Isn’t a home inspection all I need?
Many homebuyers are led to believe that any and all existing and potential problems with a home will be uncovered by a home inspector. This is a common misconception that can be costly. A few months of training prepares a home inspector to conduct a superficial examination of a home and its systems. A leaking pipe or worn out shingles are relatively easy to find and evaluate, but are they part of a more serious structural issue?
A home inspector may note a pipe or roof leak, but they do not have the education or training to determine if a construction defect is the cause. Many home inspection reports include recommendations that amount to band aids for problems that will resurface. Some qualified home inspectors will recommend that a structural engineer be consulted if any signs of structural issues are uncovered. Since not all do, and home inspection training does not equip inspectors to find and report structural issues, why take the chance that a problem, reported or missed, is really a sign of a structural problem that requires further investigation?
My seller’s disclosure says the house is free of structural issues, or refers to problems that have been repaired. Why should a structural engineer be necessary?
Seller disclosures are based on the seller’s memory and knowledge of the home. Few sellers can give a qualified opinion about known or suspected structural issues, and even if they suspect that structural issues exist, how many will disclose that fact? Many disclosures include an option for the seller to simply mark “Unknown” to questions about the house. Disclosures that describe repairs do not include an evaluation of the quality of the repairs. A home inspector may even skip inspection of repairs noted on the disclosure. Structural engineers will pay special attention to issues described in a seller’s disclosure, even if repairs have been made.
The listing agent tells me that home and structural inspections are really not necessary and that I should spend that money on moving instead of paying for either.
These kinds of suggestions are warning signs and should prompt a prospective buyer to make sure to hire a structural engineer. Another warning sign is a listing or buyer’s agent who suggests that, “If you really want an inspection we can use my inspector”. Make sure to find out who “their” inspector or structural engineer is so you can make sure NOT to hire them!
I noticed some potential structural issues when I toured the house, but shouldn’t I just rely on the home inspection?
NO, make a note of any suspicious conditions and share the list with the structural engineer you hire. Remember, home inspectors make a cursory inspection (some will include language in their contracts that they will not “open” confined spaces, “move” current owners’ property, or even fully “operate” all systems). They may have several inspections scheduled per day, or even explicitly limit the amount of time they will spend on your inspection. These factors invite omissions and must be kept in mind when considering whether a home inspection is the only inspection you need. It may be one inspection you need, but it is not the only inspection you need.
What do plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning (HVAC), and all other major systems in a house have in common? They are all attached to, and depend on, the structure of the house to function properly. An inspection by a structural engineer can save thousands in repairs, make a substantial difference in the value of a house, or even be a reason to walk away from a purchase. To be fully informed about your next home call us at 866-682-2693, email us at email@example.com, or visit us at BE Structural for more information about our services.