Reuben's Home Inspection Blog


Drive-By Inspections

"Deal with it now or deal with it later."  That's a phrase I've heard my father, Neil Saltzman, say many times.

Here in the Twin Cities, there are two primary types of inspections that are done on houses: Buyers Inspections, which are extremely thorough inspections performed for a buyer, and Truth In Sale of Housing (TISH) evaluations, which are quick inspections required for the seller in fourteen of the larger cities in the metro area.  Here at Structure Tech, we do both.

When we perform TISH evaluations, we're required to follow the guidelines published by the city that we're inspecting in.  The guidelines are actually quite detailed books that state exactly how the TISH evaluations should be performed, and how different conditions on a home should be rated.   For example, here is an excerpt from the Exterior Foundation section in the Minneapolis TISH Guidelines:

76) Foundation

A) The evaluator shall determine if all visible components of the foundation are in a professional state of repair. Missing or damaged mortar, broken, loose or missing block or bricks shall be marked as B. Damaged or loose plaster/stucco on the foundation, or exposed foam insulation shall be marked as B. The evaluator shall also check the foundation walls conditions such as leaning, cracks, and buckling or bulging conditions, which may indicate structural failure. If these conditions exist, mark as SC.

One might think with all that detail, evaluations would be somewhat uniform between evaluators, right?

They're not.

Drive-By InspectionJust as there are some home inspectors that will knowingly downplay problems with a house in order to not 'kill a deal', and thereby continue to receive referrals from a real estate agent, there are several TISH evaluators that do the same thing on TISH evaluations.  We call them 'drive-by inspections.'

It's one of the dirty secrets in my industry.

These evaluators receive referrals for doing a poor job.  Maybe it's ignorance, maybe it's incompetence, some say laziness, and it might even be dishonesty.  Whatever the reason,  it's always the same small group of people that produce reports that completely ignore blatent problems.  These inspectors continue to stay in business because they charge less money and there is actually a market for drive-by inspections.

How could there be a market for drive-by inspections? Some think that a cleaner inspection report will make a house more marketable.  I suppose that if you compared two identical houses, the house with the 'clean' report would be more attractive than the house with the thorough report... but that's not the end of the story.

Almost every buyer will hire a private inspector, and most home inspectors will uncover defects with the home.  What happens now?  As I mentioned in my blog Does The Seller Need To Fix This?, buyers will often ask sellers to make repairs, take money off the purchase price, or cancel the purchase.  Now the seller is stuck having to make hasty decisions on problems that could have been avoided had they hired a thorough inspector.

If a house has problems, the problems will need to be dealt with.  If you want to deal with problems at the last minute, go with the cheapest inspector and get a drive-by inspection.  If you prefer to deal with problems ahead of time, hire a thorough TISH Evaluator, or even better yet, have the TISH evaluator perform a Seller's Inspection at the same time.  In other words, deal with it now or deal with it later.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections


Comment balloon 8 commentsReuben Saltzman • February 23 2010 05:04AM


I just had an inspector here (a buddy to the homeowner and the homeowner just had to use him even though I advised against using a friend)  do a horrible job on a home...  I looked over his report and all looked in order But as I explained to them I am not an instpector...  Anyways it ended up that he did not check outlets or plumbing thoroughly...  Thankfully the previous owner is a REALLY nice guy and contractor and came over out of the goodness of his heart to help the homeowner make repairs when he heard about the few problems!!!!

Posted by Barbara Kornegay, Wilmington NC Real Estate, Homes (REMAX Essential) about 9 years ago

Not sure what the benefit of a drive by is these days. In lending we used them all of the time. Of course that is now a history lessons. Only 1004 with inside pictures today. If a bank won't take one why would a consumer take one?

Posted by Tony Grego, 317-663-4173 #1 Trade Association for Alternative Inv (REISA - 317-663-4173) about 9 years ago

Barbara - your client is very lucky they worked with a good homeowner!  Let me guess - the 'buddy' home inspector gave your client a really good deal on the price, right?

Tony - you're talking about drive-by appraisals, right?  There is really no such thing as an actual 'drive-by' inspection; we say that tongue-in-cheek because these reports are so clean that it seems like the inspector didn't even go inside.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 9 years ago

Good post Reuben! Unfortunately, down here in Mankato we do not have TISH inspections and I do not forsee them becoming the standard either. Hopefully the inspectors up in your area weed themselves out with poor work. It not only does a disservice to the rest of the industry but ends up hurting the real estate transaction also. Keep up the good work, hope you guys are busy! Have a good weekend.

Posted by Randy King (Prokore Inspections) about 9 years ago

You always will have the good and the bad with the ugly in any profession.

Posted by Gene Allen, Realty Consultant for Cary Real Estate (Fathom Realty) about 9 years ago

Thanks Randy!  You'd think the bad inspectors would weed themselves out, wouldn't you?  Btw, another good seminar coming up in less than two weeks - .

Gene - isn't that true.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 9 years ago

The TISH Inspection sounds like something I would not want to be a part of.  In TN, we either do an inspection or we don't.  We can do a limited inspection, but the limitation is on what components are being inspected, not how intense the component is inspected.  At HABITEC, we only know two ways to inspect, thoroughly, or not at all.

Thank you,

Richard Acree


Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, and contributing members of the Active Rain Real Estate network, and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections Blog and founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and see more blogs like this one. 


Posted by Robert Dirienzo, Home Inspections - Nashville TN (HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Richard - the TISH evaluations aren't a substitute for a buyer's inspection, but some people rely on them as such.  It's too bad.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 9 years ago