Home Inspection Nightmare ... Need Advice

**We purchased a large 1920’s farmhouse in June 2010. We are active duty military & were transferring from south FL to NE NC. We took a 20+ hr. drive to see the house on 04/30 and signed the contract @ 7:30 PM that day. We knew the house needed work, but from our perspective and what we were told it appeared to be grossly cosmetic. There were a few minor things that we noted, but nothing we did not feel we could handle. My husband has flipped several houses over the years.

We opted for a home inspection. The inspector was recommended by the selling agent, who was also our agent. We were not able to be present for the inspection since we were in FL. We received the report about 2 wks prior to closing, which was a “9 page summary”. When we questioned the full report, we were advised it was not ready but everything important was mentioned in the summary.

The summary included only some minor issues that mentioned previous WDI, 1 window leak which appeared to be a flashing issue, some wood on the porches that needed replaced, crawl space access needing repair and steps that needed repaired (cement). The HI mentioned he was “unable to access the crawl space” and did “not go up on the roof.” The Seller’s Disclosure did NOT list any known problems w/ the house.

The seller’s would not allow lease back until closing (2 wks) so we headed for NC w/ 5 kids, 9 birds, a cat, a 28 ft. truck pulling a pick up & an SUV pulling a 12 ft trailer.

Upon closing and moving into the house we immediately notice MULTIPLE problems which include, but not limited to the following:
(1) upstairs bathroom leak through to the 1st floor ceiling;
(2) 3 roof leaks
(3) dishwasher didn’t work – it was not grounded & tripped the breaker, but yet the HI report said it was “working properly”
(4) bat infestation in attic (150+ bats);
(5) water damage around many of the windows on the inside
(6) a few other minor things listed on the inspection that were not completed prior to closing by the sellers (not a major ordeal).

W/in the following 4 to 6 mos we noticed the following:

  1. 3 substantial roof leaks, going into the attic in multiple places you can see daylight;
  2. Multiple window leaks and water damage (we’re talking 3 to 5 ft puddles in the floor leaks);
  3. the foundation is sinking
  4. All 3 bathrooms leak water under the house substantially, 1 not connected to the drain field for the sewer, 1 bathroom has sewer leak
  5. downstairs heat unit did not work (said it was checked & working properly) – advised by AC contractor it had not worked “in a long time”
  6. 1 side porch had been enclosed and modifications to the original load bearing exterior wall had been altered to the tune of removing 7 wall studs w/ no bracing, just cut out. The wall & ceiling sagged.
  7. OLD LIVE WIRING exposed and laying on the ground of the crawl space and in both the attic and side attic.
  8. Side attic had NO insulation.
  9. Under the house the OLD LIVE wiring runs AROUND the water pipes w/ the leaks.

While my husband has done most of the electrical and water repairs, the foundational issues and roof problems will cost in excess of $35,000 to $50,000 to repair. These are beyond our ability to do. This is only a touch of what we have found. Upon questioning the agent and the inspector in December 2010, we were suddenly provided w/ a 42 page inspection report with the “You didn’t see this?” comment. However, even this 42 page report does not come close to the problems we have found.

Had we known about these issues we would NOT have purchased the house and I doubt the Seller’s would have been able to sell the house to anyone? I find it seriously hard to believe that the sellers did NOT know about the vast majority of these problems. We have all the estimates and repair costs. What type of attorney handles these matters? Does anyone know? I know what we need to do … I’m just not sure WHO we need to do it.

We paid $425 for this inspection and got nothing. Interestingly to note also, the house is 2 stories, 3315 sq ft. We learned after the fact that the inspector took 1 ½ hours (w/ our agent there) to complete our inspection??? What was the point???

Yikes, I feel your pain. I made the same mistake and went with the home inspector that my real estate agent recommended. Big mistake. The agent wants your commission, period. Inspectors working for agents aren’t going to earn any follow-up referrals by finding a lot of problems. Our inspector found some superficial things so we thought he was being thorough, but he wasn’t.

The same inspector also screwed over a friend of mine by somehow missing the fact that her roof was severely damaged in several places. She took the seller to small-claims court and got something like $3k or $4k.

Go to base legal and talk to the assigned lawyer. They may tell you to find a lawyer that specializes in business contracts.

All I can help you with is the bat infestation.

Bats don’t do any harm to the building. Even their droppings are a lot less agressive then pigeons. Bats droppings are just dry brittle insect remains. You can sweep it up without any health hazards, agan, unlike pigeon droppings. Fear about rabies is unlikely: rabid bats are driven out by other bats.

But if you want them out, here’s how.

Bats will use a quiet attick as either a winter, or summer sleeping habitat. Winter sleeping places tend to be evenly cool (0 - 12 degrees celcius) and with moist air. Think caves and cellars. Summer sleeping places, whre the females have their young, just have to be undisturbed. In the wild bats will use, for instance, an hollow tree.

All you need to do to get the bats to find another place is chase them away. This is best done in spring, when they go out of hibernation (an hibernating bat can’t fly, and chasing it away will make it have to wake up, and use energy it doesn’t have enough of in winter. It may fly out and die.) Do it before late spring, early summer, when the females are nursing young and won’t leave those either.

So, in early spring, (test it by seeing if the bats wake up by themselves) just open the atticks window, make a ruckus (Light and an boombox. Put the boombox on just for a little while, so they can use the quiet to echolocate themselves out the window). Then shut up the gaps they came in though. Bats can come in through gaps about an inch wide, depending on the species.

Be careful: many bats are environmentally protected. If you make a picture of the bats, some doper might help you identificate the species. You might even get a grant for safekeeping an bats nesting place.

If I had an attick I didn’t use, I would love it if some bats hibernated there. So cool!

bats are useful, they eat insects, lots of skeeters. that many wouldn’t live there if there wasn’t lots of insects, enough to really bother you.

during the season they aren’t there seal the attic, leave screened vents.

make bat houses outside, give them an alternative

exclude bats from your house

You may have a case against the building inspector since he breached his contract by not performing a proper inspection.
More likely is a case against the previous owners as they are required to give you full disclosure of any problems of which they are aware. Especially, since some of the issues you have described would have been quite obvious to them.

**Thank you all for the replies.

I have already found out that the bats were protected. We were advised to wait until winter & see if they relocated. They did not. Will have them moved & the attic sealed in the spring.

I am prepared to fight everyone involved. I just wonder why people are so dishonest anymore. It’s really amazing. sighs**

Better to hire your own inspector than use the cheaper your Realtor wants you to use.
If you hire your own, they answer to you.
The other really answers to the Realtor, and he wants a clean bill of health.
I would also report this inspector to the BBB so someone else might be able to find out about his findings.

By not checking the roof, or crawling under the house he didn’t complete the job.
His license should be revoked.

Complain to your realtor, let the inspector know about your experience, and report the inspector to your state board.

Not all of the items you listed are mandatory disclosure items, but many of them are. You may have a case against the prior owners and/or the realtor, although usually the contract to buy you signed releases the realtor from any liability. It would be worth you doing some research into your state laws.

I eradicated bats in a rental house I renovated. You can exclude them yourself and save a few hundred dollars.

You have to chase them out, as described above - best to do it at twilight, when they’re leaving anyway. Do it at the time of year recommended for your particular bat.

Then you have to close up the entrances/exits - metal screen or mesh stapled across the openings works well. They can get into very tiny holes, but they’re rather dirty and it’s pretty clear where they come and go. Scope those areas out before you attempt the exclusion, so you know what and where you need to work.

BEWARE the guano. It is very high in ammonia content and can overwhelm your respiratory system easily and quickly in a closed environment. You have a lot of bats. Buy or rent a ventilator/respirator device and use it during the exclusion and clean up. Vaccuum up the guano into a shop vac, and toss the filter and get a new one afterwards.

I found that they really don’t like being wet. Bring a big spray bottle of water with you set to “stream”. There will be a few that are reluctant and won’t go straight for the exit. Squirt them and herd them in the right direction.

If your space isn’t floored (joists and insulation), don’t do this if you’re squeamish. You have to be able to move around and sort of flush them out - and they WILL bump into you.