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Hi there – husband and I are about to sign on a brownstone in Harlem but want to have an inspection done first. We’ve brought our contractor to the place and he doesn’t think it needs major structural work, but he also acknowledged that assessing that sort of thing isn’t his forte.

We’re not doing a total gut reno, but will be replacing all electrical, plumbing, etc. We already know boiler is new; roof was replaced 5ish years ago and there are no apparent cracks, etc.

There was some water damage a long time ago that has left part of the parlor floor damaged. We’d like to know if the beam under that is also damaged; we’d also like to know the strength of the roof for a possible roofdeck.

I’ve been interviewing home inspectors and for the most part it appears they can’t assess anything other than what’s visible to the eye, since they can’t open up any walls, etc., which makes sense — but it’s a bit scary to buy a place without *really* knowing what’s going on inside.

So my Qs are these —

1). IS there anyway to have a real structural inspection of a home before closing? If so, any recommendations?

2). If it’s not possible to have a structural assessment before closing, and we already know we’ll be replacing the plumbing and electrical, do we even need a “standard” home inspection, or is that a waste?

3). If standard home inspection still is a good idea – any recommendations for someone with experience in large b-stones, who’ll work in Harlem?

Thanks so much in advance!



Hi, we are looking to buy our first brownstone and are looking for a great, well respected inspector that is also an engineer. It’s a very old home and so we want to make sure that we have an inspector that will do a thorough job Does anyone have any recommendations?


FYI – Just had an surprise fire inspection on my brownstone.

I had just replaced the sprinklers though out the building.

one fireman went up to the roof. While I went with the other to the basement.

I have about 4 contractors upstairs working at this time. I had opened the roof trap door to let air in (they are painting).

As they are leaving the dude who went to the roof tells me my skylight is cracked.

me – weird? I was just up there.

Fireman – it didn’t leak water during the last rain storm.

me – no, but thanks for the heads up I’ll have it fixed.

they leave. Then my contractor tells me that he broke it! They all heard a crash and then saw him put his foot on it and crack the glass! Be aware this guy was Africian american with a tattoo around his collar bone.

Went up to check and the trap door was thrown over (upside down), which I never do, I just slide it.



Reading previous recs for good inspectors and estimates of the time an inspection might take. Early on before I even had a grasp of the buying process, I called one inspection outfit. They said their price would be based in part on the cost of the property. By my calculations, the inspection was going to cost more than a thousand for a home selling for, say, $800,000. Is that right? What should I expect?

Thank you for your help.


The forum has several posts re: the remediation of existing asbestos problems, but I’m looking for a recommendation for someone to do a basic inspection in connection with proposed renovations. We will need a kitchen and two bathrooms inspected and ACP-5 forms completed and returned to the architect.

Any reasonably priced recommendations out there? Anyone have an idea of what it should cost?



We’re first-time buyers looking at a brownstone but have encountered two issues and I’m getting conflicting answers on how big an issue they are:
1. No C of O and an old open permit. We would like to do a small amount of work on the house so that we could rent part out. Do either of the above situations make that more difficult?
2. Inspector noticed an old oil vent in front of the house. Owner says it’s plumbing, which it clearly isn’t. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t know about an oil tank; how big a deal it is to find out definitively if it is there/was properly decommissioned; and am skeeved out by the blase response. If you’ve managed to read this far, do you have any thoughts on whether I’m rightly anxious or if this is just part of the package of buying in NYC?


Does anyone know if Rich Perri (the home inspector) is a Professional Engineer? I’ve been reading about home inspections and some say to only have a Professional Engineer conduct the inspection. I know Rich Perri has been recommended a lot on this forum but it’s not clear from his web site whether he is a PE or not.