There is a big push on by Home Inspectors to expand their company into multi-inspector firms. Is that a good thing for consumers?It is natural that a business can expand if they have the desire and ability to. That certainly does not exclude the Home Inspection businesses. However a recent thread in a very large National Home Inspector Association Bulletin Board has left concerns that you as a consumer need to be aware of and add to your due diligence when you are hiring a Home Inspector from one of these firms. This thread is in the Members Only section meaning you have no view to it and I can not copy and paste any of that thread here luckily for the Inspectors discussing this on that thread. Expansion can be a good thing if properly performed, but unfortunately it appears in many cases with Home Inspectors expansion to multi-inspector firms has become more of a “How can I make more money off the consumer?” rather than “How can I better serve the consumer?”.
First we’ll touch on the BB thread I mentioned. In this thread Inspectors were talking about how they run their multi-inspector firm where they teach each Inspector only one part of the entire home inspection process. The owner then takes multiple Inspectors to a home with each only performing their trained task. The whole concept of this method is to complete an inspection in a much shorter time than if one or two Inspectors were on site. That way the owner can take his crew to the next inspection, and then the next, etc., for the day. This might sound like an efficient operation but it suffers from a major problem. A home is not just made of “parts” and instead is an entire system with the purposes of all systems interconnected to each other in various ways. For example the person who inspects the attic might not inspect the interior ceilings and walls. Staining or other damages/issues might be seen on the ceilings and walls that could indicate an issue in the attic. However if the Inspector is unaware of this or the significance of the ceiling/wall issues then problems in the attic can easily go overlooked.
Another issue with these type inspection companies is they typically have each Inspector fill out their own part of the report and all the individual parts are just together. There is generally no attempt to correlate any of the findings to see if larger problems are looming in the house. The individual write-ups are also typically “canned comments” that might make little or no sense especially when not properly arranged to display patterns of problems or other issues. Since they need to move on fast to the next house no efforts are typically made to even massage the “canned comments” to describe the situation in that particular house. The report becomes nothing more than just a list of things that they found and most likely you can find yourself.
This method of running an inspection company I call “The Barrel Of Monkeys Inspection Company” because you can train a monkey to do individual tasks just as well as a person. These company owners will typically tell you it is to increase efficiency and provide a better product for you. The truth is it’s all about money and getting his Barrel Of Monkeys out of your home and on to the next one. Most of the Monkeys are not even paid that well since after all they are only doing one little job. Owners who operate this way typically do this as they don’t trust their employees to stay with them and don’t want to train a person fully as it can make them their competition if the Inspector is unhappy and leaves. If the owner can’t trust their own employees then can you?
So what should you do to protect yourself? First off many of these companies like to advertise this approach and claim they have a “Team” of Inspectors that will go over your home with a fine tooth comb, Blah, Blah, Blah! This is not a “Team” approach to home inspections like I have seen with a pair of Inspectors working closely together not only to inspect the home but correlate what they are finding with each other to ensure something isn’t missed. If you run into one of these companies quite frankly I would recommend staying away from them when they have more than two Inspectors planned to be at your home. If it is just two Inspectors make sure you have the names and backgrounds of the two that will be there and don’t let the company substitute people last minute on you. Also if there are many Inspectors in the company get all of their backgrounds and YOU choose which two you want to do the inspection! After all it’s your money for the inspection and the house you’re buying.
The other type of multi-inspector firm is one where there are multiple Inspectors but only one is generally scheduled to perform your inspection. With these you certainly expect the Inspector to perform a full and thorough inspection and detailed report especially when the inspection company’s WEB site makes all these great claims. Unless the company lists the credentials of each Inspector you also expect all Inspectors to carry whatever credentials the WEB site is stating that any one has. Unfortunately neither of these are always the case. Many times the owner puts their credentials on the WEB site or might list every credential that all Inspectors have combined. With these types of multi-inspector companies you still need to be careful. You should obtain a list of every Inspector in the company with their individual credentials so that you can see who all works there. Then you should choose which Inspector you want to perform your inspection and not let the owner select the Inspector. After all your inspection is going to cost the same whether the owner assigns Joe with 30 years experience or Bill who just came out of Inspectors training!
Another important point you should consider when using a multi-inspector company is how they pay their Inspectors. In The Barrel Of Monkeys Inspection Company their Inspectors are most likely low wage employees since the inspection fee you’re paying is being split between all the Inspectors with the owner taking a large percentage before the split is even made. Many of these companies try to up-sell you on all kinds of unnecessary and expensive additional services and junk products to make the owner even more money. With the other type of company the typical split appears to be 60% to the Inspector performing the inspection and 40% to the owner of the company. Of course that too can vary and become much lower for the Inspector depending on if they are paying their own expenses or not. What it boils down to is the Inspector actually performing your inspection in either company isn’t making much money from the inspection and yet they’re the ones supposedly looking for the issues in the home you’re going to buy. Again the question is without proper pay and incentives how do you know you’re even getting a good inspection? I’ve followed behind Inspectors in the second type company and can tell you their work that I have seen is certainly not worth the inspection fee or even what they collect from the fee!
So be safe when you run into these companies and check them out thoroughly. It’s your money being spent on that home your buying and you sure don’t want a bad inspection before you buy!
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