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Focus on Quality of Inspection, Not Report

By Barry Stone
Saturday, February 19, 2005; Page F08

Q DEAR BARRY: The home inspector we hired seemed to do a thorough job of evaluating property defects, but when we received the written report, it was so poorly written that we began to doubt the quality of the inspection itself. The inspector seemed to have no idea how to construct a complete sentence. The grammar, syntax and spelling were a mess. This was disconcerting and has made us wonder if we received a quality home inspection. -- Trevor

ADEAR TREVOR: Complaints regarding home inspection quality typically involve undiscovered property defects. Grumblings about the inspector's writing skills are rare. Your case is an exception -- you were satisfied with the inspection itself, but the inspector's unrefined communication abilities raised doubts.

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Ask the Inspector Archive

The ability to investigate and the ability to communicate the results may be unrelated. Just as a great novelist cannot be expected to perform a thorough building inspection, the lack of linguistic refinement may not reflect the investigative skills of an inspector. After all, plumbers who don't pull their pants up are not suspected of substandard workmanship.

The ability to perform a quality inspection is the result of field experience, knowledge and observational skills, no matter the grades a home inspector received in high school English class. As long as the property defects were found, what matters is that you were able to comprehend the inspector's disclosures, no matter how coarsely they were communicated.

DEAR BARRY: During periods of heavy rain, I sometimes get water in my yard and carport. Sometimes, depending on the water table, the downstairs carpet becomes wet. Since this doesn't happen all the time, do I have to disclose it to prospective buyers? -- Jeffrey

DEAR JEFFREY: How you would feel if someone sold you a house without disclosing a recurrent moisture problem?

Disclosure is not only right, but also will help to keep you out of a lawsuit after you sell the property. The answer to questions that begin with the words "should I disclose" is invariably yes.

Barry Stone is a professional home inspector. If you have questions or comments, contact him through his Web site, www.housedetective.com, or send mail to 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, Calif. 93401.

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