Home Inspection: What I Wish I Knew in My First Year
July 25, 2018 |
As an experienced home inspector, I’ve learned a lot; some of it good, some of it scary, but all of it important. If I’d known some of these things when I first started out, I could have saved myself time and aggravation. So, now that I have a few years of experience under my belt, it’s time to pass on some words of wisdom. We know right now is a great time to start a career in home inspection. So be sure to start on the right foot.
Be On Time
Early on, I made the mistake of being late to a very important inspection. I’m not talking 10-15 minutes late, I was really late. The homeowner was inconvenienced, the home buyers were limited on time, and the real estate agent was NOT happy. Worse yet, I lost all sense of respect and confidence from them. How were they going to take me seriously after I kept them waiting?
While emergencies do come up, you need to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Plan your route ahead of time, check for any traffic snafus, and be sure you have all the equipment you need packed and ready to go. If something does come up, be sure to notify affected parties- this helps set expectations.
Don’t Scare the Customer
While the main purpose of an inspection is to verify that a home is safe and sound, and to point out areas of concern, it does no good to scare the potential buyer. This means controlling your emotions and reactions in any situation. I once walked into an attic that was unexpectedly full of bats. I’m sure any video of my knee-jerk reaction of shock and horror would be hilarious now- thankfully, there isn’t one! At the time it not only scared the customer out of buying the house, but I also lost credibility. There’s one real estate broker that never called me again!
Controlling your reactions might take time to master- I still react to some things. But with a little mental preparation, you can learn to react more professionally to whatever comes your way.
Don’t Track Dirt In
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, offends a homeowner like tracking dirt, mud, or snow into their home without warning. I also learned this the hard way. It was the middle of a Cleveland winter thaw where the snow and mud were a slushy mix. I did the outside inspection first and then walked right into the kitchen without taking off my shoes. I’ll never forget the homeowner’s face. Shocked but still polite. I immediately knew what I had done but by then, it was too late and I had lost their respect.
Always be professional, keep a change of shoes in your car, or those disposable shoe covers. Failing those, it’s better to walk around in your stocking feet than to mess up someone’s clean home.
Go Above and Beyond What’s Asked
Assessing the status of a property is the main goal of an inspection, but it also helps educate the buyer. This is especially important for first-time buyers that might not know a furnace from a water heater.
As an inspector, it’s your job to put them at ease when possible. If that means taking more time to address their concerns or checking something that might not be on your list to put allay their fears, then do it. Learn to read their body language and facial expressions. If they look confused, they probably are and you probably need to take a step back and explain something in more detail. In many cases, technology can help back up your case.
Your professionalism is just as important as your skills as an inspector. If you don’t treat people and homes with respect, you won’t get any in return. And if you lose the respect of your clients, they won’t be your clients for very long.