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My first inspection is next week. Need some advice


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I will do my first home inspection next week. I drove by it today to get a look at what I was facing. It's brand new and they just finished building it. Should I be thankful that my first inspection is brand new? Because it is new, what problems should I specifically look for? I'm not very confident in my inspection abilites and I hope I don't mess this up. I need your advice.

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Les,

First of all relax (just a bit). We all had our first inspection. Few of them, in retrospect, were everything that we would wish they were. Personally, I forgot to turn the oven off and got reamed out on the phone by the seller 2 hours after I left.

Remember that the client does not know that you are scared. Rehearse on a friend’s home, pin on a happy face and persevere. I will assume that you chose this racket because you have a talent for the technical or experience. Lean on that.

I will assume that you are reasonably well trained technically and have been through a few homes practicing your process. If that is not true, let us know. The first few inspections go easier if you do not have a buyer present, but that carries with it a greater liability risk. If you do not have an inspection services agreement, get one. In the future, try to email it or fax it to the client before the job.

1. Plan a process or flow for your inspection. No school that I am aware of trains this point, but all top inspectors have a distinct order in which they do all homes. I set up in the kitchen and recon the layout of the home. Then I inspect in order: exterior, roof, pool, sprinkler, garage, kitchen, baths, interior spaces and attic. Plan this in advance. This process helps insure that you cover all required areas. This is not just a good idea. This is critical to your survival.

2. Prepare your tools. Take what you need, leave the extras in your vehicle. Include extra batteries for everything in your vehicle. Do not forget a jump suit and mask/ respirator for crawl spaces.

3. Dress for golf. Do not wear blue jeans and a sweat shirt. If you want to be thought of as a professional, look the part. Balance that with the fact that you will be crawling though a 120° attic and a crawl space.

4. Arrive at least 10 minutes early. Scope out the environmental conditions, lay of the land and general condition of the home.

5. Look everyone in the eye, introduce yourself, hand out cards and take control (politely). You are the inspector, they are there for an inspection. It is your show.

6. Introductory speech. Lay the groundwork, so that the client knows what you can and can not do for him. Mine goes roughly this way:: “ I am here to inspect the home in order to help you understand as much as possible, it’s condition. It is important for you to know that home inspection is as much an art as a science. Not all problems with a home a visually apparent, but sometimes the hidden issues leave clues. If you walk with me as we do this inspection you will gain a better understanding of the home, how to maintain it and I can answer your questions. I will narrate as I go and please interrupt to ask any question that you may have.â€

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The main thing is to take your time. Do not let anyone tell you how long it should take. Also tell the truth about everything you see as you know the truth to be.

May sure after you have finished going around inspecting to walk around and look again. Go back to areas you found something wrong. Sometime who you will overlook a small item looking at a larger item.

We all wish you the best luck.

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Well if it's all electric, you don't have to worry about gas lines and appliances. That makes it a little easier on you. I would arrive 30 minutes early. This will allow you to look at the exterior and to relax before everyone arrives. At 2000sf, this is going to be a fairly simple house. It will most likely have 2 - 2.5 baths and three bedrooms. I'm assuming that it will most likely be a slab foundation in your part of the state.

A tip on new construction; Go to your local Big Box store and pick up a role of Blue painters tape. The 1" width is about all you need. When your client arrives, let them know that you are not concentrating on the cosmetic items in the home as much as the structure an mechanical systems. Hand them the roll of tape and tell them to go through the home and place a piece of tape on everything that their eye catches as a cosmetic defect or issue. I also tell my client that what their eye sees as a problem, I might not see it in the same way.

The tape does several things. First, it gives your client something to do instead of hanging over your shoulder the entire time. Second, it shows that your care. Third, it allows you to focus on the inspection more. And the Fourth, it might even help you when your client sticks a piece of blue tape on something that you missed!

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Les,

I understand your thoughts about returning the buyer's money.

That being said, do not go into this taking comfort that you have an out. Keep a confident attitude and EARN that fee. You may not be the best inspector in the business yet, but you are a fee paid home inspector and have every right to collect a fee. That buyer will get the benefit of your skills and knowledge. Even if that benefit is not worth the same amount as a more experienced inspector, it is worth something.

Keep a positive attitude. Be careful, methodical, polite and strait forward. That which does not kill you will make you stronger. [:-wiltel]

Glenn

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Well, I did the inspection. The man's wife met me there with a check and I got her to sign the authorization(contract). This is a new house and they're eager to move in. She wrote a check out and then left. I tried to be as thorough as possible. There was an item or two that I was unsure about. One was a board that went nowhere in the attic. I suggested in the report that the building contractor be questioned about it. I also had a problem getting the upstairs heat to come on. I'm going to send an amended report to the buyer about that. I went over every inch of this house. The roof was steep and I couldn't (or was afraid to walk it), so I used binoculars on a ladder at the edge. I put in the report that I could only see about 80% percent of the roof, and that there was some small areas that couldn't be seen. I hope that I worded that right.

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"Somehow, I forgot to put this in the inspection report."

Tell the client about the missing information. Call, e-mail or send an amended report. I've done it more times than I want to remember. It's not a big deal to admit to an omission. It's the professional thing to do.

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Hi,

Was it hot on the second floor? Sometimes, you gotta coax the thermostat a little bit in hot weather. I've found that some damp paper towels wrapped around that sucker seems to cool it off nicely and then on comes the furnace.

Were were the boards that went nowhere? On the bottom chords of the trusses and perpendicular to the trusses? On the underside of the rafter chords?

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Congrats on your first inspection Les.

Just a note. In the future, fax or email your agreement (fax is preferable) ahead of time and get them to either send it back before the inspection or give it to you at the start. I prefer they send it back before the inspection.

As for the heater. The downstairs may have been a "Master" thermostat. This means that if you had one A/C-Furnace, the downstairs t-stat probably controled it. More than likely, the upstairs thermostat only controled an electronic damper that opens/closes when the downstairs unit is on.

The upstairs t-stat would not actually operate the A/C-furnace. The downstairs would have to be on heat for the upstairs to have heat. Also, if the downstairs was set on A/C, turning the upstairs to heat would do nothing.

I see this set up quite often when there's just a Gameroom or Guest room upstairs.

Hey, next time take us some pictures and we'll (hopefully) be able to tell you what those boards were doing.

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I want to finish by saying that I used a poor choice of words when I described the "board going nowhere in the attic." After reflecting on it and reading the replies to my post, I feel that the several 2X4's were extraneous and were used for temporary support.

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I venture they were either temporary or permanent lateral bracing for the trusses.

Most framers don't go back and remove their temporary lateral bracing unless it's in the way.

Some trusses require permanent lateral bracing.

Congrats on getting the first one done.

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