An unlicensed home inspector caused major damage to one of my clients recently.
I am the sellers' agent in this situation. The buyers had been referred to this home inspector by friends of theirs who had recently used him.
As a sellers' agent, I am normally not present at a home inspection. However, in this case, I had to open the house for the home inspection. That gave me a chance to speak with the home inspector while the buyer and I were waiting for the buyers' agent to arrive.
The home inspector made several comments which caused the buyer and I to exchange looks. We couldn't tell if the home inspector was "pulling our legs" with his stories of flying around the country doing inspections, and having apartments in at least two major cities. He said it was true.
While I was still in the house, I heard the home inspector make a comment about the fact that there was a filter missing from the A/C system. I knew the sellers had just had an HVAC inspection as I was present during the inspection and had a copy of the report. I saw the HVAC technician put the filter in and I said so. The home inspector immediately said that the HVAC tech did not know what he was doing. At that point, I decided it was time for me to leave.
The buyers' agent was supposed to receive the home inspection report the next day. Five days later was when he actually received it. He sent it to me the next day with the follow up from the buyers. When I saw the report, it just reinforced my feeling that something was not right with the home inspector. First, his license number was not on the report. Second, the report was only 4 1/2 pages long, unformatted, with no diagrams or any explanations typical of home inspection reports that I had seen before. Third, there were broad generalizations without any clear identification of specific locations or items.
I should add, this is a house that had been gutted to the studs about 11 years ago and had undergone a multi-year renovation and expansion with permits pulled for all the work.
At this point, I decided to call a member of the Board of Directors of the local chapter of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. When I explained what I was thinking about the home inspector, the person suggested I check the home inspector's license.
I checked the website for the Massachusetts State Division of Professional Licensure (DPL) and was shocked to find out that this home inspector's license had been suspended. I didn't want to say anything that could impact someone's livelihood without more information, so I spoke with the person who maintains the state's website. I was told that the website was always kept current. I asked the person to check the actual records and veryify the information. She looked up the record and told me that the home inspector's license had been suspended a year ago and had not been reinstated.
I was then put in touch with the investigator for this licensing board. The investigator confirmed that the home inspector's license had been suspended and that he had not done what he was supposed to do to be reinstated. I was told that there had been about 9 complaints and two previous reprimands before the license was suspended. The suspension had to do with incompetence and poor work practices among other things.
This occured the day before we were supposed to sign the Purchase & Sales Agreement. When I told the buyers' agent about the home inspector, the buyers' (who had already sold their home) ended up walking away from the transaction. The Sellers, who had an accepted offer on a new home that they wanted to purchase, had to walk away from that transaction.
Can you imagine that all of this occured because the home inspector decided to violate state law and continue working. This unlicensed home inspector caused major damage to two sets of sellers and a buyer.
I strongly recommend that buyers hire a home inspector after they have an accepted offer. Check to make sure that any contractor is licensed before you use their services, or allow them to act on a property that you represent or recommend them. I know I will from now on! In Massachusetts, you can CHECK A PROFESSIONAL LICENSE for 21 different types of businesses.