Opinions on home inspectors

Asked by mel, 08817 Tue Jun 2, 2009

I'm looking at hiring a home inspector soon. Our real estate agent suggested two he works with often - Ray Nolan of Nolan & Rubino in Highland Park and Frank Sarcone of Accu-check. There was one additional company I came across - Shelterworks. Does anyone have any knowledge of or experience with any of these inspectors? I'm a bit leary to use one that my agent works with closely as I feel like at times it could present a conflict of interest. Any input would be so helpful. Thanks!

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16
Robert Hahn, Other Pro, EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ
Sat Jun 6, 2009
Mel,
A reputable agent will only refer a home inspector who will work solely in the best interest of the buyer. As most realtors depend on referrals from past clients for future business, the agent with that in mind would only refer a qualified professional with a strong background and success with their past inspections for the clients. Anything less would be a bad reflection on the agent and compromise future business.

Robert Hahn
Family Building Inspectors LLC
http://www.familybuildinginspectors.com
Serving All Of NJ 732-672-9859
3 votes
Hired Robert Hahn for a home inspection and it was a big mistake.

Took him only about an hour and a half and he missed a number of major issues. Such things as water in the basement. Hahn minimized it. Cracks in the driveway. Broken garage door. Poor foundation. If it’s not in the report the seller can completely ignore it at no cost to himself.

He was more interested in talking about why his wife left him after 25 years than in doing what I paid him to do. Had this gizmo that could see through walls, etc. and he could do part of his inspection that way. Of course he doesn’t go up into the attic to really do his job.

We found out about the issues when I had two separate contractors come to the house for estimates on some work I would want done. These are people who I had worked with in the past and I know for a fact are trustworthy.

Also, sent him a few followup e-mails and phone calls which he never responded to.

Bottom line – Robert Hahn cannot do a good job. He was recommend
Flag Fri Aug 3, 2012
John Sacktig, Agent, New Jersey, NJ
Sun Jun 14, 2009
Manuel, you have backpedaled so much that you are probably in southern California by now.

MY recommendations to my clients are MY recommendations to my clients that will benefit them to the best of my knowledge. Because of MY standards of business and person, MY referrals will be the best there are in the field of the respective referral in pricing, workmanship and reliability.

For a person to get a referral from me they have to meet MY standards. Whether it is an inspector, a moving company, a local contractor, a tile guy, a kitchen guy or a painter. I refer quality business people that I have encountered to be reasonable and excellent at their respective trade / business.

My clients then call me and thank me for the great referral.

The first guy I would be leery of is the guy that has to walk around with his 15 line credentials of woodshop classes he attended on his business card or posting on a Q&A website.
2 votes
Hired Robert Hahn for a home inspection and it was a big mistake.

Took him only about an hour and a half and he missed a number of major issues. Such things as water in the basement. Hahn minimized it. Cracks in the driveway. Broken garage door. Poor foundation. If it’s not in the report the seller can completely ignore it at no cost to himself.

He was more interested in talking about why his wife left him after 25 years than in doing what I paid him to do. Had this gizmo that could see through walls, etc. and he could do part of his inspection that way. Of course he doesn’t go up into the attic to really do his job.

We found out about the issues when I had two separate contractors come to the house for estimates on some work I would want done. These are people who I had worked with in the past and I know for a fact are trustworthy.

Also, sent him a few followup e-mails and phone calls which he never responded to. He only responded after a negative review on his website.

Bottom line – Robert Hahn cannot do a good job. He was recommended by the realtor who I found out gets baseball tickets from him as a payoff. (Again, I’m not joking about this.)

And he has several unanswered complaints with the NJ BBB.

Go with someone more trustworthy.
Flag Sun Aug 12, 2012
John Sacktig, Agent, New Jersey, NJ
Sun Jun 7, 2009
Mary,

You beat me to the punch.. could not have said it better. I have been at many inspections with so called "qualified" inspectors and it is like anything else.. There are people that go to shool for 15 years and learn and get every degree.. ( How many awful attorneys do you know?) If they can not apply the knowledge in the everyday world it is worthless.

This is the reason, once we find an inspector, such as Robert Hahn, or a moving company, a carpet cleaning service, a landscaper, a painter, a handyman we reccomend these people to our clients as respected, tried and true professionals.

As the guy from Texas backpedals... I'm moving on.
2 votes
Mary Petti, Agent, Edison, NJ
Sat Jun 6, 2009
Emmanuel,

I actually take offense at your comments. I don't know about agents in Texas, but do you think for ONE moment I would EVER recommend an inspector that was NOT licensed, did not pass the ASHI certifications etc etc?? . It's like recommending a dentist to do your plastic surgery !!! Every single inspector I recommend is fully licensed and usually a member of ASHI or NASHI or both !!!!

Yes, after being at 100's of inspections myself (including two on my own homes) I can tell who , as Robert Hahn stated, will best serve my clients based not only on experience and licensing, but on their overall performance. I cannot tell you how many inspectors walk around the house, and just "um-hmmm" or nod their heads through the house, while writing on ther pads or laptops, with no communication whatsoever with the clients (MY buyers). Many times if it were not for MY asking questions along the way for explanations about his findings, and their possible ramifications, they leave the client totally in the dark, then expect them to sort through the report and make decisions. Most of my buyers are first timers, have NO clue what homeownership is like, have no clue as to what is routine home mantenance as opposed to immediate necessary repairs, etc.
I do not Interpret the inspection myself, not do I make decisions for my clients on what is important and what is not, but I DO try to make sure they are as informed as possible while the inspections is occurring, so when they review the report with their attorney to make decisions on repairs issues, they have as much information as possible from the beginning. Part of that is knowing who will not only be thorough in their inspections but who, while being PAID to do this, also remembers WHO is paying them and gives them their full attention and service, and expertise.
1 vote
Mary Petti, Agent, Edison, NJ
Fri Jun 5, 2009
Mel,
I am assuming that this post means you got the cape cod you were talking about. CONGRATS !!!
I, like other agents, typically give my clients the names of 2 or 3 inspection companies who I know do a good job, and most importantly communicate with the buyers in a professional and informative manner. I do the same with attorneys, because communication on every level is crucial getting a transaction to a smooth closing where everyone is happy.

It makes all the difference, when going through an inspection, to have the inspector tell you what he is finding, AS HE FINDS It, from routine maintenance issues that every homeowner should know about (like changing filters on furnaces, cleaning gutters,what to do about nail pops), to the important issues that should be addressed before closing.

You can always ask friends, or look up inspectors on your own, but as realtors we see some competent and not so competent inspectors along the way, and can cull the best from the lot as a service to our clients.

Hope that helps and good luck !!!
1 vote
John Sacktig, Agent, New Jersey, NJ
Wed Jun 3, 2009
Although I have not heard of any of the companies that you mention, and I have been around a while....I am sure they are fine.

I typicaly refer 3 home inspectors to my clients and most ususally choose Family Building inspectors and are very happy with the results. Robert Hahn is thorough in his inspections and explains in detail the issues and the non issues of the home he is inspecting.

http://www.familybuildinginspectors.com/

I would highly reccomend that you call them also.
1 vote
I'm sorry to disagree with you but Robert hahn is a horrible home inspector.
Flag Sun Feb 5, 2017
James Marviny, Home Buyer, Edison, NJ
Sun Apr 27, 2014
Opinions on home inspectors

Robert Hahn home inspector and owner of Family Building Inspectors performed my Home Inspection not once, but on four properties I have purchased over the past 5 years. The comment below submitted by "Home Buyer 101" in my opinion sounds like a bitter person on a mission to hurt Robert's well known and excellent Reputation as a professional, trustworthy, knowledgeable home inspector. Not to mention, an over-all “Good Guy”. The comments posted by home buyer "101" sounds like the comments of a competitor, maybe an angry agent who feels Robert killed their deals, or perhaps a bitter Ex-Wife, lol. In addition to personally utilizing his services on multiple occasions, I have caught Robert Hahn in action on national television! His work has been featured on HGTV’S “My First Place” one of HGTV's most successful programs viewed in the USA and Canada. I guess the producers of a popular national TV show may beg to differ with home buyer “101’s” message.

As Robert has demonstrated his ability to protect me from financial hardships, kept me away from money pits I had considered purchasing before his inspection. Robert Hahn on several occasions went above and beyond, exceeding his expected standards of practice with my best interest at steak. I have walked away from a few properties as a direct result of his findings. (The realtors weren't too happy). In all fairness to Robert, I feel compelled to react to Home Buyer "101" comments below.

The first time I worked with Robert was over 5 years on my first property in Ewing. From start to finish I found Robert Hahn a total pro; was very patient and accommodating. That along with his since of humor helped me stay focused, and calm especially for a first-time buyer like me. My experience working with Robert Hahn was most of all, educational. He Inspected the house from stem to stern, highlighted issues I never would have spotted in a million years. I have absolute confidence in his findings. On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate Robert's work at "10" hands down! He has sense inspected 3 properties that followed with the same consistency. Although as in all service businesses, I’m sure there are many fine inspectors out there, but I wouldn't feel as confident nor consider any other inspector except Robert Hahn form Family Building Inspectors to trust inspecting and professionally assess my investments.

It's an unfortunate fact that anyone who has access to the internet can irresponsibly use it as a way to mislead others for self-serving reasons. Denying opportunity to those of us who depend on the net as a tool to help us along in finding or surrounding ourselves with the best professionals out there.

James Marviny
JP Marviny Holdings LLC
0 votes
Jiam Sarquis, Home Buyer, Linden, NJ
Wed Nov 20, 2013
I dealt with Jim benson from Montclair nj.
I was referred to him after a NIGHTMARE dealing with Robert Hahn. A very expensive and terrible choose .
I can recommend Jim Benson 100%. Please stay away from Robert hahn.
0 votes
Francesca Pa…, Agent, Manasquan, NJ
Sun Jun 14, 2009
Mel,

My, my, my, my . . . did u ever think a simple question would turn out to be so controversial! Another fun Trulia Post.

To answer your question direct, it is common practice for RE agents to recommend 3 (for liability reasons) inspectors that they have worked with in the past as well as support any alternative choice you may make based on referrals from other resources or your own personal research.

To be concerned about a potential conflict of interest is commonplace among buyers as there have been Realtor/HI relationships that were unethical, but in my view they are far and few between. I would be leary if the agent said here's 3, but this one is my preferred. Feel free to ask the agent what in their view makes these recommendations/inspectors stand out. If the response is well Inspector A's brother is an agent in our office (and they should make this disclosure), I wouldn't discredit his/her abilities, but would take it into consideration when making your final choice. If you are feeling pressured in any way to use one of your agent's recommendations, then move on to other referrals.

In the end, as when choosing a RE agent, the choice MUST be yours.

Love and Peace,
Francesca Patrizio, Realtor, ePro
Francesca@PatrizioRE.com
732.606.2931 (Direct 24/7)
Web Reference:  http://www.PatrizioRE.com
0 votes
Emmanuel Sca…, , Collin County, TX
Sun Jun 7, 2009
Hello John,

"As the guy from Texas backpedals... I'm moving on."

There's no back pedaling here just the truth! The Agent/Broker is the first person that a new home buyer interfaces with and the first person they usually attach to and build a trust with. As a Broker (not an Agent) you yourself should be extremely familiar with the RE laws. The laws of NJ home inspection licensure are in plain site for all to read and are very clear, at least to me. Your client's may not understand them and that is why they turn to their Agent/Broker for help.

Possibly you should become more familiar with them to better help your clients??

Emmanuel J. Scanlan
PS Inspection & Property Services LLC http://www.psinspection.com
214-418-4366 (cell)
TREC License # 7593
International Code Council, Residential Combination Inspector #5247015-R5 (Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing and Building)
Certified Infrared Thermographer (ASNT-TC1A Standards)
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Third Party Warranty Inspector #1593
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Inspector, County Inspection Program
Texas Department Of Insurance, VIP Inspector # 08507061016
Hayman Residential Engineering Services, Field Technician
CMC Energy - Certified Energy Auditor

Knowledge is power, but sharing knowledge brings peace!!
Web Reference:  http://www.psinspection.com
0 votes
Emmanuel Sca…, , Collin County, TX
Sat Jun 6, 2009
Mary,

You should read my post again. I was quite amused by your word choice. The remainder of the post was a description of why, in NJ, pushing an ASHI, NAHI, INACHI or whatever Home Inspector association Inspector really has little value.

If you read the NJ license requirements they are basically the same as ASHI's membership requirements right down to the requirement for a licensee to take the ASHI NHIE test, and have basically the same number of inspections under the belt to attain the various ranks in ASHI. They are required to do this and yet are not required to be an ASHI member. As a NJ licensed Associate Inspector (equivalent to an Apprentice Inspector or one just starting the trade) they must be mentored and monitored by a fully licensed Inspector. That fully licensed Inspector is responsible for, among other things, ensuring that the Apprentice's reports are properly created. Hence they have done the same thing, yet better than, the ASHI requirement that an Inspector have a few reports reviewed by ASHI. The fully licensed Inspector will be responsible for his "Associate Inspector" until such time as the "Associate Inspector" applies for and obtains the rank of a Full Inspector. If the Associate Inspector errors it will fall back on the mentor as well.

I have read and been told that ASHI had a direct hand in crafting the NJ Inspector licensing laws. It seems quite obvious from the striking similarities. As a result a fully licensed NJ Inspector, that has no direct ASHI affiliation, is theoretically better than an ASHI Inspector. The licensed Inspector has been held to a higher standard and to NJ State laws of which ASHI is not equal.

As you stated it is our job to make sure clients are "as informed as possible". Pushing one Inspector over another because of their thorough and complete work, their ability to communicate inspection findings, etc., is a good thing. Pushing one Inspector over another based on their Association membership(s) is not necessarily a good thing. The reality is there are bad Inspectors in every association. I've help people who were not even my client deal with the fallout from a bad inspection, and I've done that as a result of an ASHI member's bad inspection before. Associations and their code of ethics do not make a good Inspector!

Emmanuel J. Scanlan
PS Inspection & Property Services LLC
http://www.psinspection.com
214-418-4366 (cell)
TREC License # 7593
International Code Council, Residential Combination Inspector #5247015-R5 (Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing and Building)
Certified Infrared Thermographer (ASNT-TC1A Standards)
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Third Party Warranty Inspector #1593
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Inspector, County Inspection Program
Texas Department Of Insurance, VIP Inspector # 08507061016
Hayman Residential Engineering Services, Field Technician
CMC Energy - Certified Energy Auditor

Knowledge is power, but sharing knowledge brings peace!!
Web Reference:  http://www.psinspection.com
0 votes
Emmanuel Sca…, , Collin County, TX
Fri Jun 5, 2009
Wow! I love these posts. We have a RE Agent who “culls” out Inspectors ( “as realtors we see some competent and not so competent inspectors along the way, and can cull the best from the lot”), and an Inspector who pushes a specific association (“I would suggest you ensure that your home inspector is not only licensed by the state but is also a member of ASHI”).

Mel,

I’ll stay away from the first comment altogether! However the second statement is one I see quite frequently and is a bit lopsided and can use some clarification. To begin with Associations do not make a good Inspector, nor any other professional trades person! It does not matter what association an Inspector belongs to as the associations are basically all the same. Associations are there to service the members and their needs. After all they do make their operational money from the members and vendors who participate and advertise with the associations and not off of consumers. For the members of associations the utilization of the association logos, claims, etc. are convenient marketing material to draw your attention to them. Associations do have their use but that use is specifically for the Inspectors benefit.

As for the claim of "ASHI Certified Inspectors have" let's look at these. But before you do go look at the INACHI Web site http://www.nachi.org and read their accomplishments too. All pretty impressive but still both have problem Inspectors in their ranks. But let's look at the claims below:

1. Passed the National Home Inspector Examination and ASHI's Standards and Ethics module

The NHIE test is only required for the ASHI Associate with Logo level (the second lowest level above "Associate Without Logo" level). To be able to use the ASHI logo all the Inspector has to do is have 50 fee paid inspections, take the NHIE test and have some of their reports verified by ASHI that they comply with ASHI reporting requirements. If you read the NJ law for licensure as a full Home Inspector http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2004/Bills/PL05/201_.HTM you will see that they have already well surpassed the ASHI requirements. As for the standards and ethics modules, NJ has their own strict standards and taking a quick ethics test certainly does not make a person ethical. Additionally, the last I checked, unless they have changed, ASHI does not force their members to move up the ranks. As such a person can stay an Associate forever! It is a common practice for this to happen just for the benefit of using the well marketed ASHI logo.

It should also be noted here too, while talking of ethics, that NO association actively or vigorously polices their own membership, on their own self initiative! After all if they did then there would potentially be fewer association members and less revenue from dues and fees.

2. Had inspection reports successfully verified for compliance with ASHI's Standards of Practice

ASHI only receives these reports and reviews the report itself to make sure they are following the ASHI reporting requirements. ASHI does not call the client to verify the report is valid nor ask the original client to send a copy so they can make sure the report has not been altered to meet ASHI standards. It, as in other associations, is all based on an honor system. Remember the comment above about taking the ethics module test? Unfortunately there are always bad apples in every basket which reflect negatively on the good apples.

3. Submitted valid proof of performance of at least 250 fee-paid home inspections that meet or exceed the ASHI Standards of Practice

This is already covered under New Jersey law and item 2 above.

4. That way you can ensure that your inspector is experienced.

You do not need an ASHI Associate member for that as a fully licensed NJ Home Inspector has already attained, or exceeded, ASHI’s highest membership level of “ASHI Certified Inspector”.

The only thing you gain by limiting your search to an ASHI Inspector is the high potential of missing out on a very capable and good Inspector.

Good Luck!

Emmanuel J. Scanlan
PS Inspection & Property Services LLC
http://www.psinspection.com
214-418-4366 (cell)
TREC License # 7593
International Code Council, Residential Combination Inspector #5247015-R5 (Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing and Building)
Certified Infrared Thermographer (ASNT-TC1A Standards)
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Third Party Warranty Inspector #1593
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Inspector, County Inspection Program
Texas Department Of Insurance, VIP Inspector # 08507061016
Hayman Residential Engineering Services, Field Technician
CMC Energy - Certified Energy Auditor

Knowledge is power, but sharing knowledge brings peace!!
Web Reference:  http://www.psinspection.com
0 votes
Ken Wehn, , Moorestown, NJ
Fri Jun 5, 2009
Mel, I would suggest you ensure that your home inspector is not only licensed by the state but is also a member of ASHI - the American Society of Home Inspectors. ASHI Certified Inspectors have:

- Passed the National Home Inspector Examination and ASHI's Standards and Ethics module.
- Had inspection reports successfully verified for compliance with ASHI's Standards of Practice.
- Submitted valid proof of performance of at least 250 fee-paid home inspections that meet or exceed the ASHI Standards of Practice

That way you can ensure that your inspector is experienced. See ASHI's web site at http://www.ASHI.org for more information and for a link to certified inspectors in your area.
Good luck!
Ken
0 votes
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Wed Jun 3, 2009
mel,

Consider using http://www.linkedin.com as a possible resource. It's a website created to network skills and services that includes personal recommendations.

You may likely find it helpful for other needs.

Good luck
0 votes
Emmanuel Sca…, , Collin County, TX
Wed Jun 3, 2009
Hello mel,

I am in the Texas area so do not know the particular Inspectors mentioned. However, there are some items to look at no matter who you use. These are not your typical suggestions and worth looking into as they can help you steer clear of a potentially bad Inspector.

1. Check out the free BB's that Inspectors post on and see what they are posting. It can give you an idea as to their technical ability. These BB's are http://www.nachi.org, http://www.inspectionnews.net and http://www.inspectorsjournal.com. You can also ask this question on these BB's and many Inspectors generally chime in.

2. Be very wary of an Inspector who is performing more than one inspection a day. No Inspector knows how long it takes to inspect a home until they get there and perform the inspection. If issues are found that require more in depth checking that draws them away from their second scheduled appointment. Most likely they have already alloted "X" amount of time and will spend no more which means your inspection may be full of short cuts.

3. Be wary of the Inspector who is adding in all kinds of services for free. Good example of free services are infrared imaging, termite inspections, radon, wells, etc., etc. There is no money to be made in giving away all of these free services. The money is made up elsewhere such as reduced service during and after the inspection, generic and vague reports that are short, not walking roofs or ttics in an attempt to save time and money, etc.

4. Don't just look at the titles they have after their name, check them out. There are associations that literally sell titles with little requirements to earn them. Those "For Sale" fancy logos and titles look impressive but are nothing more than marketing gimmicks to draw you in.

5. If you are going to use a licensed Professional Engineer to perform your inspection make sure that they are going to stamp your inspection report with their engineering seal. This indicates that they are performing the services of a licensed Professional Engineer and not a licensed Home Inspector. As licensed Engineers they are held to a much higher standard and risk much more than their Home Inspectors license if they do not perform properly. Having an Engineer's report on your homes condition can also come in handy later under other circumstances.

These are just a few suggestions and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me. I'll be happy to provide more resources.

Emmanuel J. Scanlan
PS Inspection & Property Services LLC http://www.psinspection.com
214-418-4366 (cell)
TREC License # 7593
International Code Council, Residential Combination Inspector #5247015-R5 (Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing and Building)
Certified Infrared Thermographer (ASNT-TC1A Standards)
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Third Party Warranty Inspector #1593
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Inspector, County Inspection Program
Texas Department Of Insurance, VIP Inspector # 08507061016
Hayman Residential Engineering Services, Field Technician
CMC Energy - Certified Energy Auditor

Knowledge is power, but sharing knowledge brings peace!!
Web Reference:  http://www.psinspection.com
0 votes
James Gordon…, Agent, Hamilton, OH
Wed Jun 3, 2009
mel I refer home inspectors to my clients based on the past service that my clients have recieved from them. Some of what I look for is how well the inspector communicates with my/their client. An inspector that can not make themselves clear or deliver an inspection report on time is next to worthless. I would never refer an inspector just because they would give an easy inspection on a property. There are way to many homes available for sale to be stuck with one that needs major undisclosed repairs.
Just remember no home inspector has xray eyes they can only check what they can get to.
Web Reference:  http://www.Find1Home.com
0 votes
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