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The Basics of Home Inspection: An Interview with Hank Vanderbeek of Red Dog Inspections

By Hank Vanderbeek

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

The name Red Dog Inspections was born out of the adoption of a rescue dog, a red Golden Retriever named Jesse. He is a wonderful loyal companion and in his honor, I renamed my home inspection company Red Dog Inspections.

What are some of the services your company provides?

Since I began doing home inspections in 2001, it has grown to include commercial HUD properties all over the US and Puerto Rico, residential homes in MA, NH, and Costa Rica, mortgage and insurance inspections, multifamily and commercial properties, and testing for water and content, mold, Radon in air and water.

What should a standard home inspection cover?

The inspector inspects readily accessible, observable, installed systems and components. A house is a living breathing entity and no two are alike. Understanding how the components work together separates a good from an average home inspection. As a minimum, the state requires the major and most minor components of a property including the roof structure, heating and air conditioning systems, foundations, wall, ceiling and floor structures, attic, chimneys, fireplaces, wood burning stoves, garages, decks, porches, grounds, driveways, walkways, insulation, windows, doors, lighting, water pipes, sewage waste systems, electric outlets, wiring, electric panels and overload devices, kitchen appliances, cabinets, bathrooms, et cetera. There are items that a home inspector is not required to inspect, including:

    Screening, shutters, awnings, and similar seasonal accessories Fences Geological and/or soil conditions Recreational facilities Outbuildings or detached structures Seawalls, break-walls, and docks Erosion control and earth stabilization measures

How much experience should an inspector have with residential inspections?

The State of New Hampshire has set requirements for a residential home inspection (4 residential units or less). First, a home inspector needs to be licensed by the State, carry liability insurance and inter alia, complete 20 hours of continuing education every 2 years. Home inspectors generally come from the trades and may have started out as a builder, electrician, or plumber. Consequently, the home inspector will have some specialized knowledge in addition to the general knowledge required to assess the condition and or functionality of the roof, heating system, et cetera. Home inspectors can be likened to a medical doctor who is a general practitioner or internist. He/she knows enough to identify areas in need of follow-up by a specialist, e.g. a cardiologist, orthopedist, et cetera. It is important that the home inspector have a well rounded knowledge in the components of a home.

How long should it take to receive my inspection report?

Generally, most home inspection reports are completed within 24 hours of an inspection. However, delays can occur when a lab test for Radon, etc. takes longer, about 48 hours depending on holidays and type of test performed. Some inspectors are set up to hand out a report at the completion of the inspection. These are usually hand written reports in the form of a checklist.

What sort of information should the report provide?

The report should include those systems and components that are not functioning properly, significantly deficient, unsafe, or near the end of their service lives. It should also include recommendations for the items needing correction or further evaluation. The home inspector may exclude systems and components from the inspection and report if requested by the client. Some of the items not required by the State to be inspected or reported on include e.g.:

    Remaining life expectancy of any system or component Strength, adequacy, effectiveness, or efficiency of any system or component The causes of any condition or deficiency Methods or materials necessary for corrections Compliance with regulatory requirements including codes, regulations, laws, ordinances The presence of potentially hazardous plants or animals including, but not limited to wood destroying organisms or diseases harmful to humans including molds or mold-like substances The presence of any environmental hazards including, but not limited to toxins, carcinogens, noise, and contaminants in soil, water, and air Cost of repairs

Should a quality home inspector provide repair work?

The NH Code of Administrative Rules for home inspectors, Part 603.01(h) prohibits home inspectors from estimating or projecting the cost of repairs or providing repair work on a house he/she inspected.

What is the danger of hiring an inspector who does repair work as well?

This practice can be construed as a conflict of interest. The NH Licensed home inspector is bound by a Code of Ethics that details the core guidelines covering issues such as conflicts of interest, good faith, and public perception. Integrity, honesty, and objectivity are fundamental principles embodied by this Code which sets forth obligations of ethical conduct for the home inspection profession. Consequently, inspectors should avoid conflicts of interests or activities that compromise or APPEAR to compromise professional independence, objectivity, or inspection integrity such as offering to performing repair work on a property he/she inspected.

What if the home inspector misses a major defect?

To avoid missing a major defect, an experienced inspector will have a routine from which he/she will not deviate. I use checklists to help ensure that nothing is missed.

Can I hold them liable?

Home inspectors carry errors and omissions liability insurance as a requirement for licensure to protect them and the client should the inspector not perform the inspection in accordance with the NH Home Inspector Licensure Standards of Practice. I recommend that clients ask for and thoroughly read the Home Inspection Agreement before hiring the home inspector. My Agreement has been reviewed and approved by the International National Association of Certified Home Inspectors' legal department and I require that my clients read and sign it before I start an inspection.

What is the best way for people to reach out to you or your company?

I can be reached at 603-867-7322 or by email at HankBeek@aol.com.

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