Long Island Home Inspection – What is the truth?
Home Inspection is one of the most misunderstood and misguided activities in the sale or purchase of a home. It’s critical to know what to expect and which Home Inspectors are qualified to do the job right. If you aren’t aware of these things, it could negatively affect the value of your home.
Taking time to read the information on my website will help you gain a
comprehensive understanding about a Home Inspection and the selection process of a professional Home Inspector. Utilize this information as a foundation for making the right choices!
Why is it critical to have a Long Island Home Inspection?
Buying a Home is an emotional event. This makes it difficult for home buyers to remain completely objective about the property they desire, which may lead to a poor assessment. Even the most experienced home buyer lacks the knowledge of all components and systems of a building. Real estate is the largest financial investment in your life; you want to make sure it’s a solid one. Home inspections are important and necessary for your own protection and future security. Essentially, they are visual (non-invasive) examinations of the physical structure and numerous systems in a home or building, followed by a comprehensive report.
Expectations during a home inspection must be kept in proper perspective by the buyer. In reality, a home inspector does not arrive with a crystal ball nor do they have X-ray vision to see through walls. Home Inspectors do not perform technical evaluations or exhaustive testing during a home inspection and may report them as further recommendations. Frequently, there are various constraints which are beyond the control of a home inspector, there by, limiting assessment in certain areas of a home or building. This could be due to:
- Dense vegetation
- Height restrictions
- Visual access only
- Unsafe for access
- Turned off utilities
- Seasonal weather anomalies
Also important, when a home inspection is performed at the seller’s property, the inspector and the buyer are guests and shall respect the property without moving furnishings or performing acts beyond normal assessment and operation of components which could risk causing damage.
Let’s understand that no building is “perfect”. Environmental variables constantly affect building materials from the first day the structural assembly begins. Regular maintenance and repair due to normal wear and tear is to be expected. The primary objective is to reveal conditions that may incur large expenses, immediate repairs or safety related concerns. A thorough home inspector will also document the minor defects that may be useful to the buyer as a ‘punch list’ for upgrades.
The Standards of Practice created by the various home inspection associations are somewhat similar and great guides as to what a Home Inspectors shall or shall not be required to perform. However, these are only the “minimum” standards and can be exceeded. You may find these published documents by searching the various association websites. You must be licensed to do home inspections in New York State and there are New York State laws regarding home inspections.
Keep in mind, a home inspection is by no means a warranty or insurance policy nor does it refer to construction or building codes. You should think of it as an informative guide and educational experience. The report may also be a useful document when attempting to renegotiate any unknown or undisclosed major findings.
What questions should I ask?
Choosing a home inspector is a difficult process, especially for first time home buyers. I receive calls from prospective clients on a daily basis and too often the initial question asked is “What is your price to perform a home inspection?”
It’s understandable that cost would be someone’s focus, but with a home purchase being such a major financial investment, there are other considerations that are more important. At first, your questions should be as follows:
- Do you conduct business full time or part-time?
- Are you a franchise or an owner/operator?
- Who will perform the home inspection? Owner or Employee?
- What’s your background experience, credentials, years in business and/or membership in related organizations or associations?
- How long will you spend at the inspection site?
- Do you walk on roof areas?
- Is the home inspection report issued on-site or do you provide a full written report within one business day?
- What additional services do you provide? Will they all be performed by the Home Inspector or sub-contracted out?
- Do you actually open a back flow test on the sewer to cesspool system?
UNFORTUNATELY, most mistakes are made by booking an inspection on impulse with the first Home Inspection service you call, instead of doing careful research. Make it a point to contact 3-4 home inspectors in order to have a good basis for comparison. After diligent questioning, you should have ample information with a respective range of costs.
At this point, you may begin to arrange your list of respective qualities and now are close to making an informed choice.
The next section will enhance your knowledge in the numerous ways one can be skewed into believing they have found the right individual for professional guidance through their purchase.
This is extremely important for you to know – so please take a few more moments to read on and absorb each point made.
What should I avoid?
- ‘Marketing Schemes’ as lures to create a smokescreen for inferior service. These discounters don’t want you to call others and discover they offer a lot more value for a justifiable fee. They will often say something to the effect “we have a special offer today if you book an inspection with us immediately“. Any of the true professional home inspectors that I know in this area do not offer marketing discounts. There is an underlying reason if one needs to do so.
- If a home inspector boasts having performed a large number of inspections, take immediate note of it. It is most likely that this Inspector is trying to dazzle you with numbers and hope you won’t think it through. Let’s work this example out and see the outcome: If a home inspector claims to have performed 15,000 home inspections in the past 1 years, that’s 1500 per year or approximately 4 inspections per day for 365 days. Now to accomplish this, the inspector would have spent only 1 hours to inspect each home, have at least a 1/2 hour to 45 minute drive time available to get to each inspection and then back home to write up 4 reports which would need to be completed by morning because of the upcoming 4 inspections the next business day. This Inspector would appear tired and malnourished as there would be no time to eat or sleep, let alone have a family to enjoy a Holiday together. I seriously doubt the latter to be the case . What the boasted or advertised high numbers really mean is that the inspector does quick and inferior inspections, then goes back to the office and completes an inferior inspection report with little substance. Think about quality and not quantity.
- A ‘Free Home Warranty’ policy included with your home inspection sounds great, doesn’t it?. With this tactic, a home inspector is basically telling you that they cannot do a good job. These policies are not even ‘Warranties’ (See Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act), which is misleading, if marketed to you that way. Warranties can only be issued by the original Producer/Manufacturer/Service Provider during the initial sale of their product/service. Unfortunately, you are not being informed properly that this so-called ‘Warranty’ is simply a 3rd party ‘Service Agreement’ with exclusions that are almost too numerous to read. The fine print often gives this 3rd party Company the rights to deny the claim based on investigations they perform with their own hired contract service people. Talk about the “Fox in the Hen House”!!! These so-called ‘Warranties’ cost the Home Inspector around $15-20.00 and again, the saying “you get what you are undoubtedly paying for” is most fitting here. But wait one second! You can’t honestly believe that you are getting this for free, did you? There is an actual website message board forum where Warranty Company President, who also happens to be an Officer/Director of a self-proclaimed largest Home Inspection Association, instructing home inspector members as to how a prospective home buyer should be marketed with his Company’s Home Warranty to ‘clinch the deal’ so to speak. He even tells them how they should increase their home inspection fee by $20.00 so you the buyer are paying for it, while making it appear to you that the inspection company is picking up the tab. Ever hear that saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.
- If you want to see the actual dialogue, you could copy/paste the following URL (excluding brackets) and specifically read Post #156 (#’s in upper right corner) only after you have completed reading the rest of the important things you should be aware of. [http://www.nachi.org/forum/f13/100-day-warranty-48951/index11.html]
- The touting of meaningless ‘Certification’ is craftily being used by an overwhelming majority of home inspectors lately in mere attempt to create false perceptions. Some Associations even include the word ‘certified’ in their name as a marketing lure. They provide an un-proctored entrance exam, which is more of a quiz, through the internet. Most anyone can pass it and become a member without ever performing a single home inspection. This hurts an unsuspecting home buyer, while the so-called ‘Certified’ Association boasts thousands of members all the way to bank. My certifications and licensing are validated by New York State or Accredited Training programs with rigorous requirements and proctored testing.
- Ridiculous titles such as ‘Master Inspector’ have only recently surfaced. In all the years I’ve been inspecting real estate, I can professionally state that this occupation is not a skill which an individual can perfect. This illusionary title was conjured up by a profiteer through the internet. Each and every property is unique, requiring a custom approach by a licensed, knowledgeable and perceptive individual. Let us be thankful that we don’t see signs such as ‘Certified Master Doctor’!
- The useless pitch “I use the technology of an infrared camera during my inspections”. Most veteran home inspectors can make educated assessments of areas with their invaluable human senses. Infrared camera technology in the field, labeled as ‘Thermography’, is highly sophisticated and has a special parameters for application. Home inspections for real estate transactions are not the time to do these. The right conditions must exist for one of these cameras to ‘see’ a latent deficiency. These conditions are not guaranteed during your inspection, hence, numerous exclusions are sure be stated somewhere in the fine print of that inspector’s report. Here we go again with quickie ‘Certifications’ that are easily attainable for the sake of equipment companies wanting to sell an expensive piece of equipment. Also, the inferior models of camera, which most all home inspectors own due to cost, are too often in the wrong hands of inexperience. This marketed tool will distract your home inspector from doing their job to engage the amazing natural senses of sight, touch and sound along with focus on cause and effect relationships in building science.
- ‘Mold Testing’ – If you are being offered or scared into this service you should hang up and call the next number on your list. Veteran home inspectors call this the ‘MOLD IS GOLD’ syndrome which is too often used by cheaper priced services to pad their fee higher or by inexperienced inspectors who are sold on a one day ‘Certification’ course to know everything there is about mold. Think about this seriously – why are you being sold on mold testing if the home inspector has not even been to the property to assess if there is a reason to do so. Your health is not their main concern, but merely a matter of substantial profit generated from testing. If one does not have a minimum 4-year college degree in the Science of Microbiology, they should not be testing for mold (fungus). Even when testing for any known species is performed, it does not provide a definitive action that is outlined in any current day protocol. You’ll simply have a document which shows many numerical values and categories. A sincere veteran home inspector will keenly detect concerns for extraordinary mold (fungus) conditions and may recommend further evaluation or treatment by a qualified professional if necessary.
- The septic system ‘Dye Test’ is one of the oldest and most inconclusive evaluations you could waste your money on. If you are being offered this service, which will be 95% of all home inspection services, you may as well fill out a check for the typical $50.00 and wait until a strong wind comes along to hold it up high and let go. ‘Dye testers only offer the statement “there were no unusual areas of moisture observed in the yard”. Of course, because most problems exist beneath the surface and do not show up with what I call “The Blind Dye Test“. Keep in mind, septic systems are an expensive part of the home and should be properly evaluated by a qualified professional. A Home is not a “Home Sweet Home” if the Septic System is not functioning properly.
- Free homeowner handbooks or repair guides included with your inspection. These are an absolute waste of our environmental resources. These books are useless in the way of providing generalized explanations about home repairs and maintenance. With the internet at your finger tips, you can find detailed information about anything involving your home from true experts while saving paper on useless handbooks. I can bet you that all of these books will sit on a shelf until the next millennium or when needed as a starter log in a fireplace.
Lastly, the failure rate among home inspectors in their first year of business is guessed to be about 70%. Of those remaining, 30% will probably not make their third year. If you retain the services from
one of these individuals, you may not have any recourse should issues arise after their inspection. In addition, you will not have available support for future questions during your home ownership.
As a well-established business professional, I deem it important to convey both positive and negative information as it relates to home inspections. Knowing both vantage points is key to hiring competent home inspectors.