Home inspection report was poorly written

Posted9/25/2022 7:00 AM

Q: The home inspector we hired seemed to do a very thorough job of finding defects, but his written report was so poorly written that we began to doubt the quality of the inspection itself. He 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 truly received a quality home inspection.

A: Complaints against home inspectors are usually about property defects that were not reported. Seldom heard are grumblings over deficient writing skills.


In your case, there is a divergence between two unrelated abilities: investigative prowess and literary expressiveness. Surprisingly, it is possible to be highly qualified at one and totally inept in the other. Linguistic limitations may have no bearing on an inspector's forensic aptitude, just as plumbers who don't pull up their pants are still able to fix leaking pipes.

What matters is your home inspector's actual level of thoroughness: his ability to discover and disclose defects. Better to have that inspector than one whose prosaic eloquence outweighs his investigative talents.

The only way to affirm the thoroughness of your home inspection is to hire another inspector to do a follow-up evaluation of the property. This, or course, is a costly means of quality control and is, therefore, not practical.

The ability to perform a competent home inspection derives from field experience, pertinent knowledge, and observational skills, regardless of the grades an inspector may have received in high school English class. As long as property defects were disclosed, what matters is that you were able to comprehend the inspector's disclosures, regardless of how coarsely they may have been communicated. In fact, it is quite possible to understand even the most scrambled forms of spelling, as shown in the following example:

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"Aoccdrnig to a mkae-bleieve stduy cnodutced at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod appaer. The olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteers are at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but ecah wrod as a wlohe."

Who knows? Perhaps your home inspector participated in that imaginary study.

Q: During periods of heavy rain, I sometimes get water in my yard and carport, and occasionally, the downstairs carpet becomes wet, depending upon the water table. Because this doesn't happen all the time, do I have to disclose it to prospective buyers?

A: The best answer to your question is another question: "How would you feel if someone sold you a house without disclosing a recurrent moisture problem?" Not only is disclosure the right thing to do, it will help to keep you out of a lawsuit after you sell the property. The answer to all questions that begin with the words "should I disclose" is invariably "yes." This is wise advice and fair warning to all sellers and real estate professionals.

• Contact Barry Stone at barry@housedetective.com

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