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Does Your Home Inspector Just Like to Hear His or Her Own Voice?

by Mat Piche on February 21, 2013 · 11 comments

  
Inspector

Most of us get a home inspection before purchasing our next property, and while I truly believe that having a good inspector on your team is invaluable, I find a lot of them talk for the sake of talking. They feel that if they’re not talking while the buyers following behind them, they must not know what they’re doing. As a certified carpenter and Realtor sitting in on so many “inspections”, I’m able to see right through everything they’re saying. I find that 90% of the “repairs” that need to be done are extremely minor and cost either nothing or very little. While experienced investors get this, I see the eyes of first time investors open in shock while they look at this massive list of repairs. I’m always left shaking my head laughing to myself because I know I could have a handyman whip through here in one day and fix these “repairs” for a whopping $300 (less than the cost of the initial inspection). I’ll say it again; I still believe having a great home inspector on your team is very important as they do catch important things, but how do we find that great inspector who “gets it”?

Ask Them How Long They Have Been a Home Inspector

If they have been an inspector for a while, it’s likely they’ve “seen it all”. They’re familiar with old homes, new homes, multi-family properties etc. What you want to avoid is the start up inspector who feels like they have to beat their chest with their “knowledge” and catch EVERY little thing to justify their charge. That’s not to say a home inspector who’s only been in the game for less than 2 years is not qualified, but the seasoned inspector has already built their business. They’re done with “sounding smart” and are just going to tell you how it is and leave.

What Trade Were They in Before?

The answer better be that they were in some sort of trade before becoming an inspector! Say they were an electrician for 15 years and are now an overall home inspector, are they really qualified? I mean yes, being in a trade for so long, you are going to pick up knowledge from other trades here and there but the answer should really be that they were a carpenter or general contractor. These trades see everything and have to deal with building codes and passing multiple inspections on their jobs. These are the guys you want. Also, ask them how long they were in their previous trade as well. The longer the better.

Are They Investor Savvy?

This one is really important for you (readers of BiggerPockets). Find an inspector who understands YOUR business. They know that you don’t care about the loose light switch that needs a two second clockwise twist or the downspout that needs to be extended 2 feet ($15 at home depot, oh no!) etc. These are basic things you should be catching as a sophisticated investor. Sure, let them include it in the report, but the guys who put SO MUCH emphasis on these redundant repairs are the inspectors I would stay away from.  They like to talk to hear their own voice and will be so focused on “sounding smart” they may actually miss something important, so let them. Just not on your dime!

Photo: Justin Baeder

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Erik February 21, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Couldn’t agree more!!!

I hate it when a home inspector gives me exhaustingly comprehensive details of every little thing that might cost me money or time and therefore goes into my investment decision.

Really hate it if the inspector is a certified structural engineer or electrician. I mean, what would they know about foundation issues or whether the property is a candidate for an electrical.

Investors–especially first time ones that don’t have a lot of experience should always:

–Let their Realtor choose their inspector for them.
–Make sure that they know the inspector’s job is to reassure them that the property is a great buy–not waste their time with ‘petty’ issues like drainage into the foundation, or loose electrical connections.

Yes, I always find that there are many “repairs” that cost “nothing” in terms of time or money.

Great Post!!!

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Ron February 22, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Let their Realtor choose their inspector for them.
Are you NUTS!!!!!

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Erik February 22, 2013 at 9:50 pm

@ron My sarcasm wasn’t apparent?

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Dawn A. February 21, 2013 at 1:30 pm

My inspector gives me everything, and I don’t mind. I want to know everything anyway. I can decide is something is petty or not. For example, on the last report, he mentioned that the floors were excessively dirty. Guess what, I washed the floors.

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John McCombs February 21, 2013 at 3:23 pm

From the perspective of receiving useful information, I definitely agree with your sentiments. However, in my experience, the more problems the inspector finds, the more negotiating power you have to buy at an even lower price.

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Erik February 21, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Does my sarcasm shine though?

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Katherine Grote February 22, 2013 at 9:26 am

Mat,
As an agent and investor, I couldn’t agree more with you. While it is important to know what you are getting into, there are many inspectors (definitely not all) who just like to show off how much they know. As an agent I have had several deals almost killed because of inspectors giving their opinions on issues. One was over a crack in a fireplace tile. He told the buyers that it was “probably foundation issues”! I’ve seen many a first time homebuyer completely freaked out after seeing the inspection report and the inspectors opinions on the problem with the drainage. Of course a good and knowledgable real estate agent should be able to help in this area.
As investors our company usually doesn’t use a 3rd party inspector (although I certainly don’t recommend that for new investors) We usually get the property under contract at a low enough price it doesn’t really matter what it needs. Secondly we ask for a 3 day option/inspect and then we will bring in a couple of people from our team, i.e. roofer (if the roof is older) plumber, HVAC/electrician, all at the same time. My husband worked in foundation repair and has a level so all the major stuff is checked out.

A good inspector with a construction (and some investment) background is great to have on your team but someone who only has text book knowledge can be a time waster.

Thanks for posting.

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Charles February 25, 2013 at 7:44 am

I agree with Erik

And I’m a contractor. What on earth is a certified carpenter? The “certified” carpenters I’ve come across tend to be involved in the mental health system…

Not that I get an inspection. But I’m a contractor… I can see it without help, and I can fix it. Frankly, if I don’t see damage some newbie will overpay for it and outbid me.

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Mat Piche February 25, 2013 at 1:32 pm

The amount of trolls on BP is amazing!

Charles, a certified carpenter means I went through schooling and completed a 5 year apprenticeship program.

Erik, you obviously missed the point of the article. The problem is when inspectors put extra emphasis on things like baseboards not being nailed on “properly”, a downspout that needs more length and how these things should make your RUN from the property. And no, I wouldn’t want an inspector with a background solely as an engineer. All these guys know is theory and know little about real world practice and how things actually go together (trust me, I’ve dealt with this many times). I’ll stick with the guys with a contracting background who actually build things with their hands, not autoCAD.

Online experts in every subject (trolls), keep them coming!

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Erik February 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Mat,

I think I get the point of the article.

I just disagree with it.

It must suck when you are close to closing a deal and an inspector points out something that freaks out your client. I am a sales person who also depends on commission and it sucks when legal squashes a deal (and my commission check).

I am still pretty much a newbie–4 properties in the past 13 months–but I can’t see how an ‘over zealous’ inspector is a bad thing. Broken down spouts still cost some time and money. And if they drain into negative drainage into expansive soils, there could be a major problem.

How is not knowing this a better thing than knowing this (as a buyer of real estate)?

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Michael February 25, 2013 at 10:49 am

I’ve been a home inspector for over 22 years. I’m also an investor and agree with some of your points but, let me say that the job of the inspector is not to make the buyer feel good abouth their inspector! Our job is to give the buyer all the information they need to make an informed decision. We will let you, and your buyer, decide what is important and what is not.

I also agree with finding an experienced inspector. You’re right….after 8200 inspections, I’ve seen just about everything. We are better at putting the conditions we see into the proper context. It’s all about the presentation.

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