Here's a bit from a blog posting by Robert X. Cringley:
Getting our California house ready to sell we decided to have it inspected in advance so we could repair anything that would make it a problem marketing the house. A licensed inspector spent several hours looking around and under the house, found nothing much wrong, then took with him a $440 check for his services.As fascinating as this tale of woe is, you really should go read the original to find out what this has to do with the Wall Street crash and the ratings agencies!
Simultaneously in Charleston we hired a licensed home inspector to take a close look at the place we wanted to buy -- a frame Victorian built in 1853 that had survived the Civil War, countless hurricanes, and even the earthquake of 1886. This inspector, too, found nothing much wrong so the sale went forward. His fee was more -- $750.
When we eventually sold the California house to an orthopedic surgeon who liked the view, he had it inspected, too, but his inspector found a number of things wrong with the foundation -- problems that had been completely overlooked by our inspector.
Meanwhile in Charleston, we moved-in, started some remodeling, and discovered massive cracks in the foundation -- cracks any idiot could see whether they were a licensed home inspector or not.
There were foundation cracks in both houses and in both cases those cracks had been overlooked by a professional inspector. Both repairs cost around $12,000. In California the repairs were paid for by the home inspector. In South Caroline the repairs were paid for by me.
It turns out, you see, that a home inspection in South Carolina is essentially meaningless. There are licensing standards, but they aren’t applied to the inspector’s actual work. There are no INSPECTION standards. South Carolina home inspectors can charge what they please -- more than in California -- and if they miss something there is literally no recourse. It’s actually there in the fine print and doesn’t vary from inspector to inspector because the contract terms are set by the state, which in this case I’d see as a co-conspirator.
Why would anyone even hire a home inspector, then, in South Carolina? Well you can’t get a mortgage without one. But if you get a bad inspector, you are screwed.