Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Mistakes...I've Made a Few. Part One.

Home inspectors are paid to present their opinions, based on their knowledge and experience, to clients who, usually, are not well-versed in building construction. In our role as 'experts' we often have an extreme aversion to being wrong in our observations or in our reports. Being mistaken, or having our lack of knowledge exposed, can be both unnerving and a powerful learning tool.

When our company trains new inspectors we tell them that their motto as noobs should be "Embrace Your Ignorance". It's essential for veteran inspectors to keep that in mind as well. If we pretend we weren't wrong when we were or if we gloss over our errors/omissions we are missing a golden opportunity to learn a powerful lesson; we're also setting ourselves up for disasters, both large and small.

A dozen years ago or so I had just finished inspecting (or so I thought) a single family home with a full basement; I had put my tools in my truck and, since the client and realtor were still standing in front of the home I walked back to join them. As we stood in front of the home the buyer reached her hand under the bottom of the vinyl siding at the front wall of the home and said, "is this normal?"  I bent down, put my hand under the wall, and much to my surprise I found that the wall plate was 'floating' out in the air well beyond the concrete foundation wall upon which it should have been sitting! I went back down to the basement, stood in the corner, and visually 'sighted' the length of the front concrete foundation wall which, upon further and highly embarrassed reflection, turned out to be about 3" out of vertical alignment or 'plumb' as we say. The foundation had been pushed inward while the exterior wall had remained in place. That's why the plate was resting on nothin' but air.

That little vignette taught me to always stand in the corners of the basement and visually sight the foundation walls for leaning. It also taught me to never dismiss an observation of a clients and to always perform a final walk-around both inside and outside the home before wrapping up an inspection.

Home inspectors need to observe, operate, and evaluate hundreds if not thousands of discrete components and dozens of complex systems during an inspection. If we are well trained, disciplined, and mindful of what we're doing during an inspection our 'misses' should be few and minor. If we pretend we're infallible's gonna be a hard fall!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is it a good time to buy a house in Chicago or will the market continue to decline? - Trulia Voices

Is it a good time to buy a house in Chicago or will the market continue to decline? - Trulia Voices

You Need to Filter Tap Water – Health Tips from EWG | Environmental Working Group

Quite a few of our clients are concerned with the domestic water supply in their home. We share those concerns. Many homes in Chicago have underground water feed pipes that are made of lead. Chicago still has, according to a friend of mine in the Water Dept., some remaining asbestos pipe water mains. Some homes with copper piping have lead-based solder on the pipes.

All these conditions and more can negatively affect the water we drink and with which we bathe, cook, etc. I use a simple and inexpensive double cartridge activated charcoal undersink water filter in my home and also use a chlorine filtering shower head. A steamy hot shower can liberate a lot of nasty chlorine by-products that have been implicated in health problems.

Ross Neag, partner in Domicile Consulting, uses a whole house filtration system. Each of us should do the homework necessary to protect ourselves and our families from common health hazards in our homes. Here are some good tips for providing your home with healthy water.

You Need to Filter Tap Water – Health Tips from EWG | Environmental Working Group

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

3rd Highest Beverly Sales Price Ever!!!!

Rotted windows, asbestos, rodent droppings, drafty rooms, and a poorly performed major rehab are what you get for a million dollars. Who did their home inspection?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Letting Go

I had a misunderstanding with a real estate agent a few weeks ago during a home inspection in Lincoln Park. I pointed out to my client (the buyer) that since the furnace was located in the bathroom it was not only a violation of the building code but was also contrary to the manufacturer's installation instructions and functionally inadequate. During my explanation of this installation defect the Realtor (Robin) asked several questions and I answered them at some length.

A few days later my client forwards an email to me in which the Realtor plainly states that my reporting vis-a-vis the furnace were deliberate falsifications and that, "the furnace plainly meets code".....her very words! My blood pressure shot up like a Saturn V rocket and thoughts of strangling her idiotic nattering bobblehead filled my brain. I immediately called her to clarify the issues, she hangs up during the call and refuses to answer any subsequent calls or emails.

I then called her managing broker who made some vague apologies about Robin and graciously offered to let me give a presentation to the R.E. agents in her office as a way of making amends. It was a very nice gesture but not really what I had in mind. So, what I'm trying to figure out is, do I sue this money grubbing nitwit for defaming me or do I chuck it up to 'all in the biz'.

I know it's best to let go of the anger and move on but the gall of this person to call me a liar and to offer a technical opinion on the installation of a furnace totally flips me out. On top of it all she steadfastly refuses to proffer the simple admission and apology that would put it all to rest.

Om, shanti, shanti. Om, shanti, shanti. I'll get over it eventually!