Why isn't a home inspection enough?
I came across HUNDREDS of situations in homes where a home inspection had been performed by a licensed and certified home inspection company where plumbing problems - ranging from minor to outright disasters waiting to happen or already in progress - had been missed. (I will write more specifically about these experiences in our blog here on the site.) Why is this so? Well, the conventional wisdom answer is “because you simply cannot be a jack of all trades and give each respective system in a home the attention it needs.” Want facts to back that up? Let’s dig deeper.
There are three professional associations that offer training and certifications of home inspectors: ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors), InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors), and NABIE (National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers).
Just read the requirements of what is NOT required for ANSHI or InterNACHI certified home inspectors to inspect on a home plumbing system.
The most crucial and highest risk elements of a plumbing system are simply NOT required to be inspected. No pressure tests, leak checks, inspections for cross-connections, natural gas leaks, and on and on.
(See https://www.homeinspector.org/Plumbing-system and https://www.nachi.org/sop.htm#plumbing.)
As for NABIE, their method of procedure approach is more robust
(see https://nabie.org/about-nabie/service-we-provide/ and https://nabie.org/about-nabie/standards-of-practice/), but your plumbing system will still not get the full attention to its complexities that is necessary to ensure everything is in good working order. You would still need to hire a specialist in the field of plumbing.
This June 2019 Consumer Reports article details this exact problem:
https://www.consumerreports.org/real-estate/how-to-choose-a-home-inspector/. In an undercover study, 12 licensed and certified home inspectors reviewed a home with 28 known problems…yet, as a group, they only spotted about half of the problems.
The problem here is twofold. One, it’s not so much that every home inspector is no good, it’s that their standards only require a certain scope of work that by nature has major limitations.
Home inspectors are generalists, NOT specialists. They are not usually plumbers who have spent years upon years diagnosing, repairing, and installing plumbing systems, so they just aren’t going to notice some of the most crucial fine details.
most homebuyers (especially first-timers) just assume that because they are having a home inspection done by someone certified by one of these agencies that it covers a scope of detail that it actually doesn’t because they don’t do their research - which is ultimately on them and not the home inspection agencies, who in good faith have explicitly outlined what their services do and do not cover. This same argument could be made for the other systems in your home as well, like the electrical and HVAC.
Plumbing (along with electrical) is the highest liability system in your home, with the most potential to cause damage to health, life, and property. Why would you want anyone but a trade-specific expert inspecting them?
Many parallels could made here to the medical field. A general practitioner is going to know a lot and be able to spot a lot of major issues, but some they will either miss or will not have the capabilities to treat, which is why they make referrals to specialists whose only focus is in the area in which their patients are having a problem.
Even home inspectors who have completed a plumbing-specific inspector certification through their organization most likely have never been plumbers and do not have any hands-on experience or working knowledge, so certification of this type only amounts to book knowledge.
We are licensed and insured - many home inspectors are not and aren't even required to be in order to provide their service.
What about the State?
State Inspectors are limited and are typically
only inspecting new permitted work. The inspections are geared toward making sure new construction, remodels, projects, and installations are meeting the requirements of the code - and this is needed, but they aren’t going to come into the home you want to buy or business you want to lease and perform a detailed analysis. Also, many of them have never installed a piece of pipe a day in their life, and their knowledge is all abstract book knowledge of the code. I recently met a State Boiler Inspector on a job, and he informed me he’s actually the elevator inspector - but since they’re shorthanded, they put him on boilers too, even though he knows nothing about boilers. He just has a checklist that is supposed to be met. Additionally, there is SO much work that is SUPPOSED to be permitted and inspected by the State that is not.
Truth is, many people are in a situation where they’ve decided to try to save money and headache (so they think) by having a cheaper, unqualified person perform work, and then once the work is complete, they feel that twinge in their gut like something isn’t right or maybe even have an outright disaster like flooding occur afterwards. They want to remedy the situation but soon discover that the person performing the work didn’t pull a permit like they were supposed to - and might even have been operating illegally without a plumbing license or liability insurance to begin with - so they can’t call the State to inspect. Then, as many of these types of situations go, they can’t even get in contact with the person who did the work because they are long gone with the money and have no concern for the aftereffects of their actions. This leaves the customer feeling pretty trapped, worried, and sometimes hopeless.
If this is you, CALL ME! I’d be glad to come look it over and help you resolve it with expert inspection and reporting. Even if the work is so bad you want to sue, I can stick with you through the entire process for consulting and expert witness reporting.
How is your company different, and why do I need it?
Having an independent plumbing inspection performed can not only identify major problems or risks but also save you a LOT of money. All inspections are tailored specifically to your needs, which can be as simple or as involved as necessary and for any number of situations.
If you Google “independent plumbing inspectors” or “independent plumbing inspections,” you will find two companies in Australia. Otherwise, the entire first page and on, you will only find plumbing service companies, handyman services, home inspection agencies, and sometimes a reference to State inspectors.
Let’s look closer at why none of these options are good choices for custom needs-specific plumbing inspections...