Home Inspector Blog
Michael Burfitt, CPI
Home Inspector Blog
Michael Burfitt, CPI
I remember one Sunday morning I took my then two-year-old son to the playground bright and early before my softball game when suddenly someone approached me noticing my Inside Edge Home Inspections vehicle and giant logoed T-shirt. He then proceeded to tell me that he was new to the area and was looking for a home inspector. The next thing he said caught me off guard: he asked me “so.... why should I pick Inside Edge?” I might be a great home inspector but coming up with an elevator speech on the spot is not my greatest skill. I gave a general answer about how I'm an independent, experienced inspector with a large amount of education. In hindsight, while it was a good answer, I didn't really give a clear, definitive reason why I am the best choice for a home inspector.
While playing my game later that day I thought about a better answer I could have given and then I thought about the sport I was playing. Setting aside the debate over the new pitch clock in Major League Baseball, one major difference between baseball and most other sports is the lack of a game clock. While you may have a general idea of when a baseball game will usually end (the average this season is 2 hours and 38 minutes), the bottom line is you need to make 27 outs to secure victory.
Getting back to home inspections, I could talk all day about my extensive education and my natural abilities as a home inspector, but I think my edge (pun intended) can be summed up in one sentence:
I don't look at a clock during a home inspection.
During my first year I always asked people how they found my company and I received a few answers: prior positive referrals from satisfied clients, my listing on Google, my website, and my pictures. However, one person mentioned how they used to use an inspector for many years and recently decided to change because they felt the inspector was more interested in rushing to the next job than giving a quality home inspection.
It sounds like a cliche but it's true that your home is the most expensive investment you will ever make in your life, and I don't need to explain that houses are expensive. As such, it's always been our company mission to provide the highest quality inspections possible. One way I do this is make sure we never schedule back-to-back inspections and while the average inspection is not far off the length of an MLB game (usually a bit over 2 hours), and like a major sporting event I generally only do one inspection a day. Of course, the home inspection industry ebbs and flows throughout the year so if I do schedule two in a day (and never more than two) I always leave time to accommodate the unexpected, like an NHL playoff game that goes into triple overtime.
Funny personal anecdote: I attended the 2016 University Cup and the first game went into quadruple overtime. Since there was no buffer between the two games, the second game didn't end until 12:45am! Yes, I attended both of them and took these pictures and while memorable, the lack of planning for this contingency (there was only an hour scheduled between games) made for a very long evening. Guess what happened the very next afternoon? Yes, that's a 6 under the period column, meaning this one went to triple overtime and the second game was over 90 minutes late starting.
In the home inspection industry, like a sports team, it's important to focus on what you are good at. In my case giving clients high quality inspections and treating every client with the respect and care they deserve is my calling card. While we have outstanding value we never have and never will be the cheapest in town because we take the time to give a quality inspection that will make you feel you made the right choice in putting your trust in Inside Edge Home Inspections.
Like most home inspectors, I have read countless articles written by other home inspectors about “How to Choose a Home Inspector” that by an amazing coincidence always seem to include narrow criteria that miraculously describes the inspector writing the article! I promise to never write such a blog post, but I thought with today’s economic conditions where a homeowner or potential homeowner is being squeezed to the limit it might be a good idea to highlight the difference between cost and value.
I firmly believe that of the many home inspectors in Nova Scotia, few if any can match the level of value that I, and by extension our company provides. My extensive academic and professional background in both home inspection and building services combined with my friendly, go-above-and-beyond personality (or so I have been told) means that everyone who hires Inside Edge will get a professional, highly detailed, personalized inspection that is easy to understand. As well, thanks to my Commerce Degree and entrepreneurial experience, I am able to keep overhead costs low and pass the savings onto you.
However, while my value is at the top of the market, I make no apologies for not being the lowest priced in the Halifax area. If anyone is looking for the cheapest possible home inspectors and nothing else, our company is simply not going to be the right choice and never will be. A house is a complicated system of interdependent components, and an inspection should be performed by someone with a high degree of competency and who understands a superficial “drive-by” inspection is not an acceptable practice. Let me make it clear that I am FAR from the only competent inspector in the local market but all the skilled inspectors in our province have one thing in common: they charge more because, like your favourite home inspector, they have invested in advanced education, training and equipment and bring more value to the table.
I was once addressing a group of both new and potential immigrants to Canada. There are a lot of misconceptions from people unfamiliar with our country and region, such as the idea of homes in North America being built like tanks (trust me: they aren’t!), newer homes not needing inspections (it’s possible to find just as many issues in new homes as there are in older homes) and that flips are basically brand-new houses (all home inspectors will agree this is ANYTHING but the truth in almost all situations). One thing I made clear was that while my prices are lower than average, I warned that when choosing a home inspector, the total cost should be at the bottom of your concerns. I also pointed out that Nova Scotia, just like most places in Canada, does not require any training or qualifications to become a home inspector and there are ZERO regulations specific to home inspectors aside from the usual requirements to register your business with the provincial government. Yes, you too can start a home inspection company in our province within approximately 2 weeks with just a few hundred dollars and call yourself a home inspector! Caveat emptor indeed.
How Do I Know Who to Choose?
While I fully believe in my skills and the company I founded, I am aware that not everybody falls in my service area, and I cannot fulfill every request (feast or famine is an apt description of the home inspection industry as my fellow home inspectors across North America can attest to). I am passionate about homes and do not want to see anyone get burned by a bad inspection, whether it be by being given a false sense of security or being unnecessarily spooked by issues that are relatively minor. Here are a few signs of a good home inspection company or home inspector:
In addition, in Nova Scotia, you can always consult the Registry of Joint Stock Companies. All information about businesses registered in the province is public data including information on our corporate structure. This does not guarantee a good home inspection company by any means but can show you if the legal requirements for operating a business in Nova Scotia are being followed.
It is important to know that while I am committed to growing Inside Edge and we (and this blog) won’t be going anywhere, the home inspection industry is highly cyclical, with companies always coming and going due to fluctuating market conditions (and not necessarily failing because they are bad home inspectors). This is not a typical career, where a student goes from High School directly to a Home Inspection program and it is important to remember that there are many paths to success in this field. Personally, I wish I was directed to this industry many years before I learned about it but I am glad to be an increasingly popular choice for a home inspector in Nova Scotia.