June and Fred Smith were diligent about getting their home ready for
sale. They ordered a pre-sale termite inspection report. The report
revealed that their large rear deck was dry-rot infested, so they
replaced it before putting their home on the market.
The Smiths also called a reputable roofer to examine the roof and issue
a report on its condition. The roofer felt that the roof was on its
last legs and that it should be replaced. The Smith's didn't want
buyers to be put off by a bad roof, so they had the roof replaced and
the exterior painted before they marketed the home.
The Smith's home was attractive, well-maintained and priced
right for the market. It received multiple offers the first week it was
listed for sale.
But the buyers' inspection report indicated that the house was
in serious need of drainage work. According to a drainage contractor,
the job would cost in excess of $20,000. Fred Smith was particularly
distraught because he'd paid to have corrective drainage work done
several years ago.
First-Time Tip: If you get an alarming inspection
report on a home you're buying or selling, don't panic. Until you see
the whole picture clearly, you're not in a position to determine
whether you have a major problem to deal with or not.
What happened to the Smiths is typical of what can happen over
time with older homes. The drainage work that was completed years ago
was probably adequate at the time. But since then, there had been
unprecedented rains in the area, which caused flooding in many
basements. Drainage technology had advanced. New technology can be more
expensive but often does a better job.
The Smiths considered calling in other drainage experts to see
if the work could be done for less. After studying the buyers'
inspection report, the contractor's proposal and the buyers' offer to
split the cost of the drainage work 50-50 with the sellers, the Smiths
concluded that they had a fair deal.
The solution is not always this easy, especially when
contractors can't agree. Keep in mind that there is an element of
subjectivity involved in the inspection process. For example, two
contractors might disagree on the remedy for a dry-rotted window: one
calling for repair and the other for replacement.
Recently, one roofer recommended a total roof replacement for a
cost of $6,000. A second roofer disagreed. His report said that the
roof should last another three to four years if the owner did $800 of
maintenance work. Based on the two reports, the buyers and sellers were
able to negotiate a satisfactory monetary solution to the problem for
an amount that was between the two estimates.
It's problematic when inspectors are wrong. But it happens.
Inspectors are only human. Here is another example: A home inspector
looked at a house and issued a report condemning the furnace, which he
said needed to be replaced.
The sellers called in a heating contractor who declared that the furnace was fit and that it did not need to be replaced.
The buyers were unsure about the furnace, given the difference
of opinions. The seller called in a representative from the local gas
company. The buyers knew that the gas company representative would have
to shut the furnace down if it was dangerous. He found nothing wrong
with the furnace, and the buyers were satisfied.
In Closing: Sometimes finding the right expert to give
an opinion on a suspected house problem is the answer, but it is always
good to get two opinions.
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