Who Verifies Repairs After The Home Inspection?

By
Home Inspector with Structure Tech Home Inspections

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 recently blogged about a hack chimney repair that I found at a re-inspection, and several people commented about the importance of re-inspections.

I sent out an email to several local real estate agents that I respect and have had recent transactions with, to ask about their take on the importance of re-inspections.  Not surprisingly, their answers were all very similar.  I've compiled the most common statements below.

Try to avoid asking the seller to make repairs.  If the 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 the sellers to fund repairs, or ask for the price of the home to be adjusted accordingly.  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 needs to be replaced.

Split boot at plumbing vent

One of the more hilarious misunderstandings happened when the buyer asked the seller to address the plumbing vent flashings, which had rubber boots that had dried out and split.  The seller told the buyer that they fixed the dried out boots by applying a lubricant.  No joke.  I can't make this stuff up.  

The photo at right, courtesy of Charles Buell, shows this defect.

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 on to the seller's lap.

When requesting repairs, be specific.  If the purchase agreement addendum is poorly written or isn't specific, the repairs won't be completed properly... if at all.  A vague, poorly written addendum 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? A well written addendum may specify 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 is 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 the most for these types of transactions, because they become a contentious pain in the butt.

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 nearly as much 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 pulled, re-inspections probably aren't necessary.  If the repairs are being done by the seller, I strongly recommend a re-inspection.  I have yet to do a single re-inspection where it was the seller who completed the repairs, and everything was done properly.

Special thanks to the following real estate agents for taking their time to share their advice with me: David K. Wells IIIDebbie Nelson-SchefflerHoney BuckJim StarrLinda HeglandMichael Harrell, and Sharlene Hensrud.

close

Re-Bloggged 11 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Michael L. Brownstead 08/16/2011 06:41 AM
  2. Barbara Tattersall 08/16/2011 06:55 AM
  3. Lenn Harley 08/16/2011 07:06 AM
  4. Susan Morrison 08/16/2011 08:39 AM
  5. Sherri Wellborn 08/16/2011 09:06 AM
  6. Chris Smith 08/16/2011 12:36 PM
  7. Cindy Jones 08/16/2011 06:52 PM
  8. Donald Hester 08/16/2011 11:56 PM
  9. Beverly Femia 08/21/2011 12:21 PM
  10. Dan Edward Phillips 08/29/2011 12:18 PM
  11. Dan Edward Phillips 09/26/2011 07:03 AM
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the scissors to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Topic:
Home Buying
Location:
Minnesota Hennepin County Maple Grove
Groups:
ASHI
Ask the Home Inspector
Canadian Bacon
Minnesota Real Estate
Minnesota Real Estate Investor Group
Tags:
how to verify repairs
how to verify home inspection repairs
repairs verified
reinspection
reinspections

Comments 81 New Comment

Anonymous
Post a Comment
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the cloud to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Anonymous #77
Anonymous
Brent Lerwill, Brentwood Inspections

When I was a new, inexperienced inspector, I resisted, but sometimes gave in to the pressure of clients or agents and did inspections of repairs on occasion. After attending an inspection conference class given by one of the top inspection attorneys in the country, I made a rule that I will do NO re-inspections of anybody's repairs. As he pointed out, when you do this, you are then taking the liability back on your shoulders and off the repair person's. It is often very difficult to determine with a surface, visual inspection after the fact whether proper materials and methods were used. It might look OK on the surface, but still not properly done. I will not state that anyone else's repair is correct or professional. As has been stated, if they follow the instructions in the inspection report to have the defects "evaluated and professionally repaired by a qualified, licensed contractor or specialist", there should be no need for a re-inspection. If it isn't done correctly and they have receipts from the professional who did it, they will have recourse and protection. It's very true, that even when done by a licensed contractor with a permit and inspected by a code inspector, that there is still no guarantee that it is right. I have inspected brand new houses that have just been signed off by the state or local code inspector that have blatant violations and sometimes very serious defects and safety issues. It has also been stated in this discussion that often the homeowner or kid next door, or an unqualified handy man ends up doing the repairs. Because there is always a very tight time frame, these "repairs" are often rushed and "quality" is compromised, sometimes making it even worse than if nothing had been done.

These is one of the best reasons for a owner to get a pre-listing, or seller's inspection so they don't have the time constraints and pressures to get it done at the last minute in the heat of a sales offer. Even if they decide that it is an "As is" sale and do no repairs, they can disclose that up front and it is less confusing, more honest and a cleaner deal which will go easier when the offer comes in.

I don't think any inspector should inspect any repairs.  

August 21, 2011 11:20 AM
Rainmaker
229,341
Reuben Saltzman
Minneapolis Home Inspections
Structure Tech Home Inspections

Lucien - there is a wide variety in the quality of municipal inspectors.  Here in Minnesota, they're usually pretty good.

Lyn Sims - great idea of asking for a contractor outside the family.

Bill Warner - ha, I love that one too.  I basically say they same thing; in my inspection reports, I recommend "qualified" contractors.  If they don't understand what's wrong, they're not qualified to fix it.

Holly - funny.  By that logic, the seller should have been irritated about even having had the home inspection :)

James - I actually had a re-inspection go very smoothly not too long ago; probably for the first time ever.  That's what inspired this post.

August 21, 2011 09:08 PM
Rainmaker
229,341
Reuben Saltzman
Minneapolis Home Inspections
Structure Tech Home Inspections

Brent - I've heard that argument against reinspections before, and I used to have the same stance as you.  I hear you, and I understand your concern, however... the same logic applies to the entire home inspection.

When I do reinspections, I find out ahead of time exactly what it is that I'm going to reinspect, and if necessary, I let my clients know what the limitations are. 

August 21, 2011 09:17 PM
Rainmaker
267,982
Kasey & John Boles - Jon Gosche Real Estate
Boise, Meridian, Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties
Jon Gosche Real Estate, Boise ID

I used to work with an agent that did free re-inspects.  Nearly all of my buyers got a re-inspection done with him.  Now I work with inspectors that charge for it and the buyers have the choice if they want to or not and many of them don't, depending on the how bit the repairs are.  If there are receipts from licensed contractors often that is enough to suffice.  -Kasey

August 29, 2011 12:31 AM
Rainmaker
124,583
Matt Robinson
Pensacola Real Estate (850) 292-4000
ERA Emerald Coast Realty

All terrific advice.  If my buyers have signficant repairs done by the seller, I always recommend a re-inspection.  If they are smaller cosmetic things, it can be handled with a walk throug inspection, but bigger things should definitely be viewed by a professional inspector.

February 08, 2012 12:37 PM
Anonymous
Post a Comment
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the scissors to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Rainmaker
229,341

Reuben Saltzman

Minneapolis Home Inspections
Ask me a question
*
*
*
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the woman to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Additional Information

Home inspection topics in the Minneapolis / Saint Paul area.