When your home inspection goes wrong


Imagine you’ve just gone through the nerve-wracking process of a home inspection, hoping it would uncover any hidden issues that might turn your dream home purchase into a nightmare. Happily, the report comes back with a mostly clean bill of health, leaving you relieved. Does this mean you’re in the clear? Not necessarily.

In the summer of 2021, at the height of the Wild West anything goes real estate market, I had a client bidding on a vintage property. After a heated negotiation, we won the bid without compromising the request for a home inspection. We hired a well-known, quality inspector, and after a 3-hour de- tailed inspection, all looked very positive. Sure, there were a few things to be fixed, but no major red flags. The home seemed to be in good condition. We moved forward and happily closed the transaction.

My client called in late October when the warm winds of summer were long gone. As the temperature dropped, she realized there was no heat working in the primary bedroom. In fact, the copper pipe that should have supplied wa- ter to the baseboard heat was cut and sealed 4 feet away from the connecting baseboard pipe. She had a primary bedroom and ensuite that were beautiful but freezing cold. How could this happen?

The not-so-simple answer is unfortunately simple; the inspector missed it. We know he had turned on the thermostat, because she and I had been fol- lowing him and watching him test the system. Somehow, throughout the pro- cess of looking everything over, he must have forgotten to use his heat sensor on the baseboard. He just missed it.

My client and I had more than one phone call with the inspection compa- ny and worked our way up the ranks until we got the owner on the phone. After much conversation, and a second visit to the property to confirm the error, they agreed to cover the cost to reconnect the heat. It turned out to be a complicated and expensive repair. If we had not been working with a very reputable company, she could have been left with a serious problem.

While a positive home inspection report is reassuring, please remember that no inspector is infallible. There are instances where problems might still surface after you move in. Always keep your property sales disclosures and a copy of the inspection report. If something unexpected goes wrong, reach out to your realtor and ask for their guidance. For more important tips for ways to protect yourself from a botched inspection, send me a message at kim. marion@evrealestate.com and I’ll send over my ‘protect yourself ’ cheat sheet.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.