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What Your Home Inspection Covers: An Interview with Aubrey Kahn of Firm Foundation Home Inspections

By Aubrey Kahn

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Firm Foundation Home Inspections was started in June 2007 while I was working as a roofing consultant. Although we have been in the home inspection business for some time, we have made it a point to specialize in home inspections and not try to diversify into too many other areas.

We do home inspections for people buying and selling homes, maintenance inspections for homeowners wanting to ensure that the home is kept in tip-top condition, phased new construction inspections and insurance inspections, the typical insurance inspections being roof certifications, 4-point inspections (usually required on homes that are 30 years or older to see if they can be insured), wind mitigation inspections (to see if the homeowner qualifies for discounts on their homeowners premiums), and radon gas testing. Many people don't realize that radon gas is the second largest cause of lung cancer and is found all over the world.

What are the main areas that are inspected during a home inspection?

When doing an inspection I always start on the exterior of the home, even with a condo where the exterior is the responsibility of the HOA because it tells me a lot of what I could come across and the reasons for it when I inspect the interior. When inspecting the exterior, we do our best to inspect everything even and including the landscaping to see how it affects the house with regards to structural rigidity, drainage, etc. Some of the exterior areas we evaluate are the roof, chimneys, flashings, valley, siding, trim, windows, doors, driveways, patios, decks, plumbing, electrical and HVAC. When inspecting the interior we inspect the walls, floors, ceilings,windows, doors structure, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, attic ventilation, etc.

Can you list some key areas/structures that aren't covered that might require an additional professional inspection or evaluation?

The most common areas that are not covered in a regular home inspection are environmental issues, things like radon gas, formaldehyde, lead paint, mold, etc. Many of these can be done by appropriately licensed individuals, including some home inspectors. Many inspection companies don't inspect appliances; we do test them to ensure that they are working and include it in our report. Other areas not covered are septic systems, water purification systems, pools/spas energy efficiency, solar systems and the list goes on.

Firm Foundation Home Inspections will inspect the pool/spa and will do a bucket test to see if the pool is leaking, if requested to. Another area that is not covered by the home inspection is termites. Yes we do look for termites, however if you are in need of a WDO (wood destroying organism) inspection we subcontract that to a leading international pest control company.

Is there a common misconception people have about a house that's been inspected?

I think that the biggest misconception people have - and I was one of those myself when I purchased my first home - is that once the inspection if done you move on to the closing table. Most people don't read the entire report. They might read the summary and that's it. People are under the impression that the inspection is a pass or fail type of test, and if the inspector didn't fail the house it must be OK. The purpose of the home inspection is to give the client an overview of the condition of the home at the time of the inspection. It is to educate the client on the condition of the home by exposing the good, the bad and the ugly so that the client is now well informed on the condition of the home and can then decide what their next step is going to be.

What's one thing that's important to know about what a home inspection does not cover?

One of the major misconceptions is that the home inspection covers everything. Home inspections are a visual inspection only and anything that is not visible is not inspected. Yes, I do have thermal imaging equipment, moisture meters etc which helps "see" things that would otherwise be missed, but I still cannot see inside walls without making a hole in the wall.

Do you have any tips to help people in Florida get the most out of their home inspection?

No two home inspectors are the same, so when you are looking for a home inspector do your homework, check all available resources, get referrals from friends and relatives, go online to the BBB, and then once you have narrowed it down to a select few call and interview them over the phone. If you have any doubts, cross them off your list and move onto the next one.

If you are looking for the cheapest inspector to inspect your home, don't be surprised or upset when a major component is misdiagnosed. Remember, you get what you pay for.

If an inspector does not want you there during the inspection you need to ask yourself why not? I encourage all my clients to be at the inspection if possible. They are welcome to follow me (with the exception of the roof and attic) during the inspection and to ask questions. I do ask that you stay 2-3 feet away from me when I am inspecting the electrical panel, for your safety as well as my own. I always enjoy watching clients start seeing things with a more critical eye after I have shown them what to look for. Not only does it help my client but they also start to assist me with the inspection and many clients have become friends because of the bond built during the inspection. Clients will call me two or three years after the inspection with a question about what is happening in the home and if we cannot solve it during the conversation I will often visit them on the weekend (with strict instructions to have the coffee ready!) and we will take a look at the problem.

Find out what guarantees/warranties the inspector gives. A 15-, 20- or 30-day money back warranty is not what you want. Firm Foundation Home Inspections stands by their work. We give a 100-day inspection warranty up to $1,000. We also will warranty the water and sewer connections from the home entry point to the municipal hookups and do a recall check on all major appliances.

Try to get as long an inspection period as possible. Why? Because the longer inspection time allows you to do your homework finding the best inspector and being able to schedule the inspection for a time convenient to both you and the inspector. Don't wait until the last minute to do your due diligence.

Last but not least - this is the best advice I can give - read the entire report and call your inspector with any questions or concerns.

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

The best way to contact Firm Foundation Home Inspections is either by phone or online. Our phone number is 321-624-0254 and our new website .

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