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You Put a Radiator Hose Where?

Consumers are constantly reminded about the importance of obtaining a home inspection during a real estate transaction. Yet at the start of each buying and selling season, the same questions arise. “Does a newly constructed home really need to be inspected?” “Does it really make that much of a difference which inspector I choose?” The answer remains: Yes! To illustrate the point that you never know what you’ll uncover during a home inspection, the American Society of Home Inspectors is sharing with consumers some of the more unbelievable findings ASHI members and candidates have encountered during the last 30 years. And we’re sharing those findings with our readers because we all like reminders that our jobs are safe—if we do them well.

The Not-So-Perfect New Home

ASHI strongly encourages homeowners to have their newly constructed homes inspected by an ASHI member or candidate. Too often, homeowners are content with municipal code inspections or final walk-throughs with the builder. What homebuyer may not know is that in order for a home to pass a code inspection, it simply must the minimum requirements set forth by the municipality. In some cases, overloaded code inspectors may only have a limited amount of time to spend at each home. And the builder or developer, typically concerned with ensuring that the home is built to specifications and avoiding closing delays, may or may not be able to provide a totally objective analysis. A qualified inspector, however, will spend two to three hours on average conducting a thorough and unbiased inspection, providing an evaluation of all of the home’s major systems.

“It’s very rare to see a brand new home with absolutely no flaws,” said 2006 ASHI President Joe Corsetto. “While some of these flaws may be minor and easily fixed by the homeowner, others could quickly lessen a home’s value and might even jeopardize the safety of the homeowner.”

ASHI Member John Quintal of Livermore, Calif., took the following picture, which shows a section of roof from a newly built home. Can you spot the problem?

Traditional metal roof flashings are used around pipes and other objects that poke through roof shingles to prevent leaks. Whoever installed this roof used a paint can lid and caulk.

“This improvised flashing can lead to a leaky roof,” Corsetto said. What’s worse, the excess moisture will weaken the structural integrity of the roof, which can lead to mold within the home.”

The picture shown on the next page illustrates a lethal intersection of a lightning rod and gas piping. As you know, lightning rods are metal cables that attach to the roof of a building and provide a path of low-resistance for strong electrical currents to follow into the ground. These rods should not be placed near highly flammable materials as lightning can “jump” and create intense electrical charges and excessive heat.

Ken Moon, an ASHI Member from Colorado Springs, Colo., discovered this hazardous situation. Mood said in an instance such as this, the homeowner was “less safe than if the lightning rod system had never been installed.”

Illustrating more of a nuisance than a danger, the above photo, captured by ASHI Founder Ron Passaro, is a prime example of poor planning. While positioning the air supply and return registers close together will help the air flow freely to the furnace, it won’t help heat or cool the home.

When Repairs Go Wrong

Home inspectors also pay special attention to the results of Do-It-Yourself projects. Whether to cut costs associated with bringing in a professional or just for the enjoyment of doing the work, some homeowners take it upon themselves to complete minor (and sometimes even major) household renovation, repair and maintenance tasks. Problems arise, however, when untrained individuals attempt to resolve issues that require the attention of a professional. These next few images are some DIY bloopers uncovered by ASHI members and candidates.

A Kansas homeowner installed CPVC piping dangerously close to a fuel pipe, which connects a heat-generating appliance such as a stove or fireplace to a chimney. Seemingly aware of the potential fire risk, the homeowner attempted to solve the problem by slipping a piece of cardboard between the two pipes to keep them from directly connecting. ASHI Candidate Jack Koelling snapped this photo.

Rather than call a professional plumber to replace a missing cap, the owner of this Florida home filled the opening with an empty water bottle. On-the-scene ASHI Member Daniel Dunham wondered if the homeowner noticed the water and other contents that spurted out around the bottle each time the toilet flushed.

If ever there was a sign that a car mechanic was involved in home improvement project, this is it. A piece of pipe leading into the main drain stack of this Ohio home was replaced with a radiator hose from a 1945 Pontiac. ASHI Member Ken Harrington uncovered this classic repair.

The images in this article are just a few examples of the real life bloopers ASHI members and candidates have uncovered over the years. If they are not addressed, these household issues can detract from a home’s value and, even more importantly, pose significant safety risks.

“ASHI’s commitment to customer safety and education is what ASHI commonly refers to as The ASHI Experience,” Corsetto said. “The education and experience that ASHI Members and Candidates can offer to clients can ultimately help sustain the value and longevity of a home.”

For More Information

Celebrating 30 years, and 6,000 members strong, ASHI is the oldest and most respected nonprofit, professional organization of home inspectors in North America. Its Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics are the benchmark for the profession. Its mission is to meet the needs of its membership and promote excellence and exemplary practice within the profession. For more information, visit or call (800) 743.2744. While online, experience ASHI’s Audio/Virtual Home Inspection tool, an interactive overview of the 10 main areas of the home that ASHI Members are trained to evaluate.

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