Everything in this house will fail…at some point.

by Jun 15, 2020Uncategorized

“Everything in this house will fail…at some point” is a modified version of the original “When things go wrong” from Carson Dunlop (https://www.carsondunlop.com/inspection/blog/when-things-go-wrong/). 

I originally saw this article maybe 20 years ago and it is even more applicable today. See, at some point you will discover something wrong with your new house. Before you get upset with your home inspector, please keep things in perspective. The intent of a home inspection is not to find every past, current and future issue; it is to find the major, expensive and/or safety issues.  These are buy or no-buy factors. 

Nobody can find everything

Even though we typically double or triple the industry inspection time, it is simply impossible to find or predict all issues.  Not all issues are really issues, it has a lot to do with your individual paradigm as well. 

We might not be wrong

Just because a contractor has a different opinion does not prove us wrong. He/she is just as human as we are and opinions may differ.  We always strive to provide a source of higher authority whether it be building code, manufacturer’s installation instruction, an ASTM Standard or something else. 

Intermittent and concealed issues

You may discover a shower pan leak after a 30 minute shower that we did not discover during a 10 second test.  Some building envelope or roof leaks may only occur during specific directional winds or a heavier quantity of rain.  Moving furniture or taking out carpet may reveal concealed problems that nobody could find.

No clues

Some problems may have indeed existed at the time of the inspection yet there were no identifiable outward manifestations.  If there are no visible evidences, it is unfair to assume we should we should foresee a future problem.  As a matter of fact defects can exist without symptoms for years without discovery until that system is stressed and fails like a leaky balcony or pest damage.

Contractors’ advice

It is not uncommon for contractors to offer advice that serves them, after all they have something to gain, we do not.  Sometimes our advice may be the most prudent thing for you in your situation but contractors are reluctant to undertake repairs.  For instance, if a roofer performs a repair, they may be a scapegoat for all future leaks regardless of whether or not it was his fault.  Minor repair, high liability.  As home inspectors, we unfortunately find our recommendation is often discredited.

Conditions existing at inspection time

It is difficult for people to remember the exact circumstances at the time of the inspection such as storage, physical access or weather conditions.  It is also impossible for contractors to know what the circumstances were at the time of the inspection.

The wisdom of hindsight

When a problem manifests, it is very easy to diagnose.  Anyone can illustrate a roof leak when it’s raining.  Predicting when it’s going to leak is a different story.


If we spent days or weeks in the house, we’d find more issues too.  That’s simply not practical and would cost considerably more.

Inspector vs contractor

We are hired to provide a professional opinion of all the systems in the home.  If you prefer, you could hire 20 different contractors and engineers that can determine efficiency, calculate volumes, disassemble, design repairs and total costs.  You will pay far more and will still not be guaranteed anything. 

We are not an insurance or warranty policy

“A home inspection is designed to better your odds.  It is not designed to eliminate all risk.  For that reason, a home inspection should not be considered an insurance or a warranty policy.  The premium that an insurance company would have to charge for a policy with a low deductible, no limit and an indefinite policy period would be considerably more than the fee we charge.”

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