One of the things I like best about my job is being able to help people. Sometimes we help first-time home buyers understand how different parts of their home work. Sometimes we help them in the process of buying their dream home. But sometimes we help people avoid a costly mistake.

One young couple we met recently had already been dealt some tough blows. The husband had multiple sclerosis and was in a wheelchair. While the disease had taken it’s toll on his body, his mind had been spared and he could communicate and understand what was going on around him. His wife was a school teacher and his care giver in her off hours. To say they were on a thin budget would be kind. They had managed to save for a house and had put a contract on a home that had recently been renovated. They were very excited. Their Realtor asked us to check it out.

Unfortunately, it was almost all bad news. The house (a pier and beam home) was not attached to any permanent foundation. There were no plumbing vents. There was no insulation in the attic. The windows were new, but were too high and too small for exit in an emergency. There were not enough electrical outlets. The water heater base was a cardboard box! And these were the things were could see. With no insulation in the attic, who knows whether there was any insulation in the walls or whether the home was wired safely?

The buyers were crushed. After all, the house looked great on the outside. It even had a wheel chair ramp. Plus, it was within their budget and in the small community in which they wanted and needed to live. They thought they had found the perfect home.

I know what you’re thinking: How could a home be renovated and NOT be up to code? After all, it was in a municipality. Where was the Building Inspector? Well, this municipality didn’t have the budget for a Building Inspector. As a result, no one was making sure things like this didn’t happen to folks like these. The buyers were literally in tears at the end of the inspection. In fact, they confided in us afterward that they almost didn’t get the house inspected, since it was newly renovated and had looked to have been done well.

Fast forward a few weeks. Their Realtor called us back. The buyers had put a contract on another house in the same community and wanted us to take a look. After their first disappointment, they remained cautiously optimistic. The second home was a vast improvement on the first one. While no home is perfect, this second house was safe and, actually, a better fit for them, they said.

So… Do home inspections save lives? Maybe. Or, maybe that’s overstating it a bit. To be honest when I named the post, I was just trying to get you to read it. (You read it! I win!) However, at the very least, home inspections, or the lack of them, have the potential to have a huge impact on people’s lives, for good or bad.

  • They can help you determine where you’ll live and who your neighbors are.
  • Home inspections can impact the quality of your life in that home.
  • They can affect your finances, whether they catch the need for a costly repair before you buy or alert you to upcoming maintenance needs after the purchase.
  • They are a test drive of the structure where you’ll make your life, at least for a while anyway.

So, I’ll leave it up to you to decide. As for my opinion, Rob has pointed out that my objectivity could be called into question. I will say that anything that gives you as much information about one of life’s major purchases as a home inspection does, could at the very least be considered “potentially life altering”. It’s not “life saving”, but I’ll take it.

I would love to hear your experiences and/or feedback through the “Comments” section, or via email at thehomeinspectorlady@yahoo.com . As always, you are welcome to email me any questions relating to home inspections, home maintenance or anything that’s puzzling you (home-related, I mean.)  Thanks for reading, sharing, pinning and tweeting!

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