Why is Home Inspection Important?
46 Tag Results for "Home Inspector"
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April 30, 2013 | Comments: 0
Most real estate agents have been trained to develop a business plan because otherwise they are really "planning to fail." But many real estate business plans are doomed to failure either because they lack strategic vision or because they aren't really living documents. They are so complicated and detailed to be inflexible or there is no structure and thought behind them.
Like real estate agents needing to drum up business, home inspectors have to market effectively or fold up shop. I've had several business plans that simply didn't generate enough leads. But I decided to learn from what didn't work and to make adjustments. We all have a choice. Either we can give up, blaming ourselves (or the cosmos) when goals don't materialize, or we can instead fault the execution of our plan and act to fix it. If at first you don't succeed....
Home Inspection on "Change Your Real Estate Business Plan into a Plan of Action"
March 29, 2013 | Comments: 0
Real estate agents and home inspectors are both in a referral business, requiring marketing efforts to drum up clients, especially when starting out. Like selling real estate, selling home inspection services is primarily a matter of selling oneself. Something I have learned the hard way is the importance of following up with prospects to prove one's capabilities and to demonstrate a commitment to helping them.
Usually the real estate agent is my true client even though I enter into a contract with the home seller or buyer. I have to find that sweet spot where I don't badger realtors and yet make some degree of contact at least to establish name recognition. In turn, realtors have to find that same sweet spot in their relationships with past, current, and prospective clients.
Home Inspection on "Three Follow-up Mistakes Real Estate Agents Should Avoid"
February 28, 2013 | Comments: 0
When a real estate broker competes for a prospective home listing, the process can be demanding, exhilarating, and frustrating. The real estate agent has to perform some degree of market analysis and prepare a presentation, knowing full well that all that effort may be for naught. Competing on a level playing field is one thing, but what do you do when a competing agent offers to reduce his or her commission to win the listing?
At least marketing real estate services has a commonly recognized standard for setting commissions. But pricing home inspection services has no such guideline, forcing one to intuit "the going rate." Plus, we home inspectors adjust our quotes based on the age and size of the property. There is always the prospect of being undersold by Cheap Charlie, and even some real estate brokers pressure us to lower our rate to what they lead their client to expect or budget.
Home Inspection on "Counteract Underselling Real Estate Listing Agents"
January 30, 2013 | Comments: 0
The real estate agent and the home inspector both develop their businesses by building lasting relationships. Selling and inspecting real estate come about primarily through referrals from friends, family, other professionals, and past associations. This last item, especially associations with past clients, can be a goldmine, even more for the agent than for the inspector.
The real estate agent's secret weapon in this regard is the Annual Client Review (ACR), and I want to acknowledge Denise Lones, a very successful agent, as the principal source for this blog post. Her practice has been to maintain contact with former buyers she represented using this simple but effective tool. Let's see how it works.
Home Inspection on "Leveraging the Real Estate Agent Annual Client Review"
December 28, 2012 | Comments: 0
As a home inspector, I have to ensure that a house's electrical system is safe. Accordingly, home inspector Standards of Practice require me to scrutinize the main electrical panel (with the cover off), looking for wiring or other defects that would compromise safety. I also have to make sure certain other items are copacetic, such as the presence of grounding electrodes and bonding systems.
What the home inspector learns about the electrical system is good knowledge for every homeowner to possess. Some of this knowledge is already commonly known, such as always shutting off power before working on electrical circuits or junction boxes, and exercising much more severe caution around 240 volts than around 120 volts.
Home Inspection on "Home Inspector Electrical Safety Guidelines"
November 30, 2012 | Comments: 0
My home inspector practice has yet to turn up a dangerously unsafe deck, but I personally know other inspectors who have found such, and there are lots of well-documented examples of deck failures in the broader trade literature. The importance a home inspector places on the careful inspection of decks is thus a good indicator of the quality of his overall work. This blog will illustrate how I approach the determination of deck safety.
The home inspector has to take deck safety very seriously for a few reasons. One, safety (in general) is a primary concern. Two, inadvertent omission of a structural problem can result in avoidable damage to person and property (as well as to inspector reputation). Third, decks are sometimes add-on projects of homeowners and are not always built to code or through the permitting process. Fourth, decks are exposed to the elements and thus can degrade more rapidly than the house.
Home Inspection on "Home Inspector Deck Safety Practices"
October 30, 2012 | Comments: 0
The home inspector is trained to recognize safety defects and to call them out, particularly circumstances that endanger children. As a home inspector, I see accidents waiting to happen all the time, some major, some nearly insignificant, but rarely realized by the homeowner as a problem. The purpose of this blog is to heighten the awareness of owners and buyers by presenting some child safety tips.
These home inspector tips are not difficult to follow or implement, but they could end up making a tremendous difference. This is true whether children of your own live in the house or other children visit on occasion. Potential dangers you could prevent range from electrical shock to falling to being trapped, crushed, or burned. Use this guide to formulate your own inspection checklist and put your mind at ease.
Home Inspection on "Home Inspector Child Safety Tips"
September 28, 2012 | Comments: 0
The home warranty used to be a common aspect of real estate transactions and it was considered worthwhile by both buyers and sellers. Now, getting a home warranty is seldom mentioned, let alone recommended, when putting together an offer. Perhaps agents think that the house inspection has supplanted warranties and/or rendered them obsolete. But in my mind there is good reason to bring them back, particularly for transactions involving foreclosures and short sales, quite prevalent today, in that surprises not apparent at the snapshot time of an inspection are more likely to crop up in the coming months.
A home warranty is not a substitute for a house inspection and should not be thought of as such. It is not really a form of insurance either, but a service contract to perform repairs and replacements. Policies are available not just for single-family homes but also for all kinds of property. Coverage varies somewhat from policy to policy, but essentially extends to main systems and components, including appliances.
Home Inspection on "Home Warranty Value for Buyer and Seller"
August 30, 2012 | Comments: 0
Many real estate agents view home inspectors with suspicion or as a necessary evil, afraid that they are going to kill their deal. But real estate transactions actually shouldn't be entered into unless both parties are fully informed. Buyers' agents who try to pull something over on their clients just to make a closing aren't apt to last long. Nor are overzealous and alarmist home inspectors. Both should solicit to what is best for their mutual clients. In this blog I want to show how a home inspector with proper motivation can not only be the agent's friend but even help the agent boost his business.
Here I'm addressing real estate listing agents primarily, to show how I can be of service. If, through some candid education and with no strings attached, I can help them to be more successful, then I will be more successful. This is what I ask them: How many home sellers are unrealistic about house value and market price? How many of them conveniently overlook the need to make repairs? How often do you walk a tightrope, struggling to persuade the seller to be realistic without jeopardizing the acquisition of their listing? If you do win their listing, how confident are you that their property will move? In other words, this is an indirect way of asking, "Why should you as a real estate agent put yourself in the position of losing money (advertising costs) on a listing that will stagnate and expire in 60-90 days?" Then I demonstrate a way for them to turn the situation around.
Home Inspection on "Helping Real Estate Listing Agents Close the Deal"
July 29, 2012 | Comments: 0
Like the economy, real estate markets and planning continue to struggle with a severe drag of uncertainty. People wish the real estate bubble-bursting trauma would fade into oblivion already and allow things to get back to normal. However, optimism alone is not yet enough to outweigh the negative effects of stubbornly high unemployment, political shenanigans, European troubles, and the still bloated supply of foreclosed dwellings. We see positive signs for one quarter followed by pullbacks the next, making long-term, realistic planning extremely frustrating and difficult.
However, real estate trends and statistics are useful and helpful provided we get a broad perspective that takes into account all important factors. We start by looking at the local conditions of income, realty pricing changes, and inventory. We examine trends and expectations, but also take into consideration ramifications of national policies and financial constraints on the realistic potential for certain property transactions occurring.
Home Inspection on "Mid-2012 Real Estate Trends in Whatcom County"
June 30, 2012 | Comments: 0
Mold removal is a scary thing to contemplate for many people, and often its success or failure determines the outcome of a real estate transaction. Some fear that mold removal is not possible in an absolute or permanent sense and that once established it will always come back like a monstrous Hydra no matter what one does. In actuality, there are professional services that eliminate mold and the conditions that cause it to grow, and they usually provide some level of guarantee. However, such an undertaking is not that difficult for the average homeowner to take on either.
Successful removal of mold depends on two key factors: (a) finding all of it and (b) first correcting the problems that led to microbial development. If these two steps aren't thoroughly and diligently completed, then indeed it is likely that the mold will come back. Here, professional help in the form of a pest inspection can boost one's confidence; see www.HomeInspectionWA.net for more information.
Home Inspection on "Proven Steps to Mold Removal"
June 20, 2012 | Comments: 0
Air conditioning repair is not something I recommend very often in my home inspection reports, primarily because I rarely see air conditioners in the Pacific Northwest. Air conditioning scarcity means repair is even scarcer. However, AC technology is essentially the same as that for heat pumps, which I do see more frequently nowadays, with a concomitant increase in recommended repairs. But what I want to focus on in this blog post is what, if anything, a homeowner can do to repair these appliances.
Repair issues of air conditioning vary with the type of installation. The most common type is a centralized system that distributes cool air throughout the house using the heating ducts and registers. The localized window units operate similarly on a much smaller scale. Evaporative coolers are really different and not pertinent to this blog. For basic principles of operation, see my article on air conditioning repair.
Home Inspection on "On Repair of Air Conditioning"
May 31, 2012 | Comments: 0
I get leak detection requests occasionally from prospective clients, most often in conjunction with a home they already own. I tell them leak detection is not an explicit part of a home inspection, though in the course of tracking down excess moisture accumulation leaks and their causes are sometimes obvious. The person is usually not interested in a home inspection, just someone who can detect leaks. But it raises an interesting question of how responsible a home inspector is for hunting down leaks.
To my knowledge, leak detection is not offered by any home inspector, even as a specialized service. I am aware of companies that detect leaks in swimming pools. And, of course, plumbers are well equipped to trace a pipe leak, and roofers a roof leak, back to its source. So there are experts in other fields that one can turn to. Still, though some practitioners of my trade expand their business by providing additional inspection services, such as radon testing, mold inspecting, or air pollutant sampling, there seems to be no inherent reason why leak detection couldn't be one of them.
Home Inspection on "How Much Leak Detection Is the Responsibility of the Home Inspector?"
May 18, 2012 | Comments: 0
The flat roof is much more commonly seen on commercial buildings than on residences, but that doesn't mean it is without benefit for homeowners. Nonetheless, if the flat roof isn't constructed properly in all aspects, or if some of its ramifications are ignored, it can be the source of endless headaches. Let's look at some of the distinctions between a flat roof and a sloped roof and why one might be preferable to the other.
A flat roof, though graded enough to drain, must be watertight, whereas a sloped roof is designed not to be waterproof but water shedding. Any roof with a pitch less than 2 in 12 falls in the flat category, for the shedding principle fails below that steepness.
Home Inspection on "Is a Residential Flat Roof a Blessing or Curse?"
April 30, 2012 | Comments: 0
Toxic mold seems to be more pronounced in the collective consciousness these days. Customers inquire about toxic mold more often than they used to, and it isn't that surprising. The Pacific Northwest is already awash with moisture, a key factor in mold growth, and modern houses built to leak little or no energy tend to lack adequate ventilation, which provides another factor. The only other thing needed is cellulose or some kind of food, and mold will thrive. Thus, I believe conditions today are more conducive for mold (and wood-destroying organisms in general), undoubtedly raising people's level of awareness and worry.
Not all mold is toxic, though many assume that it is, sometimes elevating their concern unnecessarily. In fact, in some cases what appears to be mold is actually a different organism altogether. Unless they have been specially trained in this area, home inspectors shy away from identifying their findings specifically as mold or mildew, preferring instead to use the term microbial growth. So it might prove useful to look at how to distinguish between different kinds of mold, how to recognize some of the associated health symptoms, and how to get rid of the stuff once it has been detected.
Home Inspection on "Do You Have Toxic Mold In Your House?"
April 15, 2012 | Comments: 0
Heating and air conditioning systems have evolved quite a bit in the past decade or so. Inspecting heating and air conditioning has become both easier and more complex with the current trends of higher efficiency and reduction of carbon footprint. It is easier because units are more compact and better designed; more complex because there are additional issues, such as draining condensate, and more numerous options regarding venting and air exchange. There has also emerged a kind of offshoot house inspection service, focused less on facilitating transfer of real estate and more on auditing for energy use and air quality.
Heating, having borrowed air conditioning technology in a sense, is today more significantly different from a decade ago. Using coal, oil, or wood to heat homes is fast becoming obsolete, and the efficiency of both electric- and gas-based furnaces has improved dramatically. Heat pumps, essentially air conditioners in reverse, are much more in fashion. Size has diminished despite elongated heat exchangers for increased efficiency, and venting sideways through the wall is perhaps replacing venting through the roof.
Home Inspection on "Inspecting Heating and Air Conditioning Today"
March 30, 2012 | Comments: 0
When roof tiles are involved in a home inspection, there are tradeoffs and challenges to take into consideration. The tradeoffs roof tiles impose are between doing a careful and standards-based inspection and damaging the material. The challenge is to stay safe and yet still get the job done.
Roof tiles are constructed out of clay or concrete, though sometimes slate is grouped in the tile category. The demands for installing them are more stringent than those for installing roof shingles. The weight per square is so much higher that foundation and structure must be strong enough to support them. They use special fasteners and metal flashings. Manufacturers recommend not walking on them because it is difficult to know where to step and consequently the tiles are more susceptible to breakage.
Home Inspection on "Inspecting Roof Tiles"
March 15, 2012 | Comments: 0
Mold symptoms are rather prevalent in the Pacific Northwest, there being long stretches of rain or air high in relative humidity without much sun to dry things out. I see symptoms of mold all the time in my home inspections and customers sometimes shrug it off as if mold is a necessary evil in our neck of the woods. However, for clients who have respiratory problems, the presence of mold is a serious concern and even a deal breaker.
How do we deal with mold symptoms? Are they indeed a way of life for us Washingtonians, or can they actually be prevented from developing? More importantly, once mold growth becomes apparent, either from neglect or failing prophylactic techniques, can we expect to have any success in eliminating it through therapeutic approaches? Trying to answer these questions is the subject of this blog.
Home Inspection on "Dealing with Mold Symptoms"
February 29, 2012 | Comments: 0
Faucet parts come in so many categories, styles, colors, materials, and mounting characteristics that I as a home inspector get lost in the maze. What the many faucet parts mean to the average homeowner I can only imagine. Fortunately, on my inspections, I only have to concern myself with operating faucets. This is usually easy, although in some cases it is not immediately intuitive.
Replacing faucet parts is another story. It isn't that often that a homeowner has to do this, but when it becomes necessary it pays to know what one is up against. I half believe that there is a conspiracy between plumbers and manufacturers of faucet parts to make it as difficult as possible for the do-it-yourself owner. I'm not talking about replacing worn out washers but about replacing the faucets themselves.
Home Inspection on "A Plethora of Faucet Parts"
February 16, 2012 | Comments: 0
Inspecting drain pipe is thorny because so much of it is hidden from view. Furthermore, drain pipe leaks can go unnoticed for a long time, whereas leaks in a service or supply line will show up quickly as an increased water bill. Some of my customers express concern about the inaccessibility of their efflux plumbing and their inability to know whether or not they have a problem. And their concerns are not unfounded; outdoor pipe in particular is susceptible to corrosion, cracking, and vegetative invasion. Yet, though I have some insight into leak detection, there are limitations to how much I can help them because so much of the pipe is buried.
Drain pipe terminology is also confusing. It is used in a host of applications, including storm systems, sewer or septic lines outside the home, plumbing that empties fixtures inside the home, and special functions such as French drains. As a whole, output house plumbing is called the drain-waste-vent (DWV) system, which adds to the confusion. Some people insist that drain piping doesn't carry any solids while waste piping does, but others claim that the two are equivalent. Then the vent piping, the purpose of which is to equalize air pressure as a deterrent to siphoning and backflow, connects directly to the drain piping and in some cases doubles as drain pipe itself. Hence, distinguishing the three sets of pipes from each other is not straightforward.
Home Inspection on "Limitations of Inspecting Drain Pipe"
January 31, 2012 | Comments: 0
The home inspection service industry is certainly not immune to the devastations imposed by today's economy. Home inspection as a service seems to be almost on the brink of going the way of gas stations, once called service stations. Indeed, the whole notion of serving our fellow man while making a living has been getting quainter for a couple decades now. But I will ever be a holdout for the position that bettering others is the only true measure of success, whether in life or in my chosen profession of inspecting houses. Otherwise, what's the point, or, more generically, what has society become?
Service in the home inspection business will never really go defunct because fulfilling even the most basic functions is a service. But I sense an attitude shift in collective consciousness away from appreciation for a benefit received towards assumption that everyone does the minimum he can get away with. Whether this is a short-term glumness stemming from economic necessity or a long-term cultural change is harder for me to detect. Will the halving of the number of real estate agents be a blip or permanent? Will helping people to buy and sell houses survive as a service? Probably in some form, but using a different business model. Will we get to the point where the vast majority sacrifice advocacy and expertise for the sake of lower cost (including home inspection cost), perhaps justified by the self-delusion that they are still safe, that nothing will go wrong?
Home Inspection on "Is Home Inspection Service Defunct?"
January 16, 2012 | Comments: 0
The pest inspection service is sort of a strange beast in that members of rather different trades provide it depending on circumstances. A pest inspection may be part of a home inspection, in which case the person is a home inspector also acting as a structural pest inspector (SPI), or it may be a prelude to pest extermination, in which case the person is a pest control operator (PCO). Some thirty years ago, the quality of pest inspections, conducted almost entirely by PCOs, was also a mixed bag, and legislation passed in 1991 shored it up. Once home inspectors, assisting real estate transactions, became more prevalent, they incorporated pest inspections into their work. This introduced a different set of problems, and more recent legislation addressed them.
Now, structural pest inspection and home inspection are considered separate trades, at least in Washington State, and they are regulated by separate agencies. Each trade requires a license with its own set of requirements and fees. In the rest of this blog I want to look at how this dual licensing structure has played out in terms of the rigor involved in obtaining a license to inspect for specific pests and the consequent underutilization of the learned skills.
Home Inspection on "Observations on Pest Inspection Licensing"
December 30, 2011 | Comments: 0
A home inspection report is the key product or deliverable that clients pay for when they hire an inspector. But reading the inspection report with care has in general not been a high priority. I'm used to customers glancing through the summary and ignoring the body of the report altogether, probably intending to come back to it later. Obviously buyers feel pressure from within and without to make a decision about the inspection contingency. They don't want the house to go away, the agent wants a closing, and moving day may be fast approaching. These are all strong motivators for quick decisions.
Lately, however, the inspection report seems to be gaining in importance. Buyers still have to act relatively quickly after they receive it, but in today's market the pressure is gone. Competition is scarce and there is a much higher perceived risk. Now I get the sense that clients scour my report almost looking for an excuse not to buy. They are much pickier and more willing to walk away. Is this a trend or blip? My belief is that homebuyers are going to be much more careful hereon out. My report is still the same, but their attitude toward it is changing, and that means its quality is becoming more significant.
Home Inspection on "Will the Home Inspection Report Become More Important?"
December 17, 2011 | Comments: 0
Historically, the inspection services trade has gotten a poor reputation. People often denigrate inspection services because of bad past experiences. My sense is that this perception is not confined to Washington State but widespread.
What did inspection services do to cause such sour dispositions or even, in too many cases, litigation? The comments I have heard tend to cite inspectors that were just not that conscientious. The inspector seemed to be more interested in pleasing the agent than the customer, and consequently was too quick, overlooked issues, and produced shoddy reports.
Home Inspection on "My Take on Inspection Services Today"
November 30, 2011 | Comments: 0
The warranty home inspection is a rare bird to begin with, but I am wondering if it has become extinct. Inspection and a home warranty policy appear to be almost mutually exclusive, the buyer choosing one or the other but not both. It used to be that a home warranty policy was automatically offered upon opening escrow, and the buyer sometimes proposed to split the cost with the seller. My sense now is that the inspection is far preferable.
But a home inspection and warranty policy are not necessarily orthogonal. In fact, for new construction, one expects the general contractor to address, free of charge and for up to a year after closing, obvious mistakes and annoyances. The warranty home inspection is designed to generate a punch list for the new owner that is as complete as possible. For older houses, a home warranty policy to me still makes sense, whether or not it was inspected, if only to provide insurance against a spate of sudden expenses. And the inspector can help the buyer determine if any claims should be made before the warranty expires.
Home Inspection on "Is the Warranty Home Inspection Obsolete?"