FAQs

General Home Inspection

Q1. “What is a home inspection?”

1st – A home inspection is a visual, non-intrusive, & fair effort to discover the real material condition of the home during the time and day that the inspection takes place.

2nd – A home inspection isn’t really about the home inspector telling you what’s wrong with the home more than it is a discovery session for you to make sure you understand what you’re buying so that you can decide if it falls within your expectations and is a good fit for your situation.

You see, my job is to make sure I align the reality of the home’s condition with your expectations. If I can successfully do that, then I’ve done my job.

And that’s really it. It’s limited in scope by what can be seen and tested. This particularly applies to vacant homes where an inspector is forced to play detective and do the best they can during the short period of time that they’re there.

If time permits, you should be encouraged to take advantage of this rare opportunity to follow a professional around your home who will invite your questions, concerns, and impart key information and advice that will certainly help you sell your home faster and with fewer surprises than you’d experience otherwise.

Q2. “Why do I need a home inspection?”

First, because you need to know what kind of condition your home is in.

Second, Because it would be outrageously expensive to call out a licensed professional to evaluate the condition of every single system and component in a home. For example, let’s say we have the hourly rates of certified professionals:

• Electrician = $65/hour
• HVAC technician = $75/hour
• Roofer = $70/hour
• Foundation specialist = $55/hour
• Plumber = $80/hour

A 2-hour inspection of every component in a home would easily cost over $610 for the standard sized home. And that’s assuming they don’t charge “Rush Charges” of 20% or more because they have to fit you into their schedule during your short 10-day inspection period.

Lastly, let me let you in on a little secret: No house is perfect.

This means there is always something to be found in every home.

For example, let me give you a real life situation from a past client.

Let’s call him Phil.

Phil buys a home in August and initially decides to skip the home inspection.

After he moves in, his water heater goes out and his air conditioner starts blowing hot air.

Not good at all for Phil.

You see, because of these major problems, Phil found himself spending the first week in his new home with no one to call and sifting through a sea of bad contractors to find the one he was hoping he could trust to do the repairs right the first time, which ultimately cost him $879 and still more time that he still didn’t have away from the more important things he wanted to be doing.
Like getting himself and his family settled in.

Afterward, he calls me to look at the home and we find a number of things that should have been repaired by the seller of the home and would have saved him about $4,250.

So, by using the services of a professional home inspection company, you’ll get a thoroughly trained & objective professional to give you quick information about the home’s true condition so you can negotiate with the seller to pay for things you won’t accept before you finally agree to buy the home.

Q3. “I’m buying a new construction home, should I still get it inspected?”

Again, no home is perfect and even if you trust the builder of the home, it’s not the builder who’s actually nailing the nails and putting on the roof…it’s the sub-contractors he hires.

So very often the builder isn’t even aware of some of the problems that will be uncovered, but will probably be happy to find them out.

I’m talking about things like leaking pipes, bad electrical wiring, improper roof installation, furnace or air conditioner problems, and that’s just the beginning of a list of possible things that stretches a mile long.

Another thing…last year I went into 2 homes that had NO insulation in the attic.

Zero. Zilch. Nada. Squat.

I’m talking blank attic space.

So again, always get any new home inspected because 9 times out of 10 the inspection will more than pay for itself through the items that are found to be repaired.

Remember, a home inspection is to be looked at like an investment, not an expense and will play a big, big part in helping you enjoy the home for many years to come.

Q4. “I’ve heard about NACHI, ASHI, and NAHI; who are they and what do they mean to me?”

These standards come to about 430+ items that a home inspector MUST inspect in and around a home.

So just like the building codes that guide a builder with the minimum standards to build a house by, belonging either to NACHI, ASHI, or NAHI means that a home inspector is performing inspections in accordance with their respective minimum standards.

Also, since all 3 organizations perform the same function, a home inspector doesn’t need to belong to more than one (although some states don’t even require a home inspector to belong to any of them).

So what do ASHI, NACHI, and NAHI mean to you as a home buyer?

They provide a certain level of peace-of-mind knowing that if a home inspector belongs to one of these organizations, they’ve committed to a minimum level of professionalism and to their respective inspection standards.

But here’s what NACHI, ASHI, and NAHI don’t do:

1. They aren’t an insurance company to protect you if a home inspector misses something.

2. They aren’t a group that could punish a home inspector or kick them out of the industry for acting unethically or unprofessionally (there are exceptions that involve revoking their license, but this is not common).

Q5. “What’s included in a home inspection?”

1. Landscaping
2. Exterior
3. Roof
4. Attic
5. Plumbing
6. Electrical
7. HVAC systems
8. Fireplace(s)
9. Interior
10. Basement/crawlspace
11. Foundation
12. Fire safety
13. And most everything in between.

But at its best, your inspection will see you actively participate and involved in what will become an on-site educational course on the finer points of your home.

Q6. “Aren’t all home inspections the same?”

These methods range from hand-written to computer-generated reports and from little as 200 items inspected to the Bulldog® inspection of 1600+ items.

Also, the price will vary based upon several factors including the size and age of your home. An exact fee will be quoted when you call or when you schedule your inspection online.

And beware of the low-cost inspection!

You get what you pay for and like all industries; you can find someone who will perform a low priced inspection. But 9 times out of 10, this doesn’t translate into a good value and you’ll end up wishing you would have invested the extra $25 or $30 for a good, quality home inspector.

Q7. “How long will the home inspection take?”

Q8. “Am I missing out on any expertise by not using an engineer?”

1st – Their knowledge is too specific and too specialized to be used for a professional home inspection. If you hire the right home inspector, you are hiring an experienced professional who has training and experience in all systems and components present in a home. The home inspector will not only evaluate the condition of the mechanical and structural systems in a home, but also to evaluate how these systems are working together and identify areas that need to be monitored, repaired, or in the extreme case, replaced.

Think of a home inspector as your family doctor. A person doesn’t go straight to a brain surgeon when they have a headache; it’s just too expensive and too specialized. You visit your family doctor who will diagnose the problem and then, if necessary, send you to the specialist. That’s how the professional engineer and all other specialists (HVAC, foundation, electrician, roofing, etc.) fit into the scope of the inspection process. Occasionally, a home inspector may identify the need for a more detailed analysis of one or more of the home’s systems or structures and in these cases, the appropriate professional is recommended.

2nd – You need someone to professionally & objectively communicate their findings. The importance of this skill cannot be overemphasized. This is what distinguishes the abilities of a professional home inspector from a professional engineer. As a basic necessity, a home inspector is continually educated and experienced in not only verbal communication, but in written communication. By trade, a professional engineer doesn’t have need to be careful with the wording of their findings, while a professional home inspector fully understands their role in the sales process and is equipped with both the communication skills and home inspection reporting tools to deliver a timely, thorough, careful, and appropriate ‘big picture’ analysis of the home.

As a matter of fact, hiring a professional engineer on your own can be a disappointing experience. In the state of Kansas a licensed engineer can perform a home inspection without being certified. The term professional engineer does not mean the individual has training or experience conducting home inspections. Therefore, hiring a professional engineer to complete a home inspection will likely cost you more money and not deliver the results you are looking for or deserve.

Q9. “Does a home inspection warranty or insure my home?”

Also, a home inspection does not represent an insurance policy. All it signifies is the material condition of your home during the day of the inspection. For detailed information on a home warranty, contact your real estate professional.

Q10. “Will you provide a 1st time buyer with any extra time or help?”

Additionally, we provide free lifetime support for any home improvement/ repair question or concern you may have, including the name of any quality contractors we know and trust.

Q11. “When & how do I pay for the home inspection?”

If you are unable to attend the inspection, we ask that you pay through credit card at our website, mail the check at the time of scheduling, or have your representative or agent provide payment at the time of the inspection. An invoice for payments received is always included with your home inspection report and the report will not be released until payment is made unless arrangements were made in advance
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Q12. “Will you take payment at closing?”

You see, we realize that the decision to buy or not-to-buy a home often hinges on the outcome of a home inspection. If arrangements are made for payment to be provided at closing and then you decide not to buy the home, then things may get a little sticky in our pursuit to receive timely payment for our services. If it is unavoidable, there is no other option, and prior arrangements are made, then a $75 surcharge is added to the inspection price for this assistance.

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Q13. “How much does a home inspection cost?”

A Bulldog® home inspection is basically priced according to 2 factors:

1. The square footage of the home

2. The age of the home.

The reason? The bigger the home and older the home, the longer the inspection. Remember, what you are paying for with any service company is their time. The longer the time, the more the price.

However, don’t let the price of the inspection determine whether or not you get one or dictate your choice of home inspector.

Home inspections don’t cost, they pay.

The knowledge gained from a world-class home inspection is well worth the investment, and the lowest priced inspector is never a bargain.

Other things that will affect the overall cost of the inspection are whether you add additional services.

The 3 most common are:

1. A termite inspection (this is ordered 99.5% of the time with a whole-home inspection).

2. A radon test (this is ordered 75% of the time with a whole-home inspection).

3. A mold test.

Prepare in advance and be ready to discuss these options when you call your home inspector to ensure you’re taking full advantage of all the safety and security options available to you.

Q14. “Do I need to be present during the inspection?”

You’re encouraged to attend the entire inspection, but it’s not necessary.

However, it is important that you be present for the post-inspection wrap up, which occurs at the end of the inspection. This is the time when the inspection findings will be summarized and reviewed for your complete understanding, all current questions will be answered, any concerns are fully addressed, and the Visual Inspection Agreement will be signed.

Even if you are unable to attend, the Bulldog® home inspection report is loaded with detailed findings, supporting color photographs, supporting informational attachments, and 3 summary sections to let you rest assured that understanding your inspection report will be a breeze. In addition, we initiate a 72-hour follow-up with all of our clients to ensure that the report has been received, reviewed, and any remaining questions are answered.

Q15. “When will I receive the inspection report?”

After the post-inspection process is complete and the results of the inspection are discussed on-site, a complete report with detailed comments, supporting photographs, supporting informational attachments and 3 summary sections will be provided by the end of that same day.

Afterward, all you’ll have to do is review the report and call your agent to consider your next move.

Q16. “How will I receive the inspection report?”

. Herein is one of the best parts of a Bulldog® home inspection.

There is so much useful and important information packed into our home inspection reports that this is the reason we don’t print them out on-site, even though we have the capability.

It would just take too long.

At the conclusion of each inspection, after we discuss the results of the inspection with you while we’re still on-site, we go back to our office to compile all of the information and then we generate the inspection report.

Then you just sign in to view a sample report here.

How do we deliver it? By email. By email, how? Well, we email you a link to the report which is uploaded to our website. With Bulldog®, you’ll never worry about opening a PDF file (avoiding viruses and compatibility issues) or receiving a printed paper copy that can get lost, ripped, or wet. You will never have to worry about downloading a virus or having your only copy saved on the computer you forgot at home or at work. Our website server will store your entire home inspection report for 5 years, allowing you the convenience of referring back to it, but not having to keep copies saved on a computer that may crash, in an email that can get deleted, or filed away to be lost at home.

We will issue you a private and unique username and password and as long as you have them, you’ll always be able to log onto our website to retrieve your report.

What happens if I lose my username and/or password? Contact us and we’ll gladly resend them to you. No problem.

Q17.”Can a house fail a home inspection?”

No. A professional home inspector will not issue a pass or fail grade on a home.

By design, a professional home inspection is an objective examination of the current condition of the prospective home (see “What is a home inspection” Q1, above) and should be viewed as an important tool to assist in your overall consideration in the purchase of the inspected home. You may choose to ignore every bit of information within the report (not recommended) or you may use the findings to develop a list of unacceptable conditions to be delivered to the seller.

Both cases are completely your option.

Q18. “When and how do I schedule a home inspection?”

You generally have between seven and ten days after your sales contract is signed to get a home inspection. We would advise you to call us as soon as you sign a contract on the prospective home. This will ensure that you can get the inspection done at a time that’s most convenient for you and also have the time to schedule any additional specialist inspections, if necessary.

When you’re ready to schedule your inspection just give us a call or schedule it online, whichever you prefer. We also take scheduling calls on the weekend.

Q19. “Can I follow you around during the inspection?”

Absolutely.

The primary aim of any good home inspection is to make sure that you understand, with as much certainty as possible, what you are purchasing.

That’s it.

So if you need to follow the inspector around in order to feel comfortable, then by all means, follow them around.

If your inspector is bothered by this, then it would seem like you chose the wrong inspector.

You are the most important person at your home inspection. Period.

Q20. “Can I ask you questions during the inspection?”

Yes, please do. Again, referring back to Q1, the primary aim of a good home inspection is to make sure that the home you’re purchasing is a good fit for your expectations and situation.

And the only way you can really figure that out is by getting involved in your home inspection and asking questions.

So come prepared with questions written down, if you need to, so that you’re making the most of this very important investment.

Q21. “Is it a good idea to have a friend or family member perform the inspection?”

No way. This is the 2nd biggest mistake many potential homeowners make when purchasing a home (the 1st is not even getting a home inspection).

And although the person you are considering may be very skilled, they are not trained or experienced at professional home inspections (also see “Am I missing out on any expertise by not using a professional engineer?” above).

Professional home inspection is a unique skill unlike any other.

Professional inspectors get what is called an “inspector’s instinct” for problems. That instinct takes extensive training and experience to develop. And as a matter of fact, many contractors and other trades professionals hire a professional home inspector to inspect their own homes when they make a purchase. If they trust us, you should, too.

Q22. “What if I have questions after the inspection?”

You can contact us and discuss all aspects of your home whenever you like. Our service is a long-term investment for as long as you own the home.

Q23. “Should I avoid the home inspector that my real estate agent recommends?”

That’s another important question and the answer is…Not necessarily.

You see, good real estate agents live & breath in the world of real estate. Good agents have been around for years and there’s a reason for it…they surround themselves with a team of professionals they can trust – including their home inspectors.

They are constantly showered with the advertisements of home inspection companies; but with the help of other seasoned agents and their broker, they have weeded out the good inspectors from the questionable, or even bad ones.

Again, I’m referring to good agents.

In my opinion a good real estate agent is one who understands that there are many homes, but only one client. Good agents work off of referral business and win over their clients with service, experience, and knowledge; they aren’t the lucky ones who just happen to answer the phone when you call about a home you just drove by that had their sign in the yard. A good agent is one whose response to a home that has many things found wrong after the home inspection is:

“Good thing we got it inspected, now let’s go find that dream home.”

With that, am I also suggesting that if an agent only uses one inspector, that it’s a good idea to only use them? Maybe. That agent may be surrounding themselves with a “team” so that they can deliver a quality and consistent experience for their client and everyone on their “team” plays a vital role.

But be just as selective about your home inspector as you were the agent you chose to work with (that is, if you are working with an agent) and speak to at least 3. Remember, you are also compiling a team to work with, so treat all members of your team with the same level of respect and be picky, speak to a few, and choose the best fit for you.

Q24. “I’m getting an FHA loan, do you know what they’ll be looking for?”

Q25. “I’m getting a VA loan, do you know what they’ll be looking for?”

Q26. “What are the different types of inspections available?”

1. A whole-house inspection

2. A 5-point real estate investor inspection
3. A Radon test
4. A termite inspection
5. Mold testing

These 4 types of inspections cover 99.9% of all necessary evaluations of a home for sale. However, if the need arises, there are some very particular inspections that are not so common, including:

1. Asbestos testing
2. Lead based paint
3. Carbon Monoxide
4. Septic System Inspections
5. Well water inspections
6. New construction phase inspections
7. Stucco/EIFS inspections
8. Infrared testing

An important point to remember, though, is that the basic whole-house inspection will get a professionally trained home inspector through the home and if a condition is identified that might need a specialist’s opinion, the inspector can make that recommendation at that point.

I almost never recommend calling a specialist prior to a home inspection (unless it’s blatantly obvious) because the professional inspector will be able to point you in the right direction after they see the problem.

Sometimes something isn’t as bad as it looks and other times a specialist will be needed. Overall, this strategy will save you time and money if a specialist doesn’t end up being necessary.

Q27.”Do you have anything available to help me take a more critical look at each home I walk through before I call you?”

How? At the back of this guide I’ve included my exclusive Quik-Inspect™ Checklist that allows you to quickly take a critical eye at the 10 most common problems areas in the homes you’ll walk through.

How’s it used? Well, if you use my checklist and the home you’re looking at passes all 10 tests, then that’s a really good indication that you should probably call a professional home inspector to perform a more thorough and objective inspection.

Now, let me be very clear here: THE CHECKLIST IS NOT DESIGNED TO TAKE THE PLACE OF A PROFESSIONAL HOME INSPECTION, but it should keep you from calling a home inspector too soon because you didn’t notice the major crack in the foundation or the furnace that didn’t work.

In fact, I’ve had a few clients call me up to 4 times because they kept walking away from the homes I’d inspected for them – and all for reasons they could have seen themselves if they just had some basic knowledge.

This is one of my gifts to you. Enjoy.

Q28. “Is it alright to have my appraiser show up at the same time as the inspection?”

The only time that might not be a good idea is if a Radon test is performed. According to the EPA Radon protocol, closed-house conditions much be kept the entire time the monitor is taking readings. This means all windows and exterior doors must be kept closed (except for the occasional opening and closing).

Q29. “Is there a fee to have you come back at another time and re-inspect something after a repair is made?”

Therefore, if something goes wrong later, you can just call them directly instead of your agent or home inspector.

However, if you decide you still want me to return, the re-inspection fee is $195. A little steep, I know, but you’ll be occupying a slot normally used for a full home inspection of $365-$410 – so it’s still a bargain.

Q30. “Is there a fee to have you come back at another time and inspect something that wasn’t accessible during the inspection?”

Obviously this price is designed to discourage re-inspections. For the best inspection experience with the quickest results, it’s always best to make sure the seller’s are prepared for the inspection. How should they prepare? Very quickly:

1. Make sure all pets are out of the way and won’t hinder the inspection.
2. Make sure storage items are pulled away from the foundation and other important areas.
3. Make sure access is made available to the attic space and other critical areas (electrical panel, crawlspace, furnace and air conditioner, and water heater.

If the sellers just take a few minutes to get these things done, it’ll make for a very smooth and successful home inspection experience for everyone.

Q31.”Can you tell me where my property lines are?”

I get this question about twice a year and the answer is ‘No.’

A survey, and in particular a stake survey (about $450), will tell you exactly where your property line is so you can tell if there are any encroachments from anything on your property to your neighbor or vice versa.

Q32. “Can you tell me how many square feet the home is?”

I get this question about once a year and again the answer is ‘No.’

The appraiser will tell you how many square feet your property is. That isn’t an inspection item.

Q33. “Ok Steve, I’m paying ‘X’ dollars for this house and now that you know what kind of condition it’s in, can you tell me if this is a good deal?”

In my opinion, whether a house is a good buy is based on several factors, some of them subjective and some of them objective. For example, the subjective factors might be:

1. Is this house a good fit for me and my circumstances?
2. Does this house fit within my budget?
3. Do I have the budget to make the repairs the house needs?

And then the objective factors might be:

1. What is the final purchase price of the house?

2. How much are the repairs that the house needs?

3. What are comparable homes selling for?

4. How long am I going to be in the home?

The answers to these objective factors really help determine if it’s a good investment.

You see, if ‘X’ is the purchase price of the home and ‘Y’ is the amount of money you need to immediately put into it for repairs, then X+Y should be less than or equal to what your comparables are currently selling for.

For example, let’s say you’re buying a home with a final purchase price of $110,000. If the home needs $20,000 worth of repairs and your comparables are currently selling for $120,000, then these objective numbers don’t make it a good investment ($110,000 + $20,000 = $130,000) because you’ll be overspending on the home by $10,000.

However, this is where the length of time you’ll live in the home really comes into play. If you plan on living in the home forever, then obviously the numbers don’t matter because you’re never going to sell (hopefully, anyway).

But, if you plan on being in the home for 7 years like the average homeowner, then you have 7 years of home appreciation to correct any amount of investment you’ve made that put your home value upside down.

In this example, if your neighborhood home values appreciate at an average of 3% a year and you’re overspending on your home by $10,000, then it’ll take 2.78 years for the neighborhood to absorb the investment or break even ($120,000 * .03 = $3,600 per year home value increase) then ($10,000/$3,600 = 2.78 years for your neighborhood market values to catch up to your initial investment).

This leaves you 4.22 years of equity to enjoy.

This is the most useful and objective way to determine if your home is a good deal or not.

Q34. “Would you buy this home if you were me?”

Again, this is a common first-time buyer question and one that I cannot answer.

Everyone’s taste is different and everyone’s living situation is different.

However, if the question is framed this way, “Do you think this house is in good shape?” then that is a question I can answer because it relies on the objective information we’ve just uncovered.

So that would be a much better question to ask.

Q35. “Do you work weekends?”

However, I save Sundays for my family and church and don’t work unless the situation is absolutely extenuating and unavoidable.

Q36. “Are home inspectors required to be license or certified in Missouri or Kansas?”

As of this printing, Missouri has no licensing or certification requirement and Kansas has just passed HB 2260 requiring licensing in Kansas.

Q37. “Are home inspectors in Kansas or Missouri required to carry insurance?”

Q38. “”What happens if something goes wrong after the home inspection?”

There may come a time when you discover something wrong with the house you purchased, and you may be upset or disappointed with your home inspection. There are some things we’d like you to keep in mind.

Intermittent Or Concealed Problems: Some problems can only be discovered by living in a house. They cannot be discovered during the few hours of a home inspection. For example, some shower stalls leak when people are in the shower, but do not leak when you simply turn on the tap. Some roofs and basements only leak when specific conditions exist. Some problems will only be discovered when carpets are lifted, furniture is moved or finishes are removed.

No Clues: These problems may have existed at the time of the inspection, but there were no clues as to their existence. Our inspections are based on the past performance of the house. If there are no clues of a past problem, it is unfair to assume we should foresee a future problem.

We Always Miss Some Minor Things: Some say we are inconsistent because our reports identify some minor problems, but not others. The minor problems that are identified were discovered while looking for more significant problems. We note them simply as a courtesy. The intent of the inspection is not to find the $200 problems; it is to find the $2,000 problems. These are the things that affect people’s decisions to purchase.

Contractor’s Advice: A common source of dissatisfaction with home inspectors comes from comments made by contractors. Contractor’s opinions often differ from ours. Don’t be surprised when three roofers all say the roof needs replacement, when we said that the roof would last a few more years with some minor repairs.

Last-Man-In Theory: While our advice represents the most prudent thing to do, many contractors are reluctant to undertake these repairs. This is because of the last man in theory. The contractor fears that if he is the last person to work on the roof, he will get blamed if the roof leaks, regardless of whether or not the roof leak is his fault. Consequently, he won’t want to do a minor repair with high liability, when he could re-roof the entire house for more money and reduce the likelihood of a callback. This is understandable.

Most Recent Advice Is Best: There is more to the last man in theory. It suggests that it is human nature for homeowners to believe the last bit of expert advice they receive, even if it is contrary to previous advice.

As home inspectors, we unfortunately find ourselves in the position of first man in and consequently it is our advice that is often disbelieved.

Why Didn’t We See It? Contractors often say, I can’t believe you had this house inspected, and the inspector didn’t find this problem. There are several reasons for these apparent oversights:

Most Contractors Have No Clue What’s Inside or Outside The Scope Of A Standard Home Inspection: All of our inspections are conducted in accordance with the Standards of Practice of The American Society of Home Inspectors. The Standards of Practice specifically state what’s included and excluded from the standard home inspection.

Most contractors have no clue this document exists and many of them have a tendency to “blame the Home Inspector” for any issue found, regardless of whether the issue is within the “scope” of the standard home inspection.

Conditions During The Inspection: It is difficult for homeowners to remember the circumstances in the house at the time of the inspection. Homeowners seldom remember that it was snowing, there was storage everywhere or that the furnace could not be turned on because the air conditioning was operating, etc. It’s impossible for contractors to know what the circumstances were when the inspection was performed.

The Wisdom Of Hindsight: When the problem manifests itself, it is very easy to have 20/20 hindsight. Anybody can say that the basement is wet when there is 2 feet of water on the floor. Predicting the problem is a different story.

A Long Look: If we spent half an hour under the kitchen sink or 45 minutes disassembling the furnace, we’d find more problems, too. Unfortunately, the inspection would take several days and would cost considerably more.

Like Your Family Doctor, We’re Generalists: We’re generalists, not specialists. Just like the difference between your family doctor and an oncologist, we must know as much as we can about every system in your home. For example, the heating contractor may indeed have more heating expertise than we do. This is because we are expected to have heating expertise and plumbing expertise, structural expertise, electrical expertise, etc.

An Invasive Look: Problems often become apparent when carpets or plaster are removed, when fixtures or cabinets are pulled out, and so on. A home inspection is a visual examination. We don’t perform invasive or destructive tests.

Not Insurance: In conclusion, a home inspection is designed to better your odds of not purchasing a “money pit”. It is not designed to eliminate all risk. For that reason, a home inspection should not be considered an insurance policy. The premium that an insurance company would have to charge for a policy with no deductible, no limit and an indefinite policy period would be considerably more than the fee we charge. It would also not include the value added by the information we provide.

Q39. “So who do I call if something goes wrong after the home inspection?”

Q40. “How long are the inspection findings good for?”

Because of the limited, visual nature of a home inspection, the findings only good for 1 year following the date the inspection took place.

If you’d like extended coverage of major items in the home, a home warranty is an excellent option. See your real estate agent for their recommendation of a good warranty company

Q41. “I’m buying a brand new home, should I get it re-inspected before my builder’s warranty expires?”

1. Are you confident that you can identify all of the necessary items that need repair so that you get the most out of your warranty?

2. Did you get a home inspection performed before you bought your home? If not, are you sure you haven’t been missing some necessary components since you’ve moved in?

3. Lastly, it’s a known fact that we’re very likely to overlook items if they grow used to them. Therefore, since a home purchase is such a large investment, wouldn’t you like to know that you have someone representing you that has a set of fresh, objective & professionally trained eyes to help you avoid future headaches and get the most out of your new home?

It’s always a good idea to get a builder’s warranty inspection, especially since your 11th month represents the end of the time you can ask for so many things to be repaired.

Q42. “How can I get the most use from the inspection findings?”

1. Safety items

2. Major items

3. Maintenance items.

We’ve done this so you can easily prioritize the items to quickly determine what’s a big deal and what’s not. If you’re negotiating with a seller, these summaries are designed so that your Safety summary and Major summary are used for negotiations and your Maintenance may be used as a ‘honey do’ list of minor items to be done after you move in.

Additionally, the entire report is kept on our website’s server for 5 years so you have plenty of time to log back in and get all of the results.

Q43. “Is there anything I should know or bring with me to the inspection?”

This is the absolute best way to get the most out of your home inspection.

Q44. “Where can I get good information about ongoing home maintenance?”

For other good information on home maintenance and repairs, you might want to check out the Home Depot 1-2-3 volumes and other useful resources.

Q45. “My friends are having trouble with their new home after being in the house for only 6 months & they skipped the home inspection. Should they get one now?”

Just call the proper professional.

However, if they want an overall, inside-out assessment of their home, then, yes, that would be an excellent reason to call a home inspector.

Q46. “Are home inspections just for sellers and buyers?”

No. Just like our friends at Q63 above, almost anyone with a home has a need, at some point, for a thorough home inspection.

For example, anyone who’s about to sell their home and wants to know what kind of shape their home is in, or are thinking about adding a room addition, or has an older home and would like to know how efficient it is.

These are all perfect candidates for a thorough home inspection.

Q47.”I’ve lived in my home for 15 years now and my husband just passed away. I know I need to keep up with the home maintenance, but should I call a contractor or home inspector?”

Just like Q64, if you want an idea of areas that need attention, repair or replacement now or in the near future, a full home inspection is an excellent all-around option. It can be used as a baseline for items and the life they’ve got left. Also, a professional home inspector has no other interests so their objectivity will be at its maximum so they will not try to sell you any service or maintenance plans associated with any issues they may find.

Q48. “Do you offer a discount if I order a whole-home inspection, termite inspection, and a radon test?”

The reason? Since you’re already ordering a whole house inspection, the time to also perform a termite inspection and Radon test is wrapped into the home inspection.

Q49. “Do you provide senior citizen or military discounts?”

Q50. “A friend at work gave me your name; do I get a discount for being a referral?”

Q51. “What does your inspection cover?”

1. Property and Site
2. Exterior
3. Roof & Attic Structure
4. All Living Areas, including:
• ceilings
• walls
• floors
• windows
• doors
• lights and ceiling fans
• outlets
5. Garages
6. Electrical System
7. Heating & Air Conditioning System
8. Plumbing System
9. Kitchens
10. Bathrooms
11. Health, Fire, and Safety

Q52.”How long have you been in the home inspection profession and how many inspections have you completed?”

Q53. “Are you specifically experienced in residential inspection?”

Q54. “Do you offer to do repairs or improvements based on the inspection?”

As inconvenient as that may rarely be, I will not perform repairs on any of the items I find wrong in a home. Personally, I feel that this just leads to confusion since first and foremost; I’m to be known as a professional home inspector, not a handyman. And if I dabble in both professions, where does my loyalty lie? Am I a home inspector trying to send work to my home repair business? Or am I a handyman trying to send work to my home inspection business?

See the dilemma?

A client’s damaged trust during that situation is not worth any extra work I would ever get from offering that extra service. I am a professional home inspector. Period.

Q55. “How long after the inspection will you be available if I have any questions?”

Q56. “What’s the #1 most critically important system in every vacant home?”

The #1 most important system in EVERY vacant home is the plumbing system.

Why? For 4 reasons:

1. A home is 5x’s more likely to incur water damage than fire damage. When a home becomes vacant and is winterized (the drain lines are formally flushed and filled with anti-freeze), water and drain lines are not exercised.

Therefore, when the system is energized and the water and drain lines are shocked with the sudden surge of water pressure after a long time of not being used, drain lines and their connections may have become brittle and water lines may have split during water months. The perfect scenario for an unexpected leak.

2. Water damage due to plumbing and appliance failures (water heating systems failure, freezing pipes, broken washer hoses, toilet overflows, etc.) are the second most frequently filed homeowners’ insurance claim with more than a $7B annual price tag.

For example, if the home you’re considering to buy is 10+ years old, there is a real possibility that there may be a leak in the drain line to the street.

Therefore, trees in and around the drain line have been getting their water from this leak. If the water is suddenly turned off when the home is vacated, these tree roots must now go searching for their lost water source.

And now they end up making their way into your home through your main drain line (with waste sometimes coming up through your basement floor drain). And when you didn’t have a tree root problem in your home 2 weeks earlier, you now have a big tree root problem and the drain line must be cleaned out.

3. Unknown leaks. When a home is vacant, we have no information about it. Therefore, it’s critically important to search them out so there’s no major unwelcome pluming surprises after you move in that, if left undiscovered, would develop into a major damage and health (through mold growth) problem.

This is particularly true of homes on crawlspaces where access is limited and the space is rarely entered.

4. Mold growth. The high humidity conditions that exist after a water loss create the perfect environment for mold growth, a major source of indoor air problems and subsequent health problems.

Once mold takes hold, the subjected area often has to be removed and replaced with new materials. This cost is usually the responsibility of the homeowner since there are over 30 states that don’t have to write mold insurance policies.

By the way, where do most plumbing leaks come from? According to the insurance company Safeco:

• 30 percent were due to appliance failure;
• 62 percent were due to faulty plumbing systems;
• 8 percent were due to weather.

Q57. “What’re the 3 things you NEVER want to overlook when buying a vacant or foreclosed home?”

1. The Gas: (for operating the water heater, furnace, and a fireplace (if installed). Also, a home inspector will not light pilots so you’ll want to make sure the pilot is lit on all appliances at least 24 hours prior to the inspection. This is often the most difficult utility to get turned on.

2. The Water: This lets us test all plumbing systems in the home. When a home is vacant I will turn on the water at all faucets and leave the water running during the entire inspection to ensure we come as close as possible to ensuring that there are no unwelcome plumbing problems after you move in. This is usually the 2nd most difficult utility to get turned on.

3. The Electricity: We need to ensure all electrical components within the home are working properly, including the air conditioning system. This is usually the easiest utility to get turned on.

Q58.”What are the 5 major areas in every home and why do they make all the difference between buying your dream home and buying a money pit?”

1. The Foundation

2. The Roof

3. The Plumbing System

4. The Electrical System

5. The HVAC System (the furnace & a/c).

So when it comes to areas that every homebuyer fears will have a problem, it’s these areas that should be closely looked at because these are also the areas that can’t easily be seen and…

It’s the stuff we can’t see that we worry about

Q59.”If you only had 5 minutes to find a good, professional home inspector, would you know how to choose?”

So how do you choose? 4 things. Make sure…

1. The inspector is a full-time professional.
2. The inspector belongs to a professional organization like ASHI™ or NACHIsm.
3. The inspector carries Errors & Omissions and General Liability insurance (to protect you if the inspector misses something).
4. You get along with them


Radon

Q1. “What is Radon gas?”

Radon gas is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that develops from the depletion of Uranium in our soil. Radon levels in the soil (not in your home) range from a few hundred to several thousands of pCi/L.

Therefore, it’s no one’s fault that it’s there. It’s not the developer’s fault who put in the streets, it’s not the builder’s fault who built the home, and it’s not the seller’s fault who’s selling the home.

Q2. “Should I get my home tested for Radon?”

If you live in the Kansas City area, Yes…and for 2 reasons:

1st – It’s a sincere health concern.

Now, if you ask a large enough group of people you’ll find that there are 2 schools of thought:

1. People who believe it’s a legitimate health hazard and

2. People who believe it’s all a hoax.

Personally, I happen to believe it’s a true hazard and have my own home tested every year. Don’t take the chance of being wrong because the consequences are deadly.

In fact, here is what the EPA says about Radon gas in the Kansas City area:



Zone 1 counties have a predicted average indoor radon screening level greater than 4 pCi/L Highest Potential
Zone 2 counties have a predicted average indoor radon screening level between 2 and 4 pCi/L Moderate Potential
Zone 3 counties have a predicted average indoor radon screening level less than 2 pCi/L Low Potential

As you can see, the EPA predicts that the Kansas City Radon gas levels will register higher than the acceptable level in more than half the homes tested.

In fact, I can confirm that roughly 70% of all homes I’ve ever tested came back with high levels.

So get your home tested for these health reasons.

2nd – It’s a financial concern.

As the news runs more and more specials on someone affected by the effects of Radon gas and the EPA increasingly advertises about its health effects, a growing number of home buyers will be testing for this deadly gas.

Therefore, if you decide not to test for Radon gas when you buy your home, and you ever decide to sell your home later, your next buyers will likely test for Radon and you’ll then be crossing your fingers that it doesn’t come back high.

Which is a stress that could have been avoided if you were to just test now and have your current sellers pay for the mitigation system (the system that permanently removes the gas) to be installed.

So even if it’s not a health concern, (which is should be because Radon gas is everywhere and there’s nothing we can do about it. This means that even if you choose to ignore it, it will still have an effect on your health.) it should at least be a financial concern because Radon gas is an issue that’s not likely to ever go away.

Q3. “How is Radon measured and what does it mean to me?”

Radon gas is measured in pCi/L (picocurie per liter – the amount of radioactivity in a liter (about a quart) of liquid substance, such as water).

According to the EPA, every pCi/L of Radon gas present in your home has the same cancerous effects as smoking 1 cigarette per day (we’ve seen levels vary from .1 pCi/L to 105.3 pCi/L).

Q4. “I’m not worried about the health risks, so why should I still get my home tested for Radon?”

See the 2nd part of Q25, above:

“Even if it’s not a health concern, (which is should be because Radon gas is everywhere and there’s nothing we can do about it. This means that even if you choose to ignore it, it will still have an effect on your health.) it should at least be a financial concern because Radon gas is an issue that’s not likely to ever go away.

And as the news runs more and more specials on someone affected by the effects of Radon gas and the EPA increasingly advertises about its health effects, a growing number of home buyers will be testing for this deadly gas.

Therefore, if you decide not to test for Radon gas when you buy your home, and you ever decide to sell your home later, your next buyers will likely test for Radon and you’ll then be crossing your fingers that it doesn’t come back high.

Which is a stress that could have been avoided if you were to just test now and have your current sellers pay for the mitigation system (the system that permanently removes the gas) to be installed.”

Q5. “What can be done if the Radon gas level comes back high?”

If your Radon levels come back from the lab and they’re above 4pCi/L, then the EPA protocol is to have a Radon mitigation system professionally installed. The system is a permanent solution to the problem and will continuously keep the Radon levels within a safe range.

Q6. “How does a mitigation system work?”

A mitigation system is commonly corrected using a method called “sub-slab depressurization” or “sub-slab suction”.
How it works is a suction point or points are determined within the foundation floor and a pipe is inserted through the concrete slab floor.

This pipe is connected to other PVC piping and a fan is positioned somewhere on the pipe. The fan then draws the radon gas from beneath the home and vents it to the outside.

A radon mitigation system can cost between $695-$2500 and the fan has a life of roughly 10 years of continuous, 24-hour use.

Q7. “Is there any maintenance I need to do to the system?”

Using sub-slab suction systems, these systems are virtually maintenance free. Simply check the manometer (tube with red liquid) periodically. Liquid level should line up with the red arrow.

Q8. “Without a test, can I tell if I have Radon gas in my home?”

Nope. You can’t see it, smell it, or taste it.

Q9. “How dangerous is Radon gas?”

Radon gas has been identified as the second leading cause of lung cancer, second only to cigarette smoking, and it is estimated to be responsible for more than 20,000 people annually.

Q10. “I have a new construction home, should I still test for Radon?”

Yes. The age of a home will not be a factor in high Radon levels in a home. Newer homes may still have high levels (and in fact, may have higher levels) since older homes are draftier and today’s new construction homes are built tighter than in the past. This will make it much less likely the gas will escape through cracks and drafts.

Q11. “My home’s on a slab or crawlspace, do I still need to worry about Radon?”

Yes. Since Radon comes from our soil, it breaches the home through your crawlspace floor drain, sump pit, foundation cracks, sinks, showers, and all other building envelope penetrations. The amount of radon that escapes from the soil to enter the house depends on the weather, soil porosity, soil moisture, and the suction within the house.

Check this out this diagram:

Q12. “I’ve got granite and marble countertops, should I be worried about Radon gas?”

No. Not really.

According to the EPA at http://publicaccess.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/publicaccess.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=5103:

“It is possible for any granite sample to contain varying concentrations of uranium and other naturally occurring radioactive elements. These elements can emit radiation and produce radon gas, a source of alpha and beta particles and gamma rays. Some granite used for countertops may contribute variably to indoor radon levels. Some types of granite may emit gamma radiation above typical background levels.

However, at this time EPA believes that the existing data is insufficient to conclude that the types of granite commonly used in countertops are significantly increasing indoor radon levels. While radiation levels are not typically high, measurement of specific samples may reveal higher than expected levels on a case-by-case basis.”

Also…

“While radon gas and radiation emission levels attributable to granite are not typically high, there are simply too many variables to generalize about the potential health risks inside a particular home that has granite countertops. It is prudent to limit your family’s exposure to radon whenever possible.”

If you’re still concerned about the possibility of high Radon in your natural stone countertop, there have been recent developments in the standards of testing for these countertops that will determine the amount of Radon gas being released into the home.

Q13. “If Radon gas comes from the soil, why don’t I get sick when I go outside?”

The answer is pretty simple if you think about it. Radon moves out of the ground and dilutes to harmless levels in the atmosphere. There’s too much room outside to get sick.

Q14. “Another house in my neighborhood was tested and the results came back low; doesn’t that mean my results should also be low?”

No. The levels of Radon gas is limited to the ground that the home is sitting on and varies widely from area to area.

As a matter of fact, I’ve heard a story from Kaye Blond, the mentor/trainer from Keller Williams Realty Partners in Overland Park, Ks. about a situation where 2 homes that were next-door neighbors were each tested for Radon gas.

One came back 2.2 pCi/L. and the other came back at 22 pCi/L. This is obviously a huge difference when the homes were just a short distance from each other and also proof that levels tested at homes on the same street or neighborhood play no part in what the results may be in your perspective home.

Q15. “How much does it cost to test for Radon?”

In Kansas City, the average going rate right now is about $85 for an electronic radon test that is ordered at the time of a home inspection. By itself, the test is around $110.

With this type of test, your results return in 48 hours (if scheduled with a whole-house inspection, it’s best to drop it off 48 hours prior to the inspection so that you have all inspection & test results back on the same day) and the monitor measures for:

1. Temperature

2. Humidity

3. Barometric Pressure

4. Tilt

That means they detect any unusual readings of radon, temperature and humidity caused by opening the surrounding windows. Tilt and power sensors detect if the monitor is moved to a different location. Hourly barometric pressure readings will even help detect unusual radon averages due to extreme weather conditions. All data is reviewed for any sign of suspected tampering by our team of trained professionals.

This all spells the most reliable and accurate readings you can have.

Q16. “How can I learn more about Radon?”

http://www.epa.gov/radon.

Q17. “The sellers of the home will be moving out after the inspection. Will it be a good idea to drop off the Radon monitor during that time?”

In fact, it’s probably best if you were to schedule the Radon test to be dropped off 2 days PRIOR to the home inspection so that you’ll have the Radon results and the home inspection results back to you on the same day and the sellers move will not interfere with your inspection period.


Termite Inspections

Q1. “I’ve got a new construction home, should I get a termite inspection?”

In Kansas and Missouri, new home builders must treat the property for termites at the time of construction.

So with that, I would say ‘No’ to the question.

However, certain loan programs require a termite letter as a part of their loan package, regardless of when the treatment was performed.

So in that case, I would have to say ‘Yes’.

Not an easy answer, so the best answer is to ask your loan officer if they require a termite inspection and then follow their direction.


Mold

Q1. “I’m buying a foreclosed property that has some mold in the basement. Should I have the mold tested or should I just rip it out?”

Q2. “How do I know when I can rip out the moldy areas myself or when I have to call a professional remediation company?”

“If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (less than roughly a 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch), in most cases, you can handle the job yourself. However:

• If there has been a lot of water damage, and/or mold growth covers more than 10 square feet, consult EPA’s Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document is applicable to other building types.

• If you choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider) to do the cleanup, make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold. Check references and ask the contractor to follow the recommendations in EPA’s Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygenists (ACGIH), or other guidelines from professional or government organizations.

• If you suspect that the heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system may be contaminated with mold (it is part of an identified moisture problem, for instance, or there is mold near the intake to the system), consult EPA’s guide Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? before taking further action. Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold – it could spread mold throughout the building.

• If the water and/or mold damage was caused by sewage or other contaminated water, then call in a professional who has experience cleaning and fixing buildings damaged by contaminated water.

• If you have health concerns, consult a health professional before starting cleanup.

Q3. “Do mold remediation companies need to be licensed, certified professionals?”

So do your due diligence when choosing a mold mitigation company and don’t be surprised if you have some questionable looking characters show up at your door.

Q4. “What types of mold inspections are there?”

1) Complete: The complete mold inspection is similar to a home inspection in its scope, but is specifically searching the home for mold or conditions that could lead to mold.

The complete mold inspection also involves moisture, temperature, and humidity measurements along with at least 4 mold samples (2 outside and 2 inside)

2) Limited: This a mold inspection that is limited to a specific area of the home because it’s the test most normally performed when we can see existing mold and need to test for it.

The limited mold inspection also involves at least 2 mold samples for the area of concern.

Q5. “What will it cost me to get the mold tested?”

Costs vary, but an average investment for a complete mold inspection is $225 for the inspection and $125 per sample.

So a Complete mold inspection with 4 mold samples would cost $225 + $500 = $725.

Costs for a limited mold inspection would cost $125 per sample or a minimum investment of $250.

Q6. “What if I think there’s mold in my house, but I can’t see it? What should I do?”

That’s precisely the ideal situation to get a complete mold inspection.

The mold inspector will closely scrutinize your home inside and out for all conditions that could lead to mold and any areas where mold currently exists. The inspector will also take mold samples to ensure there are no concealed elevated moisture levels within your home.

Q7. “What’s the difference between a mold testing company and a mold remediation company?”

Q8. “If a home I’m buying has mold, should I just walk away?”

Q9. “I’m already 5 days into my 10 day inspection period. If I wanted to get mold testing done, how long would it take to get the results back?”


Chinese Drywall

Q1. “What is Chinese Drywall? Should I be concerned?”

There have been a few reports that homes built in Missouri by large, national builders (like Pulte Homes) may have this Chinese drywall installed, leaving some room for concern.

How would you know if you’re buying a home with this drywall?

1. Does the home smell like rotten eggs or ammonia?

2. Is it more noticeable when entering your home and then seems to dissipate?

3. Chinese drywall corrodes electrical wiring. Check the electrical receptacles in your walls to see if the wires are blackened by pulling off the electrical plate and looking inside.

In addition, humidity and heat cause the sulfur in the tainted drywall to offgas (i.e., migrate into the indoor air), which not only creates an unpleasant odor, but corrodes copper and other metals.

Chinese drywall is also friable, which means it is in a state where small particles can easily become dislodged with very little trouble, making them easy to enter our lungs. For this reason, even after Chinese drywall is removed from your home, the toxic particulate will likely remain unless properly removed.


Older Homes

Q1. “I’m buying an older home and want to find out how energy efficient it is. Is there some sort of inspection or test available to show me how efficient it is?”

An audit will show you problems that may, when corrected, save you significant amounts of money over time.

During the audit, you can pinpoint where your house is losing energy and determine the efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling systems. It may also show you ways to conserve hot water and electricity.

You can perform a simple energy audit yourself, or have a professional energy auditor carry out a more thorough audit. An energy audit is not just a good idea for older homes (30+years), but for any that could squeeze a little more efficiency from its systems and components.

Q2.”Where can I get information about the best energy efficiency upgrades to make for my older home?”

Q3. “How much does it cost to get my home examined for its energy efficiency?”


Real Estate Investors

Q1. “I’m a real estate investor and already know there are some minor issues with the property I’m buying. I don’t want to spend a lot of money on an inspection because I might cancel my contract if there are major problems. Can you help me?”

This is what this inspection is about:

You see, we understand you want a professional set of eyes to inspect your investment properties, but you don’t want to spend $300+, spend 3 hours on-site, or have a report delivered that is full of items you don’t care about or already know need updating or repairs.
That’s why we’ve developed a proprietary inspection process tailored specifically for residential real estate investors. We’ve “trimmed the fat” by eliminating the areas you’ll already know have issues or are of no major concern.
So what you get is the inspection of the 5 major systems present in every home to ensure all of your major bases are covered.
This is our 5-Point Basic Inspection and it focuses on those areas of the property that will cost the most time and money if problems exist:

1. Roof Structure (including attic space)

2. Electrical System
3. Foundation
4. Plumbing
5. HVAC
6. Termite Inspection

Now, since we know this inspection will probably be a new idea to you, let’s bullet-point some of the biggest reasons our investor inspections are so popular with our clients:

1. Provides information that helps create a more precise and accurate budget for your project – protect your target ROI!

2. Your time is better spent pursuing other investment opportunities or performing other income-producing activities

3. You don’t need be present. We have SUPRA key access and if I have your email address, you’ll have the report that day – wherever you are in the world

4. Average inspection time is 1 hour

5. Average response time to an investor request is 24 hours

6. The inspection is performed by a professionally trained and objective 3rd party who understands your needs and wants

7. You’ll have a professional team member you can trust and call on with very short notice

8. Adds professional credibility and objectiveness when working with sellers (banks, lenders, etc.) and other 3rd parties since we have no vested interest in the property

9. A report may or may not accompany the inspection, dependant on your preference, which allows the results to be delivered immediately upon completion of the inspection and reducing inspection down-time even further (this assumes you or your representative are present and able to escort and take notes)

10. Conventional buyers who need an inspection, but can’t afford a whole-house can afford this inspection in its place.

And best of all, this inspection will only cost you $150 regardless of size or age of home.

I know; it’s shocking, but true and here for you to utilize.


First Time Buyers

Q1. I’m a first time buyer, but I don’t have a lot of money for an inspection even though I need one. Can you help me, Steve?

However, as a buyer-client, I need to make sure you understand the scope of the inspection so there are no misunderstandings or frustrations later if a problem develops in an area we didn’t check.

This inspection ONLY involves the inspection of the 5 areas listed in Q87.

No exceptions.

This inspection is a good idea for you if you have no concerns for the home or the concerns you may have are minor.

As long as you understand that the windows, doors, outlets, ceilings, floors, exterior, drainage, etc. will not be inspected and you feel that this service will still fit your needs, then we’re standing by to schedule your appointment.