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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
We are looking into purchasing a 35 year old house in an established area.

I'm somewhat handy...having put a roof on, hung doors, etc. I don't have an issue with what I see of the structure of the house. Foundation, roof, etc straight, solid.

Any issues I have ever had with our own homes are plumbing and electrical.

My question. In your experience, Just how good are most home inspectors at looking at plumbing? I'm leaning towards hiring a plumber for a couple hours...and an electrician for an hour. Would their inspections be more useful?

One reason I ask is the last time I had a plumber in to our place, he knew even before looking at our drainage problem what the issue most likely was. Sure enough...Fixed in a couple minutes.

Anyways, I know inspectors do more than look at plumbing and electrical but are they really all that reliable at these two things?

Thanks
 

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You really need to think about what inspectors are hired to do. Most are paid a few hundred dollars, and are expected to produce a report listing home defects. In some states, there are no qualifications to be an inspector, in others you have to get licensed, and in some you have to pass a test. If the inspector is AASHI certified, they are strictly limited in what they inspect, how they do the inspection, and what they report. Typically they look at visually apparent issues, and are presumed to have no specialized knowledge that would allow them to have an opinion on special topics such as electrical faults, plumbing problems, structural or foundation issues, that sort of thing.

So they go through the house with a checklist, and note if the receptables work, if there are leaks in piping, obvious evidence of past floods. And if they do their job correctly, they note the facts, and do NOT offer an opinion as to why the problem occurred, how serious it is, what are the options to repair the issue, and how much will it cost. All issues of critical importance to you.

So if you want to know any of those things, you hire a plumber to look at the plumbing, an electrician to look at the wiring, and a structural engineer to look at the foundation and structure. And if a checklist is good enough, you save some money and hire the home inspector.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks. I don't really need a checklist as much as a reality check. I can do most things an inspector can do. Not really concerned about a leaky pipe as much as an overall feel of the quality of the plumbing and what to reasonably expect in coming decades.
 

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As bad as most home inspectors are I still use them because of the fact that two sets of eyes are better than one. My inspector could write horror novels the way he describes problems. You can use the report to lower the asking price
 

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Thanks. I don't really need a checklist as much as a reality check. I can do most things an inspector can do. Not really concerned about a leaky pipe as much as an overall feel of the quality of the plumbing and what to reasonably expect in coming decades.

Save your money for the "home inspector"you can probably do as well as he can, but hire the plumber and electrician if you have concerns.
 

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I suppose its good to know that if your washer is not properly vented, but what you really need to worry about is stuff like flashing is not right and most of your rim boards are half rotted away.

For a few hundred dollars, you are not getting the world top construction expert to analyze the house to death. But since this is the stuff he looks for day in and day out, he may find something important.
 

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Plumber, electrician, decent roofer, and possibly an engineer if you have important retaining walls or seawalls, etc... to deal with. Maybe a mold test if there are moisture issues, etc... A good general will have a basic eye for most of it, may catch other things, and may be easier to coordinate than trying to get multiple people in. He may or may not also be the guy you hire to coordinate any repairs you can't do yourself.

Either way, a few hundred bucks per pro to waive you off a bad investment is worth it.

The formal home inspector in most purchases doesn't really serve much purpose except for truly clueless buyers, because they only keep their job and get recommended by realtors in the future if they don't kill deals.

So they will waive you off a purchase if they see a massive problem like happening to notice a snapped joist in the basement or if they find the basement under water when they arrive, but short of that they will generally go over a fairly cursory checklist, take a picture or two, pick one or two items to complain about that usually don't actually need to be done, and then the seller either does them or knocks a thousand bucks off the price. They *may* notice a small maintenance job and point it out too, and that's useful, but more frequently they just say "replace the old water heater" so that they have something to say.
 

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I think you had one of those few event when somebody does something right and you think this is a magician. But it couldve been just noticing a wrong pitch of the drain pipe.
Experience is a subjective thing and if it makes you feel more assured, pro's opinion is worth it. A lawyer may resent one more monkey wrench, however.:smile: The realtor will hate you for it.
 
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