Over the years, I have had clients ask me to come back out and re-inspect a property after specific work was done. I don’t do this often, however in the few times that I have, It’s really been hit or miss. Sometimes the work was done well, and other times it was less than stellar. So, I have compiled my thoughts on re-inspections and made a list of what I think is important when considering repair work of any kind. Hopefully this will answer some questions you may have. So, are re-inspections needed? Read on Macduff.
Be the person hiring the company to make repairs.
Many times in my reports, I will say, “I recommend this be repaired by a qualified electrician (or whatever particular field).” This helps to make sure it wasn’t Uncle Bob and his son making corrections to you main service panel, and was in fact a professional doing the work. Request receipts for all the work done, before you let them repair anything.
However, the best way to avoid re-inspections by not asking the sellers to make repairs in the first place. Instead, try to negotiate the price of the home to cover the repairs. If you leave it in the sellers hands, they will most likely find the least expensive company, and often times you end up with sub-par work, or just plain wrong.
For instance, I recently performed a re-inspection and found that the water heater vent pipe was disconnected in the attic, spewing warm moist air in the frosty cold attic. Since most people don’t regularly check out the attic, it could have gone on for years unnoticed. Most likely the repair was not done by a licensed plumbing contractor.
Make sure all parties understand the issues
A high quality home inspection report should include all the necessary information to make the issues understandable. If it’s not, ask the inspector for more information. Get as much clarification as needed.
One of the most common repair requests is asking for the wrong thing to be repaired, or not being specific in the request. For instance, if a water heater has a crack, and is leaking on the side, it doesn’t make sense to ask to have it repaired. The water heater should be replaced. Typically, I specify this in the home inspection report, however sometimes I request if be further evaluated by a qualified contractor, and repaired or replaced at the contractors discretion.
Be specific when requesting repairs.
Clearly stating the action that should take place is paramount in making sure you get repairs done properly. If the purchase agreement addendum is poorly written or isn’t specific, most likely the repairs won’t be completed properly. A poorly written addendum might say:
“The vent pipe for the water heater should be connected properly.”
Chances are, the pipe will be fixed using some duct tape and bailing wire. However, when specific, the addendum should specify the problem, how the repairs should be completed and how it will be verified that the work was done properly.
The vent pipe for the water heater is disconnected in the attic, and allows combustion gasses into the space. Have this vent pipe repaired correctly by a licensed plumbing contractor, with appropriate permits obtained, and completed work re-inspected one week prior to closing. All documentation, including receipts, permits, and lien wavers, will be provided to the buyers no less than one week prior to closing.
In some instances, the exact method of repair doesn’t need to be specified. Sometimes, there are multiple defects with a component. For instance, if there are several defects inside a furnace, it’s probably enough to specify the defects, and request repairs by a licensed HVAC Contractor. Leave it up to the Contractor to decide how to make the repairs.
Are building permits necessary?
Well, it depends on the work being done. For instance, I recently re-inspected a roof where the sheathing was bowed, and not installed properly. I also noted that the roof had two or more layers of shingles on it. The buyers requested the roof be replaced. Since it’s required to have a building permit to replace more than 32 square feet of sheathing, that’s all that was replaced, one on the front. The whole back side of the roof was overlaid with 7/16 OSB.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s acceptable to overlay sheathing like this, however since they didn’t have a permit, there is no telling if the work was done correctly. After the shingles are on, it’s very hard to make sure the sheathing, and everything else was installed correctly.
Having a permit forces the seller to ‘follow the rules’, and it will make the buyer feel better knowing that the work was installed and inspected properly. It also puts the cost of the re-inspection in the seller’s lap. On a side note, aside from replacing a roof, if the repair is minor and doesn’t require a building permit, then maybe you shouldn’t ask for it?
My personal opinion
When a buyer asks me to come back out and inspect the work that was done, I base my price on how long I think it will take. If I go out to look at two or three specific items, and I was provided with receipts from licensed contractors, I usually just charge a trip fee. If there is a laundry list of items, say 15 or more, I know that it will take me longer and I charge accordingly.
I generally don’t do re-inspections for house flippers or investors, because I have found over time that the work is usually done very cheaply and poorly. In the end, I usually have to do another home inspection. If I do re-inspections for house flippers, I charge a lot. Either it will be worth my while, or they won’t hire me. For major projects that need permits, they will be inspected at each phase by a city inspector, so really I shouldn’t be needed.
The bottom line.
Although re-inspections never hurt, you may not need one. If you negotiate the repairs into the contract, and take monetary compensation instead of having the seller repair the items, then you probably don’t need a re-inspection. You can hire your own contractor and have it done after you have purchased the home. However if you have the sellers perform the repairs, make sure the repair requests are specific, being performed by licensed contractors, and appropriate permits are obtained. If you decide to have the repairs made by the seller, then I would strongly suggest you have the work inspected along the way, and after it’s finished.
Well, there you have it. I hope this helps with any questions you had about re-inspections, and as always, feel free to call me and ask more specific questions. I’m always available for a chat.