Featuring America's Home Inspector: Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Barry Stone

The House Detective by Barry Stone, Certified Home Inspector

Dear Barry: We just bought our first house and hired a home inspector before signing the contract. During the inspection, my husband noticed a wet spot in the yard and pointed this out. The inspector said it was probably due to the recent rain and advised us not to worry. But after we moved in, the spot remained wet during the hot, dry months. We emailed the inspector about this and he said we probably have a leak somewhere. So now what do we do? Dawn

Dear Dawn: When a home inspector sees a wet spot in a yard, all possible causes should be considered; not just one. A more complete disclosure in the inspection report would have been, “Wet spot on lawn may be due to recent rains, but faulty ground drainage or plumbing leakage are also possible causes. Further evaluation is recommended to ensure against leakage. If no leak is detected, site drainage improvements may be needed.”

Incomplete disclosure has exposed the home inspector to some degree of liability. If a plumbing repair is needed, he may be willing to assist in the repair. Faulty site drainage, if it affects the lawn area but not the buildings on the property, and if no soil erosion is occurring, may not be a serious problem. Again, further evaluation is needed.