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Horror story lesson: Hire the best home inspector

Linda Lombardini

"Linda is the consummate professional when it comes to dealing with real estate in the Ann Arbor area...

"Linda is the consummate professional when it comes to dealing with real estate in the Ann Arbor area...

Jan 29 4 minutes read

Some of us, namely me, learn our lessons the hard way. On the bright side, that means we can pass them on with extra emphasis. 

Lesson #1: Hire a professional home inspector 

Lesson #2: Don't hire your pals or your brother's pals unless you know they're A-1 top-notch. 

Me, I hired my brother's good friend, whom I'd known since were little kids, to inspect the house my then-husband and I were buying. 

I wasn't crazy about the place. Built in 1958, the layout was oh-so mid-century. The galley kitchen was awful. Every single room needed a ton of updating. But it was across the street from an elementary school my 7-year-old could attend, in a nice, treed neighborhood in the exact area we wanted. With the contract contingent upon the inspection, I was actually hoping the house would fail in some major way. My then-husband had his heart set on the dang thing.

I didn't tell the inspector—let's call him Pete—how each of us felt. After a couple hours of inspecting, he gave us a few bad-news items: the roof would need replacing in a few years and a couple trees needed removal. 

His report was overall very positive, even of the basement, which looked to me like it had flooded more than once. I'd even bugged him a bunch of times during the inspection, to ask how it was looking. Pete gave me "it's a great house" responses each time.

So we bought it, the house I now think of as the "Nightmare on Bonnet Hill Street." 

A few years later, we dutifully hired companies to replace the roof, gutters and siding. The first two jobs went fine, but the siding guy found a huge ragged hole in the wood just under the roof. HUGE. A foot tall and about five feet wide. Squirrels, he said. There were acorns all over the place. This wasn't a cosmetic problem. This was structural.

The roofers had said nothing, though they must have seen it. Neither had the gutter guys. And neither had Pete.

Years later, I saw Pete at a party and asked him if he had seen that hole. "Yeah, sure, I saw it," he said, "but I didn't want to give you any bad news about a house you loved."


We ended up spending thousands upon thousands, not only on the hole but on so many things Pete should have noted in the initial inspection—including an extremely leaky basement that flooded several times and caused disastrous losses.

Lesson #3: Ask your Realtor for a few names. If you are working with the LindaLom team, they have been on thousands of inspections and can help you avoid these problems.

Have a horror story lesson of your own? I'd love to hear it.

We'll be posting stories like this periodically—and happy stories as well—to help our clients have great buying and selling experiences. If you're willing to share your story, email me at [email protected].

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