Followup To The Home Inspection Post

I saw this post from a Columnist, Barry Stone, A Home Inspector, in Inman News.  I can’t believe a problem that obvious would arise regarding outdated electrical.  Except for the possibility of the buyers agents relationship with the home inspector, the agent should have noticed the electrical system and made the buyer aware if the fact.  At any rate, not only is it important to get a home inspection by a qualified inspector, an experienced real estate agent is more important since it’s the agent’s experience of past transactions that the buyer depends on for direction.

  DEAR BARRY: Our real estate agent said he would find a reputable home inspector for us. We thought this would ensure that we were buying a safe and sound property. But that’s not how it turned out.

After moving in, we learned that our home has knob-and-tube wiring. When our insurance company became aware of this, they canceled our policy. We had the wiring checked by an electrician, and he said it was unsafe. So we paid to rewire the whole house.

If our home inspector had done his job, we would have known about this in time and could have negotiated with the sellers. At the time, we had no idea what knob-and-tube wiring was, and the sellers’ disclosure statement specifically stated that there was no old wiring in the house. Shouldn’t the home inspector or the sellers be liable for the rewiring costs? –Beth

DEAR BETH: The outdated wiring in this home should have been disclosed, either by the sellers or your home inspector. Whether the sellers knew that their disclosure statement was incorrect may or may not be provable, but a truly qualified home inspector would have identified this wiring. All that was needed was to inspect the attic or crawl space, and the old wiring would have been apparent.

The inspector should have informed you that knob-and-tube wiring is out of date, that it is ungrounded, that it is not adequate for current electrical demands, and that further evaluation by a licensed electrician was warranted.

Unfortunately, some home inspectors lack sufficient knowledge and experience for their profession, and unsuspecting homebuyers often pay the price for this lack of expertise.

When your agent offered to select a home inspector, he should have known which of the local inspectors are qualified and which ones are not, which ones are thorough in their inspections, and which ones tend to miss defects. The reputations of home inspectors are usually well known among local agents and brokers.

The liability in this situation is shared. The sellers gave false information in their disclosure statement, the home inspector was professionally negligent in the course of his inspection, and your agent was guilty of negligent referral. All of them should be made aware of this situation and given the opportunity to address it.

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