Should I trust the home inspector I hire when I buy a house in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

Costa Rica home inspector at workCan I trust your home inspector to do a good job when I buy a home in Costa Rica, or will he be on your side, was a question that hit me like a truck at 100 miles and hour and left me speechless for a while.

I know she is reading this blog and I want her to know this was a great question, as it gives me an opportunity to write this blog. Here we go.

When I started selling real estate in Costa Rica, every time I sold a home, I was like praying nothing would happen to the house, at least for a while. Anything can go wrong, right? The roof can blow off, you can have termites in the rafters, the septic system clogs up and another hundred odd things can happen after closing. Landslides and many other things can happen to the land because of bad drainage for example.

The Costarican legal system does not have protective laws for buyers of Costa Rica real estate. In Costa Rica, you buy a property "as is" and a home inspection only gives you a list of things to fix unless it is an important damage that will allow you to walk away from buying any property in Costa Rica, depending on how you write up the agreement. Most of the time, it is easier to get the home inspection out of the way before you write up the formal purchase - sale agreement to be used for your real estate closing.

We didn´t have any home inspectors in Costa Rica. I started out with architects and engineers but they all wanted to build the client a new house or remodel one, so they always found all kinds of "wrong things" that made the client walk. I´ve also had some ask for construction plans, they´d look at the walls, knock on tiles with a hammer and then say "this house needs to be torn down". I´ve had some of them screw up a good deal for a buyer.

 Costa Rica home inspector checking the breaker box 

About 10 years ago, I found Jerry McKinney, may he rest in peace. Jerry had built and remodeled homes in the US and also done lots of maintenance to buildings and homes in Costa Rica. He was my best solution at the time. Yes, Jerry made mistakes and sometimes forgot to look at certain things, but he was 5,000% better than all those Costarican engineers that I have had clients sent me. When Jerry passed away, I was back to square one.  But i did find the man I had been looking for. Tom Rosenberger, a Florida builder who also built homes in Flamingo and Portero beach, a bi-lingual construction guy, able to do our home inspections with enough experience in the US as well as in Costa Rica.

Tom Rosenberger, AKA Big Tom, offers three different kinds of home inspections and I can personally asure you he is good and will always deliver an honest home inspection report. But now, to answer the question "will he be on your side", I had to think about this for quite a while, and I came up with the following answer:

If you trust the realtor you hired to show you property in Costa Rica, you should also trust the people he/she recommends. Trust is difficult to gain and easy to lose again. My answer is definitely that you should trust the home inspector recommended by your realtor, to give you a trustworthy inspection report, but you are of course free to do your own due dilligence.

Ivo Henfling, your trusted realtor for Santa Ana and Escazu property for sale


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