A Mandan woman says she’s left holding a big bill after a home inspector failed to see some major problems.
“The house on the top is all shifting and twisting and sinking downward and, because of that shifting, our roof has shifted and water damage has happened over here,” said Mandan homeowner Alison Blank.
Blank says she is a prisoner in her own home. The living room floor is sinking in the middle and she is forced to live on either the left or right side of it.
She blames the home inspector, for not seeing major issues that might have kept her from buying the house.
“He told us that everything was good,” said Blank. “That the slanted floors were like that because it was old and that it was normal. He said that the structure was good and the bones were good.”
But it didn’t turn out that way and, a few months later, her older son discovered the problem.
“My younger son flushed some toys down the toilet and the toilet flooded, so we had to take the downstairs ceiling down to air it out. That’s when we realized that there are multiple cuts and damaged wood,” said Blank.
Since she closed on the home, the structure has moved half an inch to three-quarters of an inch. Blank says damage estimates are over $100,000, but she says she can’t afford those major fixes.
We reached out to Inspector Ski Home Inspections, the company that completed Blank’s home inspection. According to its website, the business is a Bismarck-based residential, commercial and modular home inspection company.
Inspector Ski Home Inspections sent us this statement:
“I know that a home inspector is guided by what is called standards of practice. I’ve been in the business since 2012 doing residential inspections. I feel terrible that the house has continued to shift,” said company owner David Skalicky.
Skalicky said the company offered Alison the $325 she paid for the inspection. But she says that’s not enough to make a dent in fixing what was supposed to be her “forever home.”
People buy and sell homes every day. KX News wants to make sure something like this doesn’t happen to you. So here are a few things to keep in mind: First, always ask for a home inspection. The few hundred dollars it costs to do one is usually a well-spent investment.
We spoke with Delmar Vetter, another home inspector who came to check Alison Blank’s home after she found problems.
Vetter says would-be homeowners need to look past the house’s initial appearance — they need to do their homework.
“Don’t be afraid to look at cracks in the ceiling, the concrete, don’t be afraid to open and close some doors because that is evidence of house settling and having structural issues” advised Vetter. “When you are hiring a home inspector, interview them and ask them how long they have been a home inspector.”
KX News also spoke with a real estate agent, who also says she always recommends an inspector. But you also have the option to go beyond that and hire a structural engineer.
“I have had three buyers do structural reports with an engineer in the past three months,” said Alliance Real Estate agent Karin Haskell. “So, if there is any question in your mind, pay that extra money or even ask the seller to pay for a Structural Engineer Report. And I guess we always hate to see it, but there is always small claims court.”
Also, it’s worth noting that, starting August 1, a new North Dakota law goes into effect that requires a seller to disclose in writing, to the best of their knowledge, important home information to a buyer when a real estate agent is involved in the transaction.