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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. 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: One inspection is as good as another inspection. One inspector is as good as another inspector. One inspection company is as good as another inspection company.

No. You will want to make sure the inspector and the inspection company has the experience to take care of you. Many people think of home inspection companies as a commodity. This can be a major mistake and leave you holding the bag or in this case a house with problems that are expensive to fix or unable to be repaired.

The good news in Alabama is that all home inspectors are licensed. The bad news is that home inspectors can receive the highest possible license “Professional Inspector” without ever having actually done any inspections. Hard to believe, but I see it happen every day.

Again I will give you some questions to ask here in a minute that will help you avoid this dilemma when calling companies to choose your inspector.

One thing that can help you here also is if the company has several inspectors and has an in-house training program to keep the inspectors up to date on current issues and problems. The in-house training program is designed to constantly test even the veteran inspector to help keep him from falling into complacency, which I have seen many one man operations have to deal with over the years. Many one-man veteran shops simply believe they have so much expertise that they stop looking as close as they really know they should.

No question, the best direction to go is with a larger company that has been around for years, that continually trains its inspectors and even if something does go wrong you are better off. A one-man operation can simply file bankruptcy and or go out of business. The larger companies are going to be more inclined to fix problems and take care of you so they can be here tomorrow.

Some people believe that the one-man operation cares more because it is his business – however the owner of a larger company has even more at stake and wants to make sure you are given the best inspection possible. Both are in business but the owner of the larger company is going to loose a lot more if a major problem arises and he doesn’t take care of you.

This is also one of the reasons that the larger companies carry larger E&O coverage to not only protect you, but themselves as well.

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

Here are two important points to consider.

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 a computerized report with a straight forward summary page – if you want to know the status of all the major systems in the home – then you need to hire a company that has been doing it for years and 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.

Point #2: A one-man operation can charge less because he has less overhead.

This may be true, but many homeowners have learned that the low price they pay for a one-man operation also means there is less behind that man.

And if you have hired a one-man operation, 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.

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 walk away from the home the day of the inspection with a full report, with photos, and an easy to read summary page. This gives other people less opportunity to influence the inspectors report.

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 provided this message.

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.

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. 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 appraisal 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 of the home.

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 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. That anything can, and something usually 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 the company is a multi-inspector firm and you have a problem and the inspector doesn’t answer your concerns satisfactorily then you have the ability to go to his supervisor, who hopefully can offer a non-biased opinion of the situation.

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, that 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 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.?
  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. 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. 334-393-3304

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.

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.

What could be more fair and professional?

On behalf of American Home Inspection – I thank you for your kind attention.


Mark Rakow

HI0024, EIFS0689, VA0135

CEO, American Home Inspection

American Home Inspection