One day we were thrilled. I had sold our home, sold our buyer’s home, and we bought another one, all in the course of a weekend. It was to be the start of something wonderful. And then along came Inspector Hatchet. Now I get that God created inspectors for a purpose: to protect poor naïve buyers from the evil deception of sellers. To be fair, a couple of bad apples do spoil the whole bunch, and there is a definite need for protection for people who don’t understand the subtle nuances of a home’s hidden dangers. In a pre-inspection era, we fell victim to a seller’s less-than-scrupulous accounting of the home’s basement water situation. Couple this with the fact that I am an inquisitive, detail oriented person, myself, I would never dispute the value of a thorough inspection report provided by an educated, unbiased and experienced inspector. I would also add “un-embellishing” to my list of adjectives.
Have you ever talked to, or listened to, someone who said the same thing six different ways over a period of time five times longer than it should have been? I’m afraid I have been guilty of this from time to time, myself. I rationalize that it’s in the DNA of a writer to make a short story long, but 85 pages for a home inspection? Even a minor blemish can seem like a big hot, red boil when a teenager looks in the mirror. Blemish + embellished perception = fear. Am I right? Well this report made my beautiful home look like it had chicken pox.
Now, I won’t be so ignorant as to deny his findings on my 25 year old home, but just like a comedian can either succeed or fail depending on his or her delivery, so it appears to be with inspectors. His report was unnecessarily and downright scary. I knew immediately that we were in trouble when I saw Inspector Hatchet gesture towards various focal points on the outside of my home with my would-be buyer. I watched as he jabbered on, while I studied the worry lines on her face. In spite of the encouraging words of my friends and family, my fears were soon realized in the hard, cold copy of “The Inspection Report.”
Undeniably, and unfortunately, the major concern was the foundation. Moisture problems in our crawl space that had been addressed a year ago were embodied in foundation cracks around the house. The leaning chimney has been leaning for years and had been evaluated again a couple of years ago. It is not unlike most of the other brick chimneys in the area. But in “The Inspection Report” a “failure of the chimney structure could result in injury or death.” Duh. That would certainly scare me. My issue with that report is that I was inside while the inspection was occurring. Why not ask me? I would have told him we knew about the chimney and had had it inspected a couple of years ago, the report being that nothing was required to be done at the time. I would have told him that helical piers had already been placed before we moved in. Granted, that was 16 years ago, but he didn’t have to have to transition into the alternate personality of Dr. Doom and Gloom as he escorted my almost-buyer around the depths of the unknown without getting easily obtained facts straight from the source. He seemed to glean some inexplicable satisfaction from accentuating the bad without touting the good. We can fix the foundation, but the damage to our home sale was irreparable. That leads me to another thing I vehemently oppose: taking the buyer along on the inspection. Don’t take the buyer with you. Do your own thing, write up what you see, and send it. Let the experts in each respective field make the judgements. You are an inspector, a jack of all trades, master of none. Pointing things out to a buyer as you go and offering your general opinions can be the kiss of death, as it was in my case. My buyers ran scared, and for little reason. Leave it to the ones who really know what they are doing to make proper assessments.
Videos of moving defects such as a bathtub leak that are “only available online”? Where? Are the deepest, darkest secrets of my home’s shortcomings immortalized on Youtube? Links to DIY remedies? Pictures of the proper parts or products to use, like “levelling sealant” tubes for driveway cracks, or downspout extensions and splash blocks, among others? Narratives using unnecessary adverbs such as “very” and “immediately”, terms like “invasive investigation”, and warnings like “as with all stairs use with caution and proper lighting”? Seriously? Oh, and then there is the full paragraph on polybutylene pipes. Old news, dude. Just tell them they’re there and be on your way to the next dire emergency. Wow. I’m just so thankful we all survived living here before Inspector Hatchet identified all these threats to life and limb. We must owe him our lives from now until we sell this place.
Oh, and after the summary; the detailed report, which said the same thing as the summary; the remarks, which said the same thing as the summary and the detailed report; the consumer information; and all the pictures of the good, the bad, and the ugly, came the assessment “Overall Condition: normal wear and tear”. Too little, too late. Get real.