Nine years ago next month I purchased the home I live in now. We’ve made a number of improvements over the years including a mudroom and partial central air, plus we upgraded a couple appliances, but….we haven’t had a professional come back and see how well things are maintaining (or not) and what we should be aware of…and I find that a bit illogical knowing homes and the industry as I do.
I actually emailed our inspector a number of years ago and asked if he was interested in coming back and doing a follow up inspection and it was clear he really wasn’t interested…but truth be told, I wasn’t interested in paying full rate for a home inspection or getting another home inspection report for that matter.
I’ve talked to a number of inspectors around the country about the idea of an “annual home inspection”…most like the idea and see potential however everyone is a bit skeptical that it can actually be done. The doubt comes from previous attempts that didn’t work or not knowing anyone else who had successfully executed this concept.
And I get…I mean I get why. Great inspectors think like great inspectors. That’s not a knock, that just the nature of being experienced in an industry and honing your craft. It’s a matter of optimization (efficiency), risk reduction and self-preservation to get really good and your primary task. This however is different and requires a different way of looking at homes and reporting on them.
All the above said, I suggest that an annual inspection is clearly logical in terms of value and frankly in need. Think about today’s buyer. As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, today’s buyer is less inclined to either know OR want to do things around the home than ever before. They need help in even identifying things that need doing, never mind doing them. Things are going to fully fail before they know or realize that something needs to be done. Further, on that path to failure there will be lots of damage or inefficiency and added costs from what could have been a much less costly repair.
That’s why we get annual physicals from doctors and have our car serviced periodically by mechanics: to get ahead of what would either be an unexpected, costly or in the worse case very serious issue. Getting a professional to look at your largest investment along your journey of owning it, just makes sense in that context.
“I definitely recommend that home inspectors offer Annual Home Maintenance Inspections,” says Nick Gromicko, founder of InterNACHI®, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. “Especially for new homeowners, it can help them understand and plan for the demands of maintaining their home properly. Some tasks are seasonal, and some items require more frequent attention. Even for veteran homeowners, this inspection can verify whether their home’s maintenance is sufficient, or whether any problems have developed during the past year.”
Gromicko adds, “And it’s really a no-brainer in terms of revenue for the inspector. This inspection doesn’t require any additional knowledge or tools compared to a standard home inspection. Plus, in terms of its marketability, it’s practically self-generating,” he continues. “Whether the target is single, elderly or physically compromised homeowners who lack the ability or skills to maintain the components and systems of their home, or just busy people who’d rather spend the money than the time, the inspector who doesn’t offer an Annual Home Maintenance inspection to both former and new clients is just leaving money on the table.”
At HomeBinder, we are working on the concept and have been for some time now for use by our network of inspectors. We of course have to be careful with the term “inspector” or “inspection” and rethink everything about what the scope, the deliverable (report) and cost would be to provide one. It’s challenging but not impossible (or improbable). I’ll tell you the most challenging part of it all: reminding the inspector NOT to to act like an inspector. This isn’t a home inspection. It serves a different purpose and fills a different need.
For a moment, consider it from your vantage point as an inspector. What would it be like to have something like this as part of an inspection business? Here are a few of the benefits that immediately come to mind: One could have business booked in advance of the year even starting. Relationships would form directly with homeowners and you’d probably get a lot higher percentage of referrals from homeowners. Hires could be made and they could be put right to work on these projects provided they were competent with homes. The down season wouldn’t have to be so slow…maybe for multi-inspectors you’d not have to lay inspectors off for a period of the year. If the real estate sales took a turn for the worse or if people started skipping home inspections (as they are in some hot markets like Toronto), you’d be more insulated.
Is there risk? Of course. There is with any business. As anyone will tell you it is just about proper risk management and that starts with great communication, a clear scope, top-rate service and a quality product but none of these are new to inspectors. What is new is the idea that there has to be a shift in mindset from the way an inspection practice today works and what has to be considered to be successful at this. In fact it can’t be underestimated.
We built HomeBinder for homeowners and we want them to be successful in their ownership. If they are, we will be. Our take is that the time has come and for this and if we really want to help owners and build our vision of what HomeBinder can be, we need to play an active role, not just hope that they will do better in home management. And to do well in home management, you have to start with proper identification and prioritization of tasks….hence, the annual home inspection.
More to come…