Burned By The Residential Property Inspector

residential property inspectorsHere that sizzle, that is me getting burned by a residential property inspector.  I’ll get to that in a moment, but first let me set the stage for my rant.  My rental farm, the one I harvested timber from, will soon have a new tenant, who will be moving in this Saturday.  I have to admit, I will be incredibly grateful to close the book on this transition.  My previous tenant who I will refer to as the ‘always paid before the the first of the month’ tenant moved out on December 1,  I was bummed, she was wonderful!  That said, I can’t fault her for her passion of owning her own residence.  Well, she ended up finding the love of her life, getting married and buying a house, all in a matter of a month.  He is a great guy, and I hope he treats her right.  Once they (I would be naive to think he wasn’t living there too) moved out though, and I had a chance to inspect the property, I noticed the drop ceiling seemed to have had some water damage, which was never brought to my attention before.  I have unfortunately, learned some tough lessons over the years about the destruction water can leave when it meets the inside of your house.  Unbeknownst to me, I was in for another one of those lessons.  This is proof that the life of a landlord is never dull!

This roof was inspected 13 months ago!

I called a contractor friend who knows a thing or two about roofs and asked if he minded inspecting the outside for signs of damage.  This roof was inspected a little over a year ago, when I bought the property, and was done by a ‘professional property inspector’.   This was a promise I made to Mrs. Critfin, when I bought the place.  At the time, his report showed the roof to be in good condition, however, my friends report showed a completely different set of circumstances.  My theory of property inspectors is now substantiated by this “professional” property inspectors ‘misdiagnosis’.  Before I get too carried away though, I guess the Christian thing to do would be to give him the benefit of the doubt; and say this deterioration could have happened in one years time, but I think it’s highly unlikely, and here’s why:

This roof was a poorly installed rolled roof, which wasn’t properly overlapping where it needed to be, in order to keep water out.  The siding was also improperly installed by using the wrong kind of nails, and last but certainly not least, the chimney had no flashing around it.  This roof was begging water to come in, and the water took the roof up on it!  But, back to my “professional” property inspector, you know the one who gave me the thumbs up a year ago, said the roof would stop a monsoon, well he was wrong…or lied, not sure which?  At the end of his ‘misdiagnosis’, he got his $150 and was on to the next poor soul, while I was left to fix a pitiful excuse for a roof!  As a result, I was left holding the preverbal “empty bag”.

$2300 and a new roof, and I am back in business.

For most folks, an experience like this would likely leave a bad taste in your mouth, maybe even to the point of motivating someone to get out of the rental property business.  Truth be told, as bad as it was, I somehow feel like it was a blessing in disguise.  I now have a completely new roof, with a 20 year guarantee, correctly installed siding and a contractor I can count on.  Through this experience, my contractor showed me numerous signs of his honesty and integrity.  I will be able to call on him anytime in the future and feel confident he will take care of my needs.  He is an older man, with many years of experience and like no contractor I had ever dealt with in the past; he never asked for any cash up front.  As a result, he had some skin in the game, showed he was willing to complete the entire job, before he was to be paid.  For this I was grateful.  I also found a quality tenant, one who will be paying $175 per month more than I was getting from my previous tenant.  Things are looking better for my small real estate investing company, I will now be cash flow positive on this property!!

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  1. Kathy says:

    To the best of my knowledge there are no licensing requirements for home inspectors in my state, so anyone can put an ad in the phone book and declare themselves to be an inspector. I think this relatively new career came about by the house hunter type shows on HGTV because there are a lot of people out there who don’t know how to inspect a house themselves. You see them peering into the walk in closets and demanding granite counter tops, but they never look in the attic, flush a toilet or turn on a faucet. It’s too bad you got cheated by someone who obviously didn’t know what they were doing.

    • Jim says:

      You are right Kathy, HGTV has helped jumpstart many new career opportunities which support the housing market, this being one of them. I think from now on, if I ever use one again (which is still up for debate), I will have a checklist for them which will include donning that silly suit and getting under the house to check the floor joists!! Thanks Kathy!

  2. I love your attitude on the transaction, Jim. If you’re only out the cost of the roof, and are now cash flow positive with a contractor you can trust, I say that’s a fair deal.

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