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Home Inspection Maintenance Tips: An Interview with William Siegel of Florida Home Inspection Team Inc.

By William Siegel

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Florida Home Inspection Team Inc has been conducting home inspections in Florida since 2001. I originally stated in the industry as a termite inspector, conducting termite inspections for home inspection companies. I apprenticed with a home inspection company for two years prior to opening my own home inspection company. I immediately joined FABI (Florida Association of Building Inspectors), as they had the most comprehensive education in the business and the best support system for home inspectors. I have served on the Board of Directors for 6 years and am currently secretary of the organization. FABI has quarterly educational seminars open to all home inspectors in the state. I am also the educational chairperson for FABI. I currently teach the 120 hour Florida State required course to become a home inspector at the North Miami Dade College campus, and am vice president of the South Florida Home Inspectors Association of Florida, which meets monthly in Broward County.

What are some of the services your company provides?

Our main and primary function is to provide complete home inspections for buyers. Our job is to provide our client with the condition of all of the components of the home, alert them to deficiencies, items that are at the end of their expected life spans, an safety issues. We also provide 4 point insurance inspections (usually required on homes 25 years or older by the insurance companies) and wind mitigation inspections (which can help a client obtain insurance discounts based on certain criteria set up by the insurance industry).

Please list five simple ways to maintain your home to ensure a good home inspection.

In order for a home inspector to conduct a home inspection, he needs access to all areas of the house, especially the electrical panels, water heater, and attic accesses. Make sure that there are not items blocking these areas. We also need access into the attic. All storage should be removed prior to the inspection. If the home has a crawl space underneath the home, make sure that there is access to the crawl area and that the access panel can be easily removed. Also understand that a good home inspection takes about three hours to complete (this is for a small home. Larger homes take longer).

The home should also be as clean as possible. A home inspector will be entering all areas of the home, including the kitchen and bathrooms. Sometimes a dirty home can have a negative effect on the inspection, just as it can have a negative effect on a potential buyer.

If an item is not working, or defective, the seller should disclose this prior to the inspection. We are there to test everything in the home. Non-disclosure can result in property damage. An example would be a dishwasher that does not work or leak. Part of the inspection is to run the appliances. We will not know if something does not function properly until after it is turned on.

Have your AC system cleaned prior to the inspection. One of the biggest concerns of a buyer is the condition of the air conditioning system. A dirty air handler is a clue that they system has not been maintained.

One of the best things a seller can do is disclose any repairs or work done to the home and provide all supporting paperwork. If permits were required, they should be available to the inspector. Non licensed and non-permitted work always raise a red flag during an inspection.

How common would you say it is to fail a home inspection due to lack of proper upkeep?

A home never fails a home inspection. The purpose of a home inspection is to document the condition of the home. The buyer, seller, and agents can then negotiate repairs and costs based on that report. All deficiencies can be repaired, but everything has a price. If the cost is beyond the buyer's budget and the parties cannot come to an agreement, then they can cancel the contract, providing all of conditions in the contract were met.

What areas in a home do you find require the most maintenance? e.g. water systems, staircases, moldy areas?

The two areas that require the most maintenance are the roof and the AC system. They are also two of the most expensive item to replace. Over time, and before replacement, all roof systems will develop a leak. Leaks generally show up as small stains, but if they are not repaired when found, they can develop into larger problem that can result in more wide spread damage and cause mold to grow. AC systems need to have the filters changed on a regular basis and need to be cleaned every 3-5 years. No doing so will decrease their life expectancy and can result in mold growth in the system, which will spread throughout the house. Any type of water intrusion also needs to be repaired when it is discovered. Remember, mold needs moisture to grow. Keep moisture out of the house and you will keep mold out of the house.

What is the best way for people to reach you and or your company?

Most people do not understand what a home inspection is or what exactly we do. I prefer to talk to all of my clients prior to the inspection, mainly because most home buyers are only interested in how much a home inspection will cost, and most buyers do not understand that, like all licensed professions, not all inspectors are the same or do the same job. Even though we have state standards to follow, all inspectors have their own system to inspect, reporting systems vary, and the educational level of the inspectors can vary. I can be reached on my cell phone 305-490-2513 six day a week from 9-5 Monday to Friday and 9-noon on Saturday. If I do not answer please leave a message and I will return the call the same day. You can also reach me through email: bill@floridahomeinspectionteam.com.

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