BOSTON (CBS) - Buying a home is the biggest investment families ever make and it is often an overwhelming experience.
That's why most buyers turn to a professional home inspector for help. A shoddy inspection, however, can leave a buyer with expensive problems to sort out.
Chuck Mooney found out after he moved into his new Worcester home that the side door wouldn't open all the way. Then he discovered the room was actually sagging.
The room was being renovated at the time the professional home inspector came through the house. Mooney says he looked around and completed a report indicating everything was in top notch shape.
"It's clear that there was an issue with the interior of this room that was not pointed out," said Mooney.
Attempts to deal with the inspector quickly broke down and Mooney said he was told to contact an insurance company. They told him to get estimates. One topped $30,000 because the supports – or piers – under the den were sinking into the ground.
Mooney added, "I have been experiencing a nightmare."
The I-Team reviewed complaints against home inspectors over the past couple of years. Although there were only a couple of dozen reports, the consequences of a bad inspection can be very costly.
One homeowner was told a furnace was about 10 years old, only to find out it was twice that age and needed to be replaced.
Another had a bedroom floor collapse, due to extensive mold and rot damage.
Other complaints involved poorly documented structural systems like electric and plumbing.
When asked what an inspector should look for, John Chapman, Undersecretary for Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations, said "structure and condition of the home; exterior and interior of the home; mechanicals; plumbing."
Chapman runs the agency where all home inspectors must register, after meeting certification requirements.
Chapman believes the majority of inspectors are responsible professionals, but that a buyer should ask a lot of questions so they have a clear understanding of what the inspector will examine.
Blanche Evans, who has written extensively on real estate issues, said an inspection "is really designed to let the buyer know what it's going to take to manage this property."
The consumer affairs department reviews all complaints that come into their office and does have the ability to levy fines and revoke a license.
Their consumer hotline is 617-973-8787. Another option is to go to www.mass.gov/consumer and look for the link on the bottom left side marked "Online Services." That allows a consumer to check the status of a home inspector's license.
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