3 questions a home inspector won't answer

3 questions a home inspector won't answer

When you pay a professional like a home inspector for their services, you expect to have all your questions answered, right? After all, you, the customer, are paying good money for their expertise. While it may seem contrary to the nature of a business relationship, there are some questions that a home inspector typically won't answer.

Below you'll find three common questions that we as home inspectors routinely decline to answer - and why.

1. Am I paying too much for this property?

A home inspector reports the condition of the property you are purchasing, but unless they have specialized education in their background, they do not have the training necessary to estimate the value of the property.

Advice on market value customarily comes from two sources: Realtors and appraisers. Realtors will work up a market analysis of virtually every property they list, which tells you the value of similar properties in the area. This in turn gives you an idea of what listing price is appropriate. Appraisers have years of focused training and many sources of information that help them to assess the value of a property. While your home inspector will likely be eager to help, this information is best acquired from the appropriate professionals.

2. Does this house have foundation issues?

Foundation issues manifest themselves in a variety of ways, from cracks in the slab and walls to doors that don't shut properly. Most home inspectors have the skills to identify the symptoms, but diagnosing foundation failure is a serious matter that should be done by a structural engineer.

Keep in mind that cracks in the slab or brick can be present even in homes with no foundation problems. The tools and testing necessary to establish foundation failure are generally beyond the scope of the average home inspection company. If we home inspectors had to acquire the tools and lab services needed to provide this information ourselves, home inspections would be much more costly.

3. Would you buy this house?

The job of a home inspector is not to influence, but to inform. We try to give our clients the most accurate picture of the condition of the property on the day it was inspected, but the decision whether or not to go through with the purchase is the client's alone. The question itself is highly subjective.

For example, people who have unknowingly purchased a home with a bad sewer line will be more apt to run screaming in the other direction if a house is found to have plumbing issues. If a plumber looks at the same house, he or she will likely see this as a minor concern, since they possess the skills and tools to fix the problem themselves. Your experience, talents and expectations will influence your decision differently than anyone else, making you the expert on whether the purchase makes sense.

About this Angie’s List Expert: Edie Sherwood is the owner and office manager of Area Wide Inspections. The company provides home inspection services in Lubbock, Texas as well as construction inspections, FHA inspections and construction consulting. Area Wide earned the 2012 Angie’s List Super Service Award.

As of September 26, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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Being at the home inspection allows you to see your "dream home" from the inspector's unbiased viewpoint, says Sherwood. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Diwata F. of Buffalo, New York)
Being at the home inspection allows you to see your "dream home" from the inspector's unbiased viewpoint, says Sherwood. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Diwata F. of Buffalo, New York)

You may never believe the things a home inspector will discover unless you're there, too. Being at your home inspection lets you see any problems firsthand.

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