Recently, I discovered a terrific binge-watching series on Netflix, Holmes Inspections. I don't care much for home improvement shows. They're either too cute or too elementary or they leverage painfully poor architectural taste. This Canadian show, features a general contractor, Mike Holmes. What I like most about this show is that it focuses on fixing problems created by bungling contractors and overlooked by incompetent home inspectors -- two topics with which I strongly relate. The show no longer airs on HGTV but fortunately there are a bunch of old ones streaming on Netflix now. They're a wake-up call for anyone looking to purchase a home, new or otherwise.
I learned my lesson about bad contractors years ago. It's why I try to do most of the work myself. It's taken me years but I've assembled a short list of professionals I trust when I encounter a job I can't handle myself.
But the home inspection game is a crap shoot. Your bank wants the house inspected before they'll approve the mortgage and finding one is usually on you. Chances are, you're moving to an area where you don't know any trades, let alone any house inspectors. What most people do is ask their realtor for a recommendation. This is a huge mistake. Your real estate agent isn't going to recommend anyone who could potentially queer the sale and the inspector probably has an ongoing business relationship with the agent he doesn't want to alienate. So guess whose interests aren't being served? Yours.
Every episode on Holmes Inspections is about how new homeowners got screwed by a parade of shoddy existing construction and capped by a bad inspection which ended up costing them tens of thousands of dollars to fix. Some of the examples are egregious, like missing stair railings, no plumbing or roof vents, obvious water damage and mold infestation and sagging porches which the inspector passed with a "well, it's an old home". So wrong.
Holmes' show has obviously struck a nerve with Toronto-area home inspectors because at least one of them released a video attacking Holmes' credibility: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kg0iPVF-SZw I suspect that this unnamed inspector was the featured bonehead in one of Holmes' episodes. He nitpicks about how Holmes tested where a leak was coming from, using a garden hose. Laugh all you want, buddy, butt it's a technique that waterproofing companies use as well.