How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

Do I really need a home inspection?

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Yes, it’s a sensible investment even if everything appeared satisfactory on your walk-through. Here’s the percentages on the outcome of a home inspection, compared to what the buyers believed  about the condition of the property before the inspection:

70%...of the inspections turn up a list of minor defects that need repair, but no big surprises. Often the price of the inspection is repaid by seller’s repairs of problems found, or price adjustment for the required repairs.

20%...of the time we find a fairly significant problem and/or longer than expected list of minor defects, which may need some negotiation to resolve with the seller.

10%...of homes have a significant defect that is a big surprise to everybody, often including the seller.

Which brings me to a story about one of the rare occasions when even we were surprised by the way our home inspection unfolded. The home was in a rural, lake neighborhood, surrounded by other equally country-charming properties (not the sweet 1940’s Northeast Gainesville cottage in the picture above, but the one in the photo below). The seller’s disclosure stated that it was built in 1980 and had a new roof. It had recently been repainted turquoise with white trim, and the wood floors were elevated a couple of feet off the ground with a crawl space underneath.

   The buyers were a young couple moving up to the rural Gainesville area from South Florida, and looking forward to country living. They had visited the house twice, liked what they saw, made an offer that was accepted by the seller, and were already planning their garden in the backyard.

    Two things immediately struck us as a little odd as we began the inspection: the main electric panel was on a pole next to the home, which is normally only done for mobile homes, and the crawl space openings around the base of the home were covered with solid fiber-cement panels that were both nailed and screwed in place. The wife mentioned that she had looked at the county appraiser’s page for the property, and it showed that there was once a mobile home on the site. So we thought possibly they had reused the original mobile home electric service when the seller built the home.

    Eventually we found one fiber-cement panel that was only secured with screws, removed it, and Greg began to explore the crawl space. What he discovered, essentially, was that the mobile home was still there. A pole barn of about twice the square footage of the mobile home had been built over it, with the additional area framed-in, floored, then tied into the original trailer with new doors, and the whole thing sided over. 

The steel base frame of the mobile home had been cut away, and was laying on the ground under the home, with stacked concrete blocks supporting the upper structure of what remained of the single-wide trailer body. Extensive electrical and plumbing defects, including what appeared to be an overflowing cesspit, added to the long list of issues we uncovered. 

     Needless to say, the buyers were not happy. And we were amazed: none of this was apparent in a casual perusal of the home. The husband mentioned afterward that he noticed in their second visit that the floors in the front of the home (mobile home area) had a lot of bounce when he walked across them, whereas the back of the home (enclosed pole barn structure) didn’t, and he had wondered about that. But none of us, at the beginning of the inspection, had any idea that the home would be quite such an outrageous mess.

     His father-in-law had told them beforehand that they were wasting their money buying a home inspection. But they had a great story to tell him when they got home and, also, they were VERY glad they had the house inspected.

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  To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection? 

How thorough is a home inspector required to be when inspecting a house?

Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement?

Can I do my own home inspection?

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole? 

The seller gave me a report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector? 

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1940s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s house?

• What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property? 

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been moved?

What do I need to know about buying a foreclosure? 

What should I look for when buying a former rental house?  

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

What should I look for when buying a house that is being "flipped" by an investor seller? 

What do I need to know about a condo inspection?

What are the "Aging In Place" features to look for when buying a retirement home?

   Visit our HOME INSPECTION page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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