Doing Business with This Home Inspector …

By popular request, I’m putting on my blogger hat today to explain some of the details of scheduling a home inspection, and some of the logistics that apply to the inspection process itself, so that clients and their real estate agents will better understand what to expect when they make an initial appointment with OZ Home Inspections, LLC.

I have, give-or-take, about 50 agents who regularly refer their real estate clients to me to perform an inspection for them. The ones who use my services most regularly are already aware of my reputation in the greater Fort Bragg market for a rare – if not unprecedented – practice. I limit myself to only one inspection per day. Most inspectors will perform two – and some even three – inspections on any given day. That limits their time on-site to 2-3 hours, usually. Some will put in as many as four hours at a challenging inspection (e.g. a house 40 years old or more, in rough condition, and larger than 3,000 sq. ft. in size). By contrast, I start my inspections between 8:30 and 9 AM, and am rarely done before 2-3 PM. That’s 5-6 hours or more on-site for the lion’s share of my inspections. Some of the tougher inspections may take 6-8 hours or more. 

That does not mean I’m going to be more critical in my observations and findings. It just means I will have spent the time that I deem necessary to perform a thorough inspection. I will not be rushed. I let the inspection take as long as it takes. 

I am equally dedicated to communicating with my clients and documenting my findings in a thorough and thoughtful way. I encourage my clients to meet with me on-site for a preliminary review of my findings, pending release of a written report by the following day. Most clients consider this face-to-face interaction very useful in providing context to the report, so there are no outstanding questions when they receive and read the report. The same-day walk-thru takes about 45 minutes to an hour, and normally happens at the end of the inspection. With about an hour’s heads-up, I call or text the clients and/or their agents, inviting them to join me for a walk-thru as I’m finishing up my work. This allows me to give them 100% of my attention, as opposed to the limited communication that would happen if we tried to do it while the inspection is ongoing. Since I’m not in a hurry to get to a subsequent inspection, these reviews are not rushed. I share all of my photos with the clients and make sure by the time they leave that their questions have been thoroughly and thoughtfully answered. 

I do not charge a premium for this level of service. My fees are competitive in this market. If you’re looking for an instant quote, over the phone, I can normally provide it. I just need to know the size (square footage) and age of the house. If it is a foreclosure or distressed home, that detail may impact whether I can provide an instant quote. If you don’t know these details when you ask for the quote, you need only to text or email me the address of the property, and I’ll be able to respond, normally on the same day. 

To schedule an inspection, provide me also with the client’s name, email address, and cell number, so I can communicate with him/her and get a pre-inspection agreement signed electronically (via DocuSign.com) prior to the inspection date. I accept payment on the day of the inspection, via cash, check, money order or Zelle. Other arrangements (e.g. for deferred payment, etc.) may be arranged, as necessary, if secured by credit card.

Please note that during the COVID pandemic, I am only performing inspections at vacant homes. If a home is occupied, I would need confirmation from the listing agent or seller that the home will be vacated for the entire duration of the inspection. Since that normally takes all day, and since it’s not easy for most sellers to oblige, it’s probably better to use another inspector if the home you’re buying is occupied. My apologies for any inconvenience associated with this policy, but I cannot make exceptions. My on-site walk-thru’s with clients are handled with masking / social distancing. Please have any attendees bring and wear a mask.

If, for any reason, you’re not able to participate in the walk-thru, we can make arrangements to discuss the report via phone, after the report has been released. 

Follow-Up Inspections  

In addition to full inspections, I also perform follow-up inspections, which cover the updated status of specific repairs that occurred subsequent to my initial inspection. I work from the Due Diligence Request & Agreement, and limit the follow-up inspection to repair items listed in that document. 

Unlike full inspections, follow-up inspections are not blocked out to occur on a specific day or time. Normally, the buyer or buyer’s agent provides the due diligence document and a window within which the follow-up may occur. It’s necessary to obtain from the listing agent or seller the date when the due diligence repairs are scheduled to be completed, and also the projected date of closing. I work within that time frame to revisit the home for a follow-up inspection. I do not normally perform a walk-through with the client as part of the follow-up inspection, since I fulfill these requests as time permits, and often without much notice. The minimum fee for this service is normally $125. There may be additional charges for short notice, travel time, etc., under some circumstances.

Additional Details

A few additional odds & ends to mention: The buyer’s agent may make arrangements with the listing agent for the home inspection appointment to occur (after confirming a date with me), but there are some details that, if not properly handled, may result in delays, postponements, limitations on the completeness of the inspection, or/and additional fees (i.e. for follow-up visits). 

It’s a good idea to confirm with the listing agent, for example, that all utilities are on. That includes water, electric, and gas (if any). I cannot inspect the functionality or safety of a gas appliance if gas is turned off or/and if a manual pilot light is extinguished. (It is outside the scope of a home inspection for the inspector to turn gas on or ignite pilots.) That can be very limiting if there’s a gas water heater, furnace, fireplace, stove, etc. If water service is turned off and locked or tagged at the utility’s water meter, I can’t inspect for leaks or functionality of plumbing and supply pipes, fixtures, and some appliances. If electric is off, I can’t inspect for functionality or safety of outlets, switches, appliances, breaker panels, etc., and it adds a further limitation: I’m inspecting the interior by flashlight or ambient light through the windows!  

If the house is occupied, or personal property is still being stored on-site, it’s important that the listing agent confirm that the attic and crawlspace access hatches are not obstructed. Appliances and other building components should be visible and readily accessible. 

The home inspector also needs access instructions: the lockbox code, code for any security system, etc. 

Since I normally want to confirm my home inspection appointment with the listing agent anyway, it might be easier just to let me ask about these details.

For any additional questions / concerns you might about scheduling or preparing for a home inspection, please call 910-876-7770 or email oz@ozhomeinspections.com.

About Eric Schult

I am a licensed, professional Home Inspector (NC LIC.# 3579) - doing business as OZ Home Inspections, LLC - in the greater Fort Bragg region of south central North Carolina.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s