Market Wise Q&A: Are Inspections Worth the Expense?


Pat Kapowich for the San Jose Mercury News  

Q: Regarding your last column on inspections: When we purchased our first home we had our agent have a contractor inspect the roof, an owner of a home inspection franchise inspect our home and we also engaged a chimney inspector.

What was left out was that our roof needed replacing (expensive!), which we later found out from a neighbor who could see our roof from his two story bedroom window. AND, somehow people missed the fact that we had septic and not sewer. Another neighbor brought that to our attention when raw sewage started seeping all over the place and into her property. That was a several month project which costs us many thousands of dollars.

In our case, I would not say inspections are worth every penny. Had we known this, we would have either better financially prepared or not bought the house. My college money was on the line on this one and I could not continue my studies due to these surprises.

Can you do a column about what to look for in hiring home inspectors, we don't want to go through this again, we are much older now and don't want to now lose our retirement money due to bad inspections.


A: This is what I politely refer to as a train-wreck.  It also appears that you missed the legal timelines for financial remedies from all the parties involved.  Unsatisfactory disclosures from sellers and substandard visual observations from agents can often be trumped by a team of good inspectors.

Since anyone with a ladder and truck can call themselves an inspector; make sure the roof, pool, chimney and termite companies are licensed in their field of expertise with the state as well as work closely with the real estate community.  They should produce their proof of insurance along with their credentials upon request. Also, only hire home inspectors who belong to the California or National Association of Home Inspectors and never make the classic mistake of settling for a contractor-friend to take a “look-see.”



Realtor Pat Kapowich, Kapowich Real Estate, is a Certified Residential Broker and instructs quarterly in real estate at De Anza College.  Contact him at (408) 245-7700 or

Realtor Pat Kapowich. Broker/Owner Certified Residential Broker ABR, CRS, GRI & SRES Home Sales Expertise and Experience (408) 245-7700