My complaint stems from a home inspection completed by Rod MacNeil of Homesafe Inspections in the summer of 2010. I have decided to come forward after learning of and speaking to another individual that has been completely screwed over emotionally & financially due to the incompetent and dishonest nature of this home inspector. I am here to offer support and hope to bring others who have been victimized by this person out of the shadows to share their experiences and hold this person accountable.
I come from a new home construction/renovation background. I know how houses are built from the ground up and have hands on experience in a number of areas of construction. That said, when we decided to make the move from Alberta to the Island in 2010, we seeked out a reliable home inspector to give the house we chose a good look over, as I could not be there in person to be part of the inspection process, which is normal for me. I was provided Rod MacNeil's name and number from my buying agent (first mistake) and was assured that he was the right man for the job, so I went ahead and contacted him to do the inspection.
He was friendly enough, made some jokes, share some laughs and geniunely made me feel comfortable in my decision to go with him.
The inspection results themselves were detailed in a printable report that covered off all areas of the home in a fairly generic fashion, but ensured that all critical areas were viewed and deficiences noted as reach portion of the house was inspected. Rod called me and discussed the concerns detailed in his report, which were mostly cosmetic items (older cabinetry, worn counter tops, etc) inside and a couple of concerns with exterior items, such as the rear deck and detached work shop.
Overall, he said, the house was well built, solid construction and in good condition. He also stated, to my surprise, that if I had paid anything under $275K for the house, it was a great deal. Not sure who told him what I paid for it, but I didn't think that was appropriate. His job is to inspect the house, not give an opinion on the sale price or how great of a deal I was getting.
At that point, based on his report, I waived my home inspection condition and we bought the house. We moved into the home at the end of September, 2010.
It was not long before we started to find issues in the house.
First item that came up, I noticed that there was some seriously poor patchwork and caulking right next to the bathtub. I chalked it up as a poor handyman's patch attempt, but within a couple weeks it was obvious there was a problem. The baseboard near the tub was moist and changing color. I went to pry the baseboard off and it completely peeled off in my hand and so did all the drywall next to the tub, including tiles. It was completely soaked. The 2x4 framing behind was completely black and so badly rotted that I could shove a pen through the wood.
I also noted that the windows in the house started to have a lot of condensation and the frames were dripping wet with water. We are regular users of bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans given I understand the importance of proper humidity levels in a house, so it was not due to a lack of ventilation when cooking or showering.
The moisture problem on the windows was so bad that every morning I would awake to windows half way covered in condensation and pools of water on the window sills, in some places this water ran down the walls. It would take one-two large towels to go around and sop up the water from every window.
I decided to investigate, thinking perhaps there was an issue with the exhaust ducting in the attic, but my own inspection revealed nothing, all was properly functional and correctly installed. It was at that point that I slipped down into the crawlspace and immediately noticed efflorescence stains on many parts of the basement floor and a few areas that were visibly damp.
It was at that point that I called Rod back to have a look at the crawlspace as it was obvious that there was a problem with either the perimeter drains or the lot drainage itself that was allowing water to come up and penetrate the crawlspace skim coat.
He was quick to come over, but refused to actually go back down into the crawlspace, stating that "it was summer" that he was down there and there was no moisture present. Unfortunately, he was wrong as the presence of the white chalky efflorescence demonstrated clearly that water penetration had occurred and this should have been noted.
His diagnosis? Remove the downspouts from PVC pipes around the lot and put extensions on to drain the eavestroughs on to the lot and away from the house. The downspouts are tied into the weeping tile and it is getting overloaded.
I thought this was strange, but in Alberta we did not bury downspout drains in the ground like out here on the west coast, we just put extensions on the ground and drained it away using lot grading, which is standard in many places. I figured maybe he has seen this before and it was an actual problem, so I pulled the extensions and ran them above ground. This changed nothing, of course, even though he assured me that it was the proper solution.
After that, we had a repeated 'mystery odor' appear in our young daughter's bedroom. I had wondered if perhaps the previous owner or tenant had stored boxes or something in that room and the carpet got smelly as a result, because it did have an odor to it. Deciding it was inadequate for my child to sleep in that room, I ripped out all of the carpet & underlay, bleached the subfloor, fan dried it completely and then covered it in 2 coats of premium Kilz floor sealer. From there, underlay and new laminate flooring was placed over top, new baseboards tacked on and the whole room was freshly repainted. The morning after she had moved back in, we noticed the smell was back.
I was dismayed. Could not believe it. From there, took the baseboard heater apart and cleaned it out. Same issue. It was at that point I believed the problem was within the wall itself and started to investigate further. A quick look at the window itself revealed two holes drilled into the base of the window track, obviously done by someone to drain the excess moisture from the track, but of course, where does that water go? Inside the wall!
Rod's report on that bedroom window stated it was in good condition.
I called Rod and advised him of my new findings and he was quick to come over to have a look. His first remark was that the bedroom odor was just 'residual' and lingering around because the house had been closed up and vacant for so long.
"This house had a real odor when I came in" he revealed, though of course this was not in his report or verbal review of the inspection. That was what I was smelling: lingering, stale, old house smells.
Oh, and the holes drilled in the window track? "Those would not let enough moisture through to hurt anything," he assured, even though it was obvious a problem was lurking within the wall.
We moved on to the bathroom and upon seeing the issue with the rotted 2x4, told me that he could see a couple of hairline cracks in the shower tile grout, this due to the house being vacant for a long time, and that water was getting through these cracks. This, he said, was due to us showering in there since we moved in.
Really? A 2x4 can turn black and rot to the point of being penetrable within a few weeks?
I couldn't believe his answers, but he absolutely would not admit that he missed any of the items. Absolutely no accountability on his part. He offered up no solutions at all and no explanation for why any of the problems were not found. It simply was not his fault.
Unfortunately, here is the reality of the problems we faced in this house:
- the visible efflorescence in the crawl space is due to the fact the crawlspace floor is lower than the perimeter footings in many places. This means that water will seep through the crawlspace floor because there are areas where the floor is lower than the weeping tile. I conducted this analysis myself based on my knowledge of foundation construction and had this diagnosis confirmed by a foundation expert, who also concluded the issue lies with the finishing of the crawlspace floor. The resolution involves raising the crawlspace floor with sand/pea gravel, installation of a sealer vapour barrier and then a final cement coating over top of the entire floor & footings.
- the bathroom rot issue was due to a terrible caulk seal at the shower doors and base of the tile surround, which let water pour in behind the tub for who knows how long. This moisture rotted out the framing behind the tub. I had to have the whole tub/shower unit completely torn out, framing and other materials removed and then completely rebuilt, which cost a couple thousand dollars, not including my own time to lay flooring, paint, etc.
- the bedroom wall had to be opened up, framing & insulation removed, then rebuilt. Fortunately, we did not have a significant mold issue in the wall, but the 2x6 sill plate was so badly rotted that over two thirds of could be removed with your fingers. Crumbled into nothing. The cost itself to repair this was low, but that was due to the fact I did it myself and have the ability to do so.
At the end of the day, I have never received an ounce of anything from Rod MacNeil. Complaints to my buying agent and also to the listing agent fell on deaf ears. No one is responsible for anything. In fact, my buying agent actually defended this man and his business as being reputable, even after my complaints. It is obvious there is a serious conflict of interest here based on the fact Rod himself admits he was a realtor for a long time prior to becoming a home inspector. It would seem that if a realtor needs a deal closed, just call on Rod for the inspection as it will pass with flying colors!
Even the simplest of gestures, the tip of the iceberg, my request for a refund of the payment for this ridiculous inspection, was ignored. That, in my opinion, was the LEAST he could do!
Since then, I have worked to remediate the issues, mostly on my own, using my own expertise, time and money. I have also had the opportunity to encounter others who had less than stellar home inspections completed by Rod MacNeil & Homesafe Inspections. Unfortunately, the victims in all of this are us, the hard working people who just want a safe and happy home for our loved ones to enjoy. We are the ones who pay when someone who is supposed to qualified performs poorly and is not accountable for his failures.
I recently spoke with another gentleman who is facing serious financial implications for an inspection that did not find a number of very significant, health hazard issues, far more serious than my own. It was during this revelation that I decided to offer up my support, reach out to others who may have fallen victim to Rod MacNeil's shoddy inspection business & practices and want to share their story.
He must be held accountable, period
If you have been a victim of a bad home inspection, please comment and share.