The Real Estate industry has taken a hit just like every other industry during these tough economic times. But if youre thinking of buying a home, you may want to hear this next story.
For most, the home buying process goes like this: you contact a real estate agent, find a house, hire a home inspector to check out the house and close. Often families expect a home inspector to tell them whether its a good idea to move into a home.
In Part 1 of Inspector Investigation we introduce you to two families who thought they bought safe, sturdy houses but eventually were forced out of their homes. Now they say they dont want their nightmare to happen to you.
Alice Grays home on B. Stokes Road was built in 2000; she and her husband bought it in 2006. She says, This was our dream house. Alice says two weeks after they closed that dream turned into a nightmare: I was cleaning in here and noticed a water stain, in no time, a week or two later, the base board started separating from the wall during this time
the o-s-b board, everything, just disintegrated to the ground, just dust.
Alice called her realtor, the home inspector and everyone involved in the process and says, This was pretty much pointing fingers; nobody stepping up accepting responsibility.
Alice says she had a microbiologist come in to do some tests and found toxic mold in the home.
The condition so bad the county condemned it in 2007. Alice thought she had done everything right. She paid an inspector to check out the house before buying it. The inspector pointed out moisture problems and water penetration. Alice said the previous owners claimed they had fixed the issues before closing...but in the end she says they were forced out of their home.
The Grays moved out 7 months after moving in. They hired a professional engineer to inspect the house in June 2007. The Grays provided us a copy of a letter the engineer sent them it says the flashing of the roof and wall was not installed according to state requirements...causing an excess buildup of water and infiltration into the wall.
The letter also cited another code violation the elevation underneath the house was lower than the exterior grade. The engineer warned the problems would create the potential for excessive moisture thatll cause mildew and mold to develop.
Chief Building Inspector Billy Grizzard who eventually condemned the home tells Nine On Your Side the house met code when it was built. He also said the house was repairable.
But the Grays say they had already spent about $30,000.00 dealing with the house and couldnt afford to spend any more: Our family was just really sick...with sinus infections, headaches, constantly, just feeling rotten, we couldnt stand it anymore.
It was a similar situation for Marine Sgt. Matthew Hinrichs and his family. They were first-time home buyers. Matthew Hinrichs says, This is the structures that are holding up the wood itself you can see the fiberglass is completely black, with mold and wet all the rotten spots you can pretty much push on it and thats whats holding my house up; its amazing its still standing.
Matthew, Summer and Remington moved in august 2007. Summer says, I loved it, it was what I always dreamed of. I definitely wanted the house they told us pretty much it was only cosmetic issues.
Shortly after moving in, the Hinrichs family began working on the house and started noticing problems.
Matthew says, I did some more assessment of the house to see exactly how bad the damage was so I opened up the various spots in the house to check the structural components and known they were really deteriorated and had been rotten for sometime.
They discovered excessive water damage throughout the house calling in a mold assessment team who tells Nine On Your Side: toxic mold was detected in the home.
The mold is usually associated with long term water damage and is not normally found indoors.
Like the Grays, Matt and Summer hired an inspector before they closed and expected those professionals to tell them whether moving in was a good idea or not. Now theyve moved out of the house. Theyre on the brink of foreclosure. Wherever they turn for help they get turned down.
Matthew says, Most of it is - its not in our jurisdiction, were unable to help you at this time, a lot of it is you should have read the fine print, known who your inspector was; well when you bought the house you bought the house and everything that comes with the house and so theres really no recourse that you can do about it.
Now the Hinrichs family is trying to move on and says theyll never look at buying a house the same way again.
So who is to blame for the Grays and Hinrichs household problems and how could they have been prevented? It is not as simple as it may seem. Inspectors are rarely responsible for things they miss or simply dont notice. And if you think someone is keeping an eye on inspectors work think again. Tonight at 11 in Part 2 of our home Inspector Investigation - tough questions for the people responsible for licensing home inspectors.
Reporter: So there is no way of telling if an inspector is doing a good job, if they are abiding by the rules?
Don Warner, Executive Director of the North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board under the North Carolina Department of Insurance says, That would be a fair statement.
By the way, the Grays no longer own the B. Stokes Road house. Countrywide does and Clark-Branch Realtors says the house is being sold as is and Countrywide has not repaired it. A broker at the agency says real estate agents will be made aware of the mold issues and the condition the home is in before they show the home. But the customer may not know about those conditions before going out to the house because that information is not on the house listing on the agencys web site