The things that Lon Grossman has seen in over 50 years as a home inspector in Michigan would surprise most people.
“I keep saying that I’ve seeing everything. But then something else comes along,” he says. “I love my job. It is probably the most fun thing I’ve done in my life.”
He owns Technihouse Inspections, Inc., in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and still gets on roofs and crawls under homes at age 71 to help people get the best information they can about the house they might buy.
Grossman is also a contributing writer for Detroit Homes Magazine, Consumer’s Digest, the National Association of Home Inspectors Forum and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). He also has been a guest on radio and news stations due to his expertise.
Home inspectors are there to tell home buyers and sellers any problems – small or large – that exist. The standard inspector’s report should include the heating system, air conditioner, plumbing, electrical system, roof, attic, insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors, foundation, basement and structural components.
“People put a lot of money into buying a house, and they want to know the condition of it and what to expect,” he says. “We find all kinds of stuff. And yes, I have had people not buy a house after I inspect it. A lot of realtors hate me because I am a deal killer.”
But he says that a good realtor would want their clients to know everything about the house.
“I tell every client that there is no such thing as a perfect house, even if it is a new construction,” Grossman adds. “Everything I will say to my client, I will prove to them and to their eyes. For instance, if I can’t prove it to you where something leaks, then it doesn’t leak.”
When he begins his inspection, he wants the client with him the entire time – which can run 2-3 hours on a normal sized house, or double that on a mansion-type structure.
“If you are there, you will know everything about that house – what’s in the attic, the ventilation and everywhere else,” he says.
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Biggest Problems Found In Homes
Whether you’re trying to buy a new home or sell your current one, there are some problems that could put the entire process on hold.
Grossman pointed out some of the biggest issues that he runs into when conducting a home inspection:
“The most common problem we find is wet basement, and many times that is not that expensive to fix.”
Wet basements can be the result of a number of issues, including anything from the ground sloping toward the house to overflowing gutters.
While the issue could be more serious, some small changes typically fix the problem pretty quickly.
If there is loose wiring hanging down from a wall, he turns to his client and tells them that this is not up to code and is unsafe. Code is the minimum standard of safety, but you should look for better than up to code.
Even if the realtor or current owner says it’s safe, always trust the home inspector. It’s their job to know.
Homeowners Hiding Problems
Inspectors aren’t allowed to move furniture around, so many homeowners will put rugs or big pieces of furniture over floor problems, paint over mold or water leaks, and hang photos over wall problems.
Home inspectors might notice the red flags right away.
“When I see something like this, I turn to the client emphasize that this is the kind of people we are dealing with,” he explains.
How Inspectors Go Through Homes
Grossman begins his inspections by going on the roof, something he says is usually the opposite of how many inspectors start.
He then goes around and takes photos and examines windows, driveways, trims, the walkway, and then goes into the garage and checks all the doors.
After, he starts at the basement and works up. The last thing for him to look at is the attic.
“I won’t comment about paint, furniture or anything else like that. I only comment on those things that are structural or that leak. I have been in thousands of homes, and I can’t describe any piece of art or furniture. I never see it. I have trained myself not to because otherwise I would be distracted. A realtor looks at a house in a totally different way. They look for style and layout,” he says.
Advice To Home Buyers
Grossman’s years of experience has taught him some important lessons he wants to pass on to others:
- Be aware of inspectors that don’t want the client on the inspection with them. Find an inspector that will bring you along.
- Test your ground fault interrupter monthly. “No one knows that, but they are very sensitive devices. If you don’t trip it, it corrodes.”
- Don’t turn on your air conditioner if it is 65 degrees or below outside. “You will destroy the compressor. Just don’t turn it on in the winter.” This could prove costly to replace.
- Find your inspector through the ASHI website. “ASHI standards are stricter, and the majority of the states have licensing for home inspectors.”
- Don’t ask your inspector if you should buy the house after he/she is done with the report. “That’s not my job,” he says.