Notes from the office manager
I know that you are used to hearing from the Home Inspector but he's been so busy in the last few months! Either the housing market is cooling down or home buyers are putting their foot down and insisting on having a full home inspection after hearing the horror stories from home buyers who didn't get an inspection.
Anyway, I thought I'd give you a perspective on the home inspection process from my angle. I've been managing the office for over 25 years and although I rarely get to meet the client face-to-face, I have come to know some great people.
After hearing certain realtors' voice over the phone for over two decades, it's funny when we finally meet in person. It's like a deja vu moment. One time, I was walking into Walmart in Amherstburg and a guy in a pick-up truck had his window down and he was on speaker phone with a realtor. I immediately recognized the realtor's voice and the next time I spoke to that realtor, I asked him how his deal went with the guy in the pick-up truck in the Walmart parking lot lol.
Some clients call me from time to time just to chat. I love those calls. On several occasions throughout the years, I could sense panic in the caller's voice and I asked them if we can take a moment to pray together over the phone about their situation. No one has ever turned me down.
We work 6-days a week. That is a full schedule but we still get calls for inspections on Sundays. Callers are amazed that we do not perform inspections on Sundays. Sundays are for church and family. Some will offer to pay us extra but I turn them all down. Once a caller was really trying to persuade me to book a home inspection for him on a Sunday. I politely told him that he could be the Prime Minister of Canada and that wouldn't make a difference!
We've performed home inspections for some pretty famous people too. These include world-famous athletes, authors, TV personalities to name a few. But no client is treated better than the next. Everyone gets 100% of my attention and time over the phone. I answer all their questions and set their mind at ease regarding the home inspection process.
What can I say...I love my job and talking to new people every day. Don't get me wrong, there have been a handful of cranky callers too (like the guy who insisted on a home inspection on a Sunday) but those are few and far between.
I'm looking forward to your call and don't forget when booking an inspection, it's always a good idea to have the house address handy - you would be surprised at how many people say, "Oh, yah, I guess you need that!".
a home inspector's tool bag
I thought I'd give you a peek inside a home inspector's tool bag. My bag has certainly changed throughout the years. I can't believe that when I first started performing home inspections in Windsor and Essex County over 25 years ago, my bag included a Polaroid Camera amongst other tools. Yup, back then, digital cameras were just starting to become available to the general public and so I'd use a Polaroid camera so my client got instant results. I thought I'd include a picture of a Polaroid camera for you young ones who don't know what it is.
Anyway, today's home inspector tool bag contains state-of-the-art equipment that helps the house inspector see and diagnose the various conditions of the home.
I come prepared with several ladders so every effort is made to reach what other home inspectors might consider inaccessible areas. Since a portion of the home inspection takes place outside, a large golf umbrella has saved many clients during inclement weather throughout the years. Once inside the house, I wear my slippers so that I can be as respectful as possible to the home-owner.
In addition to my home inspection business, I have also been doing home inspections in the Windsor and Essex County area for the Mike Holmes Group (you know the Holmes on Holmes TV personality). Mike insisted that his home inspectors get the best infrared camera to do the job right. So, that's what I did and this camera cost about half of what I paid for my first house! This thermal imaging camera reads temperature differences which can indicate a number of things including moisture, air infiltration, and missing insulation.
I like my all-weather digital camera too. It is frost-proof, water-proof and drop proof. I remember when I got one of my first digital cameras, they were really expensive when they first came out and unfortunately not waterproof. One camera met its early demise in a sump pit. :(
Another important tool for a home inspector is the moisture meter. When an area looks suspect, I pull this meter out to pinpoint the exact location of the moisture pocket. From there, I use my knowledge and experience to find out why the moisture is there and then I can provide useful recommendations.
A level comes in handy to confirm the slope of plumbing drains. Of course, a multi-head screw driver is necessary for removing the electrical panel cover. I've got my trusty hand-vac too which has been used on several occasions after removing dusty attic access doors. Binoculars come in handy when inspecting the exterior of homes, while my telescopic mirror has enabled me to see up chimneys as well as around the corner in ducts. A strong flashlight is a necessity to illuminate attics as well as all corners of the crawl space.
When inspecting a crawl space, I wear coveralls and a good face mask. I know a home inspector who was very ill for months and the doctors believe it was from breathing-in material from a crawl space.
I use a poker or awl to check for wood rot. The awl also comes in handy while making my way from one end of a crawl space to another....sometimes there are so many spider webs that I twirl it around the webs (I call this 'making cotton candy out of webs').
Lastly, my carbon monoxide detector and natural gas detector have potentially saved a lot of lives over the years.
There you have it. I might have left a thing or two out but you get the jist of it. It takes more than a screw driver and flashlight to perform a thorough, comprehensive home inspection. A home inspector's tool bag has come a long way since the Polaroid Camera days.
hOME iNSPECTION cLAUSES
The ‘hot’ housing market in Windsor & Essex County has negatively affected home buyers in many ways. As a veteran home inspector with 25 years of experience with the oldest locally-owned home inspection company, I have experienced the ebb and flow of the housing market. However, the current trend to eliminate home inspections from offers-to-purchase puts home buyers in a precarious situation. Home buyers are being advised to purchase a home with no conditions because a condition will jeopardize their offer even if their offer has a greater dollar value than the next.
The Ontario Government protects car buyers with the Used Vehicle Information Package and Safety Standards Certificate. Yet, the governing bodies are not protecting Ontario home buyers. With the current trend, whoever 'wins' or out-bids others with their offer-to-purchase does not truly know the condition of the home they are buying! Ontario home buyers should have the RIGHT to take the time to have a FULL home inspection performed by an Ontario Government-Recognized Home Inspector so that they can make an informed decision on their largest investment. If each offer-to-purchase had a home inspection clause, THIS would protect each home buyer and they would all be on a level playing field.
Our home inspector is now performing post-purchase home inspections and more times than not, the new home buyers are surprised with our findings and are in deep regret because they feel that they have no recourse – they’ve already bought the house. They all wish that they would have gotten the home inspection performed prior to making the decision on their biggest investment.
Why did the Government regulate the car sales industry with Safety Standards Certificates and Used Vehicle Information Packages?....to protect car buyers! When will the governing bodies protect Ontario home buyers? We are back to square one…Caveat Emptor (buyer beware).
Windsor's Real Estate Market
I was going to talk about this week's "Polar Vortex" weather which affected us here in Windsor and Essex County and how to prepare your home for such cold weather, but instead I must speak my mind on what I heard on the radio this week.
I want to make my comments as precise as possible so I tried to google what I heard on the radio but couldn't find any information. So hopefully I'm relating what I heard accurately.
Currently, the Windsor Essex County Real Estate Board Members cannot disclose information regarding "Offers To Purchase" but they can disclose that there is an "Offer To Purchase" on a home. They are now mulling over whether they should disclose the particulars of the "offers" because home buyers are apparently over-paying for homes here in Windsor and Essex County due to the market frenzie. It is believed that if the home buyers know what the other offers are, they can adjust their offer accordingly and that will protect them.
Anyway, here are my thoughts. Every "Offer To Purchase" should include a mandatory FULL home inspection clause! Therefore, each and every home buyer knows exactly what they are putting an offer in on. Just like buying a car....you have to get a Safety Certificate and a Used Vehicle Information Package right! But the Ontario Government doesn't feel it is necessary to protect home buyers like it is necessary to protect the car buyers. Instead, home buyers are pressured into putting in an offer without any conditions due to the home-buying market here in Windsor and Essex County. Honestly, I don't think that disclosing the conditions of other offers is going to do much in terms of protecting home buyers.
What will protect home buyers is mandatory home inspections. Just like cars must have Safety Inspections and Used Car Information Packages, homes should have mandatory full home inspections performed by an Ontario Government-Recognized Home Inspector! Seriously, it is just plain laughable that simply disclosing information on other "Offers To Purchase" will protect home buyers! This will result in an auction-type situation and apparently some organization thinks that this protects home buyers lol. Whoever 'wins' or out-bids others with their "Offer To Purchase" still doesn't know the condition of what they are buying! People in power......please protect ALL home buyers by insisting on mandatory home inspections. Therefore no home buyer is pressured into buying a home without having the RIGHT to have a FULL home inspection performed on their largest investment!
Disclosing the particulars of other offers provides insight into how much another home buyer is offering on a home but does not protect anyone. What WILL protect home buyers is the RIGHT to take the time to have a FULL home inspection performed so that they can make an informed decision on their largest investment.
Why did the Government regulate the car sales industry with Safety Certificates and Used Vehicle Information Packages? To protect car buyers! Now the Real Estate Board wants to 'protect' home buyers by disclosing information in other "Offers to Purchase"....That won't PROTECT home buyers!! It will give them more information but it won't PROTECT them. What will help protect them is mandatory home inspections.
The government stepped in and mandated Safety Inspections and Used Vehicle Information Packages on every vehicle purchased/sold. The RIGHT for each home buyer to have their own home inspection performed on the home they are considering on buying will give each and every home buyer the protection and leverage they need to go forth confidently with their Offer To Purchase.
The government mandates vehicle inspections but not home inspections! This is mind-boggling and does not protect the home buyer in any way. Yes changes need to be made to the Real Estate Industry but whoever suggested that disclosing the particulars of competing offers will adequately protect home buyers is seriously delusional.
Let's go back to the car industry. If you were to buy a car before the safety certificate and used vehicle package came into play, you would look at a car and if you were lucky, you could take it for a spin around the block and decide if you want to buy it without knowing anything about it's history or condition. That's the chance you took back in the day.
The government and Real Estate Board obviously think that is the chance you should take when buying a house....your largest investment. Yes, because they are not insisting on protecting each and every home buyer with the RIGHT to have a full home inspection on the largest investment that they are likely going to make.
As you may know, I've been doing home inspections in Windsor and Essex County for over 25 years. I'd have to say that 9 times out of 10, the homebuyer asks me "Would you buy this house?" or sometimes they phrase it as "Would you let your daughter buy this house?" If I got a dollar for every time I got asked those questions, I'd have over $10,000 because I've performed that many home inspections in Windsor!
You would think that my answer to both of those questions would be the same no matter how the homebuyer phrases the question but actually my answer to each would be different. You see, if my daughter were to buy a particular home, her skills, needs, wants, likes, dislikes, budget etc are completely different than mine. Also, having built homes from the ground up prior to beginning my home inspection career puts me in a different bracket than my 24 year old daughter who works at a daycare and is a photographer. You see what I'm getting at?
As a professional home inspector, I state the facts. When I discover an 'issue' during the home inspection, each home buyer processes the information differently. By the way, I put a quote around the word issue because what is an issue for one home buyer is not remotely an issue for another. What may be a stumbling block for one client is perceived as a cool weekend project for another. I always tell my clients that there is no pass or fail to a home inspection. There are just the facts.
Stating the facts allows the home buyer to put everything into perspective according to their skills, wants, needs, likes, dislikes, budget etc. It educates the client on what is likely going to be their biggest investment.
I've seen clients buy a home that I would never have bought and on the other hand, I've seen clients walk away from a home that I would have definitely bought. I guess my daughter could say the same thing. So, I never give a yes or no answer to the most-asked question that a Home Inspector gets. As a professional Home Inspector, I would be doing my client a disservice if I did because unless the home buyer is a repeat customer, I meet my client for the first time at the job site. I have no idea what their skills, budget, likes, lifestyle, dislikes, needs, wants etc are.
In my 25 year career of inspecting homes in Windsor and Essex County, I have never had a client call me and say that they should have bought a house that they walked away from, or that they wished they had never bought the house that I inspected. Why, because I state the facts and the home buyer makes a decision that is right for THEM.
By the way, I have often heard new clients say that they wished that they had never bought their house that other home inspectors had inspected, but I'll save those stories for another blog lol.
So you've decided it's time to buy a home. In this crazy real estate market, it can certainly be a challenge with vendors stating that they will only look at offers on a particular date or even realtors stating that if your offer includes a home inspection, you are certain to not get the home.
We've been hearing these horror stories for about two years now. It is unfortunate that the home buyer is placed in this predicament and that the government doesn't step in and insist that all homes for sale have a home inspection just like our cars MUST have safety checks.
Anyway, many home buyers are now getting the home inspection done first and then they can put in an offer based on all the facts instead of succumbing to these pressures and emotions. A professional home inspector is not interested in selling homes but the best home inspector is interested in objectively using his home inspector training and construction experience to remove the emotions and state the facts.
This article will help you choose a professional, qualified and the best home inspector. Here are 10 questions to take into account when choosing the perfect home inspector for you:
This is from the desk of Murray Parish, President of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors OAHI
Published on December 10, 2018 - Licensing home inspectors took another step forward today. Murray Parish, RHI and John Hansen, RHI, President and Vice-President of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI) respectively, met with senior staff members at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) along with other industry-related stakeholders.
“Today’s meeting was a great opportunity for OAHI to advocate for its members to ensure that licensing home inspectors— in particular the fee structure— is done in a way that is reasonable to them while safeguarding consumer protection,” said Parish.
Bill 59, the Putting Consumers First Act, which includes an Act to Regulate Home Inspectors, received Royal Assent in 2017. OAHI has been representing home inspectors throughout the legislative process of Bill 59 to bring forth the concerns and interests of home inspectors and the consumers they serve.
“OAHI believes that overall the meeting went well. Furthermore, OAHI will continue to promote the high level of education and professional standards as it has since 1994,”said Hansen.
We reiterate that OAHI supports the establishment of common competency requirements for all home inspectors to operate in Ontario. Licensing offers a reasonable way of permitting an individual to begin offering home inspection services to the public with the assurance of that basic competency being in place.
About the OAHI
Through education and advocacy, the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors cultivates a thriving home inspection industry based on the highest standards of professional development and ethical standards. In doing so, OAHI cultivates the ‘gold standard’ for home inspectors among consumers and the government. OAHI is the only provincially recognized body of home inspectors by The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors Act, 1994. OAHI is a not-for-profit association.
A Home Inspector's character
Being the oldest home inspection company in Windsor and Essex County, I have had the privilege of inspecting a home for a client who was pregnant at the time of the building inspection. That in and of itself is not unusual. The interesting part comes in when I received a phone call from that same client 25 years later to inspect the home her son was planning to buy. You see, she was pregnant with him when I inspected her home! That's when you know you've been in the house inspection business for a long time!
In 25 years, I've certainly seen this industry change. I've seen countless house inspectors and home inspection companies come and go. There is no government licensing for Home Inspectors either. With the 'hot' housing market in the Windsor and Essex County area, most homes are not inspected as the home buyer is afraid his offer won't be accepted with a home inspection clause in the offer. This has resulted in a shift in the home inspection industry here in Windsor and in many larger cities. Many home inspectors have had no choice but to move on to other careers.
One Windsor home inspector (who, as of the date of publishing this blog, is still a practicing home inspector in Windsor) even became a local realtor! Although this is clearly a conflict of interest, the home-buying public is unaware of this. Then there is the current trend for quick verbal home inspections. This has also negatively affected the building inspection industry....and the consumer. First of all, if a home inspector is a member of a home inspection association, then he cannot perform these quick verbal house inspections because they violate the home inspection association's Standard of Practice. Yet unfortunately many house inspectors in the Windsor and Essex County area are doing just that....violating the Standards of Practice that they should be upholding. Indeed that says a lot about a home inspector's character!
A recent unofficial survey was conducted asking local Windsor home inspectors whether they perform quick verbal house inspections. We were pleasantly surprised to see that there are a few home inspection companies who abide by their home inspection association's Standards of Practice and Code of Conduct/Ethics. Sadly, many Windsor home inspectors stated that they do indeed perform quick verbal home inspections. One house inspector even went on to say that after he is paid in cash, he will claim that he was never at the property! Most quick verbal home inspections take about half an hour vs. approximately 3 hours for a real home inspection. This is detrimental to the real estate transaction and of course the consumer is the only one negatively affected. The 'home inspector' gets paid, the realtor gets their commission and the home buyer's largest investment was influenced by a 'home inspector' who did not provide a written report (which is mandatory) nor did he inspect as per the Standards of Practice. Therefore there is virtually no legal recourse because the insurance company will state that it's a "he said, she said" scenario and remember.....the home inspector was NEVER there!
Home inspectors must decide which hat they will wear. Will the home inspector abide by his/her association's standards or sell out to the almighty dollar?
Home inspection Consultants Inc. has refused every verbal inspection it has been offered and will continue to do so. Why?, because of our CHARACTER and we have our outstanding 25-year reputation to uphold.
You see, our character when we performed the home inspection for the pregnant lady hasn't wavered because of the real estate market. No, her son received the same professional best home inspection that his mother received 25 years ago!
I've come across a lot of interesting tidbits of information during my 29 year career as a home inspector. I've been told that I'm pretty meticulous and a good 'teacher', so hopefully you'll find some interesting information here..