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Jim Katen

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Jim Katen last won the day on April 27

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About Jim Katen

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  1. Reminds me of that poem by Hilaire Belloc: Some random touch, a hand's imprudent slip The terminals flash, a sound like "zip" A smell of burning fills the air The electrician is no longer there!
  2. During the early days of the economic downturn, I did lots of foreclosed houses, but I can't remember how many were HUD/FHA. They were all crap. Those are not fond memories.
  3. I think that anyone who has lots of experience doing legal stuff understands that the legal route is rarely the best course of action. I've also got to stress that getting the demo done fast is supremely important. As long as the tiles are there, they're not just tiles; they're a physical symbol of a screw-up and they cause an emotional reaction every time anyone involved looks at them. After they're gone, the symbol is gone and you go back to moving forward (and healing).
  4. One thing I've learned about construction mistakes: Get the demo done as fast as possible. Everyone involved prefers re-doing to un-doing.
  5. That's true if you're using it to look inside an electrical panel, but not in a large attic or crawlspace. In those spaces, 350 lumens is probably the bare minimum. Try including some Surefire products in your next review. They're made in the USA, they're solid performers, and they're nearly indestructible. I've got an 8-year old G2X Pro that's never had its switch replaced.
  6. I did some serious research into this way back in the '90s and found that the numbers were even worse than yours. I tracked them over a 2 year period and found that after 24 months, only 1 in 17 was still in business. That was before licensing in Oregon, when you could just fall into home inspections with little or no commitment. I suspect that the numbers are a little bit better now because it takes more time, money, and education to get started. And that's the problem. Most people who get into this think of it as a job, not a business.
  7. Will the tile guy be participating in this exercise?
  8. Never heard of anyone setting I-joists with a crane. If they were trying to lift a unit of them, it would be stupid to run the strap through the middle. Perhaps the strap had something to do with holding them down on a flatbed?
  9. You use a notched trowel to ensure that you've put down the proper amount of grout. Once you've placed the tile and pressed it in place, you should have 100% coverage with no gaps or air spaces. That's why you trowel only in 1 direction; so that the air between ridges can escape as you set the tile. As you're setting the tiles, you pull one up every so often to check. Here's a good video from NTCA:
  10. Well, you're preparing a business plan. That's more than what most people do who fall into this profession. I scaled back to 1 inspection per day a little over a year ago, as a concession to age and just not wanting to work as much. But I did up to 2 a day for a few decades. In the very early days I'd sometimes do 3 in a day, but those were crappy inspections. It's probably possible to do 3 or more in a day if you provide a bare-bones service. I don't recommend it, though. Marketing to realtors can be frustrating, particularly in the beginning because realtors have their own ideas about how an inspector should explain things. The short story is that many (not all) realtors want you to find all of the important problems with a house, but then present the problems in such a way that they don't interfere with the sale of the house. They want an inspector who can say, with a straight face: this is a problem, but it's not a problem. Eventually, what happens is that realtors who like the way that you do things will like you, and you will like them, and they'll refer you. The ones who don't like you won't refer you, but that's ok because you won't like them either. After enough time, this sifting process leaves you with a pleasant book of business. Just don't try to change who you are to conform with an unlikeable realtor's perception of what you should be. In considering software, cost should not be a consideration. With any software, the overall cost over the lifetime of the product is insignificant. I won't discuss any particular software product because I really don't like any of them.
  11. I don't know if it has to do with your heating problem, but those trowel marks should not be visible after the tile is installed and removed. After the tile is set, there should be 100% coverage between the tile and the thinset.
  12. First, it's a mistake to link your pricing to your time. Home inspection isn't a trade, so don't think like a tradesman. Charge what the market will bear. The vast majority of home inspectors don't charge enough. Here's last week: Monday: 2,506 sf, circa 2015. 6 hrs on site. 1-1/2 hr report writing. $1,020. Tuesday: 1,954 sf, circa 1998. 3 hr, 45m on site. 2 hr report writing. $845 Wednesday: 2,018 sf, circa 2016. 5 hr on site. 45m report writing. $615 Thursday: 2,040 sf, circa 1949. 4 hr, 30m on site. 2 hr report writing. $795 Friday: 2,233 sf, circa 1975. 5 hr on site. 2 hr report writing. $795
  13. Where is the thermal break? Properly installed tiles should have zero air pockets under them, even if the thinset was installed with a 3/8" trowel. It sounds like the mats are simply not producing enough heat. Are you sure it's not something stupid like using 120-volts on mats designed for 240-volts? Were these mats made for the North American market or the European market? I'd be tempted to buy another mat and fire it up without installing it to see how it behaved.
  14. I'd say it's seriously messed up and in need of replacement.
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