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Flooring Fail – Why You Should Always Inspect Renovated Homes

I was recently inspecting an older townhouse in Columbia with our newest inspector, Dan Floyd.  The house had received a nice makeover: new kitchen, paint, hardwood flooring and carpeting.  It looked beautiful!  However, upon closer inspection, it seemed odd that there was no floor outlet along the long wall separating the neighboring unit.  This townhouse was built during a time when electricians were prohibited from putting outlets in the partition wall; for that reason, the outlets were in the floors in rooms abutting the neighboring house.  This was to prevent fires sparking between neighbors.

In the upper level, where new carpeting had been installed, one bedroom had a floor outlet but the other did not.  Again, that was odd until we pulled back the carpet where we guessed an outlet should be, only to find that the contractor had carpeted right over the outlet!  Maybe the same contractor put the hardwood flooring in the living room, but locating that outlet was a job we left for someone else.

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This is one example (of many!) showing why you should always get new construction / renovations inspected! Never assume that because it looks good, it is good. Book an inspection with us today!  And make sure you check out our referrals page for great contractors in Maryland.

Coming soon: An awesome guide to maintaining your home to make it look great next time it’s inspected.  We love inspecting well-maintained houses.  Be on the lookout!

Finding a Home Inspector 1/2

The media and consumer advocates generally recommend that buyers avoid home inspectors that are recommended by a Realtor because the Realtor’s motivation is to “close the deal” which may be facilitated by a less than thorough inspection.  You on the other hand want an inspector who is as thorough as possible so that you are sufficiently informed about the home you are thinking of buying.  So, that leaves you to do your own research, review websites, talk to inspectors, and talk to friends.  I would like to offer a counter-intuitive approach to this thinking.

Research is important, but it is difficult to discern quality from a website or a phone call.  Oftentimes the information on a company’s website is too general to distinguish it from another.  And if you call a company, you will get just about the same answers to your questions, because everyone says they are the best, the most thorough, the best value and produce the best report.  The most important qualities and values that distinguish one inspection company from another can only truly be observed or appreciated when they are doing the job.  Then you talk to your friends who have purchased homes recently and they share their experience with you.  However, notice that each friend’s experience is limited to one inspection with one inspector; that’s not much experience to draw from.  A poor inspector will rise to the occasion now and then and do a good job, but at the same time, an excellent inspector will once in a while do a poor job.  How do you know?  If only someone knew all the inspectors out there and actually saw them do their job over and over again and saw how accurate and thorough the reports really were!  But someone does; it’s your Realtor.  The Realtors are the only ones out there who interact with the inspectors on a regular basis.  They know who are the good and bad inspectors; take advantage of that knowledge.  Yes, due diligence is important, but don’t discount your Realtor’s recommendations.  If you don’t trust your Realtor’s referrals, then let me ask you a question: why are you using that Realtor?  If you don’t believe that your Realtor’s motivation is to help you get the best value in a house then find one who has that motivation.  How do you find a good Realtor?  Hmm, who works with the Realtors day in and day out?  Who sees how they deal with their clients and hears the advice they provide?

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Finding a Home Inspector 2/2

In Part 1 of this series, I tried to convince home buyers to consider using a home inspector recommended by a trusted Realtor.  Within days of writing that blog I was confronted with a real life counterpoint when our office booked an inspection for a client who refused to use their Realtor’s preferred inspector.  To test out my powers of persuasion, our office manager sent him the blog I wrote and he ignored my advice and went with us anyway.  So much for influence.

It was a reminder to me that there are buyers who for one reason or another may not want to use a Realtor’s referral.  In this case, the buyer found the house himself while driving around and called the listing agent’s office.  One thing led to another and they found themselves with a ratified contract without the benefit of a buyer’s agent.  Another agent on the listing agent’s team was representing them but not in a buyer’s agent capacity.  They were savvy enough to realize that “their agent”, though professional and competent, was not representing their interests.  Hence the call to our office.  If you find yourself in this position, and you are not an aggressive negotiator, I recommend hiring your own Realtor or attorney to negotiate the contract and home inspection addendum.

The moral of the story is that one shoe does not fit all.  We have had the happy occurrence on many occasions where a buyer declines to go with the Realtor’s recommendation for a home inspector because they’ve gotten a referral from a friend only to find out that we were that Realtor’s recommendation as well.  Now that’s a good referral.

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Who Has To Fix That?

There are several questions that come up on almost every home inspection.  The first one usually comes after finding something that is broken or not working right: “who is responsible for fixing that”?  It’s at that point that the Realtor will usually explain the process of negotiating the home inspection addendum.  If the Realtor is not around or if there is not one I’ll explain it.

The short answer is: “I don’t care who fixes it, but somebody should”.  I don’t say it like that, but it is true that the home inspector doesn’t decide who fixes what; he just points out the condition of the house at the time of the inspection and then the significant issues are usually negotiated.  Buyers often want to invest home inspectors with authority that they don’t have: “you’ll tell them to fix that, right?”  or “did the house pass inspection?”.  But in most cases, the buyer focuses on the most important issues that are either expensive, broken or safety related.

Friends of mine are selling their house and they are sweating getting through the appraisal and home inspection.   I overheard them tell a friend “we hope we pass the inspection”.  There is no pass/fail.  Some buyers will take the house as is; others will hand my inspection report to the seller and expect them to fix it all.  I once had a buyer go through with a house that had sunk about an inch because the termite damage was so extensive.  On the other hand I had a buyer who walked out on a very nice house because of a little rotted wood.  Every deal is unique because everyone involved, including the buyer, seller, Realtor and house are unique.  That’s one thing that makes my job so great: “it’s always the same but never the same”.

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