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What You Should Know About Home Inspections: An Interview with Bob Williams of HomeTech Property Inspection Service

By Bob Williams

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

HomeTech Property Inspection Service has been serving the Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties since 1991. We thoroughly inspect all major components of the subject property to expose construction defects or damage, and advise you about future maintenance about your home once the purchase is complete. We provide narrative inspection reports that are easy to read, yet comprehensive and precise with full color pictures. Our services include single family, multi-family and manufactured home inspections, chimney inspections, pool barrier inspections, mold and air quality testing. Our inspections also include an appliance RecallChek report. If a recalled appliance is discovered, you will get all the information you need to have the appliance repaired or replaced free of charge by the manufacturer. We also include a 90-day home warranty and 1-year subscription to HON (Home Owners Network).

What should a standard home inspection cover?

A standard home inspection should include structure, roof, exterior, electrical, heating, air conditioning, insulation/ventilation, plumbing, water heater, interior and kitchen/appliances. Our inspection is designed to meet or exceed the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) Standards of Practice. The ASHI standards of practice can be found at http://www.homeinspector.org/standards/default.aspx.

What are some of the most common defects that you've seen in Northern California houses?

Improper grading around the house is one of the most common and one of the most important defects I find in Northern California homes. Proper drainage helps keep water away from the structure which helps keep the crawl space dry. Wet crawl spaces risk building damage from rot and can cause interior mold or mildew and rusting of mechanical components.

Another defect is an improperly strapped water heater. Water heaters are now required to be strapped prior to the sale of the property. Most of the water heaters are strapped, but not many are strapped correctly.

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

The length of time it takes to receive a report varies from company to company. HomeTech provides a pdf of our inspection report the same day and a full-color binder, which includes a Home Repair Handbook, mailed out the next day. Real estate transactions are happening fast these days, so we work with the agents to make sure we are not holding up the process.

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

As a member of American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), it is a conflict of interest to make repairs on inspections we have performed. I will provide referrals to my clients because I know the contractors I am referring and am confident in the quality of their work. That keeps my clients from having to find someone they do not know, which can become a nightmare for them. However, I believe it would be inappropriate to take a fee from the contractor for the referral.

The problem with referring a contractor is if something goes wrong and he doesn't stand behind his work. That is why I only refer contractors I am confident will do good work and stand behind what they do.

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

Many states require testing and certifications but California is not one of them. Obviously, buying a home is one of the largest purchases you will make. A certified and trained inspector is going to know what to look for when doing the inspection. Where are the potentially troublesome areas? Is the roof properly installed? Is there movement in the foundation? Many times these will not be found unless the inspector has the training and experience that is necessary to find such defects.

There is so much to know to be a home inspector. Hiring an inspector that is trained and has done numerous inspections does not guarantee that you will get a good inspection, but it is certainly a good place to start. When choosing a home inspector, the minimum qualifications should be a member of a national or state organization, such as American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or California Real Estate Inspection Organization (CREIA). These memberships require passing a test plus doing a certain number of home inspections.

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

Yes they do. It is important to read the inspection agreement ahead of time to understand what your rights are with the home inspection company you are working with. Some agreements limit the liability to the cost of the inspection. It is a good idea to make sure that your home inspector carries errors and omissions insurance.

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

We can be reached at (408) 512-2090 or (831) 335-2090. Ask for Diane or Bob. Our email address is bob@homtech.com and our website

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