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Other Services Your Home Inspector Can Do: An Interview with Stephen Hill of Stephen Hill Building Inspection Services

By Stephen Hill

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

Stephen Hill Building Inspection Services offers full contractor inspections for residential and commercial properties. I am licensed and certified with the ICC and HUD and a past member of InterNACHI. After relocating with my family to the Bay Area in late 1999, I decided to put my 30+ years of experience in construction and contracting to use as an inspector. I was a building inspector for Dublin, CA prior to opening my own building inspection company in 2003. As a building inspector it is my job to protect my client and their (potential) investment.

Other than a standard home inspection, can you list some of the most common services that you're asked to do?

Some of the types of inspections we do include:

* FHA/HUD Compliant
* REO Foreclosure inspections
* Full Residential Inspections
* Commercial Property Inspections
* Insurance Liability Inspections of single and multi-unit properties
* Landlord / Tenant Dispute Inspections
* Full or Partial Homeowner Maintenance Inspections
* Moisture Intrusion Inspections
* Builder Warranty Inspections
* Contractor Final Check and 1-Year Warranty Inspections Although a full inspection covers the entire building, including roof, attic, crawl spaces and immediate surrounding area, occasionally we discover an issue of condition that needs further investigation. For instance, if we discover live or recent infestations of termites or post beetles, we recommend consulting a pest control company for further inspection and appropriate treatment. We do not do any invasive testing. We do not drill holes, cut away portions of drywall or remove floorboards to see what is behind a visible area.

If we discover a condition such as severe dry rot or mold (both of which are caused by moisture) and we cannot determine the source of the moisture or the extent of the damage, we will recommend the client obtain a structural pest control inspection, which will do further (often invasive) testing to determine the extent of the damage. Usually a structural pest inspection report will include a bid or estimate to do the repairs noted in the report.

Are there any additional qualifications that an inspector needs to have or should have to perform those services?

Pest inspectors are strictly licensed and regulated due to the use of toxic chemicals in their work, as well as the contracting services some offer. As a building inspector I do not offer construction services of any kind, as this would be considered a conflict of interest. Theoretically I could tell you my inspection showed you needed $30,000 in foundation repair when in reality you might only need a few additional anchor bolts. Since all I do is inspect and report on the existing condition of the property, you can be sure your inspection is unbiased.

How does a homeowner know if they need another type of inspection on top of a home inspection?

I will include that information and recommendations in my report.

Can you explain what a home maintenance inspection is and when people should have one done?

Our home maintenance inspections cover all systems and areas that are subject to regular use and/or exposed to the elements. Buildings and their systems are subject to everyday wear and tear and the exteriors are exposed to the sometimes brutal effects of sun, wind and rain. Over time materials wear out and/or break down from daily use and exposure. Small issues will become larger until what could have been a minor repair in 2006 has blossomed into a large expensive problem by 2014. A home maintenance inspection every five years is one of the best things a homeowner or homeowners association can do to prolong the life of their building and the smooth workings of the building systems. Our reports also cover any safety or code violations and include suggested repairs and regular maintenance suggestions that will help prolong the life of your building. Of course, any rapidly developing trouble spots (leaks, bulges, sudden stains, rapid mold growth, rotten wood, etc.) should be investigated immediately.

Do you have any tips for homeowners who are buying a foreclosure, short sale or any property that was not well maintained?

Get a thorough inspection by a knowledgeable inspector. It is crucial to look beyond the easily visible and see the bones behind the walls. An experienced inspector can help you separate the trash from the treasures. They are out there, but you have to know what you're looking at. Has the building been stripped or vandalized? Particularly in earthquake country you will want to know what safety measures were taken in the original construction or retrofits. It is also important to obtain all city records available regarding the building and it's history. Has construction work been permitted? Have the permits been signed off as completed? Does it meet current building codes in the jurisdiction where it is located? Paper trails can lead to some surprising information (or lack thereof!).

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

Phone calls or email to our office is quickest. We can answer most questions and schedule inspections at your convenience. Yes, we work weekends as necessary.

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