There is no “one size fits all” answer. Here are some factors that can affect the duration of your inspection:
Size and layout of the house:
A smaller house will usually take less time to inspect. A house with an unusual floor plan may take a little longer because the inspector will want to ensure they are not overlooking any of the rooms.
Condition of the house:
Regardless of size, an empty house in good condition may take less time than a house that is packed with furniture and personal belongings or a home that is in poor condition.
Inclement weather can slow things down a little. For example, during one of our inspections it began raining heavily, so I waited until the rain stopped before inspecting the roof. It was worth the wait because the rainfall alerted me to several roof leaks as well as a leak in the ceiling of one of the bedrooms.
It is understandable that the client wants to be at the inspection and I’m fine with that. I help my clients help me by talking with them before the inspection and tactfully explaining that by allowing me to work uninterrupted, the inspection will not take too long. I encourage them to make a note of any concerns and where they are located, and save their comments or questions until we get to that location and then we can discuss. That keeps the client involved without breaking my flow and dragging out the inspection.
Newer inspectors may take longer because they are still in the learning curve and want to get it right (which is a good thing). If contractors or workmen are on-site that can add to the length of the inspection.
Taking into account the above factors, most home inspections will take between two and four hours to complete. We allow at least three hours per inspection, but in every instance take the time needed to do a thorough job. Quality is always job #1 with us.
Got questions about home inspections? We’ve got answers – Call us!
There is a great deal of discussion among home inspectors about whether or not to get on the roof during a home inspection. Some inspectors feel that you cannot do a thorough and proper inspection without getting on the roof and they are entitled to their opinion. My goal here is simply to provide some insight as to why some inspectors choose not to walk on the roof.
Getting on the roof – Positives and negatives:
Is the inspector required to get on the roof during an inspection?
Here are excerpts from the Standards of Practice for the three organizations that Virginia home inspectors answer to: (1) International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) – “The inspector is not required to walk on any roof surface.” (2) American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) – ASHI Standards of Practice only state that the inspector is required to inspect the roof system, nothing more. (3) Commonwealth of Virginia – “The method of inspecting the roof covering shall be noted and explained in the home inspection report. If the roof covering cannot be inspected, the licensee shall explain in the home inspection report why this component was not inspected.”
None of the Standards of Practice require the home inspector to get on the roof. It is a personal choice made by the individual inspector.
But there is one more thing to consider. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations. So as I read that requirement, the home inspector who climbs on the roof without fall protection would be in violation of OSHA regulations (unless you have a roof that is less than four feet from the ground). I have had inspectors become angry with me and insist that the OSHA regulations do not apply to home inspectors. I respectfully asked them to provide proof of such an exception, and I’m still waiting.
Methods for inspecting the roof without getting on it:
(1) Binoculars from ground level (2) Ladder placed at roof edge (3) Drone (4) Extension pole with wireless camera (5) Upper-level windows looking down on lower-level roof surface. The savvy inspector uses a combination of these methods to get the job done. I have two extension poles, one 24-foot and one 30-foot, and have achieved excellent results using the extension pole with a wireless digital camera. I can zoom in on plumbing vents, flashing and individual shingles to get great photos. I’ve had more than one client and realtor comment on the “cool pole” or ask how I got such great roof shots when I didn’t get on the roof.
A word of caution about drones – if you hire an inspector who uses a drone, confirm that they are properly licensed through the FAA and have the appropriate insurance coverage.
The inspector can also tell a lot about what is going on with the exterior of the roof by doing a thorough inspection of the attic interior. For example, water stains on the roof decking inside the attic may alert the inspector to problems on the exterior roof surface.
In my humble opinion, it is possible to do a proper and adequate roof inspection without getting on the roof. Don’t refuse to hire an inspector just because they don’t walk on roofs. And don’t hire one just because they do.
Single-strand aluminum wiring was sometimes used in place of copper for electrical branch circuit wiring in residential construction between the mid-1960’s and mid-1970’s. Since about 1973, use of single-strand aluminum wiring has largely ceased due to problems with the material.
Problems with single-strand aluminum wiring
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), homes wired with aluminum wire manufactured before 1972 are 55 times more likely to have one or more connections reach "fire hazard conditions" than a home wired with copper.
Some of the common problems with single-strand aluminum wiring are: (1) Electrical current vibrates as it passes through wiring. This vibration is more extreme in aluminum than it is in copper and over time can cause connections to loosen. (2) Aluminum wire is more susceptible to oxidation than copper wire. The aluminum oxide formed by the oxidation process can deteriorate connections and present a fire hazard. (3) Aluminum is more susceptible to fatigue and failure from bending and other forms of abuse than copper. Metal fatigue causes the aluminum wire to break down internally and increases the wire’s resistance to electrical current, leading to a buildup of excessive heat. (4) Contact with moisture or dissimilar metals can cause the aluminum to corrode. (5) Single-strand aluminum wiring can be damaged by over-tightening screws that connect the wiring to breakers or other electrical components. The wire will continue to deform even after the tightening has ceased and this creates a loose connection and increases electrical resistance in that location.
Identifying Aluminum Wiring
Standards of Practice for the Commonwealth of Virginia and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) require the home inspector to report on single-strand, solid conductor aluminum branch-circuit wiring, if observed by the home inspector.
One clue for the inspector will be the age of the house. Homes built or expanded between 1965 and 1973 are more likely to have aluminum wiring than houses built before or after those years. On visible sections of wiring, the plastic wire jacket may be marked with the word “aluminum," the initials "AL," or a specific brand name, such as "Kaiser Aluminum."
Evaluation and corrective action
Aluminum wiring should be evaluated by a qualified licensed electrician who is experienced in evaluating and correcting aluminum wiring problems. Not all licensed electricians are properly trained to deal with defective aluminum wiring.
Aluminum wiring can be a fire hazard due to inherent qualities of the metal. Inspectors may suggest that their clients talk with their insurance agents about whether the presence of aluminum wiring in the client's home is an issue that would require changes to their policy language.
Call us – we’ve got experience in locating and identifying single-strand aluminum wiring.
Polybutylene piping, also known as PB or Poly B, is a plastic material used for water service and distribution piping. PB piping was used in houses from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. PB service pipe is often blue but may also be black. Distribution pipe is usually blue-gray in color but cream color is possible, especially in early installations. PB piping can sometimes be identified by the marking “PB 2110.” The PB piping in the photograph was distribution piping in the crawl space of a house we inspected.
Reported problems: Some PB piping from the 1980s was prone to leakage at the fittings, with the blame placed on design / manufacturing defects or faulty installation. A class action lawsuit regarding PB was settled in the 1990s and settlement funds have been exhausted. PB piping is known to degrade when exposed to sunlight and chlorine in the water will weaken the tubing walls. Later versions of PB are usually less problematic.
Are Virginia home inspectors required to look for polybutylene piping? Not according to Standards of Practice from the Commonwealth of Virginia, InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors) and ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors). The InterNACHI SOP specifically lists PB piping as an item the inspector is not required to look for and the other two SOPs do not mention PB at all. All three SOPs require the inspector to inspect the plumbing system so hopefully the presence of PB piping will be noted.
Will my inspector look for and report on polybutylene piping? It depends on the inspector you hire. Nothing in the SOPs prohibits the inspector from looking for or reporting on PB piping. This is one of the questions you can ask your prospective home inspector when you interview them. At Premier Inspections LLC we search for PB piping on every inspection. We’ve done inspections where PB piping had been replaced but the PB fittings left in place. We had to look a little harder, but we found the PB fittings and alerted our client.
What will my inspector say if they find polybutylene piping? Again, it depends on the individual inspector. First of all, the inspector needs to be able to recognize PB piping and confirm that it is indeed PB before they call it out as such. If the inspector is not careful (or is inexperienced) they could confuse polybutylene piping with blue PEX plastic water piping. Inspection report comments for PB piping vary widely from inspector to inspector. Here are our comments when we find PB piping during an inspection: (1) ATTENTION - MONITOR: Monitor closely for change in condition and need of repair by qualified licensed plumber. Polybutylene piping or fittings. Some early versions of polybutylene piping developed leaks because of defects with the pipe material. No evidence of leaking at time of inspection. In addition to close monitoring, recommend evaluation by a qualified licensed plumber. (2) ACTION - REPAIR: Recommend repair by a qualified licensed plumber. Polybutylene piping or fittings with active leak at time of inspection. PB piping and fittings from some manufacturers developed leaks because of defects with the pipe material and fittings. Determining if this particular piping and fittings was materially defective is beyond the scope of this inspection.
In all instances the inspector should be seeking to educate the client, not alarm them.
Conclusion: Having PB piping in your home is not the end of the world. It just needs to be closely monitored or repaired, whichever is appropriate.
The home inspector did a great inspection and you were happy. But as time passed, you began to notice things in the house that the inspection report didn’t mention. So you call your inspector and after telling them what is going on, ask “why didn’t you see that?”
Our last blogpost, “What Did You Expect,” talked about the importance of managing expectations. But sometimes despite the best efforts of all concerned, issues are discovered after the inspection that may make it seem as if the home inspector didn’t do a good job. Here are some things to consider when those “why didn’t you see that?” issues come up:
Conclusion: When issues are discovered post-inspection, the inspector and client should be willing to listen to each other and discuss the issues calmly and reasonably. The objective is to do the right thing for everyone involved.
Call us – We love to talk about home inspections!
Managing expectations is one of the most important parts of a home inspection. Failing to help clients set and manage their expectations can cause problems for both client and home inspector.
What a home inspection is – A limited, visual, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home as it was on the date of inspection. Let’s break this down:
What a home inspection is not:
How the home inspector can help the client manage their expectations. (1) Have a clear understanding of what the client’s expectations are. Ask questions to clarify and confirm details. (2) Discuss the client’s expectations and clarify what will happen during the home inspection. The home inspector needs to be patient, diplomatic and a good listener. Ensure that the client understands what will and what will not be done as part of the inspection. Document any conversations for the protection of all parties. (3) The inspection agreement should clearly set out what is and what is not covered in the inspection. For example, the client may think that the home inspection will automatically include mold, termite, and radon testing. The savvy inspector should make every reasonable effort to ensure the client reads and understands the inspection agreement. (4) The inspector’s website should have a link to the applicable Standards of Practice the inspector works under. Some inspectors also have a link to SOP in their reports.
Conclusion: Helping clients to manage their expectations will help them have a better inspection experience and reduce the likelihood of complaints for the home inspector.
Call us – We’d be happy to help you have a great home inspection experience!
Search the Internet and you’ll find any number of articles that tell you how to find and hire the right home inspector. In this inspector's humble opinion, here are the three most important things to do when hiring your home inspector:
1. Due Diligence: First thing to do is check out the inspector’s license. In Virginia, home inspectors must be licensed through the Virginia Department of Professional & Occupational Regulation (DPOR). Here is the link http://www.dpor.virginia.gov. The DPOR website will show the license status and expiration date (good to know to make sure you’re not hiring an inspector with an expired license). Reputable inspectors should be a member of either ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) or InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors). Both are outstanding organizations and promote home inspector excellence through training. Look at the inspector’s website, Google Business page, and any other Internet sources about them you can dig up. Read their reviews – what do their customers say? Keep in mind that even the best inspector may have a less than rosy review. Ask people you trust what they may know about the inspectors you are considering.
2. Sample report: The sample report can tell you a lot about the inspector. How thorough are they? When describing an issue, does the inspector use language that is clear, understandable and not overly alarming or dramatic? Does the inspector seem reasonable and balanced, or do they make a major issue out of every little flaw? Do they use the word “code” in their report (a home inspection is NOT a code inspection)? Are the pictures clear? How about spelling and grammar? Home inspectors aren’t expected to be English majors but the report should not look like it was written by a third-grader. Is the information in the report really useful to you as the prospective buyer, or is it just filler?
3. Interview: Once you’ve narrowed your list of prospects down to the final candidates, call them. Even if you were given the inspector’s name by a trusted source, call them and talk for a few minutes to see if they seem like a good fit for you. Any home inspector who wants to work for you should be willing to give you a few minutes of their time. Do they encourage the client to attend the inspection? If not, that should raise a red flag. How many inspections do they do in a day? If they’re in a hurry to get to the next job, they may not give your inspection the time and attention it deserves. Asking about prices is expected, but be very careful about hiring based solely on price. You will get what you pay for. No doubt you can think of many other questions to ask your prospective home inspector. Talking to the inspector will give you an idea of their personality, communication abilities and people skills. I once had a realtor call me out of the blue because his regular home inspector wasn’t available. Two years later we’re still working together, and he later told me one big reason he hired me was because I took the time to talk to him and I “sounded like a nice guy” when we spoke on the phone (I am a nice guy, by the way). If the home inspector sounds open, honest and sincere and you get a good vibe from talking with them, you may have a winner.
Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. Finding and hiring the right home inspector can help make the home buying process less stressful. So search carefully and choose wisely. You’ll be glad you did.
Want to interview a home inspector? I’d love to talk with you.
The main reason is because they're misleading. A home inspector’s job is to observe and report, nothing more. Saying a house “passed” or “failed” an inspection is really going beyond and rendering an opinion. What is considered “passing” or “failing” by one inspector may not be so for another. The worst house we ever inspected had some $13,000 in needed repairs, but it did not “fail” the inspection. It was just a house needing a lot of attention. We reported what we saw in clear, candid and non-alarming language and everyone was satisfied. The buyer knew what they were getting and the sale went through because we avoided using misleading language.
When it comes to the word “code,” many people, including some home inspectors, confuse a home inspection with a code inspection. They are not the same. A home inspection is a limited, visual, non-invasive examination of a home’s condition at a given point in time. A code inspection is just that – An inspection of the home’s components and systems (HVAC, plumbing, structure, etc.) to determine if they conform to required codes. Home inspectors need to be familiar with various codes so they can recognize and point out issues observed during the inspection, but they are not code inspectors. Even if an inspector also happens to be a licensed electrician, plumber, etc., it would still be wise to avoid using the word “code” because it could give the client the wrong impression.
Using these words doesn’t mean the inspector is bad or dishonest. It just means they may need to work on their communication skills or re-examine their understanding of what a home inspection is. Doing a great inspection is important, but just as important is communicating the findings to the client clearly and candidly. Avoiding misleading language will go a long way towards accomplishing that objective.
Have questions about home inspections? Call us – We'd love to talk with you.