Home Inspector Blog
Home Inspector Blog
It’s no secret that 2021 was a tough year in the Home Inspection industry, especially in the Halifax area. With the sharp increase in competition for home buyers, many have chosen to waive the inspection contingency when purchasing a home. Needless to say, skipping the home inspection is a B-A-D idea and while not the ideal solution, I do offer walkthrough consultations and strongly encourage post-sale inspections. If you are a first-time homebuyer, it is especially important to know what to expect in the coming years and plan accordingly as homes require a maintenance plan to avoid costly and disruptive issues.
When I was in the planning stages of starting my company and before the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to know the reasons why the services of a professional home inspector were not being considered. I found that many people have had bad experiences in the past with home inspectors that were lacking in either technical or communication skills. There is also much misunderstanding amongst new homeowners as to the value of having a home inspection and what exactly a home inspection entails. Here are a few of the more common criticisms I hear and my thoughts on them.
Home Inspectors are More Interested in Staying on the Good Side of Agents
Ask any inspector and they will deny this conflict of interest, but my experience has shown that this, unfortunately can happen. I have heard other home inspectors openly worry about being labelled a “deal killer” or “alarmist” or otherwise getting on the bad side of an agent or brokerage firm. While I personally am always happy to get positive referrals from anyone, including local agents, the bottom line is that I built our company's reputation as your source for trusted, unbiased and independent home inspections and home related information above all else. Simply put, any real estate agent or organization who expects me to compromise our integrity to push through a deal by writing a "soft" report is looking at the wrong company.
Just Hire an Electrician, Plumber, Roofer, and Structural Engineer
While some inspectors do occasionally come from these various backgrounds, it is safe to say as a general rule, home inspectors are not electricians, plumbers, roofers or engineers. It is true that collectively hiring from 1 of each of these 4 specialties will indeed yield a more in-depth inspection into arguably the four most important parts of a home. Realistically, it is extremely unlikely to coordinate these four separate trades all at the same time, often with short notice, often on the weekend and at a price that is affordable to the average homeowner. A home inspection is the best value for your money as a good overall introduction or assessment of your home. Home inspectors are both generalists and big picture thinkers and see a home as a system of interdependent components that no specialist can match.
I Can’t Trust Nova Scotia Home Inspectors: There Are No Regulations!
Stating that Nova Scotia has zero home inspection regulations is 100% true and has been a topic I have written about previously. There has been no shortage of people who have tried their hand unsuccessfully at home inspections both in our province and across North America. Some of these home inspectors have no recognizable qualifications or relevant experience and are masquerading as experts, hurting the overall reputation of our industry. Home Inspectors have one of the highest failure rates of any profession because it quickly becomes apparent, while a fun and rewarding career, that home inspectors do a job that is mentally and physically challenging, requires wearing a wide variety of metaphorical hats and is NOT, in any way, a path to easy money!
So how do you know you can trust your inspector to do a great job and provide maximum value? While there is no shortage of trustworthy, thorough, and knowledgeable home inspection companies in our area, I can only speak for my own organization. Inside Edge Home Inspections Ltd. was not an idea I thought up overnight but was the result of over 3 years of careful and meticulous planning. I knew nobody should be expected to pay for someone who still has significant gaps in their knowledge base so that is why I made sure I had an extensive knowledge and experience before launching: as the saying goes you only get one chance to make a first impression and I wanted to make sure our company’s reputation was excellent right from the start. Our website details my extensive background and why I am suited to be considered a highly skilled home inspector, with no need to worry about whether calling Inside Edge is the right decision for you.
Many home inspector websites have a Q&A or frequently asked questions (FAQ) section, where they answer commonly asked questions about the home inspection process. Most of them involve simple questions such as what exactly a home inspection is, can I attend an inspection (YES!), how long does an inspection last (varies but 2 hours on site is a good rule of thumb) and do inspectors offer buying advice or recommendations (no). This blog is going to answer some questions that are rarely asked. Let’s take a look at a few:
Why Don’t You Do Short Term Radon Tests?
Another way to phrase this is why don’t I take advantage of the ‘easy money’ in short term (48 hour) radon testing, especially when I have the necessary training and ability to perform and interpret radon tests. The obvious answer is that, unlike in the USA, they are not considered valid in Canada. Short term tests are highly inaccurate (a recent study from the University of Calgary found about 96-99% inaccuracy) and require very specific closed condition parameters. For starters, all windows have to be kept closed both before and during the test and exterior doors opened only to enter/leave. In a hot summer day without air conditioning, this is a feature that can cause significant discomfort to put it mildly! I once heard someone compare making a radon mitigation decision based on a short-term test is like getting married based on a first date and this isn’t far from the truth.
Yes, a short term test is better than no test but a false negative can provide an unwarranted sense of security and a false positive will usually require a long-term test to confirm anyway. As much as I would love to be able to provide accurate information over a weekend, this is simply not possible due to the highly fluctuating nature of uranium decay deep underground and the constant changing of building conditions. It is recommended that radon tests should be completed with a 3-12 month timeframe (bare minimum of 30 days) and is the guideline that I operate under.
What Does “Independent Home Inspector” Mean?
This question can be expanded to include “are you hostile towards real estate agents?”. The answer to that is an absolute and clear NO! There are a large number of agents in both Halifax and Nova Scotia as whole that work very hard to ensure their client’s best interests are met just like I do. We both have a fiduciary responsibility to look out for our clients regardless of our personal opinions and we are both passionate about homes. In many cases we have mutual clients and work closely together with agents. All “independent” means is that we do not work under the direction of a real estate agent, real estate broker, contractor, or other similar organization and my loyalty is above all else to provide the unbiased truth rather than being influenced into writing a “soft” or "tough" report. Put another way, a "pre-sale" report, a "pre-purchase" report, and a "post-purchase/maintenance" report on the exact same house for the same individual client would have the exact same results with the exact same recommendations which is why I removed this section from my website.
What’s the Most Interesting Personal Items or Décor You Have Seen in a Home?
Nothing and even if I did stumble upon something interesting, I would not discuss it with anyone. I have stated before that the #1 thing I dislike about being a home inspector is the feeling of being intrusive in someone’s personal space. While I am skilled at looking past home contents, if there was a way to magically make every single piece of personal property temporarily disappear during an inspection, I would be a very happy inspector. A clean house also makes our job much easier, but I digress.
There was once a story in the local media about a property inspector who discovered and brought down some long-lost personal property out of an attic. While it was presented as a feel-good story I was infuriated when I read the article. Unless there is a VERY good reason, we do not touch, interact with, or disturb personal property and the person in question admitted they were snooping around. If there is a concern, I will always ask the property owner for further guidance before proceeding.
Being a home inspector is about trust, which I have spent many years building with both clients and the public at large. Anyone who uses our services has trust in us: that we will look out for their interests, that we will provide maximum value, that we will show up on time and finish the report as promised and most importantly that we do our best to leave only (hopefully invisible) footprints and take only photographs of the home and its various systems.