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Consumer Awareness Guide

Hi! Thanks very much for allowing us to help you during your home buying experience. I’m grateful for the opportunity to provide you with information about home inspections and help you choose a home inspection company.

This information has been collected and arrived at by talking to buyers – sellers –real estate agents and inspectors from across North America. One of the main things that I’ve learned is that home inspections are the subject of much confusion. In fact, people have so many misconceptions about home inspections that I decided to offer this consumer education message so when you select a home inspection company, you can make an informed intelligent decision.

In just a moment, I’ll share with you seven costly misconceptions about home inspections. Also I am putting together some other secrets that I have learned about to help you in your home search and to help you avoid buying a home with problems that could cost you a money to repair if you aren’t aware of them.

Misconception #1: You should wait as long as possible before getting your home inspection.

 No. Waiting until the last minute to get your home inspection leaves you in a position of not having the information that you need to make an informed decision. Also your contract will likely have specific dates in it that if you don’t respond in a timely manner then you will loose the opportunity to cancel your contract on a house and still receive your earnest money back.

One of the problems is that if the home inspection turns up something significant then a specialist is generally required to help you understand the depth of the problem.

Inspectors are like general practitioners – they give the home a physical examination, looking for symptoms of problems. If they see an indication of a problem, they will recommend you have it checked out further by a specialist, one that can determine the specific cause of the problem and recommend any necessary corrections. This is similar to a doctor suggesting you see a specialist if he discovered a problem during a physical. For instance if the doctor discovered a skin problem he may refer you to a dermatologist.

You need to schedule the inspection as quickly as possible and have it done as soon as possible. There are a couple of other things that will help with this that I will mention in a later section.

Misconception #2: You don’t need a home inspection if you are getting a home warranty.

 No. As you probably know, there are very few perfect homes. A home inspector is going to inspect for any major problems that you need to be aware of concerning the structure of the home and the mechanical aspects of the home.

Home inspections on a regular basis turn up items that are simply too expensive to fix and may not be fixable. If you move in and are relying on the home warranty you may end up with items that the warranty doesn’t even begin to cover.

In addition, as you may know, if someone tells you not to worry - that the warranty will take care of any problems with the home this should be a red flag. Home warranties are not designed and will not cover pre-existing conditions.

One of the best reasons to have an inspection is to help prove that a problem that shows up later is not pre-existing.

Misconception #3: You need to have an inspection done for each home you are considering.

 No. To have a home inspection done on every home you are considering would cost you a small fortune.

Most often you are not going to need to have an inspection done on every home you are considering when you are armed with some basic information. I am setting up some of that information to give to you by email after this report.

In most cases you don’t to invest your money on a home inspection until you have found a home you are completely comfortable with yourself and have put a contract on. This helps insure that the seller is locked in to completing the sale if everything checks out and that you have a deal all ready negotiated.

If you do the inspection prior to a contract you actually give the seller an upper hand as you now have a vested interest in the home and will feel more inclined to not negotiate as hard or be as effective.

Misconception #4: The company that offers the lowest price is the company you should hire.

 Maybe – but not usually.

Point #1: The Company that offers the cheapest price is generally showing you a couple of things. One that they are new and or that they don’t really know what their cost is, meaning they are likely not to be in business for long. If you are only concerned about one or two items you can probably have a specialist come out and look at it for less than the inspection, or you can even have a friend or relative look at it and give you their expert advice.

On the other hand, if you want a through inspection that gives you information on every major system – if you want to know the status of all the major systems in the home – then you need to hire a company that does it full time and specializes in looking at more than just a few parts of the home. You want to hire the inspector that understands that they are working for you and no one else. You are their main concern and making sure that you understand the condition of the house is their first priority.

Because hiring someone to do a home inspection for you is something that most homebuyers only do once every 3 –5 years you are likely not even going to realize if you received a poor inspection until it is too late. So remember that the price you pay may not give you the information that you are hoping for with many inspectors.

Many homeowners have learned that the low price they pay for a cheap inspection also means there is less standing behind that inspection.

And if you have hired a cheap inspector, you too may have experienced the problem of getting back in touch with him when and if there was a problem or if you needed a re-inspect and he was to busy to get you taken care of in a timely manner. Also many cheap inspectors will not have the ability to take care of all the inspections that you may wish or need and you end up having to call someone else to do other parts of the home.

As in all businesses and professions, the home inspection industry has its share of bad apples. I take no pleasure in telling you this, but some are unethical – and, sadly, a few are dishonest. By their deep concern for others besides you then they may leave you hanging and missing vital information that you should have to make a complete and informed decision. This is another reason you want to make sure you hire an inspector that has your best interest at heart. You want to hire an inspector that is less influenced by others. The cheaper the inspector the higher the chance he is concerned about others besides you.

Then you’ll find other home inspection companies – professionals like me who work hard to earn your trust and respect.

As a way of improving our profession, I’ve dedicated my business to educating the public. The only way you can make an intelligent decision is to have all the facts you need. This is why I’ve prepared this message. And to help promote my efforts at consumer education, I regularly visit with other top professionals across North America to make sure you are receiving the best possible information in a timely fashion and help maintain the quality of inspectors and inspections.

Misconception #5: If you are buying a brand new home you don’t need an inspection.

 Simply not true. Many people believe that if they are buying a new home that everything is new and going to work perfectly.

Nothing could be further from the truth. While buying a new house is great because no one has lived in it and everything is brand new, from the carpet to the roof, this does not mean everything was put together right.

If fact over my many years of experience I have found that we find some of the strangest problems and situations in brand new homes.

In one case we discovered that the main sewer drain line from the house had been collapsed under the weight of the tractor that was used to grade the front yard. The house partially flooded during the inspection.

Another time the builder some how forgot to have any insulation put in the attic. That would have been a costly electric bill.

And just one last example, was the home that both of the standing showers had been installed with no shower pans. Water literally ran down the exterior walls when the showers were tested. Since this was on the outside of the home, it may have been months or years before it was discovered.

Of course the builder in each case went back in and fixed these items. And I am sure he would have done so even after you move in, but don’t risk it. We have found that you have a lot more leverage to get these and other items fixed even quicker before you close on the house.

My recommendation is that you don’t put yourself or your family through having to chase the builder down that may or may not really care and fix the problem in a timely manner while your family has to work around the problem.

Misconception #6: FHA or VA has inspected the house and/or the appraisal will cover me.

Absolutely not. While having FHA or VA do an inspection on your home is useful and they are likely to call out a number of concerns, this is far from a complete inspection. In fact the bottom line is that these inspectors are working to protect FHA or VA and not you.

On top of that these inspections are only about 30 minutes to an hour long at best and usually 30 minutes is pushing it. A real inspection that has your best interest at heart is going to take significantly longer. It is unusual for an inspection to take less than 2 hours on smaller homes and many inspections have been known to take longer depending on the size and condition of the home.

Then the appraisal will cover me – Right? Wrong!

The thought of the appraisal taking the place of the inspection scares the appraiser as much as it should scare you. The appraisal is designed to determine the value of the home for the mortgage company. The appraiser in other words is working for the mortgage company.

The mortgage company simply wants to know if what they are loaning on the house is reasonable. It is not designed at all to pick up the condition of the house, even though some times if there is a major concern the appraiser will bring it to everyone’s attention. However this is hardly an inspection and every appraiser will be glad to tell you so. Unfortunately you rarely see the appraiser and you are lucky if you receive his report until you go to closing.

 Misconception #7: That the home inspection is a guarantee or warranty.

No. If you ask just about any inspection company they will tell you that their inspection is only good for the day and time of the inspection. Which means is possible that anything can and something usually something will likely break at some point after the inspection.

Unfortunately, most inspectors use this like a crutch and use it to cover their mistakes. If you are using a cheap company and you have a problem and the inspector doesn’t answer your concerns satisfactorily then you are usually just out of luck. This is a great reason to make sure that you choose your inspection company carefully.

In my company’s case we even set a certain amount aside and if we investigate the problem and we feel the inspector has made a mistake then we don’t hesitate to correct the problem. The inspector is charged for the oversight from his recovery fund. As far as we are concerned it is in our best interest and yours to resolve any problems as quickly and fairly as possible.

Thanks very much for reading and allowing us this opportunity to help you in your home buying process. We hope you find this consumer message helpful. If you have questions or comments – or if you’d like to schedule us for your home inspection, please give us a call.

End of Consumer Awareness Guide

 

When deciding on the inspection company to inspect your new home, I offer these four recommendations.

Recommendation #1: Make a commitment to yourself to hire a company that has your best interest at heart. Choose a company that even though they may be a little higher will be honest and straight forward with you and will give you an on-site computerized report with color digital photos and a summary page that gives you a complete list of concerns broken down by systems in the house. Many people will claim that they give you a summary, however it is just a rehash of what they listed in the report and you still have to work your way through it to see what a plumber, electrician, or other specialist will have to look at for final recommendations.

Recommendation #2: Hire a company and not just a one-man shop, who may be here today or gone tomorrow. Hire a company that if something goes wrong has someone else behind the inspector to objectively look at the situation and make sure your best interest is taken care of, because it is in their best interest as well to protect their reputation.

Recommendation #3: Ask questions. The way you learn about a company is to ask specific questions and listen carefully to the answers. Here are some of the questions I suggest you ask:

     1. How long has your company been in business? Anything less than 3 years is a point against the company, 3-10 years is a neutral, and anything above 10 years is a positive.

     2. Do you offer an on-site computerized report with color digital photos, with a summary page with the items in need of repair broken down by systems such as electrical, plumbing, appliances, etc.? Receiving the report that night or even tomorrow means you have to wait for the information that you need to make crucial decisions. Not good.

     3. Do you carry E&O insurance? Anything but a yes is the wrong answer, move on to the next company.

     4. Do you have a supervisor or owner that can help me resolve a problem if I feel the inspector has made a mistake? Again, anything but a yes is the wrong answer, move on to the next company.

     5. Will you be able to perform all the inspections that I need? Termite inspection? Swimming Pool? Septic Inspection? Etc. Hopefully the answer is yes.

     6. Does your company have an in-house training program? If they seem baffled by this question you have your answer. We bring our inspectors into the office monthly for continuing education on top of the state requirements. Also we have a supervisor that stops in on all of our inspectors even our veterans at least once a month to help maintain the quality that you deserve.

Recommendation #4: Once you’re satisfied that you’re working with an honest, competent professional company, invite them to help you make one of the largest financial decisions that you will ever make and be comfortable with the fact that they have your best interest at heart.

By following these four recommendations, you’ll gain all the information you need to make an informed, intelligent decision. If you want a quick, cheap home inspection, many companies in the phone book can help you. Or you can have a friend or relative come with you or you can even do the inspection yourself.

But if you want your home inspection to be complete and through – removing doubt and giving you peace of mind – then I invite you to call our company.

We have professionals answering the phones to answer your questions and to be able to give you an exact quote right over the phone. They also work earlier and later than most to make sure we are there for you. They are available from 7 am to 7 pm Monday through Saturday. Or, if you prefer, just leave your name and telephone number after this message and we will be glad to return your call first thing in the morning.

Here’s one last point: I know that many consumers are skeptical about home inspections companies. Before I got into the business, I was skeptical too. I actually purchased a home and found many problems with the home after moving in. I vowed to help prevent any other homebuyers from ever having to go through what my family went through.

So in addition to dedicating my business to consumer education, I do one more thing as well.

I guarantee our work. That’s right. I fully guarantee every home inspection that we do. If you aren’t happy with our work, we’ll send a second inspector or supervisor to give you a second opinion. And if you still aren’t pleased, you pay nothing. Not one cent. On top of that if you want I will even pay another inspection company if you haven’t all ready closed on the house to come in and inspect the home up to the price that you would have paid us. That is our 200% guarantee.

As a matter fact, add this question to the list. Question #7 is “Do you guarantee your work?” Not all companies do and I don’t know any that offer a 200% guarantee – and it’s important that you have this information before you make your decision.

On top of that you may wish to ask, “Is there a warranty on your  inspection?” A concept that again is foreign to many inspection companies. We give you free – at no charge – a  warranty at the time of the inspection. 

What could be more fair and professional?

Thanks very much for listening. I hope you found this consumer message helpful. If you have questions or comments – or if you’d like to schedule us for your home inspection, please call us at the office at 850-916-7669 or simply leave your name and telephone number after the tone. We will promptly return your call.

On behalf of A Pro Inspections  – I thank you for your kind attention.

This is Damon O'Donnell

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A Pro Inspection Services
4702 Bay Breeze Dr
Gulf Breeze, FL. 32563

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