Pittsburgh home inspection flawed

Pittsburgh home inspection flawed

COMPLAINT: Leslie Heilman, Pittsburgh
"In 2000, I hired Vernon Building Inspection, or VB Inspect, to inspect a home I was considering buying. Harry Thompson [a senior inspector] did the inspection. At that time, his report listed many items that needed to be addressed. I bought the home and in 2007, decided to sell it.

The potential buyers hired VB Inspect, and, coincidentally, Thompson, to inspect it. In the 2007 report, Thompson indicated 'asbestos-containing material' in the crawl space. He never mentioned this in the 2000 report. In fact, after observing this crawl space in 2000, he suggested someone push up the fiberglass insulation in the joists to secure it better.

The potential buyers, hearing the word 'asbestos,' walked away from the deal. I had the material tested and it contained a small amount of asbestos, a fact I had to state on a seller's disclosure form. I was faced with removing the asbestos, which would cost thousands of dollars, or taking less money for my home. The worst of it is, the company has ignored my certified letters asking them to address this injustice."

DESIRED RESOLUTION: "The resolution would include compensating me for the difference between the original offer on my house (which was rescinded due to the asbestos) and the ultimate price I received, plus the two additional mortgage payments I had to make due to the lost sale."

STATUS: Penalty Box

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John Cahill


The problem is inherent in the inspection process. Asbestos is not included in all home inspection standards I am aware of. However, some inspectors do provide as much information as they can to benefit the buyer. It is very possible this inspector attended a continuing education course that expanded his knowledge. His sharing of his increased knowledge would be considered very ethical. Withholding that knowledge to benefit the seller could be considered unethical. Sometimes my company walks into a job we did in the past for the current seller. If that is the case we explain the conflict to the buyer and seller and offer a free cancellation. If we are instructed to proceed we make it clear we may find things we did not find on the first inspection. If we know in advance we do not accept the inspection. A second inspection of the same property will almost always find more problems the first inspection did not. Home inspection is like a medical practice. The more practice one gets the more they are going to find the next time around. After 25 years we still practice our art. The solution to this problem is to never reinspect the same home you inspected if the seller is a prior client.

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