|AtlantiCape Inspections, LLC||P.O. Box 3350||7809 Wellington Ave., Margate NJ 08402||Phone (609) 431-0202|
The home I am buying was just built. Why do I need a home inspection?
Many buyers of new or recently built homes believe that since the home they are buying was inspected by local code officials, that the home is free of defects. Actually, I find that many new homes have more problems than well-maintained older ones. This is due to two reasons: First, the code officials are extremely busy and cannot spend the time needed to thoroughly inspect the home's construction; code inspections average 15-20 minutes. Second, A new home, like a new car, may look good on the outside, but it needs to be run through its paces. A code inspector checks to see that the building and its components are installed according to the building code, while a home inspector visually inspects and components, appliances and systems for function and safety. For more information and some telling photographs of new construction defects I have found, click here.
My condo is part of an association. Do I really need an inspection?
I have inspected a number of condos where the buyer was initially "on the fence" as to whether an inspection was needed at all. The common belief is that "the Association" will assume responsibility for most problems. In more than a few cases, however, I found problems in these units that had safety or monetary consequences which would have fallen to the new buyer. Loose toilets, leaking water heaters, water leaks from air conditioning coils in ventilators, electrical wiring in the panel that was excessively hot, and other problems were found during my inspections. So far, no one who has hired me for a condo inspection has told me they believed my service was not of value to them. Especially when condos are going for $250,000+, an inspection costing a tenth of 1% of the sale price makes sense as an added assurance that you are not missing something major.
My Realtor did not include you on the list of inspectors they recommend. Why?
Not being on the Realtor's "short list" may be as simple as the agent not being familiar with my work, or a concern that as an engineer, I may be too "technically exhaustive" and perhaps jeopardize the successful conclusion of their real estate deal. Or, with large real estate agencies, the Corporate office may provide to their local branches a list of "preferred" home inspection companies, which are often national franchises who market heavily to the big real estate players. I have also been made aware of some inspectors who, to get on an agent's "short list", offer financial or other incentives for agent referrals or as a reward for pushing them (a practice that is specifically prohibited by NJ law). While the extra business resulting from real estate agent referrals would be nice, my clients appreciate my independence, as I am not beholden to anyone except my client.
What are your fees for a home inspection?
My professional service fees are based on the number of bedrooms, which I believe is the fairest method, although perhaps not the easiest to remember. For a thorough home inspection, detailed report and continuing service after completion, I charge a base fee of $300 plus $50 per bedroom for single family homes or townhouses. So, for example a 3-bedroom home inspection would be $450.
For condominium inspections, which involve inspecting the interior of the unit (common areas of Association responsibility are excluded) my fee is also based on number of bedrooms. These inspections start at $225 for a 1-bedroom and increase by $25 per additional bedroom. Condo inspection fees are lower since common elements such as heating system, exterior components, hot water heater and often other items are the association's financial responsibility. For a list of my fees, click here.
How long do your inspections take on-site?
Of course it varies due to size, complexity, and age of the home, but the range is about 1-1/2 hours for a 1-bedroom condo to 4-1/2 hours for a 6-bedroom single family home. And, when clients accompany me, something I encourage, inspections take longer because I take the time to explain and educate.
Some inspectors will provide a report on-the-spot when they finish the inspection. Do you?
It is not to your benefit to be given a finished report immediately upon the conclusion of the inspection, however beneficial it may be to the inspector, as it enables them to move on quickly to their next job. Inspectors who want to do as many inspections as they can in a day prefer to punch out reports on site, whether a simple checklist or a heavily standardized computer-produced report. I prefer to give value to my clients by going the extra mile. I merge annotated digital photos into my reports to clearly identify the items being reported so you can fully understand the item identified. I may also contact municipal code officials when appropriate, equipment vendors, colleagues or experts in particular issues following an inspection to clarify items and provide better service to my cients. My reports are typically completed late the same evening. Of course, I am always available to summarize a list of my findings verbally upon completion of the inspection, prior to providing the final inspection report.
Some inspectors I have found charge less than you. Can you give me a price break?
Except in unusual cases, such as when clients do not wish a full inspection, I do not negotiate my fees. This is because (1) my inspection fee is priced fairly using a scaled (based on number of bedrooms) rather than a flat fee, and (2) my service is highly personal, including customizing my reports with annotated photos, and encouraging client participation in the inspection. My typical 3 bedroom home inspection takes 3 hours plus an additional two hours in report preparation. Keep in mind that "volume" home inspectors will price lower so that they can churn out 3-4 inspections a day, perhaps using simple checklists, discouraging time-consuming client participation, or taking little time for discussing issues and options with their clients. The only way to accomplish this volune is with a short inspection, which I do not endore.
Do home inspectors need to be licensed?
Yes. In New Jersey, effective 12/31/05, all home inspectors operating in the state must be licensed. Home inspectors practicing without a license risk heavy fines, the invalidation of their insurance coverage by their insurance carrier (if they even have it), and place their clients and referring real estate agents at risk. So, when you select a home inspector, verify that the home inspector you are considering is in fact licensed. You can visit the State website, Home Inspection Advisory Committee website and perform an on-line search using the inspector's last name, to be sure the inspector is mandatorily state-licensed.
One home inspector presented himself as "certified". Does this mean he is licensed?
Certified does not equate to licensed. Licensed inspectors have to meet stringent state requirements, must have errors and ommissions insurance, take 40 hours of continuing education courses every two years, and maintain a high ethical standard of practice.
I know an engineer who says he does home inspections, but he is not a licensed NJ home inspector. Is this permitted by the State law?
No. An engineer performing a home inspection in New Jersey - without being separately licensed as a home inspector - is in violation of State law and the individual can be sanctioned or fined, regardless of how qualified they may be. Presently, at last count, I am one of only 30 professional engineers that are legally permitted to perform home inspections in NJ out of 600 licensed home inspectors.
My real estate agent thinks an engineer home inspector will "over-analyze" the property's condition. Is your report overly technical or complicated?
Despite my technical background and experience, my inspection report is designed to educate and make clients understand and feel comfortable with the condition of the property I am inspecting, not to confuse or scare them with technical jargon. I use annotated photos to assist in this understanding. My inspections are not technically exhaustive evaluations, as they conform to the state Standards of Practice for visual home inspections.
Do you perform mold inspections or termite inspections along with your home inspections?
Mold and termite inspections require alternate insurance and are a completely separate function from home inspections. I choose not to have these additional credentials because I believe that my clients are best served by specialists in these areas. If desired, I can provide contact information for professionals in these areas.
Some home inspectors advertise they are members of ASHI. Are you?
No. ASHI is a fine national organization of home inspectors. However, there are several other national home inspector organizations that also serve their members and the public well. As a NJ licensed home inspector, I follow the mandated New Jersey Standards of Practice which are derived from, and virtually identical to, ASHI's standards. Rather than joining ASHI, however, I choose to belong to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI), which is the largest home inspection organization with a dedicated membership committed to supporting its fellow members through sharing of experiences, education, training and other areas. For more information on InterNACHI, visit www.nachi.org.
Isaac G. Lilienfeld, PE, CEM, NJ Licensed Home Inspector serving Margate, Egg Harbor Township, Brigantine, Ventnor, Longport, Atlantic City, Somers Point, Linwood, Northfield, Sea Isle City, Avalon, Stone Harbor, Wildwood, Mays Landing and Cape May