Why is a home inspector good for your customers? For one thing, our professions have a lot in common. Our customer base is virtually the same: people whose homes are not to their liking, need a lot of work, or both. We both evaluate and report on components that have been in the home for a long time — sometimes for decades.
Home inspectors make their living as trained observers. The best are educated in all aspects of home construction to identify conditions and systems that are at or beyond their normal life expectancy. Remodelers see those things too, but usually only after the homeowner has brought them to their attention. Although that's good for the remodeler, remaining issues may go unnoticed.
Now for our differences. With the exception of whole-house remodels, remodelers often deal with specific areas or rooms. Home inspectors look at the entire house and all of its systems, from top to bottom. In doing so, we may uncover problems that could affect the planned renovation, and could help you maintain the home's overall value and prevent bigger problems down the line.
So, how do we work reciprocally? First, home inspectors are a natural referral source for remodelers. An ethical home inspector will not offer to do work on a home that he or she has inspected. This is essential to maintain objectivity. But the inspector can refer a quality contractor to do the work. A homeowner may be more likely to approve additional work if it's recommended by a third-party expert.
In return, remodelers may recommend hiring a professional home inspector at the start of a major remodel, to identify all issues, as well as at the end, to ensure that everything was addressed and that no new problems were created. Many home inspectors offer these “pre- and post-remodeling” inspections, and most can turn their report around in 24 hours. If spending an additional $350 to $500 for an objective inspection can save the customer thousands of dollars later, most will see it as a wise investment that is in their best interest.
In the end, the name of the game is customer satisfaction and repeat business. By working together, we can not only benefit each other's bottom line, but we may even help reduce callbacks and liability. —Don Norman, the 2005 national president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, has inspected more than 9,000 homes. For more information or to locate an inspector in your area, visit www.ashi.org.