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A Conversation With … Steve Mirowski on Inspection Myths

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Home inspections aren’t required to buy or sell a house, right?
Appraisals are required and people confuse the two. But why wouldn’t you want an inspection? Because you can save $400? You can also buy a car without driving it, but I don’t know why you would do that. If inspections became required, it would be a boon to my industry, but I think it would become like an appraisal. Nobody goes to their appraisal, they just get the paperwork. It would change the dynamic.

Are lawmakers taking about requiring inspections?
That is always on the table and if it happened, that would trigger licensing right away. Most people don’t know, in the state of Missouri, inspectors don’t have to be licensed.

People say new homes don’t need an inspection. Any truth in that?
Oh, no. I got into that with a builder who said I don’t know why you would ever get an inspection on a new house. It’s just passed all these inspections, right? Our standing joke is I don’t obey the laws of Greene County or Springfield, I obey the laws of physics. Those are the ones that are going to kill me. One new home, I went in the crawl space and they had hooked up all the sewer lines, but they stopped four feet from the walls. The guy went to lunch and never returned. Thankfully, it was a new house and the only thing down the line so far was water. That passed the city and county inspections.  

What’s the most common thing to spoil a home sale?
The high-dollar items. Some water issues are hard to deal with because of grading. You never control water, you can only manage it. [Another thing is] a foundation crack that’s more significant than anyone realized. Residential real estate is highly emotional. When you get $1,000 issues and people dig their heals in, they are tripping over $1 to pick up a dime.

What’s the biggest problem you see?
Almost all the problems homes experience relates back to water. If you can keep your structure dry, it will last forever. People don’t maintain their gutters and downspouts, so their foundation is always getting wet. Water gets under the structure in the crawl space, which then evaporates and then your whole building has to deal with this damp condition and mold issues.

What about preparations for an inspection?
Sellers could have the inspection done when they list their house and that would alleviate a lot of their angst. The inspection is one of the most stressful parts of the transaction because someone is going to come in and analyze your house and you are unaware of the condition. You can then address the issues on your own time and decide on how to price your house.

How’s the current home inspection market?
We are doing about 35 inspections a week, level to last year and that may have to do with some capacity issues.

As the market gets hotter and hotter, my business ramps up as well as agents, title and appraisal people. But my business drops off as theirs continues because the home inspection is optional. Inspection shouldn’t be viewed as a negotiation tool, but it often is.

Steve Mirowski is president and owner of Mirowski Inspections LLC. He can be reached at mirowskiinspections@gmail.com.

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