National consumer group Checkbook.org put a dozen home inspectors to the test, watching undercover to see if they catch the 28 problems lurking inside and outside a home.
Some of the trouble spots were pre-existing like rodents, mold in the basement, rotting wood and a damaged roof.
Other issues intentionally created by Checkbook in a Northern Virginia home may be harder to spot, like a missing fire place damper and a clogged utility sink.
The results, according to the group, disappointing at best.
Checkbook said in many cases, the inspectors didn’t look at certain areas to begin with.
"It’s not that they missed that the window didn’t open and shut, it’s that they didn’t bother testing every single window. Very few of them raised a ladder to look at this roof, which was a second story roof that had all kinds of problems with it."
Among its findings, Checkbook says several did only cursory inspections of the furnace and water heater.
Five inspectors didn’t inspect all the window A/C units. Only three checked the filters, which Checkbook says were filthy.
Four inspectors failed to record obvious water damage to the living room ceiling.
Four didn’t bother to test every indoor electrical outlet.
While many home inspection companies say they're not responsible for inspecting chimneys, Checkbook says it was still surprising that four failed to spot the damper was missing.
What about cost?
Checkbook says it found big price differences among inspectors
"Some charged twice as much as others. Some spent a lot of time in the house, more than 2-3 hours in the house, some spent only 90 minutes there," a spokesperson said.
Bottom line: Paying more doesn't necessarily mean consumers will get more.
To avoid these issues, here are Samantha Chatman's solutions:
-Don’t rely solely on your realtor’s reference. Do your own research on the home inspector.
-That includes checking their license number with the Texas Real Estate Commission online.
-Ask for a sample report. We’re told good inspectors usually have long reports (50 plus pages) including pictures.
-Make sure you’re present during the home inspection so you can ask questions or raise concerns in person.