Problems Your Home Inspector May Not Find

Whether buying or selling a home, a home inspection is an extremely important part of the process. A thorough home inspection that catches all issues prior to sale can save a lot of time and money for all parties involved — and for this reason, you should accompany the inspector while they look at the home. If that’s not possible, read the report closely and check out the home yourself later. Unfortunately, sometimes misses happen despite this, but luckily there are still many courses of action you can take to resolve the issue.

Reasons your home inspector might miss something during the home inspection

When you think about it, home inspectors have a lot on their plate. There’re many aspects to a home, and they have to cover a lot of ground, from the roof and foundation to the plumbing and electrical systems and even to home appliances like the washing machine, dryer, and dishwasher. To be blunt: since they’re forced to be generalists by nature, there are some things home inspectors miss, even when they do their best to do a thorough job.

However, they could also simply lack the experience or training to do an all-encompassing inspection. This may not even be their fault, as the rigor of their training will depend on the company. The best companies will give their new hires months of on-site training where they must shadow seasoned inspectors at over 100 homes before they can inspect a home on their own. To ensure you have a veteran home inspector, it’s best to read a company’s reviews and check their website for credentials before hiring them.

Other common misses can happen due to something blocking the problem from view, such as a furnace or other appliance being in the way of a leak or flooring issue. A thorough home inspector will check behind appliances and move furniture to ensure they can assess as much of the walls, ceiling, and flooring as possible. Still, the unfortunate truth is that not all inspectors are this comprehensive.

Lastly, there also might be things that simply aren’t included in a home inspection, and most home inspectors will not take the time to check aspects of a home that they’re not required to. Before hiring an inspection company, you may want to contact them to ensure everything you need is included in their inspection.

Commonly missed issues during a home inspection

Following are some of the most commonly overlooked issues during a home inspection.

Roof Leaks

One of the most common problems home inspectors miss are issues having to do with the roof. Though home inspectors check out the roof during an inspection, most of them will not physically go on top of the roof to look for damage. Instead, they use binoculars to look for obvious exterior issues from the ground and check the interior for signs of water damage.

All in all, this roof inspection is relatively superficial and may not find things such as mold, waterlogged insulation due to small leaks in the waterproofing, or signs of pests living in the attic.

HVAC issues

There’s a reason that HVAC is its specific sector with its own specialized repairers. Appliances like furnaces, heat pumps, and air conditioning are complex systems with even more complex electronics inside. A home inspector might have basic knowledge of these systems and will run them through their heating or cooling cycles to check their primary condition — but a home inspector’s abilities are limited here. You need a dedicated expert in HVAC to truly assess how much wear and tear they have seen.

Defective appliances

A good home inspector will run washers, dryers, and dishwashers through a cycle or two to ensure they’re running and that there aren’t any apparent leaks — but some will simply turn them on to see whether or not they power up. Similar to HVAC, these appliances have complicated electrical components that need an expert to diagnose the inner workings properly. It’s possible that a washing machine could be working just well enough to pass an inspection but get worse or fail entirely as soon as the house sells.

Hidden flooring issues

Depending on what you’re looking for in a home, carpets can benefit many potential homebuyers — but they can also camouflage many problems that may be occurring underneath, such as mold or water damage. A typical home inspector will only assess the surface of the carpet for stains and other wear and tear.

What to do if your home inspector missed something?

Whether you’re a seller or a buyer, it’s always in your best interest to speak up. As a buyer, you don’t want to pay for repairs that the seller should have done before you moved in. If you’re a seller, ensuring everything in your home is in working condition will only increase its value (not to mention it’s unethical to conceal issues with the house).

So, what now? Suppose you’re a buyer who’s already moved into the home and discovered problems. In that case, a good first step is to contact the realtor, as it’s possible the issue wasn’t the home inspector’s fault — for example, if an appliance breaks, it may have been in working order during the inspection. It could be covered by a warranty, and you might not have to contact the inspector at all. 

Next, if your realtor thinks you should contact the home inspector, you should double-check the inspection report to ensure it wasn’t mentioned before doing so. When you call the home inspector, make sure to confirm it’s something that was covered in the inspection before moving forward. They’ll likely want to come re-inspect the home, and you’ll want to be present for the inspection so that you can also document it. 

After the home inspector takes a second look and reassesses the issue, they will let you know whether or not they believe they are at fault and explain their reasoning. If they determine it was their fault, they will likely pay an agreed-upon sum to fix the problem or make a claim with their insurance company and let them handle it from there.

If they determine they are not at fault and you believe their reasoning is insufficient, you may need to pursue further action. This situation might include getting a second opinion from a different home inspector (especially if you believe the first was not reputable) or talking to a lawyer

If you don’t know what to do if your home inspector misses something, the best course of action is to keep a cool head and try to work it out with the inspector first. Fortunately, any reputable home inspection company will admit to a mistake if it was their fault or have a detailed explanation if they truly believe there was no way for them to have known about the issue when they inspected the home. If you still think they are at fault, your realtor is always a good resource to try to figure out the next steps — but it’s important to remember that a good home inspector does their best. The unfortunate truth is that sometimes things break at a later date, and you just have to chalk it up to bad luck.