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Thread: Home Inspectors

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Home Inspectors

    I seem to recall seeing some folks mention home inspections on here from time to time and thought I'd see if I could pick your brains if I may

    My wife and I have decided to buy our first home. We've found the place and we're going to begin the roller coaster ride tomorrow. I know I'm going to need to find a home inspector and want to start researching what to look for. Anyone have any pointers? What sort of questions should I ask?

    I'd like to be there with them and sorta follow 'em around while they conduct their work. I could understand that being kind of annoying to some folks, but I'm really concerned and want to keep myself exposed to every chance to ask questions and learn something. Are inspectors open to that kinda thing?

    As you can probably tell I'm a bit nervous about this whole thing and want to be sure I'm as informed as possible. My hope is that I'll find a guy who's got nothing but time and a willingness to inform me of every little detail. I'm a detail kinda person and love all the micro-knowledge I can get my hands on.

    What isn't an inspector going to look at? Are there areas that they just won't go digging into? I understand they can't see inside the walls and that kind of thing, but what about big stuff like foundations, framing, electrical, plumbing, gas, hvac, sewage?? Will the be able to tell if there's asbestos? How about lead paint? Radon?

    So many questions ... I don't know if some of my questions are things I just shouldn't worry about so much or if it's good that I'm concerned about obscure tings...

    Sorry for the bombardment - any info ya'll can offer is much appreciated... I've never done this before so I'm probably panicking ... :P

    Thanks!
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  2. #2
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    Hey Jason,
    I'm not a home inspector, but there are some on the forum and I'll bet they will chime in.

    What I can tell you is that I have paid for five or six inspections over my days and I always accompany the inspector. You are paying them for a service, you are entitled to see how its done and ask questions. All the inspectors were more than happy to discuss their findings. Its especially useful when they qualify the findings, like saying I looked at this level and its ok, but we don't know whats going on inside and this thing is old enough to be near the end of its duty cycle....

    Having said that, their time is important and you need to respect that. Ask if there is any way you can help.

    Its also good to talk to the neighbors, who may know things the inspector cannot see, like when the basement was flooded or how there's always a lake in the back yard after a rain...
    Don't believe everything you think!

  3. #3
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    Hey Jason. We're not that far from each other so my info should be fairly relevant. Aside from the homes that I've had "Home Inspections" on, I work for a Realtor and do work off of inspection reports all the time. It's pretty much my bread and butter.

    One good thing is that because the market is a little depressed, you should be able to get a home inspection done for somewhere between $350 and $400. A year and a half ago you would have paid upwards of $500. The last one that I did work on cost the buyer $350.

    As far as the detail, that's their job. That's why you're hiring them, to find the details, even the tiny, tiny ones. Most buyers use the Home Inspecters report to help negotiate the selling price. On a house that I just finished working on (Friday), there was everything from three rafters that had broken and partly fallen down to the back porch having a handrail on only one side of the steps. The steps and the railing were perfectly fine, just not up to code. (This would be something that would normally be very minor to the buyer.) Down in the basement, there were a couple of junction boxes that were perfectly fine, including the wiring, but they didn't have a cover. I"ve even seen a cracked (not broken) light switch cover listed on a HI report.

    They won't report on the condition of the carpet but they will report on the condition of the floor, if you understand what I'm saying. If there is a hump or a dip (they are very good at seeing even slight things like this), it could be indicative of a possible problem or simply that some work/repair was done previously.

    Some work really needs to be done i.e., structural, life safety, etc. Some work will be a nuisance i.e., the need for a door sweep or a sticky window or sliding door track or a missing cabinet handle. And some work is merely cosmetic i.e., peeling wallpaper (yuk) or bad carpet.

    You will also have a termite/pest inspection done. While some or most of the Hi report will show work that MAY be done, the pest report will have work that SHOULD be done and work that NEEDS to be done. There are "Section 1" items and "Section 2" items. The Section 2 items should be done and the Section 1 items NEED to be done. Section 1 items will include any dryrot areas and any termite damage. Sometimes the section 2 work is negotiated in the price but even on homes sold "AS IS" the section 1 items get done.

    Your Real Estate Agent should be familiar with the Home Inspection companies in your area. You can also look up the biggest Real Estate company in your area and get a recommendation from them.

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you'd like to talk further.

    EDIT: I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with Jesse about following the Hi around. While hanging out at the house while the inspection is being done MAY be okay, crawling around up in the attic space where you may accidentally put a foot through the ceiling is NOT a good idea. Also, if the family is still living in the house there is a privacy thing that should be respected IMO. If the house isn't occupied then, ask the inspector and follow his admonishments. Some are okay with it and some aren't. Like Jesse says, a person can start to get on their nerves with too much questioning. JMO
    Last edited by Mark Rios; 10-01-2007 at 01:03 AM.
    Thanks, Mark.

    Custom Bonehead.

    My diet is working good. I'm down to needing just one chair now.

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  4. #4
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    I've used home inspectors and ALWAYS accompanied them on the inspection. I do not go up in the attic or in the crawl space but everything else, I'm there asking questions. I'm paying for the inspection so I feel that I have the right to be there, and to ask questions. You can clear this with the HI before the visit, but I'd never buy a house that I didn't participate in the inspection. If the HI doesn't want you there, get another one.

    Regarding the owners being there during the inspection - tell the real estate agent to get them out during the inspection. I've never had a problem with that request.

    While I may be a pain to the HI, I will also point out things that I want inspected. If it's something that's not part of his job (like checking the freon level in the A/C), he tells me - no problem for me.

    The big advantage of the HI is that he has a long list of thing to inspect - if I was doing the inspection myself, I'd probably miss things.

    All in all, money well spent when buying a home.

    Mike
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  5. #5
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    My current home was purchased "as is". However the last two, were more than happy to have me "shadow" them during the whole ordeal. Perhaps this was the exeption rather than the rule...

    But one thing I realized later that it was probably unnecessary due to the level of detail in their respective reports.

  6. #6
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    Not much I can add that Jesse and Mark haven't already covered, except to say congrats on making the big step into home ownership. You are making a good decision IMHO. Both of the houses I've bought were inspected by the same guy, who was recommended by my real estate agent. (The agent handled both purchases.) He was well worth the money. Even though I spent some time in the "new construction" inspection business, he knew what to look for in existing construction much better than I did.

    Jeff Horton, please pick up the white courtesy phone.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson View Post
    ..........All in all, money well spent when buying a home.

    Mike
    Definately well stated Mike. ALWAYS get a home inspection done.
    Thanks, Mark.

    Custom Bonehead.

    My diet is working good. I'm down to needing just one chair now.

    "Just think how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of them are even stupider!" --George Carlin

  8. #8
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    Seeing that I am a Home Inspector, how about I take a stab at this?

    Anyone have any pointers? What sort of questions should I ask?
    Reputation is everything!! And I don't typically recommend you follow the Realtors recommendation even though I get a lot of work that way. The reason I say that is that a Realtor can chose on the basis of what is good for them, not you. Now to be fair, I see that much less than 10 years ago. They realize that the Inspector is their friend even if costs them a sale now and them. However a lot them still pick Appraisers based on who will 'work with them' rather than who does the best work. I am both an Appraiser and a Home Inspector and know from experience.

    Ask around and see who has had one and what they thought of their inspector. I take client referrals very serious!

    I'd like to be there with them and sorta follow 'em around while they conduct their work. I could understand that being kind of annoying to some folks, ....
    Thats going to depend on the individual. I don't mind someone following me at all. Clients are always welcome. I don't mind questions and I understand that concern home buyers have. I am there working for them, but there is a point at which it becomes an annoyance and wastes my time. It also distracts me from doing my job. Just keep that in mind and try not to be pest.

    My hope is that I'll find a guy who's got nothing but time and a willingness to inform me of every little detail. I'm a detail kinda person and love all the micro-knowledge I can get my hands on.
    Ask for reference and hopefully you can find one like that. Just remember he may have another job scheduled after yours. Be respectful of his time as we don't typically charge by the hour.

    What isn't an inspector going to look at? Are there areas that they just won't go digging into? I understand they can't see inside the walls and that kind of thing, but what about big stuff like foundations, framing, electrical, plumbing, gas, hvac, sewage?? Will the be able to tell if there's asbestos? How about lead paint? Radon?
    Thats a loaded question. Read the inspectors contract and see what it says. Me, I don't do any environmental issues. Just to much risk. That includes lead paint and asbestos. As for as lead paint goes, if the house was built before 1978 it probably has lead paint. But the only real risk is kids eating paint chips. Otherwise there is little risk that I am aware of.

    I can do radon test at an additional cost. I don't do asbestos testing. It has to be sent to a lab to be determined if it is asbestos. There is no demand for it here anyway. Maybe different in your area. Now that doesn't mean I may not tell you I saw something I don't inspect that concerns me. For example I don't do termite inspections but I have warned many people of a possible termite infestation and recommend they bring a professional to check what I saw.

    The rest of your list I typically look at. But I only do a visual inspection, I don't take things apart and my X-ray glasses are broken.

    Another thing to consider is that each inspector is different and will probably inspect differently. I don't get so nit picky as to list broken light switch covers as Mark mentioned. I tell my clients up front I don't nick pick. I concentrate on the bigger items and no so worried about the small cosmetic items that you can see when you walk in. Like stained carpet or light switch covers.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.


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  9. #9
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    Jan 2007
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    Thanks for the advice, fellas. I'd thought it was Jeff who did inspections but wasn't totally sure at first.

    I'll be making call sall this week to find a reputable inspector and will keep all your thoughts in mind.

    I'm feeling calmer now than I was before. The house is great, btw. 2 1/2 car garage on almost a quarter acre!!! My tools are already excited to move :P
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  10. #10
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    I was a licensed HI in Florida when my shop was there and would occassionally handle the overflow for a gentleman who has been inspecting homes for 22 years (going on 30 years now), or if it was a job where he needed more than himself to handle the whole job (we did inspect a home for J-lo, Jennifer Lopez, on Miami Beach -- nice joint but didn't get to meet her or Ben). The HI company was also certified in pest control and so we could do infestation inspections, like termites. Most inspectors must request a termite inspection if they suspect pests (at least in FL they had too,) but they can't say for sure on their reports, even if they see live termites. So depending on the inspector you hire, it might behoove you to call a pest control company and get a wood destroying organism inspection if you are in an area that might be prone to that. About the only thing I would add to the good advice offered by Jeff is ask to see a few reports that your prospective Inspectors have done on other houses and that should give you a good feel about their level of skill and thoroughness. A good home inspection should take, at least, four hours, more for an older house.
    Last edited by Sam Blasco; 10-01-2007 at 09:44 PM.
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