Home Buyers: Don't make these three mistakes

Mistake #1: Thinking you can't afford it. 
Many people who thought that buying the home they wanted was simply out of their reach are now enjoying a new lifestyle in their very own homes.  
Buying a home is one of the smartest financial decision you will ever make.  In fact, most homeowners would be broke at retirement if it wasn't for one saving grace -- the equity in their homes.  Furthermore, tax allowances favor home ownership. 

Real estate values have always risen steadily.  Of course, there are peaks and valleys, but the long-term trend is a consistent increase.  This means that every month when you make a mortgage payment, the amount that you owe on the home goes down and the value typically increases.  This "owe less, worth more" situation is called equity build-up and is the reason you can't afford not to buy. 
Even if you have little money for a down payment or credit problems, chances are that you can still buy that new home.  It just comes down to knowing the right strategies, and working with the right people.  See below. 

Mistake #2: Not hiring a buyer's agent to represent you. 

Buying property is a complex and stressful task.  In fact, it is often the biggest, single investment you will make in your lifetime.  At the same time, real estate transactions have become increasingly complicated.  New technology, laws, procedures, and competition from other buyers require buyer agents to perform at an ever-increasing level of competence and professionalism.  In addition, making the wrong decisions can end up costing you thousands of dollars.  It doesn't have to be this way! 
Work with a buyer's agent who has a keen understanding of the real estate business and the local market.  A buyer's agent has a fiduciary duty to you.  That means that he or she is loyal only to you and is obligated to look out for your best interests.  A buyer's agent can help you find the best home, the best lender, and the best home inspector in your area.  That inspector should be an InterNACHI-certified home inspector because InterNACHI inspectors are the most qualified and best-trained inspectors in the world.

Trying to buy a home without an agent or a qualified inspector is, well... unthinkable. 
Mistake #3: Getting a cheap inspection.

Buying a home is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make.  This is no time to shop for a cheap inspection.  The cost of a home inspection is small relative to the value of the home being inspected.  The additional cost of hiring a certified inspector is almost insignificant by comparison.  As a home buyer, you have recently been crunching the numbers, negotiating offers, adding up closing costs, shopping for mortgages, and trying to get the best deals.  Don't stop now!  Don't let your real estate agent, a "patty-cake" inspector, or anyone else talk you into skimping here.   
InterNACHI front-ends its membership requirements.  InterNACHI turns down more than half the inspectors who want to join because they can't fulfill the membership requirements.  
InterNACHI-certified inspectors perform the best inspections, by far.  InterNACHI-certified inspectors earn their fees many times over.  They do more, they deserve more and -- yes -- they generally charge a little more.  Do yourself a favor...and pay a little more for the quality inspection you deserve.

Great article explaining the format of a Home Inspection Report

Home Inspection Reports: What to Expect

by Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard

Influenced by the changes in the economic and legal environments over the past 30 years, home inspection reports have changed to accommodate increased consumer expectations, and to provide more extensive information and protection to both inspectors and their clients.

Development of Standards

Prior to the mid-1970s, inspection reports followed no standard guidelines and, for the most part, there was little or no oversight or licensure. As might be imagined, without minimum standards to follow, the quality of inspection reports varied widely, and the home inspection industry was viewed with some suspicion.

With the founding of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) in 1976, home inspection guidelines governing inspection report content became available in the form of a Standards of Practice. Over time, a second, larger trade association, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), came into existence, and developed its own standards.

InterNACHI has grown to dominate the inspection industry and, in addition to its Residential

Standards of Practice, it has developed a comprehensive Standards of Practice for the Inspection of Commercial Properties.  Today, most types of inspections from mold to fire door inspections are performed in accordance with one of InterNACHI's Standards of Practice.

As a consumer, you should take the time to examine the Standards of Practice followed by your inspector. If he is unaffiliated with any professional inspection organization, and his reports follow no particular standards, find another inspector.

Generally speaking, reports should describe the major home systems, their crucial components, and their operability, especially the ones in which failure can result in dangerous or expensive-to-correct conditions. Defects should be adequately described, and the report should include recommendations.

Reports should also disclaim portions of the home not inspected. Since home inspections are visual inspections, the parts of the home hidden behind floor, wall and ceiling coverings should be disclaimed.

Home inspectors are not experts in every system of the home, but are trained to recognize conditions that require a specialist inspection.

Home inspections are not technically exhaustive, so the inspector will not disassemble a furnace to examine the heat exchanger closely, for example. 

Standards of Practice are designed to identify both the requirements of a home inspection and the limitations of an inspection.

Checklist and Narrative Reports

In the early years of the home inspection industry, home inspection reports consisted of a simple checklist, or a one- or two-page narrative report.

Checklist reports are just that; very little is actually written. The report is a series of boxes with short descriptions after them. Descriptions are often abbreviated, and might consist of only two or three words, such as “peeling paint.” The entire checklist might only be four or five pages long. Today, some inspection legal agreements are almost that long!

Because of the lack of detailed information, checklist reports leave a lot open to interpretation, so that buyers, sellers, agents, contractors, attorneys and judges may each interpret the information differently, depending on their motives. 

In the inspection business, phrases that describe conditions found during an inspection are called "narratives."  Narrative reports use reporting language that more completely describes each condition. Descriptions are not abbreviated.

Both checklist and narrative reports are still in use today, although many jurisdictions are now beginning to ban checklist reports because the limited information they offer has resulted in legal problems.

From the standpoint of liability, narrative reports are widely considered safer, since they provide more information and state it more clearly.

Many liability issues and problems with the inspection process are due to misunderstandings about what was to be included in the report, or about what the report says. 

For example, in 2002, an investor bought a 14-unit hotel in California.  The six-page narrative report mentioned that flashing where the second-story concrete walkway met the building was improperly installed, and the condition could result in wood decay. Four years later, the investor paid out almost $100,000 to demolish and replace the entire upper walkway. In some places, it was possible to push a pencil through support beams.

Although the inspector's report had mentioned the problem, it hadn't made clear the seriousness of the condition, or the possible consequences of ignoring it. Today, a six-page report would be considered short for a small house.

Development of Reporting Software

Years ago, when computers were expensive to buy and difficult to operate, inspection reports were written by hand. As computers became simpler to operate and more affordable, inspection software began to appear on the market.

Today, using this software, an inspector can chose from a large number of organized boilerplate narratives that s/he can edit or add to in order to accommodate local conditions, since inspectors in a hot, humid city like Tampa Bay, Florida, are likely to find types of problems different from those found by inspectors in a cold, dry climate, like Salt Lake City, Utah.

Using narrative software and checking boxes in categories that represent the home systems, an inspector can produce a very detailed report in a relatively short time.

For example, using a checklist report, an inspector finding a number of inoperable lights in a home would check a box in the "INTERIOR" section labeled something like “some lights inoperable,” and that would be the limit of the information passed on to the client.

Using inspection software, in the "INTERIOR" section of the program, an inspector might check a box labeled “some lights inoperable.”  This would cause the following narrative to appear in the "INTERIOR" section of the inspection report:

“Some light fixtures in the home appeared to be inoperable. The bulbs may be burned out, or a problem may exist with the fixtures, wiring or switches.

If after the bulbs are replaced, these lights still fail to respond to the switch, this condition may represent a potential fire hazard, and the Inspector recommends that an evaluation and any necessary repairs be performed by a qualified electrical contractor.”

Standard disclaimers and other information can be pre-checked to automatically appear in each report.

Narrative Content

Narratives typically consists of three parts:

  1. a description of a condition of concern;
  2. a sentence or paragraph describing how serious the condition is, and the potential ramifications, answering questions such as, “Is it now stable, or will the problem continue?” or “Will it burn down the house?" and “When?”; and
  3. a recommendation. Recommendations may be for specific actions to be taken, or for further evaluation, but they should address problems in such a way that the reader of the report will understand how to proceed.

“Typically” is a key word here. Some narratives may simply give the ampacity of the main electrical disconnect. There is no need for more than one sentence. Different inspectors would include what they think is necessary.

Report Content

Inspection reports often begin with an informational section which gives general information about the home, such as the client’s name, the square footage, and the year the home was built.

Other information often listed outside the main body of the report, either near the beginning or near the end, are disclaimers, and sometimes a copy of the inspection agreement, and sometimes a copy of the Standards of Practice.  A page showing the inspector’s professional credentials, designations, affiliations and memberships is also often included.  And it is a good idea to include InterNACHI's Now That You've Had a Home Inspection book.

Inspection reports often include a summary report listing major problems to ensure that important issues are not missed by the reader. It's important that the reader be aware of safety issues or conditions which will be expensive to correct. With this in mind, some inspectors color-code report narratives, although many feel that color-coding exposes them to increased liability and don't do this.

Software often gives inspectors the choice of including photographs in the main body of the report, near the narrative that describes them, or photographs may be grouped together toward the beginning or end of the report.

A table of contents is usually provided.

The main body of the report may be broken down into sections according to home systems, such as "ELECTRICAL," "PLUMBING," "HEATING," etc., or it may be broken down by area of the home:  "EXTERIOR," "INTERIOR," "KITCHEN," "BEDROOMS," etc.

It often depends on how the inspector likes to work.

Sample Reports

Many inspectors have websites which include sample inspection reports for prospective clients to view. Take the time to look at them. Also often included is a page explaining the scope of the inspection. The inspection contract is usually included on the website, and it should give you a good idea of what will be included in the report.

In conclusion, for consumers to have realistic expectations about what information will be included in the home inspection report, follow these tips:

  • read the Standards of Practice;
  • read the Contract;
  • view a sample Inspection Report; and
  • talk with the inspector.

Re-grouting ceramic tile

In many of the homes that I inspect, excluding brand new construction, I find cracked and deteriorated grout on tile surfaces in kitchen and bathrooms. Cracking grout is one of those common issues that I find in a home that can lead to bigger issues down the road, and is not something potential buyers want to see if you’re planning on selling your home in the near future. Grout acts as a sealant to keep out water, but unfortunately most grout is not very durable and it will wear down over time. Cracked grout can lead to water intrusion and will only continue to deteriorate, so the sooner it is replaced the better, to avoid water damage in your bathroom or kitchen.

Re-grouting ceramic tile is not only necessary, it can be a fairly easy diy job for homeowners. Check out the link below for a step by step guide to replace ceramic tile grout on both walls and floors.


Of course, some tile work should be left to the professionals. If you’re planning on buying or selling a home, feel free to contact me for recommendations for qualified and local tile experts that can help with bigger projects. Your Home Inspector is a great resource for assessing your homes condition prior to starting any project, and prior to the purchase or sale of a home. Call Titus Inspections today to schedule a consultation.


Dean Nielsen, Certified Home Inspector/Owner, Titus Inspections

Strategies from your Home Inspector: Wildfire Protection

Recently, California has witnessed one of the worst fire seasons ever as several wildfires have scorched hundreds of thousands of acres across the state. Many homeowners have lost everything, and the death toll is one of the highest on record. Seasonal wildfires are natural and expected, as California is dry and hot and prone to fires in some parts of the year. Many homes are built in high risk areas where although the landscape is beautiful and picturesque, wildfire is likely. Homeowners can, however, take steps to mitigate the risk of wildfire, and protect their families and homes. As a home inspector, I urge you to periodically inspect your home for fire resistance. The article below gives a bare minimum of components within the home to check for fire safety. As your home inspector, I am here to answer any questions you may have about the wellbeing of your home.



Dean Nielsen, Certified Home Inspector/Owner, Titus Inspections

Your Home Inspector asks: Are you prepared for the aftermath?

Sometimes disaster strikes, and we should always be ready for the unexpected. Proper emergency kits and gear can help protect our families and homes, but as a homeowner dealing with the aftermath of a disaster, knowing the resources that are available to help recover is crucial. Home inspectors are an excellent source in helping guide homeowners through the process of documenting and assessing damage in their home with a thorough inspection, which will assist in deciding on the method of recovery.

This past month, our nation has gotten a wakeup call in disaster preparedness. Here in Southern California, we’ve witnessed several hurricanes and earthquakes devastate thousands of people in Florida, the Bahamas, and in Mexico, among others. This is a reminder that being prepared for a natural disaster is imperative, especially in Southern California, as an earthquake disaster is a scenario that is more than likely. We would be looking at hundreds of billions of dollars in damage, and an impact on over 20 million people.

Please take the time to read through the article below. You’ll find helpful tools and tips that will be extremely helpful when you are faced with the reality of a natural disaster. Knowing the resources that are available to you can help provide relief amid devastation, and assist in making crucial decisions when forming a recovery plan. As a Home Inspector, I am here to help you prepare. With every home inspection, I am committed to my clients and my community, and my goal is to serve you by using the knowledge and experience I have as a Home Inspector to provide you with protection and peace of mind. Please do not hesitate to contact me for any questions regarding the safety and security of your home, so you can be prepared for anything.



Dean Nielsen, Certified Home Inspector/Owner, Titus Inspections