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What You Should Know About Your Home Inspection: An Interview with Shanti Wolph of Top Notch Inspection Services

By Shanti Wolph

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

My name is Shanti Wolph. I'm the owner and operator of Top Notch Inspection Services and Top Notch Builders. I've been building, renovating, and inspecting Homes for over 20 years. The inspection services that I offer range from a full Home Inspection(cosmetic, structural, exterior, interior, landscaping, plumbing, heating, electrical), as well as environmental testing(radon air, radon water, lead, full spectrum water, and mold).

Typically I'm hired by the buyer to inspect a home that's recently been put under contract, but I also do "Pre Listing Inspections. In this case I would be working for the seller. The inspection would give the seller a list of items that they would repair or disclose prior to listing the property.

What are two or three of the most common repairs that are needed on the houses you've seen in the New Hampshire area?

Most common repairs that I see: siding and trim that has been neglected(lack of paint upkeep, caulking wasn't installed or has failed and not been replaced), and lack of proper insulation and venting in the attic space.

What should a standard home inspection cover?

A standard inspection should include the following:

Exterior- landscaping, drainage, trees and shrubs to close to the building, walkways, driveways, stairs, decks, railing, siding, trim, windows, doors, roofing, venting, electrical receptacles and service entrance, lighting, and chimneys.

Interior- walls, floors, doors, stairs, rails, fireplaces, make sure that windows(especially bedroom windows)open and close.

Attic- insulation, venting, structural. access.

Basement- insulation at the perimeter, structural, condition of walls and floors, drainage, and access.

Electrical- Exterior service entrance, exterior and interior receptacles, switches, lighting, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, open junction boxes, types of wiring methods, fuse or breaker panel, service conductors, and sub panels.

Plumbing- sinks, drains, supply lines, tubs, showers, toilets, sump pumps, water heaters, well pump and pressure tank.

Heating- type and age of heating system, safety controls, fuel source and fuel supply tank if applicable. Location of thermostats. Check for heat source in every room. Fire up the boiler or furnace to make sure that it's operating and vented properly. Check type and condition of heat distribution pipes.

These are most of the items that I cover, but not limited to. Basically I start at the bottom and work my way up through the home. The idea is to over the entire home with a fine tooth comb and look for any deficiencies.

For a complete list of what a N.H Home Inspector is or isn't required to do please visit the following link to view "The Standards of Practice"

How long should it take for homeowners to receive their inspection report?

I provide a written report within 24-48 hours after the inspection

Should a quality home inspector also provide repair work? What are some of the reasons why or why not?

Some states will allow the home inspector to work on a home after 365 days from the inspection. I'm licensed in N.H. The N.H licensing board has forbidden inspectors from doing work on homes that they've inspected forever. No exceptions. This rule is in place so that Home Inspectors don't create work for themselves. As a builder I have to turn down work quite often on homes that I inspect. It's definitely a tough call because lots of the work that I do as a builder will involve in depth investigative work before I can quote a price(essentially I'm doing an inspection for free if I don't get the job). This rule protects the homeowner from the inspector/Builder with questionable scruples. Over all it seems to work.

What are the certification requirements in New Hampshire? What are a few benefits of hiring a certified and trained home inspector?

To become a licensed home inspector in New Hampshire, you are required to take:

  • 80 hours of training approved by the New Hampshire Board of Home Inspectors
  • Pass the National Home Inspectors Exam
  • Pass a criminal background check by the N.H. State Police
  • Carry professional liability insurance and Error and Omission Insurance

The benefits of hiring a licensed or certified Inspector is that they've proven that they have the knowledge and skills needed to represent themselves during the inspections. Some States don't require any certification, as a result the Home Buyer or Seller may be misinformed about some potentially dangerous conditions. Some states also don't require insurance. This is important so that if a lawsuit ensues as a result of a faulty inspection, there will be some financial support.

If a home inspector misses a major defect, do home buyers have any recourse?

If an item or items are omitted from the report and they were clearly visible during the inspection, the buyer or seller certainly has the right to press charges against the inspector. This is when the liability or E & O insurance would kick in. It's very important to understand that the inspections are visual only. If we can't see it without invasive methods , then we can't report on it.

What is the best way for people to contact your company?

The best way to contact my company would be to go directly to my website: and fill out the "request for inspection form" Alternately I can always be reached at207.249.8564

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