roof was replaced. Leaks most commonly occur around the chimney flashing. Water incursion along the chimney may have allowed mold to grow in the chimney base." Yes, the owner paid for the mold inspection which resulted in ZERO spore count of any kind. And the inspection company held unaccountable.

Imagine an industry of inspectors who have knowledge of manufacturing tolerances and end of life actuarial and just minor knowledge of expected issues as a home ages...and what you have is a consumer vortex of confusion.

In Carla's entry, it is not indicated if the inspector made any entry regarding the significance of an I-beam that may be within manufacturing tolerance but not straight. Then one must argue, "What is straight?" No the inspectors just created an issue then kick the can down the street .."Consult a engineer." Hmmm, almost sounds like a real estate agent.

In our communities, we do have the ability to make these inspection companies notorious. We can advise buyer agents that if XYZ company is used, there is a very high likelihood the seller will not grant access. Bad behavior should be rewarded...also.

Hey, there are some really, really exceptional inspection companies out there, They also find every imperfections...but these imperfections are appropriately categorized and evidence their inspector did carefully examine the home.

There are no simple transactions. A home buyer or seller who has the good fortune of selecting the real estate professional who anticipates the obstacles ahead and prevents them from occurring is indeed being well served. Unnecessary drama is just that...UNNECESSARY!!

Best of success,
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group, Palm Harbor, FL
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1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 24, 2012
The only thing it opens you up to is a potential lawsuit.
You must disclose. It is up to your seller to pay for a second and maybe even a third opinion. I would not leave this up to your "home inspector buddy" or to your "looking at it carefully."
Have the seller pay for an inspection and if it takes a structural engineer to render a decision then so be it.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 23, 2012
I can't comment on whether the degree of the twist is an issue, obviously was for the buyer that got away. But in my experience it is best to disclose what you know. If the info is recorded in your file, ie, the inspection report is in your file, then it might hold you to an even higher level of disclosure expectation and perhaps requirement.

My suggestion would be to talk with your broker.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 24, 2012
For structural type issues always use professionals and their reports to back up any claims about the integrity of the home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 23, 2012
I can't agree with Joan more. If is a known fact, a buyer walked away because of it.

Leave the interpretation to the professionals in the field and let that speak to the condition and be the disclosure. This way the buyer will make an informed decision, not a manipulated one.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 23, 2012
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