Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Is Your Home Inspector Pushing Gimmicks?

Websters Dictionary Defines a Gimmick as: 

"a method or trick that is used to get people's attention or to sell something"

Lehigh Valley Home Inspection

Recently, many home inspectors have started offering various warranties, memberships in homeowner networks, free stuff, house by-back guarantees etc.

Most, if not all, of these products have little or dubious value to the home inspector's client. It is reminiscent of free toasters many banks offered when you open a checking account.
Legigh Valley Home Inspection

So why do they offer them? Many times newer or unqualified home inspectors are trying to "set themselves apart" by offering these add-ons.

Don't be fooled. Always ask for the inspectors references. Ask how long they have been in business.

Download our free report "8 ways to avoid a bad home inspector."

Monday, November 3, 2014

Changes to ASHI Standards of Practice

Effective March 1, 2014, The ASHI Standards of Practice Were revised.

These are the standards that professional Home Inspectors Follow.  As an experienced Lehigh Valley Home Inspection Company,  We have always exceeded these ASHI Standards.

Below Is a Summary of the changes and my comments in italics.Easton Home Inspection  

Changes that REDUCE the scope of a home inspection.

• Not required to probe structural members, although an inspector may probe if damage is suspected. Probing is not required but a good idea. 

  • Not required to describe electrical service voltage, since almost all homes are 240 volt o If a home has 110 volt only, this would be reported as deficient beyond describing.  
In 17 years I have never seen a house with 110 Volt Electric. Maybe in some areas of the country, but not here.  

• Not required to describe the presence of solid conductor aluminum wiring.  
No, but we are required to report on type of conductor. Solid 110Volt aluminum wire is a serious issue, It definitely is part of our report.  

• Not required to describe ALL wiring methods, only the PREDOMINANT wiring method.
 OK, This makes sense.  

• Not required to inspect floor coverings (formerly mentioned only carpeting as outside the scope)
Floor coverings are not really a home defect, however - they may indicate a defect. (ie cracked tiles) 

• Not required to describe chimneys for fireplaces and wood burning stoves.  

Describe no- point out defect yes.

  • Not required to enter crawlspaces that have less than 24 inches of vertical clearance between components and the ground or where access hatches are less than 16 inches by 24 inches.

 We get in almost every crawlspace. But if it is too small, obviously it cant be entered. Lehigh Valley Home Inspection

• Not required to traverse attic load bearing components that are concealed (insulation or other)  
This makes sense. Can cause injury or property damage.  

• Not required to measure water flow and pressure, and well water quantity.  
This Makes Sense. This requires special equipment. 

• Not required to fill shower pans to test for leaks Every home inspector should be testing tile showers. We always have and always will. This is a potentially expensive repair that a home inspector must find.  

• Not required to inspect heat-recovery and similar whole-house mechanical ventilation systems.  
We inspect them.  

• Not required to determine the adequacy of combustion air components  
Sometimes a difficult calculation is required for this.  

• Not required to check window coatings or hermetic seals between panes of window glass.  
We try to identify failed seals. Not always possible, some are only visible at certain times of the day.

  Allentown Home Inspection
Changes that INCREASE the scope

• Inspect Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (added to requirement to inspect GFCIs)
Good Idea, however there is no requirement to test AFCIs, just inspect them. 

• Inspect at least ONE function of specified built-in kitchen appliances using normal operating controls to activate primary function. Includes: ovens, ranges, surface cooking, microwave ovens, dishwashing machines, disposals  
Most inspectors already do this anyway. We do. (note other appliances such as refrigerators and trash compactors are excluded)

• Describe presence or absence of Carbon Monoxide alarms (added to the requirement to describe smoke alarms)  
good Idea to add this. 

  • Inspect distribution systems for heat  
Heat should be installed in every finished room.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mold Testing and Home Inspection

Occasionally, clients ask us about mold testing. Specifically, testing the air for mold spores to find elevated mold levels and “hidden” mold at their new home.

Below are some common questions and answers about this testing.

We do not do this testing.

Q. Aren’t some inspectors certified to test for Mold?

A. Not really – these certifications are often made up by the companies that sell the mold testing equipment. Usually the training involves watching a DVD or attending a short course. There is no real certification.

Q. Can an air test reveal if my home has “elevated” mold Levels?

A. There is no such thing as an Elevated Mold Level. There is no published guideline on safe or unsafe Mold Levels.

Q. What about comparing indoor Mold Levels, to an outdoor level for a reference.

A. There is no scientific basis for this comparison. As a matter of fact the same home, tested at different times can have dramatically different results. See the chart below:

Lehigh Valley Home Inspection

These above tests were taken at the same home at different times of the day. Which result is correct?

Answer: They are all correct!!

Q. Do any states have advice on mold testing or outdoor air comparisons?

A. The Wisconsin Dept. of Health has this to say about outdoor levels : Outdoor counts will vary greatly and may in turn cause similar variation in indoor levels. Because of this variability, it can be difficult to differentiate true difference between outdoor and indoor samples without taking a large number of samples. Soil and plant materials are major sources of airborne mold. Studies indicate that outdoor fungal levels vary greatly by region, season, weather conditions, and air movement. According to data published by the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology (, outdoor mold counts for major U.S. cities regularly exceed 10,000 spores per cubic meter of air during much of the year.

Allentown Home Inspection
Q. Is mold dangerous or harmful?

A. Yes, it can be, if you are sensitive or allergic to it. Just like peanuts, cats, or bee stings can be dangerous or harmful.

Q. What does the EPA Say?

A. Sampling cannot be used to check a building's compliance with federal mold standards.

Q. What does the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) say about Mold Testing?

A. Generally, it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growing in a residence, and CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds.

Q. Is mold a defect in a home?

A. No, not really. Mold is a symptom of a problem. Namely High Relative Humidity (RH)

Q. Isn’t this the same as Radon Testing?

A. No it is not. Radon Testing is regulated by the State of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Testers need to be licensed by the states. There are approved protocols for testing, as well as an accepted action level.

Q. Well, There must be some benefit to the test?

A. No doubt about it. The test benefits the testing company and the Lab that does the analysis. (It’s often been said – "Mold is Gold") The test will also lighten your wallet or purse.

Some people want a Mold Test, because they read about mold in a magazine or bought another house and had a test. “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” ~Mark Twain

Q. So what’s the bottom line?

“A. It's ludicrous for a home inspector to think that he can take a sample, send it to a lab, and let the lab interpret the results without bearing any responsibility. The inspector is promising something that is not being delivered – a reliable, technically accurate assessment of the building for the presence or absence of problematic mold.

In summary, we can conclude that in almost every case, routine sampling performed by home inspectors or so-called certified mold inspectors is completely worthless. The unscientific results lack accuracy, validity, and are not reproducible.” (1)

Easton Home Inspection

(1)Portions Reprinted with permission from the ASHI Reporter:

Home Inspectors and Mold Sampling – Hype or Help?

The article's author Mark Cramer"s website can be found here:
Mark Cramer Inspection Services Inc

Friday, August 10, 2012

My agent told me to call someone else . . .

(or gave me a list of other home inspectors).

Here’s why (and you won't read this anywhere else)

First let me say this,

There are very good, honest, and reputable real estate agents out there. Many of them refer our company or similarly qualified inspectors to their clients. They trust their clients - that given all the information they will make an informed decision. We have accepted referrals from many of these agents for over 15 years. These agents know that if we find things wrong with the home, they can negotiate repairs or a price change or in some circumstances find another home for their client.

The most important thing to these agents is their clients receiving the best possible inspection, and all of the information that is available.

Then there are other real estate sales people. They are short sighted, and don’t see past the next transaction. They try to insist that their clients use a less competent inspector, And really don’t trust their clients to make a good decision.

Sometimes, the sales people are clever and give a list of three inspectors. All three on the list are “patsies” They give the client the list so they can say “well that’s the inspector YOU picked” if the client complains months after the home was purchased.

Do these patsy home inspectors intentionally over look defects? – Sometimes – but more often it is soft reporting or minimizing the defect.

The DIRTY LITTLE SECRET is many home inspectors RELY on sales people for ALL of their business. The sales people RELY on a poor inspection to sell the home.

There are actually Home Inspection Marketing Schools and Franchises that teach inspectors how to write “agent friendly” reports.

Here is a recent lawsuit alleging such a scheme (which was settled)

This suit is against a particular home inspector and Franchisee – but believe me, this could be about many of the inspectors out there.
Before Hiring any inspector, you should read this lawsuit.

Some agents call honest home inspectors “Deal Killers” It is up to the buyer to Kill the deal – not the home inspector. We present information.

At Integrity Inspection WE WORK EXCLUSIVELY FOR YOU ! It is our job to find things that are unsafe or things that may cost you money. We present our findings in a clear manner, and try to recommend a course of action.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Examining Agent-Inspector Relationship

Examining Agent-Inspector Relationship

The home inspector’s relationship with the real estate agent is a topic often discussed among home inspectors and agents. Some home inspectors tout strong relationships with real estate associations and agents as the best way to grow an inspection business. Others say the reliance of the home inspector on agent-referrals is a key problem when it comes to keeping the home inspection profession honest, ethical, and professional.

The fact is, a large percentage of home inspectors rely on agent referrals to bring in work and keep them in business. While this is not necessarily a negative thing, many inspectors argue that there is an inevitable conflict of interest inherent in such a relationship, as ambitious and unethical real estate agents select home inspectors who aren’t thorough and don’t find problems. Some inspectors complain that on numerous occasions they’ve had realtors combatively ask them if they are “deal killers,” sometimes right in front of the buyer!

Those who follow the relationship between real estate appraisers and mortgage brokers, agents, and lenders may see some similarities between the way the appraiser is pressured into meeting “value” and some home inspectors are encouraged to “sign-off” on a home after a quick hour inspection. Sean Wiens, a home inspector from Vancouver, Canada sees agent referrals as a threat to the integrity of the profession, saying that those home inspectors who are the most successful are the ones “who cater to the agents.” The result, according to Wiens , is that inspectors end up not looking out for the buyer’s best interest and as a result the standards of the profession are lowered.

Dennis Robitaille, Director of Independent Home Inspector’s of North America (IHINA), believes that the home inspector’s reliance on agent referrals creates a serious conflict of interest and this belief is what led him to found IHINA. Robitaille says that some agents have a list of two or three home inspectors who have been prescreened as not being deal killers. “The list, however, will be long enough to protect the agent from any referral liability should the buyer want to blame the agent for any inspection mistakes.” This results in no liability for the agent for the referral- the buyer "chooses" an inspector the agent prefers but the buyer's choice is limited to home inspectors who will not hurt the sale, says Robitalle.

On the other hand, there is a strong argument for why an ethical agent’s referral adds value to the buyer and benefits all involved. A seasoned real estate agent has years of experience and expertise in the local market and an agent who is honest and has integrity will save a buyer a lot of time, money and frustration by referring a competent and thorough home inspector. Lenn Harley, a real estate broker serving Maryland and Virginia, says that good agents have learned to recognize good home inspectors and other service providers to home buyers. “Our buyers rely on our experience for matters as important as a home inspection,” Harley says. According to Harley, there is a trend in the real estate industry for agents to avoid risk by not making referrals and not attending home inspections. But her position is that the agent referral actually adds value to the buyer. “When homebuyers ask me for a home inspector referral, I refer them to the most competent and thorough inspector I know,” says Harley.

Serving the Client

Dick Greenberg, a real estate broker from Colorado, says, “We never hesitate to make recommendations, whether they are inspectors, lenders, handymen, carpet cleaners, etc. Our reason is because what we care most about is the client's satisfaction. Our favorite inspector has ‘killed’ several deals for us, and we and our clients were grateful.” In other words, for the ethical agents and brokers out there, it’s a question of serving the clients and building strong relationships. “Our commission comes from our clients, not a particular deal, and it has never made sense to jeopardize a client relationship by recommending an inspector who would do less than serve his client's needs," says Greenburg.

As far as there being a conflict of interest when it comes to agents referring home inspectors, Greenburg says, “For that concern to be valid, you'd need at least two people to ignore their duty to their client - the agent and the preferred inspector. While it’s certainly not an impossibility, those are the same agents who bend or break the law and code of ethics as a matter of routine. The answer is to clean up our act by getting rid of them, not by limiting the service we provide on the presumption that we're all like them,” says Greenburg.

In other words, for the many honest and ethical real estate agents, brokers, and home inspectors—building strong relationships and referral arrangements is a way to help all involved. It provides the home inspector with business, the real estate agent/broker with a knowledgeable, reliable, and thorough home inspector to refer to home buyers and helps home buyers by providing them access to a dependable home inspector.

Of course, not all real estate agents/brokers are honest and ethical, so perhaps the best route a home inspector can take is to diversify. Work closely with and market to real estate agents/brokers and find the ones who want ethical work, while also building up other avenues of business through direct marketing to home buyers, building a presentable website and working to optimize it on search engines, engaging in online marketing, and other marketing techniques that directly target the home buyer. This is the best safeguard against an inspector becoming too reliant on agent-referrals by building a diverse business that is arguably more sustainable and profitable in the long run.

About the Author Isaac Peck is the Associate Editor of Working RE Magazine and Marketing Coordinator at, a leading provider of E&O Insurance for appraisers, inspectors, and other real estate professionals in 49 states. He received his Bachelors in Business Management at San Diego State University. He can be contacted at or (888) 347-5273.

Reprinted from, published by, providing broad insurance coverage for home inspectors and other real estate professionals at the most competitive rates. Call toll-free (888) 347-5273. David Brauner Calif. Insurance Lic. #0C89873.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Inspecting Stucco Homes

Many homes in the last 20 years have been clad with stucco.   There are several different types of stucco that are popular.  EIFS (aka Dryvit – which is a actually a trade name) traditional (aka  three coat stucco)  Artificial stone (which is stucco) and One Coat stucco which is really not “One Coat.”

Sound confusing?  It is. 
Missing cap flashing over door.

There are many components of a stucco system that must be installed for the system to perform properly.  Weep Screeds, Kick-out flashings, expansion joints, window and door flashings, building paper to name a few. 
Missing Kick Out Flashing

If any of these components are missing or installed improperly the results can be catastrophic.   I have seen 10 year old and newer homes that are rotted to the point of being unsafe – Costing the home owner 10s of thousands of dollars.  (or more)
Missing Weep Screed

If you are considering buying a home with any type of stucco cladding,   You definitely should hire an inspector who is familiar with stucco installation and repair.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Police: Falling stove kills toddler in Las Vegas

Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 |

Police say an 18-month-old child has died after a stove fell on him.
Lt. Ted Snodgrass says it happened about 2:40 p.m. Sunday at a home on East Charleston Boulevard.
He says the boy opened the oven door, which somehow caused the stove to tumble over and crush him.
The boy was taken to University Medical Center's pediatric ward, where he was pronounced dead.
Snodgrass says it's still unclear who was supervising the young boy.
Detectives from police abuse and neglect detail and officials from Child Protective Services are investigating.
Information from: Las Vegas Sun,