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  1. 6 points
    I was a mechanic for a long time. Many of you have heard me say, "I'm still a better mechanic than I am anything else." Even though I fixed every single thing that came into my shop, I couldn't have fixed any of it without tools. Many inspectors simply do not have the proper tools in their box to enable them to produce quality reports. If you can't write, you can't write a great report.
  2. 5 points
    Taking photos is like choosing words. Adding many more doesn't fix the few well chosen ones that you missed. You may have much experience in claims but you're at the tail end trying to fix something. We're at the beginning trying to create that something.
  3. 4 points
    Is this your first time looking at milled lumber? Everything in your pictures is perfectly normal. These are characteristics of lumber, which is a natural product that comes from large plants called "trees." The characteristics in your pictures are all taken into account when lumber is graded. The ugly things in the 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 14th pictures are old injuries to the tree that have scabbed over, probably from wind damage where limbs broke off. Don't worry about them. The lumber grader looked at them and said that they were fine for that grade of lumber. The 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 15th, 16th, and 17th pictures are something called "wane." This is when the lumber includes a bit of the outer surface of the tree, where the "bark" is. (Bark is a rough outer covering on the trunk of a tree.) In fact, you can see some bark still attached in several places. It's a common characteristic of framing lumber. The 11th, 12th, and 13th pictures show some blue staining and some iron staining - utterly unimportant. The blue staining is caused by a very, very, very unimportant fungus and the iron staining is probably from where the lumber was in contact with - wait for it - iron. Many of the pictures also show "knots." These are where branches grew out laterally from the tree trunk. In the sizes and positions in the pictures, they're fine. You need to understand that framing lumber is graded for utility, not for looks. A completely separate grading process would be used for wood destined to become trim or furniture. It would be foolish to use defect-free wood for framing lumber. This is second nature to anyone who's ever worked with lumber in any way. If an inspector were to mention any of these things in an inspection report, he'd be a moron. Every piece of wood in every picture is fine. Forget about it and use your powers of obsession for something else.
  4. 4 points
    I heard of one inspector who saw the note on the front door not to let the cat out. When he was finishing up and went outside and then came back, the cat was on the front porch. He put the cat back in the house and left. Wasn't their cat; cat destroyed the drapes, furniture, etc.
  5. 4 points
    a pleasant reminder of my good sense in divorcing my first wife.
  6. 4 points
  7. 3 points
    Trent's is WAY too big for me! I"m more of a small raised bed guy. Last year I donated over 1000 tomatoes and untold cucumbers to the homeless shelter from my little plot. Drip irrigation on a timer valve. Black plastic on the ground so I don't have to weed. Just plant, water and harvest. Did way to much weeding in my daddy's garden, which was even bigger than Trent's way back when I was a little one. God forbid he found weeds growing in your section of the garden.
  8. 3 points
    I doubt you could pay enough to override my scepticism.
  9. 3 points
    Yep, A growing problem with teenage squirrels - sewer gas huffing and huffing parties. A side effect is the urge to gnaw on the nearest object. The squirrel authorities are concerned and want to get the message out to all squirrel parents that sewer gases contain methane, hydrogen-sulfide and other toxic fumes and that huffing sewer gas can lead to death. The teens aren't listening. In fact, a week ago, three of them under the influence of sewer gas knocked over a walnut cache and overpowered and killed the elderly security squirrel guarding the nuts. ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike
  10. 3 points
    Lack of brevity. Some people just go on and on. They keep talking about the same issue in multiple ways. They can't just state things simply and concisely. They feel the need to hammer the issue in from many angles. They just ramble forever about that which could be easily stated in one sentence. They just go on and on and on. . .
  11. 3 points
    Of those inspectors who use this coverage as part of their marketing to real estate agents, I'll bet that most, if not all of them do not advertise the fact to their actual customers. In fact, I'll also bet that they intentionally keep quiet about it. Look at it this way: if you were a home buyer and you knew that the inspector that your agent recommended was paying to indemnify that agent, would that elevate the inspector in your eyes? Would it make you think twice about the agent's motivations and the inspector's loyalties? In my experience all but the most credulous home buyers would view this as a "scheme" or perhaps as an "arrangement" that benefits the home inspector and the agent, but not the consumer.
  12. 3 points
    My 4 1/2 minutes of fame.
  13. 3 points
    A 32' commercial grade extension ladder will probably get you to the roof of more than 90% of American homes. It is also considerably more durable and cheaper than a drone. They weigh about 65 pounds, making them about as heavy as a fourth-grader and much easier to handle. Also, on a residential home inspection, the use of ladders is not subject to federal oversight, another attribute weighing in their favor. So why mess around with drones?
  14. 3 points
    I've always found it odd that we dig a round hole in the ground, call it a well, and expect it to produce water. Then we dig a square hole in the ground, call it a basement, and expect it to stay dry.
  15. 2 points
    <strike>Those lugs are not listed for two conductors. The installation is wrong.</strike> Edit: I should probably say that the likelihood of those lugs being listed for two conductors is remote in the extreme. Check the panel schematic to be sure. The wiring mess on the neutral terminal bar makes me suspect that the installer was not entirely competent.
  16. 2 points
    The Hotel Henry just moved us to their largest ballroom. We outgrew the room we reserved. The Grand Ballroom is huge with 40 ft high ceilings and massive windows overlooking the grounds. We now have as much room as we need! If you were on the fence, consider included breakfasts, lunches and a Saturday night cash bar where we buy all the drinks for the first hour! Great food, smart people and Jim Katen and Bill Kibbel each presenting. This is your chance to get the best CEU's available anywhere.
  17. 2 points
    Secure a hepa filter over the register nearest to your furnace. After a week or two, take the filter to your lab and have them test that.
  18. 2 points
    Kurt is alive under quarantine in China. He posted an interesting read about the situtation. https://medium.com/@kurtmitenbuler/love-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-c161e79ff8ac
  19. 2 points
    Don't put a footing drain where there's no footing. "Waterproofing" contractors have caused major failures to many stone and brick foundations. I get called in as the expert witness. The clay pipe is for the original gravity drain. It no longer functions as originally intended, but illustrates that the builder expected water in the basement and gave it a path out. https://historicbldgs.com/stonefoundations.html
  20. 2 points
    I write the report and give it to the client. I'll help a little, but I'm not their champion. I do my best to reference code, manufacturer's instructions major organizations and ASTM standards. Usually, the only time I see the builder is in court. I can't think of anything good coming from the situation you described.
  21. 2 points
    Having a blast. Brought the spouse yesterday for the welcoming event. Meeting friends.
  22. 2 points
    I guess this was a handyman's fixit for a roof leak. Looks like a shower curtain modified into a drip catcher.
  23. 2 points
    Yes, it was a Mackrel and I put it into the trash.
  24. 2 points
  25. 2 points
    I like it, but have a hard time hanging it straight. 😃
  26. 2 points
    There certainly is an intellectual side to this profession and it was not recognized for decades. At one point there were just a handful of individuals that were home inspectors and they got inundated with people joining the profession that had changed a light bulb or built a deck. It was not that long ago and many remain in the business. As I understand and recall your path, you choose complete immersion and are blessed with great ambition. You also brought an intellect and mindset that was not common at that time. Now you are an educator and mentor - but it has been a journey! We both (all) know inspectors that are off the scale with intelligence, knowledge and skill. They keep me humble and every beginning inspector should be so lucky to know one as a friend.
  27. 2 points
  28. 2 points
  29. 2 points
    I don't remember anything from the 80s. Don't want to. I saw a photo recently showing my hair and how I dressed. Did you mean 1880s?
  30. 2 points
    There is no such thing as toxic "Black Mold". This is a term designed to sell newspaper, TV, and internet advertising; along with mold testing. Yes, there is mold, black mold, green mold, yellow mold, etc. everywhere on the planet. If you are going to worry about cleaning the deck, what about the fence, and the soil, the plants, etc. If you have a moisture problem inside your home, you might have a problem with mold. Fix the moisture problem, clean up the mold and move on with life. DO NOT WORRY about outdoor mold. You can't do anything worthwhile about it even if you tried.
  31. 2 points
    I've never heard one. Come to think of it, I haven't heard much of anything in the last 50 years.
  32. 2 points
    Once again, the article starts off great and then goes off into the weeds. Instead of advising people to never exceed the standards of practice, here's an idea: Take the time to find the problems and tell your customers about them.
  33. 2 points
    The best piece of report writing advice I've come across in a long time comes from this article from The Atlantic magazine from April of this year. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/04/what-makes-candidate-authentic/587857/ The article is mostly about politicians trying to sound authentic, but the ideas translate well to many different professions. Basically the idea is that the more authentic you sound the more you're believed. Quote: In a paper published last month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the academics Rachel Gershon and Rosanna K. Smith described the results of a variety of tests showing that listeners perceived speakers to be less authentic when they were told that the speakers were repeating themselves. Self-repetition, they argue, “confronts observers with the performative nature of the interaction” and challenges our assumption that “social interactions, even those that are typically performed and repeated, are assumed to be unique.” In other words, we’re wired to assume that all speech is extemporaneous. When that assumption is revealed to be false, we penalize the speaker. This is true, the authors found, even in contexts where it makes no sense to expect speakers not to repeat themselves, such as listening to a tour guide or a stand-up comic. End Quote I don't really even know how oral speech and written reports might contrast in this respect. But to me, this helps make the case that referring someone to a "qualified roofing professional" is a bad idea. Referring them to a "good roofer" is a good idea.
  34. 2 points
    Well, it's not sexy, but spelling is important. An occasional typo is no big deal, but nothing in your boilerplate should be misspelled and you should never misspell construction terms that might not be part of the customers' vocabulary; when they go to look them up, they'll be baffled. There's just no excuse for a report that talks about "rusting lentils" and "lathe & plaster." It makes you look like a dumb hick. (And if there's more than one furnace, don't call one of them the "principle furnace" unless it has high moral standards.) I'd also focus on getting rid of what I call "mushy mush mush" report writing, "It was observed that the roof is older than it's average condition and might or might not perform satisfactorily over the course of its remaining service life, which it might or might not have exceeded. Hire an expert licensed roofing specialist to advise." (Taken verbatim from an actual report.) Strive to tell the customer exactly what the problem is and exactly what to do about it. Avoid word salad. Use clear words. Don't say, "Debris between the deck treads can facilitate rot." Deck treads? Facilitate rot? Who the heck speaks like that? Here's another, "Confined spaces were inaccessible." What this mean? Why might it be important? What should the customer do about it? One of my favorites: Have any rot in the deck removed and replaced. (Where can I find some "replacement rot"? )
  35. 2 points
    Some folks never need to "manage" anyone's expectations. They're the ones that consistently and assiduously exceed all expectations. There seems to be some of those types of folks here at the Inspector's Journal. It's evident in replies to this topic and many others.
  36. 2 points
    Hi Steven, If you want to enjoy what you do, and want to be at it for a long time, don't feed at the realtor trough. Most agents have only their own interest at heart; and, if your inspection doesn't fit what they want, they'll fight you every step of the way and try to remake you into what they want. With a different agent on every home, with different likes and dislikes, that can cause you a whole lot of stress that you don't need. Or, they can simply toss your card, nod and smile at your and accept whatever swag you want to try and bribe them with and still forget you. (Below, I'll tell you how to get started with agents - no, it won't be hypocritical - anything but. You'll see.). Figure out how you're going to do your inspections; and then, from day one, do them that way no matter what. As Jim remarked above, some agents will like you and some won't, so if you are consistent and thorough and concentrate on good customer service skills with your real customers - the buyers (Most of the time). Agents that are truly concerned about their clients and who want a good inspection will remember you - the rest can go sit on a salt block for all I care. The biggest reason folks feed at the realtor trough is that they believe that there is no other cost-effective way to market directly to the consumer. It's BS. I know because I started in '96 and quit marketing to agents 9 months into this business. If one can't succeed in this gig without marketing to agents, how did I manage to keep at it for 23 years when 80% of all new inspectors leave the business after only two years? Flyers? Newspaper ads? Radio? Television? Yellow Pages? Constantly visiting agent offices and dropping off gifts? Spending 16 to 20 hours a week going to brokers opens? Nah, none of that - I literally spent about $20 bucks a year on marketing - what it cost to have a thousand business cards printed up by Vistaprint, and I haven't crossed the threshold of a real estate office (except to talk to my agent about my own home buying) since about 1998. You have to think outside of the box that most home inspection trainers, real estate agents and established inspectors will try to keep you in. Before you start officially, do some inspections on the homes of your friends - as many as you can. Find out where you are comfortable and where you need to do some more studying. Establish a comfortable rhythm and then stick to it. Decide on a report format and use each of those practice inspections to get comfortable with whatever method you are using to write your reports. When you are ready to start, go by realtor offices in your area and strike up a friendly relationship with the receptionists. Your object will be to find one that will be willing to provide you a copy of the schedule of the brokers' open houses. It took me about ten offices, where I casually left little gifts with the receptionists along with my card before I found one who was willing to provide me a bootleg copy of the weekly schedule of brokers opens. For the next few months, I dropped in on her every Monday morning, chatted with her for about five minutes and left her a little box of candy. Like clockwork, when the schedule for the brokers opens came out, she'd fax the thing over to me. (After I got up and running, I didn't need her lists anymore, so I stopped visiting and didn't have to drop off any more poggey bait for her). On brokers open days, go by and visit as many as you can. Don't hang out and try to suckup like so many do - that is only going to give them the opportunity to interrogate you to find out what you are all about. For most, that means determining whether you are malleable and not a deal killer. Don't give them that chance. Just stop in, say hi, introduce yourself, tell 'em that you know they have their own preferred group of inspectors they like to work with, but that you are betting that, once they've worked with you just one time, they're either going to add you to that list or bump someone else. Then look at your watch, tell 'em you have to go because you've got an inspection to get to, and get the hell out of there. Most of them will act like you've got a hole in your head. Don't try to convince them, just be matter of fact and, as you're going out the door, say something like, "Seriously, it'll only take one time and I know you're going to want to have me on that list. Don't think so? I dare you to refer to one of your clients one time. You'll see." It's like tossing chum into the water for sharks - they get curious and want to investigate. Figure that most are going to wait until you are out of sight and then they'll toss your card - but a few will keep it. How fast one or more of them actually take you up on the dare depends on how many you manage to bait. For me, I got my first bite using that technique later in the same week. She was what I call a realtorzoid - a manipulative b***h that didn't care anymore about her clients than she did about a bug on a windshield. I arrived on-site, did my thing with the client and contract and got started. All during the inspection, she kept trying to catch my eye and kept sending me body English clues that she wanted me to pick up on - I ignored all of them. As the length of the inspection went past the length she expected me to be there, she started getting fidgety and kept looking at her watch. She even tried pointing at her wristwatch while standing behind the client where I could see her while I was talking to the client. I ignored her. At the end of the inspection, I could tell by the look in her eyes that I'd never hear from her again, but I didn't care - I had gotten a job and got paid and I knew that I'd hear from the client again and the client's friends and relatives. So, what did I do there? I did a bait and switch on her. When I stopped into her open house and dared her to refer me, I left her with the impression that I'd be her guy, and, to verify it, she took the dare and referred me the one time that I needed her to. It put a fee in my pocket, food on my table and I was able to identify a 'zoid and knew what to expect on the off chance that she'd call me again one day (See did, years later - to inspect a home for a client who was a powerful local litigation attorney. In that case she wanted thorough and careful.). You continue doing this for as long as you need to in order to stay afloat long enough to get on the list of agents that don't expect you to feed at their trough. You are mining - mining for honest non-manipulative agents that have their client's interests at heart and will most-probably refer you in the future. Are you making enemies? Sure - but you don't need them as friends. Afraid they'll run back to their offices and drop a dime on you and nobody from that office will ever want to refer anyone to you ever? So what? If they are that kind of office you don't need their BS anyway - best you learn it early. Besides, I found that even in those offices with the most manipulative agents there were always one or two who, hearing the other agent bellyache, had jotted down my name and called me later on. A few even told me about how upset the other agent had been with me and told me it was because of that they'd referred me to their clients. That's the kind of referral you want - not one that you got because you were sucking up, feeding at their trough and putting up with their b**ls**t. Now, while you are doing the bait and switch, build the foundation for your business. Everyone today is on social media. Get yourself a FB page and learn to use it to your best advantage. If you aren't familiar with it, take a night course at your local community college on FB marketing and web placement. There are other similar platforms. I haven't bothered to use them 'cuz I don't need to. You can explore them too. Go to Google and search "The largest employers in (list your area) and take down that list. Then, starting with the one that employs the most people, find out if they have some kind of intranet forum (similar to this one) where they talk to each other. It used to be that only really large employers like Microsoft, Google, G.E., G.M., Ford, etc. had those, but these days just about every moderately-sized employer has them. It can even be a private, company-only group on FB as well as a dedicated back room on their company website. Figure out where you are going to price your work. Don't make the mistake of low-balling. If you start off as a bottom feeder, you'll always be a bottom feeder, and, most of the time you'll end up doing the kinds of inspections home inspectors hate. Find out who the ten top HI companies are in your area, find out what they charge, calculate the average price for an inspection and then add $50. Then, as people begin calling you to talk about scheduling an appointment get to know a little bit about them so that you'll know what kind of a customer you'll have and will be prepared on the day of the inspection to either deal with someone who hasn't the faintest idea how a home is built or how they work or you'll be dealing with someone who is good with his or her hands and once worked construction. While you are finding that out, find out where they work. If the person works for one of those large employers that has an internal forum of some sort when it comes time to discuss pricing, give them the quote but then ask if they want to save $50. They'll never say no. Explain that, after you've completed your inspection, if they like the thoroughness of the inspection, and if, after receiving the written report, they like the completeness of the report, they'd be willing to tell their fellow employees at such-and-such-company about your little company, you'd be willing to take $50 off the price of the inspection. I've never had one say they were not willing to do that. I've had a few ask, "Well, what if I don't like the inspection or the report - will I have to pay the extra $50?" I just smiled and told them I was sure that wasn't going to be the case, but, if they did not like my work they did not have to post anything and the price reduction still went. It starts off slow but then it speeds up. Before you know it, if you are consistent and you are diligent about having those folks tell their fellow workers about you by putting the name of your company on that internal message board where they can always come back and find it again, you'll be getting calls from folks who called you because they know they'll not only get an awesome inspection, but because they'll know that all they'll have to do is share some info about you on social media and they'll get $50 off the price of the inspection. In 2008 - 2009, when over 15,000 agents a month were losing their shirts and getting out of real estate, a whole lot of inspectors who feed at the trough went along with them. Without those agents, they had no idea what to do and they lost their shirts. I know one guy who had several investment properties - he had to sell one at a loss in order to keep his head above water. At the same time, because I'd concentrated on the largest employers in my area, when other homeowners began losing their homes many of those employees were in a position to purchase those bank-owned properties at fire sale prices and they called me up - sometimes to inspect two or three jobs in a row as they searched for investment properties. Instead of worrying about where the next job was coming because of the recession, I was referring jobs to other inspectors because I was booked and couldn't handle the additional work. It's a business where you have to play the long game and you have to do it like a pro. If you start off begging for work and selling your time at lowball prices, that's where you'll always be - going hat in hand to the agents and doing POS homes. Concentrate on the solid employers with well-paid employees who have staying power and accept referrals from honest agents instead of from 'zoids and you'll still be around years from now. ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike
  37. 2 points
    "If it leaks slower than it evaporates from the rag, then it's an evaporative cooler." From the book, "Things Realtors Say".
  38. 2 points
    I think we can make the numbers work. Bill has contributed tons of ideas. Between us we contacted: Kenny Hart, Glen Mathewson, John Bouldin, Frank Woeste, Don Norman, Lstiburek and Joe Tedesco, I'd love to have Douglas Hansen if I can convince him to come. If you guys have any suggestions for presenters, please post them here and we'll consider them. The venue will provide 24 hours of ASHI, NY, MA, and by default, PA CEU's. Working on CT, NJ and OH. If there are vendors you'd like to come, share those thoughts. This is a chance to build the conference you want to attend. Room rates at the Henry are reduced to $130 with free parking. If we pull it off, the conference will provide breakfast, beverage service for the day(s), and a nice lunch. Tentatively planned for late February, early March 2020
  39. 2 points
  40. 2 points
    Horrible state to live in, but Chicago is wonderful. . .
  41. 2 points
    Ladder climbing does involve risk. So does showering, walking indoors, walking outdoors -especially in winter, removing electrical panel covers, standing near a water heater whose TPRV lacks a decent discharge pipe, operating furnaces, eating romaine lettuce, driving to and from inspections, and opening emails. In every case, a bit of knowledge and training greatly mitigates that risk. Come on.
  42. 2 points
    Well stated, Jim. You also need access to maintain stone foundation walls. http://historicbldgs.com/stonefoundations.htm
  43. 2 points
  44. 2 points
    I also give general ranges. I really do try to get it "right", but sometimes miss the total by hundreds or thousands of dollars. For example - the house has a negative grade. I report it. I tell them it can be a week end project for you or it could be 8-900 dollars. they get a landscape artist and it costs 4,000 dollars. But, they had more done than my minimalist estimate. I and other inspectors in my company have never had serious blowback from giving estimates. My least favorite is water heaters. Around here they can be from 800 to 4000 on any given day. If I really don't know the price range of a furnace, I should brush up on my inspector skill set.
  45. 2 points
  46. 2 points
  47. 2 points
  48. 2 points
  49. 2 points
    That's a standard Humbolt crack gauge. I used to get them in bulk when I first started. They also had a different kind that wrapped around a corner. Haven't used them in years. I used a crayon to mark the date next to them. That way you could chart movement over time. If that one was installed correctly, it's showing 2mm of rotation. Without a date, that information isn't particularly helpful, though. Try to find out when it was installed, and how often it's been checked since then. Sometimes they show cyclical movement with changes in the seasons.
  50. 2 points
    In California, toothpaste causes cancer. So does the box that it comes in. This concludes my rant.
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