Home Inspectors don’t shovel snow
Seven things that you should NOT expect of your home inspector
We are often asked what our inspections include. The standard answer is that a home inspection includes over 400 separate items and that it follows the standards of practice of our state.
The state oversees the licensing of a host of various professionals. On their website, you can check the status of your home inspector, your embalmer, your veterinarian, or even your acupuncturist! Go here for more information. State of Illinois | Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (idfpr.com)
We often get caught up in explaining what is included with a standard inspection. As an inspector, it is equally important to set people’s expectations and tell them what we do not do.
OK, so what don’t you do?
Below is a brief list of things that a home inspector does not do, along with a brief explanation of why.
… should we purchase this home so close to our in-laws? (a real question we were once asked, and carefully avoided answering!)…A real question from a real client
- Home inspectors are not therapists. Buying real estate is an emotional process! Everyone is on edge because there is usually a substantial amount of money on the line. While we have great empathy, questions about how your spouse feels about the house, whether you should go forward with the purchase, or if you should purchase a home so close to your in-laws (a real question we were once asked, and carefully avoided answering!) are not things that your home inspector is trained to help with.
2. Home inspectors don’t shovel snow. In the area where we work, snow is a part of life! Sometimes it snows just prior to or during our inspection. We have had a long-standing policy that we will return to inspect these areas after the snow melts.
However, we have had clients get a little snippy when we do not shovel their walk, driveway, or deck to inspect it. Shoveling snow is just not in the job description.
For another perspective, sometimes snow gives us a chance to see things that we otherwise may not have been able to see. Large, melted areas of snow can indicate a lack of insulation. Large icicles can be an indicator of poor insulation or ventilation.
3. Home inspectors are not estimators. We understand that costs are a big concern for people to understand. A common question during home inspections is how much something will cost. For a time, we provided cost estimates for repairs that were needed at homes that we inspected. Imagine our dismay when we discovered that we were not insured for providing these cost estimates! We suspect that to be the case for other inspectors as well.
You should be aware that costs for most repair work will vary wildly. Do you want your home inspector to give you a number that is palatable, only to discover later that they were off by a factor of 10? Often, cost estimates can be double, triple or even more of what the original “guesstimate” was. “Off the record” cost estimates are never “off the record”.
So please, do not ask your inspector how much something costs to repair or replace. Utilize the services of a contractor or consider a service like RepairPricer.com. On their website (www.repairpricer.com), this company touts “In studies we have conducted with real life reports we have found our reports are 98% accurate when it comes to true repair cost.”
4. Home inspectors cannot perform two jobs at the same time. While we are incredibly good multi-taskers, there are limitations to what we can do during our home inspection. A common refrain from inspectors is that when they are in the basement with their face buried in the home’s furnace, inevitably someone will ask questions about the attic that has not even been inspected yet.
Likewise, when a father-in-law shows up at an inspection, he wants to ask questions about issues he is having at his own home. This is not the time for advice about their home in Pocatello, Idaho. After all, our purpose is to be fully engaged in Junior’s new home.
Wouldn’t you rather have us give our undivided attention to that?
5. Home inspectors are not appraisers. Hundreds of times we have been asked “Is the house worth it?” Like the comment about home inspectors not being estimators, we are not appraisers. Establishing the value of a home is an entirely different profession. We try to stay in our lane. Please don’t ask us to do a U-turn and go the other way.
6. Home inspectors are not salespeople. The truth is that clients want us to find every defect in the home, not point out all the great features.
Real estate agents are terrific salespeople. It is better for all concerned if we leave the selling to the experts and let them guide you through the process.
7. Finally, home inspectors are not negotiators. We do not assist in helping people get a better deal. The intention of a home inspection has NEVER been to help the buyer get a better deal.
We have had several clients tell us that they feel that they overpaid for a home and that they were depending on us to find defects to help them “get a better deal”. NO!! This is not within the scope of our service.
If your sole goal for the home inspection is to get a better deal, please refer to item six above that discusses the many talents of real estate agents.
While this may not be an exhaustive list, a good rule of thumb to consider is whether or not your request follows the guidelines of the pre-inspection agreement. This document carefully spells out what the inspector will and will not do.
Which would you rather have? A home inspector who can do a competent inspection, or one who does acupuncture while he looks at your furnace?
By James Dunsing, Professional Home Inspector
/ Dunsing Inspections / James “Jamie” Dunsing
Jamie Dunsing is the second generation of home inspectors with Dunsing Inspections.