Whether a handyman special or a mansion on a hill, and whether you are investing or already own, you should expect and receive the most information possible for your inspection dollar. I've been inspecting homes, apartment buildings, condominiums, and commercial buildings for over 30 years. I also teach home inspectors and contractors, and gather evidence to help clients settle cases against bad home inspectors, insurance companies, and unscrupulous contractors.
Why have a professional consultation?
If it were not for dishonest or incompetent builders, service contractors, inspectors, real estate agents and home sellers, most of us would never need to have an unbiased, professional consultation.
Residential homes and commercial buildings commonly have issues that can significantly affect your health and/or finances; issues for which general home inspectors are not required to inspect for, and state regulations that govern home inspectors will not protect you for. Sometimes the issues are entirely unknown and sometimes deliberately concealed by unscrupulous contractors or property sellers. These concerns require substantial experience and proper instrumentation to discover .
I recommend a professional consultation if you smell odors, are experiencing virtually and type of health issues, have reason to believe you have been taken advantage of by a contractor, an insurance company, or during a real estate transaction, or suspect something might not be right.
What about new or almost new properties?
Real estate agents and building contractors often tell buyers of new homes and condos that having an inspection is a waste of money because the building was just recently inspected by municipal inspectors. This is terrible advice!
Municipal building inspectors have many items to inspect in a very short amount of time and frequently do not discover construction errors and code violations. Furthermore, municipal inspectors have governmental immunity. When defects are discovered later by a privately hired investigator, municipal inspectors simply defer the problem to the original builder who may not be around any longer or may be unwilling to come back and correct his defects. In short, municipal inspections are not a guarantee that a building is free of defects.
Additionally, builders of new homes are subject to workmanship of their subcontractors who are often unsupervised. Some builders also cut corners in a deliberate effort to save time and increase their profits. The average owner/buyer will never recognize those defects until after the contractors have been paid and are long gone.
Properties that are new or almost new should always be thoroughly inspected.
Who performs consultations?
General Home Inspector
A general home inspector is regulated by the State of Wisconsin under Wisconsin Chapter 440 and its administrative rules. General home inspectors are not professional building consultants and here's why:
Under the pretense of fairness, the state of Wisconsin mandated that the academic testing requirements for home inspectors be reduced to a level where anyone could easily become a home inspector. Therefore the standards that are supposed to protect you are very minimal in scope and as a result have left many homebuyers feeling misled.
State standards also contain ambiguous language that allows the state to not fully investigate complaints against general home inspectors and also makes it very difficult for you to sue a general home inspector when defects are not identified. I have investigated and testified against bad home inspectors and while those cases prevailed, the cost of litigation can be financially and emotionally draining
Due to loopholes in the state regulations, general home inspectors are not obligated by law to thoroughly inspect any component of a home. For example, a home inspector is only required to turn up a thermostat for a furnace and if heat comes out of the vents, that alone is considered a satisfactory furnace inspection by the state. Contrarily, during a professional consultation, a furnace is observed for evidences of problems with intake and exhaust vents, draft inducing motors, condensate lines, heat exchangers, wiring and controls, supply and return air ducts, and for mold growth in blower compartments.
General home inspectors are also not required to:
use any tools or instruments to gather investigation information
mount a roof for inspection
open or enter an attic for inspection
open a main panel box to inspect electrical wiring
inspect for or report hazardous substances such as mold, asbestos, lead paint, etc.
provide you with photographs to document defects
tell you the significance of a defect
tell you the cause of a defective condition
tell you your various options for curing a defective condition
To reduce your risk, it is best for you to hire a professional consultant.
Contractors are essentially specialists who are limited in knowledge and only able to inspect the specific facet of a building in which they are trained, such as plumbing, electrical, structure, heating system, roofing, etc.
Contractors generally offer free inspections because they have ulterior motives to sell products and service work, thereby making their opinions biased and possibly untrustworthy. Moreover, they frequently do not understand how their product or building alteration might interfere with other systems, components, or materials in a building.
Ideally, contractors should be contacted only after you are fully aware of conditions and have a general understanding of your options. At that time, multiple opinions and estimates should be obtained to ensure prices are fair and opinions are honest.
I serve my clients as a private consultant. I bring over three decades of investigation experience that allows me to discover and explain more of what you need to know to give you better value for your inspection dollar.
I do not sell home repairs and therefore provide only unbiased information.
I am not in a position of pacifying real estate agents to obtain referrals.
I am not limited to minimal inspection standards mandated by the state.
I can thoroughly inspect a single item or an entire building depending upon your needs.
I understand how all of the systems in a building affect each other, your health, and your investment.
I explain discovered concerns, their causes, consequences, and repair options, as well as prevention measures.
I provide you with information regarding safety and indoor environmental health issues.
I possess and use the correct tools and instruments to perform the type of investigation I would want someone to do for me.
I provide you with maintenance advice that can save you money in building repairs and energy loss that will benefit you for years to come.
I provide tips to help you avoid being taken advantage of by contractors, remediators, and insurance companies.
I document items of concern with digital photographs and supply those photos to you at the end of the consultation.
How much time does a consultation take?
The amount of time required cannot be predicted ahead of time. Typically four hours is required for an average residential or commercial building, however a consultation can take a little as an hour or as long as several days depending on needs.
The time required can vary depending on the size and condition of a structure, whether a client chooses to limit the consultation to a specific issue or location, and whether additional services are deemed necessary such as performing various gas tests, particle counting, infrared thermal scanning, ultraviolet light scans, mold inspection, or obtaining samples of mold, lead, asbestos, or water.
Is a written report provided?
I encourage clients to take copious notes during their consultations, however written reports are optional and can certainly be provided.
Some clients are content with their notes while some need a general report provided immediately. Some clients request a brief report covering a single item while others require technical reports for insurance claims and law suits. Some may not develop a need for a written report until sometime after the consultation takes place. In short, you are the boss and decide what you would like to have documented in writing.
How much does a consultation cost?
The rate for professional consultations is $140.00 per hour. The cost of a professional consultation is minute compared to the amount of a real estate investment and the value of your health.
Can I attend the consultation inspection?
I encourage clients to be with me every step of the way except in areas that could be potentially dangerous. You will be shown photographs of those areas after they are inspected. If you cannot attend, you will be emailed digital photographs from the investigation and your consultation will continue at a prearranged time via teleconference.
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