“Peeling back the onion”
This phrase has become a sort of slogan with our inspectors. We want our inspectors to be curious… and a little skeptical if something does not seem right. We want them to peel back the layers and provide our clients with information they need to make educated decision.
In our work, we frequently inspect homes that are either new, or were recently remodeled. You are probably familiar with the term “flipped home”. This is usually a home that was remodeled by someone with an eye on making a profit after their work is complete.
Please do not misunderstand. Making a profit is not a bad thing! The problem is, too often the work that was done is marginal. The flipper’s eye is on getting things done quickly so that they can make a profit, not in providing the best quality home they can. See a blog that we wrote in 2019 Call Me a Doubter – Dunsing Inspections that deals with home purchasers doing their due diligence when purchasing a flipped home.
We’ve always done it this way!
When we see marginal workmanship on homes, our home inspector antennae start vibrating. In these cases, we encourage our inspectors to peel back the onion a little bit further.
Often, peeling away these layers lead to the discovery of plumbing leaks, electrical defects, and other concealed problems.
In cases where the item falls into the “marginal workmanship” category, the house flipper often will tell us, “We’ve always done it this way!”. This can be a red flag and requires someone with the experience to determine whether the item is really a problem, or not.
Change is difficult- Embrace it
This is where an experienced home inspector is worth their weight in gold. You see, we feel that keeping up with the most current trends in construction and related fields is a part of our job. We review several periodicals that keep us up to date with modern materials, methods, and tools. Knowing what new (and old) materials might be a problem is crucial to providing our clients with the best information to make their purchase decision.
If you are curious about residential construction, we recommend The Journal of Light Construction and Fine Homebuilding. These are two of the best sources for current construction methods and materials and provide a variety of education for builders, inspectors, and flippers to learn about new methods, and to embrace change. They are only the beginning of making changes to keep up with the times.
Successful home inspectors embrace change
Admittedly, I am an old dog in this business. For 32 years, I have relied on tried-and-true methods to inspect homes. However, just in the past year, we have started to embrace some new methods and tools for our inspections.
For example, drone inspections of roofs are quickly replacing ladders for inspections. We do not foresee a day when ladders will not be part of our tool list, however, it has become clear that drones offer a safer and sometimes better method to inspect hard to reach places.
We have also started to offer sewer surveys with our inspections. See our blog post from 2021 that discusses this service. Your sewer needs a colonoscopy! – Dunsing Inspections
In the past, this was almost unheard of in our business. The old argument was that this was messy work, and that a plumbing contractor needed to do it. We have found that this is not the case and is one of the best services that we have added to our menu.
Adding new services has helped us to embrace change and experiment with new tools and methods.
A good home inspector is curious. As we know, there are limitations to what can be done in a relatively short time and without cutting open walls, ceilings, or floors. However, knowing when things don’t look right, and being willing to “peel back the onion” are qualities we look for with new inspectors.
Do you know someone who likes to “Peel back the onion”?
If you know someone who would be a good inspector, please let us know. We are always hiring!
By Jamie Dunsing, professional inspector since 1989