Channel 2 Investigates

BUYER BEWARE: Clark Howard warns of home inspection nightmares

Buying a home? Channel 2 Consumer Adviser Clark Howard has an important warning for you.

Howard says it’s a standard step when you’re buying a home to hire a home inspector, but making sure you have the right inspector is even more important.

“To make sure the home is OK, you have to make sure the inspector is too,” Howard said.

Beth Sherwood and her husband bought their Acworth home because they needed space to care for their severely autistic son as he gets older.

“The ultimate goal was to be in a bigger home,” Sherwood explained. “We did want a full basement and the goal of that was that he, in all likelihood, is going to be living with us.”

Sherwood said the problems began five or six months after moving in.

Hiring a bad home inspector can cost you a lot of money.

“The first thing was our back deck, in the sense it was pretty much about to fall off the house,” Sherwood said.

Sherwood told Channel 2 Action News that poor construction in the basement is leading to issues with the master bathroom.

“In essence, it's causing our master bathroom floor to fall and sink,” she said.

Sherwood said the home will need tens of thousands of dollars in repairs.


Delores Jackson said the day she bought her home was like a dream come true. Now, she considers it a day from hell.

“The wall in the back bedroom has mold and mildew. The bathroom, the commode is about to go through the floor,” Jackson said.

Delores Jackson said the day she bought her home was like a dream come true. Now, she considers it a day from hell.

She said the home is unlivable, so she’s living in an apartment while still paying her mortgage.

Both women wish they’d had better inspections. Beth relied on a real-estate agent's referral and Jackson searched on Google.

Richard Smith is the president of the Georgia Association of Home Inspectors. Members of GAHI must pass the National Home Inspectors exam as well as the GAHI standards of practice and code of ethics exam. Top-level GAHI members are code-certified in all 4 disciplines -- heating, electric, plumbing and structural.

He says research is key. He also recommends asking for a sample report.

"You can actually see the difference between one home inspector and another," Smith said.
Howard said there are key steps when you're hiring an inspector.

“You need to make sure they have good professional credentials,” Howard said. “One that I think is most important is that they’re a licensed engineer, so you make sure a house is absolutely structurally OK."

Sherwood and Jackson want their stories to serve as a warning for others.

“We’re doing this to warn other people. Know what you’re doing, what you’re getting into,” Sherwood said. “You have to be very careful.”