Clarifying a Home Inspection
Q: "I wasn't there when the home inspector went through my house, but after the house became mine, many things went wrong. I thought everything would be fixed. What happened?"
I bought my first house in 2006. I wasn't there when the home inspector went through, but after the house became mine, many things went wrong. I thought everything would be fixed. What happened?
—Lee Jane Thanh Tran, Silver Spring, MD
Kevin O'Connor replies: Nothing automatically happens to a house because of a home inspection. The inspector's report is simply a description of the home's condition on the day he or she looked at it. It's up to the buyer to determine what happens next. Usually, the buyer uses the report to negotiate with the seller about what repairs will be made and who will pay for them. Sometimes, the final sale price of the house may be adjusted to compensate for major work, such as removing asbestos or digging up an oil tank. It sounds as if none of that happened in your case.
Even if it had, there's no guarantee that an inspector will uncover every problem. "We can't see through walls," says Frank Lesh, a practicing home inspector and president of the American Society of Home Inspectors. "And we can't predict the future." In other words, you can't fault the inspector if a roof was in decent condition at inspection time but then leaks after a storm tears off a shingle.