I was asked to write an article for a popular speaker/writer's website about home inspections. They gave me the topic, "Five Things About Home Inspections Your Buyers Might Not Know." It published yesterday, so I thought I would share it with you too. You have seen all of this before, just not together!
You can read the original article here, as published: http://www.dalesiegel.com/blog-posts/five-things-about-home-inspections-you-may-not-be-aware-of.html
The invitation to contribute to her site was very appreciated!
The home inspection business is like every other business – it changes all the time. And it is getting better! There are always new tools, new techniques, and new things to consider. And the best home inspectors are more informed through continuing education.
But there are things about home inspections that most people may not be aware of or consider when they look for a home inspector. Here are a few reasons for hiring a home inspector:
1. All home inspections are not the same! And, like plumbers, math teachers, secretaries and dentists, all home inspectors are not the same! Most home inspectors are licensed and certified, by their associations and in most cases their states. And inspection associations require many annual hours of continuing education. But don’t be fooled, experience is everything! I have people sometimes cancel a home inspection because a friend or associate, “who used to be in construction” has consented to walking around the house to give it a “good” look see. Again, don’t be fooled! A good home inspection is thorough, comprehensive and usually computerized! It is not a walk through. It is far more than a “look see”.
For example, look at the photo of the front of a townhouse on a recent inspection. From across the street, looking at this view, I was able to point out a serious problem and how it was contributing to another more serious problem inside – even before we entered the house. The predicted problem was not only there, but more serious than we initially thought. Do you see what the contributing problem is?
2. New construction inspections! It’s a new house, why would it need an inspection? It doesn’t need only one, but two! To my clients I recommend two new construction inspections – a pre-drywall, and a final. Pre-drywall is the only time the house can be seen in its skeletal condition. It’s the only time we can see how things were put together, and how well put it is. And the final inspection is just that – the finished work.
People ask me all the time if this or that is a good builder. The answer is that it depends on the supervisor who is on site every day and the subcontractors. Are they professionals? If not, beware.
This photo was taken after I discovered that the kitchen exhaust vent was never connected. The buyers were assured it would be installed that afternoon. Returning the next morning this is what I found! How does that look? Professional? Wouldn’t you feel proud opening that cabinet every day and looking at that as your vent fan? It’s not only appealing, but vents inside the cabinet!
3. One-year inspections! After a new house is purchased the builder will give a period of time to do repairs from a final list of things that come up while one lives in the house. This is often one year. Some things will only be discovered while living in the house. In particular, those things that were not done professionally but looked good at the time of the final walk through.
For example, the wood door in the photo is very high quality. The house is a very expensive house. For that door to retain its beauty over time, the finish work must, absolutely must, be done properly. If not the panels will split and separate, the wood will deteriorate and the door will warp such that it does not seal the opening. The finish on this door was obviously not meant for outdoors. And remember, wood has six sides. On this one year inspection I found that the top was never sealed! If the top wasn’t, what do you bet that the bottom (hidden by weather stripping) was not sealed either? This is a poor, unprofessional job by any measure.
4. Thermal imaging! Not all home inspectors have thermal cameras. They are expensive and the training is time consuming. But thermal cameras are fantastic tools. They can see light waves not detected by the human eye, and can measure temperatures. And, they see these temperature variances to within 1/10th of a degree Fahrenheit. The camera sees thousands of points of temperature and can put them together into an image.
The biggest complaint I hear is that some rooms are hot and others are cold. Why? Insulation installation! Insulation must be stapled to the studs. It has flaps there for stapling! Some installers say that the drywall will hold the insulation in place. It does not. Gravity works, especially when combined with the weight of condensation. How can I tell if insulation has slipped? With a thermal camera!
Look at the thermal image here. Warm areas are represented by orange and yellow. The cooler areas are represented by blue and purple. Clearly in this cathedral ceiling the insulation was not stapled. It has fallen down, and in only one year! Catching this on a one-year inspection proved very beneficial to this client! This room, one of a few, was very hot and very cold. Well no wonder! With so much area devoid of insulation the hot or cold attic space would influence the whole room! The orange area on the wall you are looking at is 138° F. That will influence a room! Imagine the winter!
5. Inspections following remodeling! Any time you remodel, be absolutely sure the contractor applies for and is issued a permit for the work you want done. Any professional will do that. If the contractor says this or that remodel does not need a permit, call your local jurisdiction! Make sure! If the work you want done needs to be permitted, get a different contractor!
Look at this beautiful patio. As soon as I saw it I knew no permit was pulled. How? It was built covering the siding and butts up against the underside of the doors. Is that a problem? Yes, it invites termites.
The patio rises higher than the wood framing inside the house. It provides a dark, moist, temperature-controlled environment for termites. They do what they do. And in this house they did it really well, for almost 10 years. The damage was a real mess!
There are many reasons to consider hiring a professional, certified, experienced home inspector. A good inspector is certainly worth his fee, if not many times more! And call the one the local Realtors think is a bull dog. It will be well worth your time and money.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560