I Hate Home Inspectors (Texas)

16 Replies

The wife and I are selling our house. Built in 1970. Aluminum wiring throughout (pigtailed or coalr outlets as disclosed). We had a signed contract with a nice young couple. Home inspector came out. Contract was cancelled within 12 hours. We asked why. Response from buyer's agent "Buyers insist you remove all aluminum wiring in house and replace with copper prior to closing. They didn't think you would do it". They were right. Of course, we were not allowed to see a copy of the inspection report.

Buyer’s agent recommended the inspector. He had used them several times before. He told us later he would never use them again.

Question: What are inspectors saying about aluminum wiring? Are they justified in scaring buyers? Would you replace the aluminum wiring?



Aluminum wiring is in fact a serious fire safety hazard and the inspector is doing his job in pointing this out.  However, you don't need to replace aluminum wiring, you can install copalum crimps.  It's a very budget-friendly way to remove the majority of the safety risk associated with aluminum wiring.  All of the actual connections then become copper connections.

COPALUM vs COALR

This in part I would say is the fault of your listing agent. If you are selling a home with say aluminum wiring, or transite ducting, or some other big red flag.....they should be vetting these issues with the buyers agents/buyers before an offer is accepted to make sure they are not going to be an issue after you go under contract.

I sell all most of my investments on the retail market. I'm a broker too so I've chosen a path to limit this issue. But first let me say that I've sold a ton of houses with aluminum wiring and it's not near the hazard that many believe. If it were, why would millions of homes with this wiring be burning down without other cause. Aluminum wiring is very common in my area so it doesn't freak out buyers in my area like it does elsewhere. 

Knowing I'm going to sell on the retail market, I get all my inspections done in advance. Yes, it costs me about $1,000 per house but then a buyer knows exactly what they're buying and I know exactly what I'm selling. I almost never get inspections done prior to buying but get them prior to re-selling. If the buyer wishes to have their own inspections they're welcome to do so but they have to be done prior to contracting on my house. I don't want to take my home off the market when the buyer already knows what they're buying only to have the buyer walk and my property has to active on the market again. It looks bad when a house is under contract and within days goes active on the market again. I also limit the time frame a buyer has to get an appraisal done for this same reason.

Originally posted by @Guy Gimenez :
I sell all most of my investments on the retail market. I'm a broker too so I've chosen a path to limit this issue. But first let me say that I've sold a ton of houses with aluminum wiring and it's not near the hazard that many believe. If it were, why would millions of homes with this wiring be burning down without other cause. Aluminum wiring is very common in my area so it doesn't freak out buyers in my area like it does elsewhere. 

Knowing I'm going to sell on the retail market, I get all my inspections done in advance. Yes, it costs me about $1,000 per house but then a buyer knows exactly what they're buying and I know exactly what I'm selling. I almost never get inspections done prior to buying but get them prior to re-selling. If the buyer wishes to have their own inspections they're welcome to do so but they have to be done prior to contracting on my house. I don't want to take my home off the market when the buyer already knows what they're buying only to have the buyer walk and my property has to active on the market again. It looks bad when a house is under contract and within days goes active on the market again. I also limit the time frame a buyer has to get an appraisal done for this same reason.

that's pretty strong Guy .. I don't know how realistic that approach would work for most buyers.. they are not going to spend 500 on an inspection when they are not in contract.. they spend the money and you sell to someone else in the meantime.. kind of a chicken an egg approach.. but I like the idea of the inspection we do that as well.. that way if anything Is glaring we address it before the buyers does theres.  our issue is federal panels  not had a big ta do over aluminum wiring..  and our other big one is the waste line to the street.. No one buys a home these days in our market without a sewer scope.

 

Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs :
Originally posted by @Guy Gimenez:
I sell all most of my investments on the retail market. I'm a broker too so I've chosen a path to limit this issue. But first let me say that I've sold a ton of houses with aluminum wiring and it's not near the hazard that many believe. If it were, why would millions of homes with this wiring be burning down without other cause. Aluminum wiring is very common in my area so it doesn't freak out buyers in my area like it does elsewhere. 

Knowing I'm going to sell on the retail market, I get all my inspections done in advance. Yes, it costs me about $1,000 per house but then a buyer knows exactly what they're buying and I know exactly what I'm selling. I almost never get inspections done prior to buying but get them prior to re-selling. If the buyer wishes to have their own inspections they're welcome to do so but they have to be done prior to contracting on my house. I don't want to take my home off the market when the buyer already knows what they're buying only to have the buyer walk and my property has to active on the market again. It looks bad when a house is under contract and within days goes active on the market again. I also limit the time frame a buyer has to get an appraisal done for this same reason.

that's pretty strong Guy .. I don't know how realistic that approach would work for most buyers.. they are not going to spend 500 on an inspection when they are not in contract.. they spend the money and you sell to someone else in the meantime.. kind of a chicken an egg approach.. but I like the idea of the inspection we do that as well.. that way if anything Is glaring we address it before the buyers does theres.  our issue is federal panels  not had a big ta do over aluminum wiring..  and our other big one is the waste line to the street.. No one buys a home these days in our market without a sewer scope.

Thats interesting, I think Ive done a sewer scope maybe once ever, and just cause it looked like a big tree was running into the line. 

Federal pacific panels everywhere. We have certain neighborhoods with aluminumum wiring, but all the good agents know exactly which neighborhoods. We got 1 neighborhood in DC below sea level that always floods. Transite ducting in some neighborhoods.

All in all our housing stock is in really good condition in the DC area.  Its about 100 times better than what I use to see in Boston.  I always kind of jokingly say to people that if the small stiff we got here bothers you, youd be scared to even live in a house in some other parts of the country.

 

@Jay Hinrichs I do get some buyers that balk but I've been using this approach for about 5 years now and so far, so good. After all, I've taken on the expense of having the home inspection, termite inspection and hydrostatic testing done for them so they really have no reason to have those inspections completed again. The buyer gets copies of every inspection I have so they already know what they would be buying and can predicate their offer on those inspections. They certainly can get additional inspections but few choose too. When a buyer (well, buyer's agent) balks, I simply tell them this is how I sell my homes so they can move on to the next if they wish. Sounds harsh, but it limits the games most buyer agents and buyers wish to play. I want to move my properties quickly.

Originally posted by @Russell Brazil :
Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs:
Originally posted by @Guy Gimenez:
I sell all most of my investments on the retail market. I'm a broker too so I've chosen a path to limit this issue. But first let me say that I've sold a ton of houses with aluminum wiring and it's not near the hazard that many believe. If it were, why would millions of homes with this wiring be burning down without other cause. Aluminum wiring is very common in my area so it doesn't freak out buyers in my area like it does elsewhere. 

Knowing I'm going to sell on the retail market, I get all my inspections done in advance. Yes, it costs me about $1,000 per house but then a buyer knows exactly what they're buying and I know exactly what I'm selling. I almost never get inspections done prior to buying but get them prior to re-selling. If the buyer wishes to have their own inspections they're welcome to do so but they have to be done prior to contracting on my house. I don't want to take my home off the market when the buyer already knows what they're buying only to have the buyer walk and my property has to active on the market again. It looks bad when a house is under contract and within days goes active on the market again. I also limit the time frame a buyer has to get an appraisal done for this same reason.

that's pretty strong Guy .. I don't know how realistic that approach would work for most buyers.. they are not going to spend 500 on an inspection when they are not in contract.. they spend the money and you sell to someone else in the meantime.. kind of a chicken an egg approach.. but I like the idea of the inspection we do that as well.. that way if anything Is glaring we address it before the buyers does theres.  our issue is federal panels  not had a big ta do over aluminum wiring..  and our other big one is the waste line to the street.. No one buys a home these days in our market without a sewer scope.

Thats interesting, I think Ive done a sewer scope maybe once ever, and just cause it looked like a big tree was running into the line. 

Federal pacific panels everywhere. We have certain neighborhoods with aluminumum wiring, but all the good agents know exactly which neighborhoods. We got 1 neighborhood in DC below sea level that always floods. Transite ducting in some neighborhoods.

All in all our housing stock is in really good condition in the DC area.  Its about 100 times better than what I use to see in Boston.  I always kind of jokingly say to people that if the small stiff we got here bothers you, youd be scared to even live in a house in some other parts of the country.

Not to get off track.. in some markets like north bay area of SF if your home is over a certain age you are required to put in a new sewer service before you can transfer title.. my brother in law is an underground and kills it doing those at 10k a pop.

 

@Jay Hinrichs

Many cities in the Bay Area now require a sewer lateral inspection and certificate by the city before the close of escrow or an extension and deposit held for after COE repair.  Yup, your brother in law is certainly killing it.  These guys are always booked up. 

@Mike Burkett

Hi Mike,

There are pigtails and then there are pigtails.

Are the pigtails CopAlum with the installing electrician certification paperwork that everything is CopAlum pigtailed (junction boxes in attic etc...)?

Good Luck!

I feel your pain. There are some good inspectors out there that understand and explain problems without coming off sounding like the sky is falling.

I would be proactive. Get an electrician out to do an inspection and write a letter that while the house has aluminum wiring, the connections have been properly terminated with xxx brand connectors which are UL approved and certified by ... etc. put this in a package with some photos and other house information.

I did something similar with a foundation issue. It looked like it could be a problem, but the engineer’s letter superseded anything a home inspector is qualified to comment on.

Aluminum wiring is like asbestos. Everyone is terrified of it, but in reality, it’s only a problem is not installed/maintained correctly.

@Mike Burkett

The home inspector could have stated that the wiring was not to code and insist that it gets replaced. The buyer should have asked you to replace it first with a counter offer and then based on your decision, then walk away. They buyers agent can also interpret some of the things on there and could have told them that it’s fine or at least do the research on the wire if of the property. I am in the process of buying a duplex in Texas and the way that home inspection report reads can be scary. I had an agent with a wealth of knowledge and I went back to check the facts for myself. We submitted a counter offer based on the information provided by the home inspector and now is set to close at the end of this month.

@Russell Brazil

Agreed with you. Agents need to be more aware of situations like this. I ended up paying a brand new water heater for a pool, because I listed it had gas connections but heater was not working. Agent failed to highlight the Non-working water heater... He otherwise stated pool with heather in the adds.... His response was it was a selling point... $5K mistake for overlooking the details.