84 Year old woman averts mold soda-blasting scam

Crawlspace soda-blasting – The latest incarnation of mold shams Soda-blasting is a process in which sodium bicarbonate (aka; baking soda) is applied against a surface using compressed air. It’s primarily designed and used for mild, non-destructive surface cleaning. An early use was to restore the Statue of Liberty in the 1980s. It is commonly used by restoration contractors in homes to clean surface soot and smoke damage caused by fire. But is has no place in the crawlspace. WDO is the acronym that refers to wood damaging organisms, basically airborne spores and fungus that is the cause of wood rot. The contrived sham

evil_lightbulbI think a light bulb went off in the crawl space repair industry and they realized hey! This soda-blasting thing has all the elements of a money maker and could really boost our revenue. Since fungus is mold refer to it as mold, It a perfect fit for fear mongering bolstered by the well established mold hysteria that has gripped the nation, It has urgency because mold is a living organism that is silently eating your home every minute you wait, It’s almost pure profit because there’s little labor and material cost, people will do whatever it takes to preserve their home and they can even use their home to finance this process. These companies will also have visual aides in the form of before and after photos on how pretty and clean your crawl space will look when it’s done. soda_blast_transform But the question is, is it necessary and does it fix crawlspace mold problems. NO!

After hearing about this during 3 different inspections in the last week, I am compelled to write this article.  I’m sick and tired of innocent homeowners getting scammed out of their hard earned money by these charlatans promising to help them save their homes from doom and gloom. The Victim I just left a home where an 84 year old lady was emotionally sick over the news she received from her termite contractor that her 10 month old new construction home is infested with crawlspace mold and will require a $10,000 process of soda blasting to cure the problem. She was at her wits end because the builder refused to accept responsibility and she did not have the money for this treatment.  She was so concerned about saving her new home that she had already taken out a second mortgage to pay for this treatment recommended by the “experts”.  Thankfully her daughter decided to call us for a home inspection so she could get a second opinion from an unbiased source.  We did the inspection and yes there was some mold on the crawl space girder beams but the crawlspace was super dry and healthy.  They did not tell me about the soda-blasting story until after I was done with the inspection. old-lady-shockedShe was shocked when I told her the crawlspace was dry and healthy and proceeded to tell me the story of how her trusted termite inspector informed her that she had this horrible condition lurking in her crawlspace but he could save it through soda-blasting. I was appalled that someone would or could in good conscious do this to this woman.  I immediately informed her that soda-blasting is completely unnecessary, ineffective and the only thing it would effectively remove is the money from her bank account. I advised her to immediately return the second mortgage loan money back to the bank.  She was so relieved she started to weep and hugged me. She was emotionally sick over the thought that her new home was a mold infested money pit but by the time I left she was so happy as if the weight of the world was lifted from her shoulders. In her case there was some fungus on the girder beams. This is not uncommon to see, especially if the builder used wet lumber and did not “acclimate” it before installing. She did not have any other moisture source in the crawlspace and the foundation vents were closed keeping out any outdoor humidity. Fungi require moisture to survive so in this particular case the fungus was inactive and could do no damage. All the wood I tested had 0% moisture levels and the wood fibers were strong.  Although her crawl space moisture problems were cured by drying out, it is possible the fungus could reactivate if the moisture levels increased in the future. So I recommended the correct course of action that she have the crawlspace treated with a fungicide. A proper application of fungicide will kill the dormant fungus and inoculate the wood fibers against future attacks in the event that future moisture levels become elevated enough to support mold growth (above 25%).  The cost of a fungicide treatment is roughly a couple hundred dollars and assuming the moisture sources have been eliminated is the best way to prevent wood damaging fungi. Soda blasting is great for what is was designed to do which is basically to clean things. Yes it will make your crawlspace wood look pretty but who cares as long as it’s dry and healthy. Some facts about crawlspace soda-blasting. It is a surface treatment only and does not penetrate into the wood fiber where the damaging micro organisms live. It does not remove all fungal spores. It does not prevent future attacks of wood damaging organisms. It does not do anything to remedy the underlying cause of fungi which is moisture. It will beautify your crawlspace wood. It will deodorize your crawlspace almost as well as Lysol. Don’t fall prey to this latest hocus pocus boogity woogity. It will only remove the molding money from your bank account.  

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Top 10 ways to guarantee you are getting a great home inspector

Virginia Beach home inspection checklist

Author: Daniel F. Rogers


1.  Do your homework. An hour of your time can save you hundreds of hours (and dollars) of heartache.  Some things you should know when starting your home inspection lesson plan.
– Home Inspections are not standardized.
– All home inspectors are not created equal.
– The home inspection industry in Virginia is NOT regulated and does not require licensing.

– You get to pick the inspector who will represent your best interest. Your inspector is your personal expert that you pay to learn everything about the home you are hiring him to inspect.
– You must get the home inspection before the inspection contingency period is up.
– Most purchase offers are standardized and become a ratified contract when both parties agree to the terms of purchase which normally includes an inspection contingency..
– Almost all contracts contain a home inspection contingency addendum meaning the contract can be cancelled during the inspection contingency period.
– When buying a house you typically have a certain number of days from ratification to get the inspection completed. Usually 7-10 days. This is called the inspection contingency period. It’s crucial you get the inspection done during this period. If you can’t then you should get an extension or consider withdrawing from the purchase contract.
– If the inspection results are not satisfactory to you or even if you just decide you don’t want the house, you may withdraw from the contract without excuses and without penalty during the contingency period.
– Find you home inspector in advance.  Be prepared by reading the list below and having a good home inspection company in mind so you can get it scheduled as soon as your contract is ratified.

2.  Reputation – A good inspection company or inspector will have a good reputation on the internet.
– Check consumer reviews at Angies’ list, Google, Yelp, BBB, etc.
– A high number of reviews indicate they are in demand and have lots of experience.
– Are the reviews consistently positive
– Are the reviews genuine and submitted by actual customers. Not other real estate professionals with an interest in the sale. 

3.  Inspection reports – Look at the inspectors actual inspection reports.
– Its good insight into the detail and thoroughness of his/her inspection process and abilities.
– Is it a checklist report or full narrative?
– Beware of fake display or promotional sample reports.
– You can usually tell by the generic address and name info provided. 
– Some software companies even provide sample reports to help sell their software to inspectors.
– Is it the actual inspectors report or just a representation?
– Are there numerous, detailed and annotated photos?  Not some few, hard to see thumbnails.
– Is the report full of disclaimers, limitations or omissions of systems and components?
– Assuming safe conditions, do they actually walk roofs and fully enter crawlspaces?
– Do they do a random sampling of faucets, fixtures, outlets, windows, electrical devices or do they check 100% of everything possible?

4. Recommendations and referrals – If your real estate agent highly recommends against using the inspector you choose and insist you use their inspector.  Either the inspector you chose is really bad or really good.  It depends on how honrable and professional your agent is. Some inspectors are really bad and should be avoided. Some inspectors are really good and are viewed by some unscroupulous agents to be a challenge to closing their sale. They are afraid a good inspector will rock the boat but as a buyer that may not mean smooth sailing after you acquire the property. Some agents are really good and want the best inspection for their client and will recommend the best inspector. You will have to sort this out.
– Ask friends, co-workers, neighbors for a good referral. (or the ones they should avoid)
– Beware of the agent who insists you use “my guy”. That inspector may indeed be his/her guy.  Find your own guy.

– Read the article Should I use my agents home inspector

5. Pricing – Beware of cheap prices.  Most inspectors know their own worth. Most people can’t afford a cheap inspection.  The sweetness of a low price is temporary while the sting of a cheap inspection last forever.
– A good inspection will average $350-$400.
– A good inspection will take 2.5-3 hours
– A good inspector will spend 2-3 hours on each report.

6. Education and experience – The days when retired contractors or handy Andy takes up home inspections as a supplemental income are fading away. The home inspection industry has evolved to meet the demands of technically advanced construction and designs that require a vast knowledge of homes systems old and new.  A great inspector will be a full time specialist in their craft and will have advanced education and experience in all aspects of modern building systems and those of prior generations and the effects of aging.  The younger generations are now entering the profession as it has become as a viable career choice.  Typically a good inspector will have had.

Virginia beach Home inspector checklist

Inspect the inspector

– A 2-4 year college degree in engineering or building science
– 5 years working in the building / contracting trades
– 2 years inspector apprenticeship under a master inspector
– 3-5 years as an inspector
– Completed at least 1000 independent inspections.
– Although prior experience in the building and contracting trades alone does not equate to being a great inspector, most experts in the industry will agree that inspectors who don’t have that base experience will be at a grave disadvantage that eventually cause them to miss something major.

7. Credentials
– Virginia Certified Inspector
– Virginia does not require licensing and does not regulate the home inspection profession.  The Virginia Department of professional occupation and regulation (DPOR) has a voluntary program whereas Home Inspectors can be Virginia certified and advertise such if they show proof of minimal classroom instruction, experience and proof of E&O insurance, A high school diploma and No felony convictions.
– American Society of Home Inspectors. (ASHI) ASHI certified Inspector (ACI)
– ASHI is a national not-for-profit professional association that provides Inspector certifications, requires continuing education, requires adherence to inspection standards of practice and ethical practices, requires passing the national Inspection Examination and requires third party verification of reporting practices and adherence to their standards of practice.
– “Store bought “credentials and certifications. Beware of credentials that come from “for profit” websites.  These types of businesses profit for the sales and marketing of services and products to home inspectors.  The more inspectors they have, the better their profits. They also sell certificates and credentials for a fee and completion of minimal online course work.

8. Insurance – Does the inspector have general liability, errors and omissions insurance (E&O)?
– Ask to see a copy f their certificate of insurance.
– This may protect you if the inspector has an accident during your inspection and it protects you against errors and omissions if the inspector missed or failed to report a major defect.

9. Equipment and tooling – The most important tool of any inspector is the one right between their ears.  But even the most experienced and intuitive inspector needs some specialized equipment to help them do a good job. Some of these tools are expensive but the savvy and successful inspector will make that investment because they know it will help them and their customer.
– Computer, laptop, Tablet.  You would expect that in this day and age all inspectors would create computer generated reports.  Not so fast, there still are some dinosaurs out there using hand written paper reports.  That’s horse and buggy in to days fast lane of professional inspecting.
– Cameras. It’s vital to collect photographic documentation and evidence of the inspection.
– Digital cameras are used to photograph everything from the entire house to the smallest data Label. Some inspectors will use them to see things in places they could not otherwise fit their head and eyes such as inside a chimney, inside the crack of a wall, Inside the ductwork, behind an appliance, etc.
– Infrared camera. These are cameras used for thermal imaging and can reveal defects not visible to the naked eye such as internal water leaks inside the wall, Missing insulation in a vaulted ceiling, leaky ductwork in an attic, overheating terminals in a service panel, built in heat coils in the ceilings or floors. The list goes on. These cameras are expensive but a dedicated and successful inspector will make that investment.
–  Moisture detection and humidity meters.  Detects and records harmful moisture levels in any materials from the crawlspace framing to the ceiling gypsum.

10. Web presence – A well established inspector or company with have a good web presence. Moon lighters, part timers or inspectors who rely on real estate agent leads typically do not need or have a good web presence.
– Google them and see what comes up.
– Check out their website. Is it informative or just a generic web brochure?
– Do they interact with the social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+? Great inspectors want to stay plugged in to the public and their consumer base.


Copyright 2015. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without written consent of the author

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This flips me out!

Not a week goes buy that I don’t hear the statement ” This should be an easy inspection because the house was flipped and everything is new“.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact I cringe when I hear this because I know these homes can have many masked problems. Advertisers have know for decades that it’s all about the packaging and not the contents. So much so that they spend more on the package than the product they’re selling. It’s not much different with “flipped” homes, In fact flipped homes have more complications because of the inherant problems associated with “flippers” trying to turn a profit.  When thousands of foreclosed homes flooded the market during the real estate bust of the late 2000’s, many of these homes have been snatched up by everyone from the weekend warrier investor to the mega-millionare investors. Now the market is flooded with flipped homes and a significant portion of our Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk and Hampton roads home inspections are of flipped properties. Ironically, back in the 90’s we refused doing inspections on foreclosed homes because they were to probelmatic and could be a huge liability for us and the buyer.  Things are a little different now because these buyers expect to have problems and are willing to take the gamble if they can crunch the numbers and turn a profit.

Crunching the numbers and turning a profit is the root problem. Banks, Hud, VA have become experts in pricing these properties just below the so called market value.  It seems that they are right on target on figuring out exactly how much a property is worth and the minimum amount it will cost to bring it back to a level of good repair and market value. The problem is there’s not much margine for profit. All the other fees that investors incur including real estate commisions, closing cost, appraisals, inspections, etc. are not figured in by the banks. So where does that money come from? CUTTING COST. By using low end contractors and only fixing up the cosmetic items. It’s amazing how a pooly installed tile floor, cheap stainless appliances and low end granit counter tops can transform a house at a relatively low cost.  But what about the drafty windows (nicely covered with blinds), lacking insulation, aging roof, Antiquated HVAC systems, rusted pipes, unadequate electric service and wiring? These are all very significant exspenses that can save an investor tons of money and be passed along to the unwitting buyer who is blinded by the Amercian dream stardust of  home ownership.  Two weeks after closing they have washed the stardust out of their eyes and suddenly realize they are upside-down because the major repairs will cost far more than the house is worth.  This is a whole new version of the upside-down home value and may likely lead to a second wave of foreclosures. But the lure of easy money marches on and I’m afraid the cycle will continue.

House “flipping” can mask problems. Rapid appreciation of real estate values tends to make speculators out of otherwise sensible people, and can turn investors and contractors into “morally challenged” opportunists.  Or downright sharks. There’s nothing wrong with home renovations and re-sales that turn a profit, but too often a quick-buck mentality is what drives the agenda, and the house will get merely cosmetic rather than genuine improvements. If you know or suspect that a home has gotten a quick renovation by an interim owner before being put back on the market, you and your inspector should be especially vigilant about spotting any shortcuts in the work.

Despite the potential setbacks in the inspection process, finding a good home inspector in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk or anywhere in hampton roads does not have to be a blind gamble. There are some good inspectors that are willing to slit their wrist and jump into skark ifested waters for you. There are many reliable methods for hiring a good qualified inspector in Hampton roads. Research them online, check Angies list, Read their reviews at Google, see what their other customers are saying, look at their actual reports, talk to friends and co-workers, Interview inspectors and most of all do not shop for the lowest price. Good or bad, most inspectors know the value of thier service.

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Thermal telegraphing (Ghosting)

“Ghosting” is a term used to describe the dark streaks that sometimes develop on walls and ceilings (especially along joist or stud lines), around doorways, at the outside corners of rooms, at the location of drywall fasteners, and on the carpeting along baseboards. Cases of ghosting, or thermal telegraphing as it is formally called, can be mistaken for mold growth; however, these marks are not usually signs of a mold growth, but indications of a dirt or soot buildup.


Thermal telegraphing is the evidence left behind when particulates (dirt, soot, smoke, etc.) in the air are deposited on cooler surfaces. Temperature differences on these surfaces cannot be seen, but are responsible for the pattern taken by the deposited particles. At insulated ceilings or exterior walls of homes, the interior wall surface is usually cooler at the joists or studs because heat is lost through the wood faster than through the insulated portions of the assembly. The heads of fasteners at drywall seams may also appear as black, circular “ghosts” because the metal fasteners are even colder than the drywall at times.

When there are varying surface temperatures, in addition to increased relative humidity, there is also an increased amount of air movement due to convection. This air is full of all sorts of particles, and in areas where there are increased airflow rates due to convection, more of these particles will drop out of the air stream when they hit a colder surface or when filtered through a membrane like a carpet. Add high humidity to low temperatures and the result is condensation of the water vapor in the air on the cooler surfaces, along with the particulates present as well.

In most cases, thermal telegraphing will go unnoticed unless many years have passed since the last refinishing with paint or wallpaper. In homes where there are above-normal levels of particulates in the air, for example, when the occupants are smokers or do a lot of open-container cooking, or candle-burning, or regularly build fires in the fireplace, particulate buildup will occur on all surfaces. But the deposits usually first become apparent at the prime locations for thermal telegraphing. Wall surfaces behind paintings or furniture, or other areas that are not fully exposed to the air movement and particulates will tend to have fewer deposits. This is why the surfaces behind these objects will appear lighter in color with an outline of the objects after they have been moved.

While most people are well aware that smoking contributes to the level of particulates in the air, most do not realize that candle-burning is a major contributor as well. Studies have shown that in a tight, well-insulated house with minimal air exchange, the burning of even a single scented candle once a week can cause obvious darkening of wall and ceiling surfaces. Better quality candles burn cleaner, however, the particulates will still be there.

Spillage from any combustion equipment, including a fireplace or wood stove can also produce heavy amounts of surface-darkening soot. Even where gas or artificial (wax-containing) “logs” are used poor draft conditions will result in soot buildup.

Carpet filtration, which is evidenced by the darkening of carpets at door thresholds and along the base of the walls around the perimeter of rooms, is a very common form of thermal telegraphing. This is caused by a pressure imbalance, whereby the negative indoor air pressure pulls in outdoor pollutants or the air from one room to the next, with the carpet serving to filter particulates out of the air. To address carpet filtration problems, the most effective strategy is to seal all gaps and maintain a pressure balance within the house.

The three driving forces that create pressure imbalances are: heat, wind and fans. These can work independently or together to cause negative or positive pressures inside a home. Any pressure imbalance increases the air movement that can contribute to the particulate buildup.

Finding the exact causes or sources of thermal telegraphing can be difficult, but eventually the process of elimination should narrow it down. Once the cause of the problem is identified, various techniques can be implemented to prevent a recurrence. These include practices such as: air sealing of the house envelope to minimize wind intrusion; adjusting a ducted heating system to minimize pressure imbalances between rooms; and providing adequate makeup air for vented appliances.

Because deposited particles are about the size of paint pigment particles, they adhere very tenaciously to surfaces and can be difficult to remove with routine cleaning. Soot also deposits on windows where it adheres to the glass. Rubbing a window very hard with a white paper towel will reveal the presence of soot that might not otherwise be apparent on the window, and may be present on other surfaces. Similarly, a film often develops on the inside of car windows as particulates from the outgassing of the plastic and composite materials found in modern cars accumulates on the glass surfaces.

Of course, concerns are compounded when high moisture conditions, which can contribute to mold growth, also exist. For simple testing, stains can also be wiped with bleach. Mold and mildew are lightened or may even disappear altogether when washed with bleach; however, dirt and soot will not disappear simply with an application of bleach.

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Protect your home from water damage with a WAGS valve

During our home inspections in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk and all areas of Hampton roads we see many indoor water heaters actively leaking and causing water damage. Current building codes require a catch pan and drain pipe to be installed to avert catostrophic water damage but what do you do to protect your home from an indoor or attic water heater that is physically impossible to install a drain pipe or pan?
Introducing the WAGS valve (water and gas safety valve).

Typical WAGS Valve

The WAGS Valve was designed to protect consumers from a common problem: flooding and damage caused when their water heater fails.

Most water heaters fail within 7 —10 years. That’s about 5 million tank failures every year. Without a WAGS valve, a leaking water heater keeps refilling— and leaking. WAGS prevents disastrous floods and untold damage to your property.

The WAGS valve is designed to shut off the water supply (plus gas supply for gas-fired heaters) in the event of a water leak from a hot water heater, thus minimizing water damage and possible gas leakage.

The WAGS Valve can easily be installed on all styles of water heaters including exsisting water heaters. The reliable WAGS Valve is fully mechanical and requires no external power supply.

The instalation should be completed by a qualifed plumber and could cost around $300-$400. A little pricey but far less exspensive than property damage. It’s also an ideal solution for rental property’s, vacation homes or any home that you can’t readily monitor for water heater leaks.

The WAGS Valve sits in a drip pan under the water heater and is activated when leaking water

Typical installation

accumulates to a predetermined level in the pan. Once activated the valve shuts off the water and gas supply, indicated by a red pop-up tab.

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Is your business LISTED?

The Ultimate List: over 50 Local Business

a local business, attracting new customers can be a major challenge and
having a website alone is no longer good enough as the internet becomes more
integrated social society. Getting your business listed in the online
directories is just as important as your website itself
because this is
how over 60% of your customers will find your website. The majority of
people have a demand for local search results. The major search engines know
this and are programming their search algorithms to provide precise results
to the searcher. Many people will call you directly from your business
listing without even going to your website. Placement of your business in
web directory’s is critical in helping your business succeed. Why? When was
the last time you picked up the Yellow Pages or any other print advertising
to look up s business? Many businesses don’t even waste their money on print
listings anymore. Why pay a ton of money to get into a Yellow Book when you
can get into over 350 online business listing directories, mobile
directories and GPS systems for free and forever? Today people are turning
to the internet as a way to find trusted business recommendations. The way
local businesses can get found is through inclusion in online directories.
Adding a listing to these online directories is easy, but if you only list
in a few you’re really missing a huge opportunity to get found by online
searchers. Commit to do it, don’t procrastinate, It’s a one time thing; Pay
someone if you have to and get it so you can rest easy knowing your business
is front and center.


The benefits

Being placed in these directories is more important than ever because as the
internet becomes more mobile, people everyday are using their smart phones,
tablets, ipads and netbook computers to look for businesses. When someone
wants a phone number or directions, they head to Google and the other search
engines and online directories to get the information they need to hire a
professional or to make a purchase.

The internet is here to stay. It’s not a fad. Get over
it and get ahead of your competition now.

Most businesses are not taking advantage of what these
directories have to offer. Each listing is like having your own
mini-website. Imagine having 350 websites displaying your businesses
information like telephone number, directions, menu, specials, and more. You
cannot afford to pass up this opportunity while your competition is taking
your customers because they are listed in these amazing directories.

Every individual directory that you
submit to is another chance to get found online so it’s important to make
sure you’re listed in every directory possible. I have compiled a list of
many popular local directories available on the internet. Filling out the
forms over and over again can be a big pain, so here’s a link to an

Auto-Fill add-on
for Firefox that should help prevent carpal tunnel.
Or you I recommend

which cost money but well worth it.

Business directory listings

1. Google
2. Bing
3. Yahoo!
4. Yelp
5. Merchant Circle
6. LinkedIn
7. YellowPages.com
8. AngiesList
9. Whitepages
10. Supermedia
11. Yellowbook
12. CitySearch
13. Mapquest
14. Biznik
15. Local.com
16. Foursquare
17. ThinkLocal
18. CitySlick
19. USYellowPages
20. MyCity
21. Outside.in
22. Dex
23. BizJournals.com
24. TeleAtlas
25. Justclicklocal
26. Discover our Town
27. Metrobot
28. Best Deals on
29. twibs
30. LocalEze
31. Kudzu
32. CityVoter
33. Manta
34. Zipweb
35. MatchPoint
36. UsCity.net
37. Local Site submit
38. InfoUSA
39. Axciom
40. Infignos
41. Yellowassistance
42. ChoiceVendor.com
42. Zipweb
43. Yellowee
44. MojoPages
45. Brownbook
46. Magic Yellow
47. CitySquares
48. TeleAtlas
49. Navteq GPS
50. Judysbook
51. Yellowbot
52. Supermedia

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Should I use my agents home inspector?

Virginia beach Home Inspector

Should a Homebuyer Hire a Home Inspector Recommended by an Agent?

So you’ve found the perfect house, Good neighborhood, Price is right, looks well maintained, looks good on the surface, smells good, nice floor plan, so you make an offer contingent on a home inspection and the seller accepts your offer. WooHoo! But wait, now comes the next challenge. This is all hinged on finding a good thorough, qualified, credible Home Inspector that will come in and go to bat for you. Where will you find such a professional. You’ve heard all those horror stories about the fly-by-night home inspectors who down played or completely missed major problems. “Not to worry” your agents says, I have a list of inspectors right here for you to choose from. It’s common for real estate agents to recommend several inspectors that buyers could hire. But should you hire those inspectors on their “preferred list” ?

The quick and simple reflex answer is NO! But wait, as a 23 year veteran home inspector in Hampton roads Virginia, I can tell you it’s notquite that simple. It really comes down to the quality and integrity of the agent making that referral.

It is not surprising that many home buyers have doubts about hiring a home inspector recommended by their agents.

To them, they are questioning the integrity and honesty of such home inspectors. The point of their concern is that agents naturally want to sell the house because their commissions depend on it. They don’t want any negative “deal killer” home inspector screwing with their paycheck so they recommend inspectors that will “go easy” on the inspection.

So is that a reason for agents to enter into a collusion agreement with home inspectors? Yes, it happens. In fact some agencies require inspectors to “sponsor” (pay money) to get on a preferred vendors list. But it’s not as wide spread as you might think. At least not in my experience in the Hampton Roads home inspection market. In a highly competitive market it is unlikely that established, professional agents will collude just to make sure the home inspection report would be favorable to make the home sale. It’s possible, and as ive said, does happen amongst unscrupulous agents and shady home inspectors. But these are the minority. Established, reputable full time agents and inspectors are not going to risk their reputation on such collusion. In fact they would not have become reputable in the first place if they engaged in these practices.

The real estate or property sector is a dynamic industry where only about 10% of agents are able to sell homes. They even account for up to 90% of total home sales. The rest of the agents may not be qualified enough, or may lack first-hand experiences to determine which inspectors are qualified and reliable. Thus, you should trust your agent if he or she has been in the business for many years and has established a good reputation. They don’t need to “nail the sale” and most likely are not going to risk their reputation. Besides, if worse comes to worse, it’s not like there aren’t any other houses on the market these days.

Take note that most buyers agents are acting on the best interest of their buyers and as such are focused on good representation. Reputable agents have been in the business for a while and have built a network of “like minded” professional contacts to surround themselves with and who will extend their professionalism to their client. This includes referring a professional, competent home inspector.
Chesapeake Virginia Home Inspector

Reputable agents want a good home inspection for their client that will provide full disclosure because they know it can come back to bite them if things are missed and it comes out after closing. Good agents also do not want to get the blame if there are safety, security, and maintenance issues missed by a slack home inspector. For this reason they would recommend only home inspectors whom they think would be capable and reliable to do the job well. Just like a bad inspector can hurt their reputation, a good inspector protects their reputation by protecting their client. In fact part of representing their clients best interest is giving them the names of reputable home inspectors because there are more than a few incompetent, negligent home inspectors out there, especially in Virginia where there is no state regulation and licensing requirements.

Experienced and professional agents know how to deal with the findings or defects disclosed in a propert inspection report by advising their client of their options and then representing them on whatever option they choose to proceed with whether it be negotiating repairs or withdrawing from the contract.

It’s been my experience that home inspectors recommended are of the agents’ same caliber. If you feel like youir agent is honest, professional and has represented your best interest then they probably won’t steer you wrong on their home inspector referrals.

So, should you hire a home inspector recommended by your agent?

It really depends on the reputation of your agent. But in the end the decision of who you use as your home inspector is all up to you.

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Transitioning from old E-mail(s) to new

Taking control of your E-mail

Home inspection e-mail advice

How do I change to my new E-mail address without loosing my important emails or contracts?

This doesn’t have much to do with home inspections but it’s a dilemma that many people experience.

Many people feel locked in to their old AOL email or they want to change internet service providers (ISP) and feel stuck because they’ve been using Cox, Verizon, etc for years.

If you follow the advice I give here it will be a smooth transition for both you and your recipients and you won’t loose any important emails.

The first piece of advice is to get an independent e-mail address that is not tied into your service provider, current place of business or any other organization that could potentially change.   Sever the ties that are anchoring you to your old service provider.  E-mail accounts are completely free these days and many of the free ones are more advanced in terms of contact management and integration with smart phones and many other apps.  I recommend Google’s Gmail. They are on the cutting edge of technology,  it’s free, has many powerful contact and communication features and is easy to use.

Professionals should have their own e-mail domain such as bob@bobsrealestate.com. These accounts are typically included free with your web site domain hosting but you don’t even need a website to have your “private label”  e-mail address.  Professionals should have their own e-mail domain because it adds credibility and gives a sense of stability and longevity.  I’ always suspect when I see a nice website with professional presence yet the email address is bobby9875@yahoo.com.

Once you decide what your new permanent e-mail account is going to be, go ahead and set it all up including putting in your contacts.  If you are using a web client on your computer such as Outlook or Apple Mail you will not have to change anything on your contacts. If you prefer web based email (many do because they can check their e-mail from any computer) you’ll have to set up your contacts in the new e-mail account.  If you have a lot of contacts most e-mail providers have an export feature where you can export your contacts into a text file or Excel file and import into your new e-mail account.

Once your new email account is set up and running.  Go to each and every one of your old email accounts (most people only have one) and change the account settings to FOWARD all emails to your new e-mail address. Most e-mail providers have this feature but some don’t.  Don’t close any of your old accounts just yet. Let them linger and continue to forward your e-mails to your new address. This will create a transition overlap and you’ll still have the option to go check your old e-mail accounts to make sure your not missing anything.  Eventually your new e-mail address will dominate and you can let the old ones expire or close them in 60-90 days.

Now any of the forwarded e-mails will be received in your new email account.  Now when you respond to, reply to, forward or just send from your new e-mail account it will automatically show your new e-mail address in the recipients FROM field.  This is key in making your transition. Many e-mail apps will also automatically add your new email address to their address book. In addition to this you should put this message in the signature line of your new e-mail account.

“My old email account is closed. Please update your address book with my new address: bob@bobsrealesatate.com


1. Open and set up new independent, permanent e-mail account and install your contacts.

2. Set up forwarding your old account e-mails to the new account.

3. Announce your e-mail address change in the signature line of your new e-mails.

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Slick roof repair makes life easy

Virginia Home Inspector reports soil vent seal leaks

Typical pipe seal failure

One of the most common roof problems I see at Virginia home inspections is damaged soil vent seals.

These are the aluminum or plastic flashing’s that seal around the plumbing vent pipes that go through the roof.  The problem is the rubber seals only last about 7 years before they dry, crack and leak water into the attic.  They don’t even last as long as the cheapest shingle and is usually the first thing to leak.  In fact the timing of their demise is so reliable, I use it to help me gauge the age of the roof during a home inspection.

Normally these are a booger to replace because it involves dealing with the shingles. Some people just slide a new one over the old or just gob sealant around the cracks, but that’s all just a temporary fix.

Virginia Beach Home Inspection advice about pipe collars.

Retro-fit Pipe collar

Well they are not hard to fix anymore.  I just found this cool little device that was invented to solve this problem in a jiffy. It’s a retrofit style pipe collar that requires no tools, no fuss no muss.  I normally don’t broadcast other products but I think this will help my clients and readers a lot. They make several different versions for all types of pipes.  They are even cheaper that a new regular  pipe collar.  I have not seen these available in stores but manufactures website is creativecompostis.com

Check out their video and see how easy it is.

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How to alienate your customer in one easy step

If you really want to make your clients loose confidence in you, Try to talk them out of getting a home inspection. Ironically the agents who don’t get this will also not get the point of this article. It’s childs play, but I’ll try anyway.
As a home inspector who has good rapport  with his clients I often hear things that their agent will neve hear. 3 Times this week I had inspections with clients whose agents tried to talk them out of getting a home inspection.  Frankly I’m a bit surprised that an agent would even attempt this approach in this market and give that advice to their client whom they are supposed to be representing. The reasons I hear are. “one way to sweeten your offer is to waive the home inspection.” or “you don’t need an inspection because they are providing you a whole house warranty” or ” You really don’t need an inspection on a new or rehabbed home” or  “your a handy guy, just check things out yourself at the walk through inspection”. All in the guise of making sure they “accept your offer” and you don’t “loose out on getting your dream home”. These agents are playing on their clients emotions which is not cool.  I’m hear to tell you now that it’s not the home inspection that is the “deal killer”, It’s these statements. Buyers may be naive about the buying process but they are not stupid and emotionless. They can tell when an agent is being disingenuous. It’s human instinct.  It also seems that these particular agents are persistent in controlling the inspection because I hear things like this from the buyers. My agent said “if you insist on an inspection then make it for informational purposes only and assure them they don’t have to make repairs”. One of my clients told his agent that was the stupidest thing he ever heard..LOL. Another one I hear a lot is “well if you insist on an inspection then you should use my guy”. \\ News flash // your client is not going to feel comfortable using “your guy” after you just tried talking them out of the inspection.  In fact, now that your client has lost confidence in you, they will circle the wagons to protect themselves against you and your ill advice by seeking out the best inspector they can find.  That’s usually when I come into the fray. I get comments like “my agent isn’t looking out for me and I need you to be detailed and forthcoming on the inspection”.  One young first time home-buyer (who has an MBA) was really upset because the house that his agent insisted he waive the inspection on, had the old polybutylene water distribution pipes with plastic fittings and was actively leaking in two places. There was also evidence of multiple pipe repairs.  The agent said “no biggie, we’ll just tell them to have a plumber fix it”.  The buyer snapped back “no biggie, I’m withdrawing from the contract and you are no longer my agent”.  The agent tried to sweet talk him but it was only sour grapes.

Unfortunately, that agent will never get another call from this man or any referrals from his circle of influence. The bottom line is, people are people and like the old addage says, they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. The human animal needs to feel appreciated, protected and comfortable while going through the stress of buying a house. They rely on the trust of their agent. If they smell a wolf stalking that commision check with little regard to their best interest, they will scatter like lambs and the fear will be imprinted on them for a long time.

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