Home Inspection Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get a home inspection even if I already own my home?
Yes, home inspections are not just for buying a home. If you are planning to sell your home, you can get a “pre-listing” home inspection, which can tell you what your buyer’s home inspector may find and give you time to correct potential problems before placing your home on the market. Also, if you have a newly built home, getting a home inspection prior to the builder’s one-year walkthrough may if appropriate help you identify issues that need to be addressed by the builder before the warranty expires. Another option is a home “Checkup” that is designed more for maintenance than for Real Estate transactions. More can be found on Home Checkups HERE.
What a home inspection is NOT.
An home inspection is not a warranty, guarantee, appraisal or certification. Nor does a home inspector have X-ray vision. We cannot see inside walls, floors, ceilings or appliances. The home inspector does not take things apart or poke holes in things. To avoid potential damage, the home inspector cannot light pilots, open or close valves or start systems that are turned off, and will not do anything where there is a risk that it cannot be un-done (Imagine if we test the breaker for the refrigerator and it gets stuck OFF?). The home inspector does not move furniture or boxes to get to things.
What if I want more?
We can arrange for experts to follow up on things of concern. For example, we can take water samples and have them sent out to laboratories for complete and thorough examinations. Some basic tests can be performed on-site but they should be only used as screenings. Your mortgage lender may require ‘certified’ tests from a lab for water, radon, asbestos and lead. We DO offer some of those tests. Water testing requires 24 hours advance notice as the test kits need to be prepared. Test collections can only be done Monday through Thursday because it must go overnight to a Maryland Certified lab.
Do you do radon or termite inspections?
Currently the EPA is strongly suggesting that ALL homes (single family, Townhouses) get a Radon test. We have seen high levels in all parts of our territory and the long term risk in not worth not getting the test. If you DON’T have a Radon contingency you don’t need to get a test from us, but we still recommend you pick up a test and use it after you move in.
We currently are working with a Radon Lab that allows us to place the canisters for them. The lab will pick the canisters in 2-3 days, read the results and provide the report back to you and your agent via Email. Currently this is only available in Montgomery and parts of Frederick counties.
As for Termite inspections we always recommend going with a Licensed Termite/Pest firm that will issue a RENEWABLE termite certificate and back it up with a warranty. If you maintain the Warranty and Termites are ever found, the Pest company pays for the treatment and repairs of any damage, not you. It is important to maintain your warranty as like the ads say, termites can cause significant damage with little or no visible signs.
Do you do mold inspections?
No, and the reason is to protect you.
There are currently no government standards for mold inspectors; only guidelines for mold inspectors and remediators that have been established by the professional Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification group through their s520 Guidelines publications. There are also widely differing methods for collecting air, bulk, tape, viable, and non viable samples and no agreed upon standards by ASHI, NAHI or the insurance industry for the benefit of the general public’s health and welfare.
We can tell you that if you can detect a damp or musty smell or have a current or past water intrusion (or indicators thereof), there could be suspect mold issues at hand. We can inform you of companies that do provide excellent services within our network of service professionals, who have good accountability and integrity that can service your needs. Please note this is for informational purposes only, and Inspections by Bob is not connected with nor profits monetarily by any associations with those companies.
If the house we are inspecting has a forced air HVAC system, we can perform a swab test that will screen for the presence of certain mold types. This is only a screening, and is only for the presence of mold in the ventilation system.
Who will I be talking to when I call? Do you use an answering service?
We strive to answer every call personally. When you call, you will most likely be talking to “Mrs. Bob” — Welmoed (it’s pronounced “VEL-moot”). She can answer many of your home inspection questions, as she is an ASHI Inspector. You might reach our daughter Diana (otherwise known as “Little Bob”), who has been learning the home inspection business by looking at pictures from our inspections for the last 13 years.
We do use an answering service only if no one is available to take your call personally. The company we use only answers for home inspection companies, and its agents have years of experience helping clients and answering their questions. Using a call center allows you to get help more quickly by eliminating “voice mail tag” while still allowing us to give our clients our full attention when we are on site.
Who will be doing my home inspection?
Inspections by Bob is not a large, impersonal firm; Bob Sisson performs most of the home inspections. He arrives in a clearly-marked vehicle and will be wearing an IBB uniform, as shown in this picture.
If Welmoed Sisson is performing your inspection, she will be arriving in a clearly-marked vehicle and will be wearing an IBB uniform.
What do I need to do to get ready for a home inspection?
Beyond telling the scheduler where the structure is, when the home inspector should be there, and how payment is going to be made, there are a few things you can do to get ready.
All utilities and systems and appliances should be on and functioning. This includes water, electricity, gas, furnaces and air conditioning systems. All doors (exterior and garage) should be unlocked and accessible. Anything in the way of attic or crawl space access should be removed. Any manuals or service records for systems should out and available.
If you are a buyer, we strongly suggest that you be present during the home inspection, as you will be better able to relate to the comments when you see what they come from. We also recommend leaving any other family members at home; the inspection is your opportunity to learn about the property, and it would be best not to be distracted.
A home inspection can take upwards of an hour per 1,000 sq. ft. so a typical 2,500 sq. ft. home should take about 2½ hours. This will vary depending on the particular home, its age, components and whether it is occupied or empty. Also, allow an additional half hour for going over the report with the home inspector.
When will I get my report, and what will it look like?
When the home inspection is complete, you will receive an emailed copy of the report before the inspector leaves. You will also receive a 3-ring binder with informational brochures pertinent to the property, as well as a copy of “Basic Home Systems,” an 80-page book on how your home works and how to maintain it. Click here to see what your report will look like.
Some of the informational brochures we include in the report cover topics such as polybutylene piping, garage door openers, smoke alarms, well & septic systems, dryer vents and hot water safety.
If you like, you can download a sample report to see what a typical home inspection report looks like.
What if I have questions after the home inspection?
If you have any questions regarding the home inspection report you receive, you are always welcome to contact our office for clarification, either via email or phone call.
Do I need to be present for the Inspection?
You will learn a lot more if you are present for the entire inspection, but you do not need to be. You will need to review and sign our contract before the start of the inspection. It contains descriptions of what we will be doing, not doing, our liabilities and their limitations. If you cannot be present at the start of the inspection, your agent may be able to sign for you, or you can download our contract, sign it and fax it to us prior to the inspection.
We do routinely work with remote buyers who can’t be present for the inspection at all. In those cases we scan and email the entire report to the buyer along with any important pictures as well. We then arrange for a conference call to go over the report and any important pictures with the buyer.
Can’t I just use the home inspectors that the realtor recommends?
Many home inspectors market aggressively to real estate firms, in hopes of getting agents to give referrals. Sometimes, though, a home inspector who is “too picky” and jeopardizes too many of the agent’s sales might find their cards forgotten in a desk drawer!
We belong to the Independent Home Inspectors of North America (IHINA), and do not market ourselves actively to real estate firms by doing presentations, “educational seminars” or other self-promotional methods.
The majority of our business comes from the Internet, Angie’s List, and personal referrals, and as such we don’t have to worry about “messing up” a sale and jeopardizing a subsequent referral. Bob takes his time and finds everything he can, big or small, as that is what you are paying us for. We don’t need to care if the realtor thinks we are “too picky” or “too slow” and won’t refer people to us in the future.
Even so, we have realtors who do recommend us to their clients!
Will you take a realtor referral?
Of course, but your home inspection will be just as thorough as if you had received the referral from any other source.
Won’t using a big firm with a big ad get me a better inspection?
We don’t think so. Those ads cost a lot of money, so they need to do a lot of home inspections. We would rather take our time on each and every home inspection and have smaller ads.
Do you walk every Roof?
Simply put, No. There are many roofs that should not be walked at all such as Wooden Shake or Shingle, Clay, cement or other tile roofs. Metal roofs or steeply pitched roofs are dangerous even for professionals. That leaves a small amount of roofs, and walking those after precipitation is equally dangerous. Roofs that are extremely hot or cold can easily be damaged by walking as well. If we cannot walk a roof, we will usually observe it either from the top of a ladder (so we can inspect the inside of the gutters), or with a pole-mounted camera.
Won’t you miss things by not walking every roof?
Not as much as some would say. Most roofs show tell-tale signs elsewhere when they have problems. There will be signs in the attic, under the eaves, on the soffits or trims, or maybe in a upstairs closet or on a splashblock. Gravel on the splashblocks or pieces of the roof in the yard are rarely good signs. The roof that would be problematic is the roof that looks good, is young, and has no interior or exterior danger signs, but has potential problems anyway that only a roofing professional would find.
Will you match the price from another home inspector?
No. Unfortunately there are home inspectors out there who offer very quick and cheap home inspections. A professional home inspection is no place to cut corners. We feel that the home inspections done by Bob are fairly and competitively priced, and reflect the service being provided. We take our time (averaging over an hour per 1,000 sq. ft) and provide a quality report on site in a binder along with a book on “How to Operate Your Home” for future reference. We provide “final Walk through” assistance or follow up visits at no or minimal cost and telephone consultations are always free for our clients.
Why can’t I do my own Inspection?
You certainly could, but why would you want to? We have performed many inspections for carpenters, electricians, plumbers and general contractors and all have said we have seen things that they would have missed for a variety of reasons. We know where to look, what to look for and have the tools to do the inspection. We may have been in homes in the same neighborhood, or built by the same builder, that give us some insight as to what to expect and where to look for particular issues. We come prepared to go in the crawl space and the attic and onto the roof. We are comfortable opening the electrical panel when it is live.
For those who want to see a BRIEF description of some of what we do please read THIS.
Do You Do Repairs or Who can I get to do the repairs?
Doing any work on a property that an inspector has inspected is a violation of the State’s Code of Ethics, ASHI’s Code of Ethics and a number of other good organizations. It just is too great a conflict of interest. We recommend finding qualified contractors through Angie’s List. Angie’s List only accepts contractors that have been highly recommended and insists that they maintain that high recommendation.
Another good place to CHECK is the Better Business Bureau, or its online version: BBB
It is crucial to make sure that the people who are doing the work are licensed to do the work they are performing. Work may start as basic carpentry, and then involve moving outlets or pipes. They may be great carpenters, and seen the electrical work done hundreds of times, but they are not licensed to do the electrical or plumbing work. If they say, “Oh, I can do that for you…” the hair on the back of your neck should go up!
Permits are required anytime you are moving or adding electrical fixtures, switches or outlets. Moving or adding plumbing fixtures requires a permit. An electrician may not pull a permit to add a single outlet, but he is putting his license on the line. A reputable contractor will warranty their work, and they carry insurance.
Doing any work on natural gas or propane appliances requires a Master Plumber with a Gas Fitter Certificate, and, in most cases, also requires a permit. This includes Installing a gas stove, furnace or hot water heater.
Do you have a Infra-Red Camera? Do you use it on Regular Inspections?
Yes we do have an Infra-Red Camera, more appropriately called a “Thermal Imager” and we don’t use it routinely as it greatly exceeds the standards of practice for both the State of Maryland and ASHI. Where we do occasionally use it is to confirm, or provide further indicators, of issues that other things have pointed to or indicated. A thermal imager can artificially enhance things to appear to be problems when they are not, and can be fooled into thinking there are not problems by other conditions. We consider it just another tool in our arsenal to be used when appropriate. To read more about how we use our thermal camera go HERE.
Do you offer a guarantee or warranty on your inspection?
No, it is not possible to offer a guarantee or warranty on a home inspection. A home inspection is a “snapshot in time” and while we can advise clients on the average lifespan of systems and appliances, we don’t have a crystal ball! Systems and appliances can, and do, fail spontaneously, and sometimes without warning. We can only report on what we find in the home on the day we see it.
Can I bring my father/uncle/children…?
We welcome any who can add eyes and thoughts to the inspection, however we strongly suggest that small children NOT be brought as this is your opportunity to learn as much as you can about your possible future home. You will not get all of the possible benefits of the inspectors knowledge and experience if you are constantly chasing children.