A very concerned homeowner contacted Home Inspection Consultants to do a home inspection and she had stated on the phone that the floor structure to her home was sinking! When the caller said that they had a home inspection prior to the purchase, our first thought was that the buyer did not read the report before committing to the purchase or the inspector was negligent in providing the proper information.
When I entered the home, it was quite evident that the floor structure had settled and was continuing to settle after the buyer took possession of the home. The floor structure from the living room to the hallway was sloping towards the bathroom. The floor was separating from the baseboards and cracks were appearing in the walls.
I asked who had performed the inspection to try and figure out what went wrong. When the name was given, I informed the buyer that the 'inspector' she had originally hired is also a local real estate agent. The homeowner said she should have seen the red flags when she contacted him to do an inspection because the home inspector (AKA realtor) said that no written report would be given (just a verbal) and he wanted cash.
When the realtor.... oops home inspector ..... had completed his 'inspection', he said that there is a cut floor joist in the crawl space and he apparently minimized the issue.
After Home Inspection Consultants did the inspection, our written report indicated several cut floor joists with considerable settlement and that these joists happened to be located in one of the worst locations, which is under the tub/shower unit and toilet. So imagine the added weight when the homeowner fills the tub with water and wants to take that relaxing bath. This was going to be an expensive repair to the floor structure in the crawl space.
The way I see it, the homeowner has some blame in the matter because the sole reason she hired that 'inspector' was price and now it is a "he said, she said" situation. So the few dollars she thought she was saving is now going to cost her thousands.
Due to the blatant conflict of interest that this 'inspector' has with performing home inspections and being a local realtor, he is no longer a member of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI). It is a wonder that the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) has not done the same thing. I guess it boils down to ethics or the lack thereof.
Caveat emptor (buyer Beware)
Home Inspection Consultants' home inspectors will only perform home inspections and pre-delivery house inspections (PDI) that abide by the Standards of Practice and Code of Conduct set forth by the Home Inspection Associations. You can read more about this in my blog entitled 'A Home Inspector's Character'.
Our house inspections and commercial building inspections consist of a visual inspection of the over-all structure of the building, as well as an examination of each system and component. In addition to going up onto the roof* and into the attic and crawl space*, each system is operated/evaluated and every room is carefully inspected by our building inspectors. The home inspection is objective & very educational and the home inspector always provides a detailed house-specific written home inspection report. The home buyer is always encouraged to attend the house inspection so that the home inspector can explain everything and answer all questions. 3 hours of your time can save you thousands of dollars and countless sleepless nights.
*NOTE: Other home inspection companies in the Windsor and Essex County areas inspect the roof from the ground/edge and inspect the attic and crawl space from their access opening only!
Our 25-years of experience performing home and commercial building inspections on a full-time basis, as well as our experience in the custom home-building industry, enable us to be uniquely qualified to perform home inspections on both new home construction and older buildings. Our state-of-the-art equipment and continuing education give Home Inspection Consultants the edge in Providing Peace of Mind. Our Chief Home Inspector, Brad Labute, was awarded the Most Meticulous House Inspector Award!
Uncle 'Joe' is a great guy and has offered to take a look at the home you're thinking of purchasing. He's doing you a favour because it's free right?....wrong! Does he know about issues that house insurance companies have with certain plumbing and electrical? Yikes, you might win the bid on the house but find out later that you can't get house insurance! Or does he know what asbestos insulation looks like? Yikes, airborne fibres might be lurking throughout the home. Does he have the latest tools to inspect a house properly? A professional infrared camera costs thousands of dollars....is that what he is using?
Even 'professional' (and I use this term loosely) Home Inspectors differ. Some interrupt your home inspection to book other inspections. Some home inspectors book so many inspections in a day that you are rushed through one of the biggest decisions of your life. Some do not go up onto the roof. Some do not crawl throughout the entire crawl space and attic. Many times I've seen a great roof from the ground or even the edge, but I don't find any issues until I'm right up there. Same goes for a crawl space...everything might look good until I go just a little further and BANG, there's wood rot or a burst pipe. Some Home Inspectors are doing verbal/cash home inspections which go against all Home Inspection Association's Standards of Practice. There's even a Realtor here in Essex County who is doing home inspections on the side!
It takes years to obtain the knowledge of a competent home inspector. You didn't choose the cheapest house on the market, why skimp on the home inspection?
This week, I did a home inspection on a home in Windsor that has a crawl space. Although it's not my favourite place to be, I always go into the crawl space...from one end to the other. I'd do it for a home I'm inspecting for my daughter or son, so naturally I do it for all my clients. Why do I stress this? Because not all home inspectors go into the crawl space and if they do, they don't inspect the ENTIRE area. I guess that can be said about plumbers too...read on and you'll find out why.
During this home inspection, I found a leak in a pipe and it wasn't just an occasional drip. I reported it to my client (the home buyer) and the Realtor who were in attendance. Later that day, I got a call from the Realtor stating that the home owner had a plumber check all the pipes in the crawl space and he couldn't find the leak.
Dumbfounded that a licensed plumber could not find the leak, I asked whether he went to the complete opposite end of the crawl space (in this case it was the south wall). Apparently the plumber had not ventured into that area of the crawl space and therefore did not see the leak!
Is it important for a building inspector to check the whole crawl space during a home inspection? You bet it is! In addition to the leak, I found a cracked floor joist amongst other things as well. My client was quite happy with my findings during this home inspection and at the end of the day, so was the home owner because now their water bill will go down and their crawl space will start to dry up.
I'll be honest...inspecting crawl spaces is not one of my favourite aspects of performing home inspections, BUT it is certainly one of the most important aspects of a home inspection. This is where the rubber-meets-the-road.
You know, there are many home inspectors who 'inspect' crawl spaces from their access opening only. They tell their clients that this visual inspection is all that is required to tell whether everything's OK. Some home inspectors say that it's too dangerous to enter crawl spaces and so they do not enter them for their own safety. With today's technology, a home inspector might even convince his client that sending in a little drone is just as good as him physically entering the crawl. Not so, and you'll see why....
From day one, I've entered crawl spaces because the inside of a home can be pristine but what's going on under the house is just as important if not more so.
When a home has a crawl space, I put on my coveralls and breathing mask and off I go into the great abyss. Most of the time, it's not so bad but I really don't like it when I shine my flashlight through the darkness and I see two little beady eyes staring back at me! That has happened on several occassions. My clients are always happy to know whether there are 'free loaders' who call this their home.
The dampness of a crawl space is crucial because excess moisture can lead to wood rot and air quality issues. When you think about it, the wood floor structure is exposed to the elements in the crawl space and that same floor structure is holding up the house! I've seen wood beams, joists and floor plates look absolutely fantastic from the crawl space opening. Upon a closer look though, my awl has poked a hole right through a wood beam! Also, examining the crawl space from all angles is crucial too. From one angle, everything looks fine until you maneuvre yourself around and see it from another angle and gasp.
Here are a few of the things that I've seen in my 25 years of doing home inspections:
So folks, now you can answer the question as to whether it is important to actually go into a crawl space to properly inspect it? Here are just a few pictures illustrating my point.
I've come across a lot of interesting tidbits of information during my 29 year career as a home inspector. I've been told that I'm pretty meticulous and a good 'teacher', so hopefully you'll find some interesting information here..