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09-12-2007, 08:06 PM #1
Well, I got my FIRST inspection set up for Saturday, and I am feeling both excited and full of nerves. Any tips, tricks, words of encouragement, warnings, free beer, etc? I am really glad to finally have my first opportunity to see what I know, what I need to work on, and if I am charging enough.
I know everywhere in the country is different, but do you guys have a set rate schedule or do you figure by each individual home? I am afraid I may be undercharging. At this point, I really don't care cause I'm so darn happy to have a customer. I just need a reference point to start out at. Thanks a bunch!
09-12-2007, 08:39 PM #2
Take your time. Get there 30 minutes early every time. Ask the customer to let you go through once alone. This will allow you to work without dealing with your clients at the same time. That will come in time. After you are comfortable take them through. Look at the house as if it were a crime scene. It usually is. Every problem has a cause. The cause is more often more important than the problem. The fix is something you want someone else to do. Take your time. If they distract you be honest and tell them you need alone time. And take pics of everything. Then when you get home you can look at areas more closely. We have all found defects missed during the inspection in the photos afterwards. And save all your photos to CD and label them. You will need them at some point in the future to save your ass! Even the ones not used in the report.
Good luck and welcome to the club.
09-12-2007, 08:39 PM #3
Way to go gal!! You're off an running. Well, off and starting anyway and that's what counts.
This business is a never-ending learning process... get ready to start a long journey that will find Saturday almost laughable in a couple of years. You will think back on this (in a couple of years) and think, "What the hell was I doing!". It will be a hoot, that's for sure.
My advice to you will try and not be distracted by all the questions and hangers-on during the inspection. The men will want to know if you know squat, the Realtors will want to tell you what is right and what is even more right. If yo can, take an extra pad of paper and pen with you and give it to the buyers and maybe even a tape measure, then let them know that you will be very busy going through the home and it's systems and will not want to miss anything because of getting distracted away from a thought or being in the middle of something and then being pulled-away to answer questions. Have them write their questions down and tell them you will be glad to review those questions/ concerns with them at the end of the inspection.
First things first!!!! Get a signed inspection agreement first. I quickly review the agreement (I know it by heart) line-item by line-item verbally as they are looking at it and tell them that this agreement is simply to hire me to do the job of inspecting the property and these are the conditions which we operate under. This being your first, out of the gate, I highly recommend that you do not conduct an inspection without a signed agreement.
Set the customers expectations-- let them know that the inspection will take how ever much time it takes and to bear with you as you are not going to hurry through and will try to be as thorough as possible. Then tell them; "However, I am only human and cannot see through walls or under insulation, under carpeting, etc... those things that are not visible or accessible will not be reported on. I can only inspect what I can access and is visible to me during the inspection."
If I can help in any way, please feel free to contact me direct at;
Sheryl, I wish you all the good luck and would like to be a fly on the wall during that inspection.
09-12-2007, 08:51 PM #4
Remember to run back into the bathroom periodically while filling the whirlpool tub. You will understand this later.
Don't get distracted in the attic. Make sure you step on joists. You may find out why.
Carefully regard walls and light fixtures as you ascend the stairs with your Little Giant, tools, light, etc.
Don't set your computer or paperwork near the air gap... until you know it's not a squirter.
09-12-2007, 09:16 PM #5
WAY TO GO SHERYL.
YOU CAN DO IT!
Walk in there with confidence and do your best job you know how.
You'll probably be there longer than you expect, but don't worry we have all been there.
Wait till you write that report. You'll know what a novelist must feel like.
Have fun and get that check.
If I can help out give me a call or a email.
09-12-2007, 10:39 PM #6
Drive carefully and don't get pulled over by a cop on your way to your first inspection (like I did!). (No, I didn't get a ticket. He stopped me because of a cracked windshield.)
Don't get carried away only looking at small stuff. Remember to take a look at the big picture. When you arrive at the house step across the street and take a look at the overall house. Is the ridgeline straight or sagging? Are the walls and porch columns plumb? (You can use nearby objects as a point of reference.) Does the yard slope away from the house?
Find a system that works for you and stick with it. I like to make the introductions and start the dishwasher. Then I move outside - site, exterior and roof. Next I do the major systems - electric panel, furnace, A/C, water heater. Next I inspect the house from top to bottom; that way if there is a plumbing leak I am likely to notice it when I move to the level below.
Part of your system will be how you move around the house and rooms. I like to work clockwise. I may start my exterior inspection at the front door and make my way to the left and all the way around the house back to the front door. (Sometimes it is a good idea to also inspect the other direction to catch things you might not have noticed the first go around.) Once inside the house I inspect each level the same way - clockwise. I inspect each room clockwise. If you stick to your system you are less likely to miss a room or something in a room.
Don't walk away from running water for obvious reasons. (I plead guilty to doing that and making a mess.)
Don't let the buyer and especially the agent or the seller control your inspection. Tell them to hold their questions or comments until either you get to that room / item or until the end of the inspection. Agents and sellers are notorious for being sensitive to anything negative you report (for obvious self-serving reasons). Expect agents and sellers to question things you report. They may be especially prone to question your findings if they know this is your first inspection. One way to address this is to have the agent (or seller) sign a statement that the item in question is not defective and the agent (or seller) takes responsibility for the item. Don't expect to actually get any takers for this offer.
Take tons of photos. Digital photos are essentially free. You are sure to forget to look at something or miss something and you will be glad to have a pic that shows what you missed. (Example: Does the house have soffit vents? I don't know because I forgot to look. But right there in that otherwise useless pic of an exterior wall I can see the house does in fact have soffit vents.)
Don't forget and leave the oven on.
Before pushing the button to open the garage door make sure it has not been latched or locked at the track.
Don't worry too much about your first inspection. You will do fine. Let us know how it goes.
"Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
09-13-2007, 08:24 AM #7
First, remember that your client almost always assumes your competence - for better or worse. If you have bothered to show up here, and especially if you have reviewed the comments here and in the archived threads, you are likely better prepared than most of us were for our first inspection.
Drive by the property before the inspection, and plan your exterior and roof access strategy in advance. I like to get up there and get a close look at all roof penetrations if possible, but I also take no chances if I'm not comfortable with roof pitch, access or condition - as my wife frequently reminds me, "Dead inspectors write no reports".
Bring spare batteries for everything.
Bring a second, inexpensive flashlight as a backup.
Remember to record the water heater and HVAC thermostats settings before you re-set them, and remember to reset them after testing.
Probably 70% of the significant damage I find is water related, and that's what I would be most alert for.
I suggest taking the following pictures, at the highest resolution your camera allows, and making SURE you get them (use the review function form time to time to insure you are getting them).
1) Wide views of all exterior walls.
2) Wide wives service entrance and meter areas, close up of meter/service panel.
3) Wide view of all visible roof surfaces
4) Wide view of all visible attic areas
5) Wide view of all visible crawl space areas
6) Access limitations to areas you cannot inspect - it's *very* important to document and report this.
7) Wide views of all mechanical areas (furnace, boiler, air handler, WH, etc.) from all accessible sides.
8) Close ups of all "capacity plates", including model and serial numbers and capacities.
9) On all electrical panels, wide shots w/ and w/o deadfront, close ups as necessary to show all interior areas and the circuit directory, another wide when you have everything put back together.
10) Whenever possible a wide view of each FP, shot up chimney with damper open, and sides and back of firebox, and hearth.
11) At whatever resolution is appropriate, individual pics of each defect you intend to report - you won't include most of them in your report, but they will enable you to review what you saw in detail.
I use Photoshop Elements to improve picture quality as required - it's *astounding* how much detail it can pull up out of shadows, etc.
Take as much time as is available to prepare your report (likely, on a Saturday inspection, no one *really* needs your report 'till Monday morning), and first concentrate on clearly and accurately reporting major defects - no one is likely to sue you over a dripping faucet - and then go back and fill in minor items as time allows.
09-13-2007, 08:52 AM #8
09-13-2007, 09:18 AM #9
Good eye there Tom.
I had to go back and re-read the thread.
That is hilarious.
09-13-2007, 11:13 AM #10
09-13-2007, 12:04 PM #11
09-13-2007, 02:57 PM #12
Thanks so much to all of you for the advice and replies. I will let you know how things go on Monday.
P.S. If I see a "wide wives" entrance, I will definately photograph it for all to see.
09-13-2007, 03:18 PM #13
Speaking of wide wives . . .
"Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
09-13-2007, 03:25 PM #14
Dat looks like one of dem Dun-lap tires!!!
Done-lapped over both sides of the chair...
09-13-2007, 03:29 PM #15
Wide wifes ENTRANCE? that's a scary pic
09-13-2007, 04:00 PM #16
That chair is the one that should be NNeerrrrvvvoouuussss.
That would be a great advertisement for that company that built that chair.
First thought was that chair had those safety bags on it.
09-13-2007, 04:17 PM #17
The advice above is very sound and hope it helps you as well as calms you on your first inspection.
As for your other question about fees.....
I can't stress how important it is to know what YOU need to charge. It doesn't matter what your competition is charging if you nor they are earning what YOU need. No use doing all the work and taking on the liabilities if you are not earning (or have the potential to earn as your business grows) a profit.
I don't want to be a salesman but I encourage you to invest in The Cost Of Business http://www.CostOfBusiness.com and get a handle on your business expenses. The program is designed specifically for business owners who provide an inspection service and will develop a fee schedule for you based on the income and profit you want/need to earn.
You are not just an inspector. You are a business owner, a business professional and you need to properly care for and run your business as it is the business that will be paying the overhead, it is the business that will be creating an income, it is the business that will be paying you.
Remember, you are not an inspector, you are a leader of industry, an entrepreneur, a business owner. The service your business provides is a Home Inspection and of course you want to provide a great service.
If you have a chance, take take business classes at local adult schools or look for business seminars.
That's my 2 cents, I hope it helps.
Good luck on Saturday!
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09-14-2007, 06:16 PM #18
Thanks Brian. I will look into your business advice.
09-14-2007, 08:21 PM #19
You won't go wrong with Brian's "Cost of Business". It is very helpful and I use it a lot to double-check things or make adjustments, etc.
09-15-2007, 04:24 AM #20
These folks helped me with start up and the day to day biz aspects I was not familiar with. http://sba.gov/
I knew consturction and felt confident about my ability to inspect it was the biz end of the biz where I was overwhelmed at first.
badair http://www.adairinspection.com Garland, TX 75042 TREC # 4563
life is the random lottery of events followed by numerous narrow escapes