Comments, observations and opinions on my 30th inspection year
Down the Road
Drive-to-mortgage bigger, newer, cheaper suburban homes still dominate the market. But Millennials have altered the equation by demanding neighborhood amenities and short commutes.
Fundamental change toward efficient and sustainable construction methods and materials is gathering speed. Drivers like http://www.southface.org/ lead the way.
The bigger task, developing sustainable communities, will happen when all parties decide it’s time for regional change.
On my Radar
My new infrared camera will help detect safety hazards, energy loss and moisture. The pictures are worth 1000 words and 25 bucks
Also new this year: cardswipe for the checkless
Doing Bad Flips
Fast makeover, quick profit Flips are popular on TV. I hate them. They remind me of the shoddy new homes built in bubble years; a combination of high market demand coupled with vague standards and enforcement. Buyers need beware that “good work ain’t cheap and cheap work ain’t good”. They’re also major pain to inspect.
The Pace of Change
Conventional wisdom can’t be trusted. Over the decades I’ve seen it disproved by new evidence time and again. What was acceptable is now defective, essential now superfluous, luxury now commodity, safe now a hazard. Keeping up with and understanding these contradictions, their implications and explaining them to clients, is challenging. Examples abound: Hardboard siding, Polybutylene water pipe, synthetic stucco, rule of thumb sizing of HVAC equipment, powered attic vents, Ionization smoke alarms.
Solving the Puzzle
Every job is a mystery. How does this home work? How can I apply general principles to this particular building? How does it withstand the forces of nature, insects, mold, fire, ill-use, lack of maintenance, modifications, additions, social and economic changes? Each inspection requires careful examination, comprehensive knowledge and a curious mind.
The Spice of Life
I’m not a creature of routine. Put me behind the same desk every day and I’ll go crazy. Inspections provide the mix of physical demands and mental acuity, field and office work, social interaction and quiet study I require. I’ve inspected 200 year old churches, factory lofts, Reid and Shutze designed homes, tiny houses, mansions and McMansions, farms, mountain cabins, Victorians and thousands of bungalows, 5 over 4s and brick ranchers. The people I meet; clients, agents, tradesmen, engineers, specialists, even builders, help make the hard work of inspecting less onerous.
Blessing and Curse
I have trouble keeping my mouth shut. It’s open because I’m social, more so because I want to arm my clients with the knowledge to make their homes sustainable: lower operating and replacement costs, improved comfort, health and safety, increased value.
O Lucky Man
My career path was unplanned, circuitous and serendipitous. In 1986 engineer neighbor John Kamisky was looking to hire. I was looking for a new career. There have been many along the way who’ve helped, especially John, in good times and bad. And many, many others who’ve shared of their time, talent and training. I’m grateful for their guidance and friendship, grateful also that I continue to enjoy doing what I do.