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Reuben Saltzman

Are re-inspections necessary?

When a home buyer asks a seller to make repairs to a property after a home inspection, how do the repairs get verified? Do they get verified? Do they need to be verified? I discussed this during last week’s blog post, and I had another home inspector ask why we even do re-inspections. I made a video to answer all of this: https://youtu.be/CaaAbDr9FAM

These are all good things to consider. I’ve received a lot of advice from knowledgeable real estate agents over the years, and I’m compiling their advice below.

Try to avoid the need for reinspections. This is done by simply not asking sellers to make repairs. If a seller is going to make repairs, they’re probably going to do the least amount of work possible, use the least amount of money possible, and the repairs will often be sub-par or just plain unacceptable. It’s often better to ask a seller to fund repairs, typically through a price adjustment having the seller pick up closing costs. The downside to adjusting the price of the home, however, is that the buyers will need to come up with cash to make repairs.

When requesting repairs, make sure everyone understands the issue(s). An excellent home inspection report will usually be enough to make everything clear and understandable. If there is any confusion, ask the home inspector for clarification.

A common problem with a repair request is to ask for the wrong thing to be fixed or to specify an improper repair. For instance, if a furnace has a cracked heat exchanger, it would be just plain silly to ask for the crack to be repaired. The furnace, or possibly the heat exchanger, needs to be replaced.

One of the more memorable misunderstandings happened when the buyer asked the seller to address the plumbing vent flashings, which had rubber boots that had dried out and split.

Split boot at plumbing vent

The seller told the buyer that they fixed the dried out boots by applying a lubricant. While this surely made sense to the person doing the work, the appropriate fix was to replace the plumbing vent flashings, or possibly install Perma-Boots.

When requesting repairs, request building permits. Not only does this force the seller to ‘follow the rules’, but it should make the buyer feel better knowing that the work was inspected by an authority, and it puts the cost of the re-inspection in the seller’s lap. If a repair is so minor that it doesn’t require a building permit, then why bother asking for it?

When requesting repairs, be specific. If a purchase agreement amendment is poorly written or isn’t specific, the repairs won’t be completed properly. Or at all. A vague, poorly written amendment might say

Have the leaking laundry sink repaired. 

Leaking Laundry Sink

What are the odds that someone will complete this repair with a tube of caulk, or maybe a can of Flex Seal? A well-written addendum specifies the problem, how the repairs should be completed, who should complete the work, and how the repairs will be verified.

The concrete sink in the laundry room was cracked and leaks profusely when filled with water, creating unsanitary conditions. Have the leaking laundry sink replaced by a Minneapolis licensed plumber, and an appropriate plumbing permit obtained and approved by the Minneapolis plumbing inspector. The seller shall have the corrections completed, inspected, and approved no later than one week prior to the date of closing. Documentation of the repairs, including any applicable receipts, permits, and lien waivers shall be provided to the buyer no later than one week prior to closing.

In this second example, there was very little left to interpretation.  In some cases, however, the exact method of repair doesn’t need to be specified.  For instance, if there are several defects inside an electric panel, it’s probably good enough to specify the defects, request repairs, and request an electric permit.  Leave it up to the electrician to decide how to best repair the defects.

When all of the above happens, a re-inspection by the original inspector probably isn’t necessary, but it may still be worthwhile.  Just as we find countless defects by licensed contractors on new construction inspections, improper repairs frequently happen with real estate transactions, no matter who does the work.  When there is any doubt in the buyer’s mind as to the quality of the work being done, it may be worthwhile to have a re-inspection performed.

My two cents:  I don’t do many re-inspections, mostly because of all the items stated above.  When I do get hired to re-inspect a property, I base my price on how much time I think the re-inspection is going to take.  If the seller is a property flipper who was given a list of twenty things to repair, I know from experience that maybe half of the repairs will be completed properly, and the other half either won’t be done or will be done incorrectly.  I charge a lot for these types of inspections because they become contentious time-sucks. My price for this type of inspection either makes it worth my while or makes people decide not to hire me.

On the other hand, if I’m going out to look at three specific repairs and the buyer or the buyer’s agent has provided me with receipts from licensed contractors, I won’t charge much. In fact, it’ll basically be a trip charge, because the repairs will probably be fine. Those are a breeze.

The bottom line: Re-inspections never hurt. If repairs are being done by licensed contractors, the repair requests are specific,  and appropriate permits are obtained and approved, re-inspections probably aren’t necessary. If the repairs are being done by the seller, I strongly recommend a re-inspection.

Author: Reuben SaltzmanStructure Tech Home Inspections

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No responses to “Are re-inspections necessary?”

  1. Kellie Kett
    August 29, 2018, 3:45 am

    I purchased a home 1 year ago. We only lived in the home for one month. My husband and I found fire damage when we were tearing out a closet. We started another room and found more. I went to the fire department and found out the home had been through a total loss fire 2 years before. We had 2 inspections! !!! We went to the city to pull permits the home( red tagged)was sold to a flipper for $10,000 and $100,000 in permit work was purchased for a COMPLETE FIRE RESTORATION it also noted the flipper was to sell as soon as repairs were complete. The structure permit was marked incomplete but signed off by the city. No electrical permit or plumbing were done. The flipper put drywall over top of the charred drywall! The attic had two 40 yard dumpsters worth of burnt wood ,cedar shank, burnt insulation and rubish the flipper just blew insulation over top under all this kindaling was LIVE KNOBB AND TUBE DUCT TAPPED! The mortar holding the all rock house was made brittle from the fire inside cooking it like a brick oven! After 2 fire restoration estimates and a master electrician the damages are at $300,000. The fire restoration crews said they had never seen such MALICE practiced in 25 years the electrician said the house was a ticking time bomb spliced knobb and tube dry rotted and burnt casing running the home. The burnt drywall around the vents blew into the air so we couldn’t use heat without coughing . We had to move into a 5th wheel for months while trying to find out how we were gonna get out of this nighmare! The seller marked no on fire or flood, 1 fha inspection, 1 private inspection, incomplete permit work signed off on and no one is responsible…..? Lawyer said it would probably take 3 years and $25,000 -50,000 in legal fees and we would have to keep making payments on this condemned home only resided by BATS while in litigation. The city even admitted the ball was dropped but I would have to sue them. We had to claim bankruptcy on the home because if we just forclosed the bank could’ve sued us for the undisclosed fire damages!!!
    Knowing I could never afford the cost of going through court I asked my City to simply make change . To make residential property have the same strict guidelines as historical and nonconforming properties. That only professional licensed contractors can work on red tagged property so this won’t happen to another community member I was told I would need a lawyer! This house is back on the market I called the bank and city to ask who is going to have to fix the house or demo it neither have an answer. The site it’s on won’t even allow entry until sell is complete! So the home will be sold to a flipper again lipsticked and sold to another middle class family or HUD even though this house was listed for demo 4 years ago. No mother should have to stay up all night guarding against fire and bats! No mother should kiss her babies goodnight praying that there will be a goodmorning in their new room! We were robbed 30,000,left homeless, and lived in terror and all we wanted was little slice of the American dream. For the nay sayers this home in Michigan winter time no heat running filled with giant antique furniture and spray spritz in everyroom.

  2. Tom Mews
    August 29, 2018, 8:47 am

    From a business point of view, it can and should be added to your contract for re inspection. It’s better then having a law suit down the road to have to defend against. Even if a contractor is hired to do the repairs, it’s still marked off on my report until I take it off.

  3. Are Re-Inspections Necessary? | Navigator Home Inspections, Inc.
    September 25, 2018, 10:29 am

    […] Are re-inspections necessary? […]

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