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I like home inspectors with small shoulders

by Maureen McCabe on April 23, 2007

man exercising I was at Scramblers at Polaris for breakfast yesterday and saw a home inspector I know and like. The one thing I don’t like about him is he has big shoulders.

In an article in In Contract Magazine about home inspections James Zeitsman a Columbus attorney writing to REALTORS® wrote:

“Of course, the report is only as good as the person doing the inspection. The inspector needs to be qualified and experienced. Look for professional association memberships. Talk to other agents and brokers to get referrals. The best inspector is not necessarily the one that never finds a problem so all of the deals close.”

Zeitsman missed small shoulders…in his list of what to look for in a good inspector. Small shoulders is one thing I like in a home inspector. I had a deal fall through (not close, thank goodness!) a few years back because of an excellent inspector with small shoulders.

A few weeks later when a house in Worthington came back on the market and another client needed a home inspector we asked for the engineer with the small shoulders (I know his name ) because of a concern with a small opening to a crawl space… the inspector with the small shoulders was tied up (could it be demand created by small shoulders?)

Both inspectors work for the same organization, they are members of a professional organization, they are both engineers… only difference is in the shoulders.

The inspector I saw yesterday did the inspection for my other clients… I thought of him as rather compact but when he arrived that day, I noticed he’s built!

He did a great inspection I am sure but he could not go into the crawl space. Drat!

If their shoulders are small home inspectors will fit into crawl spaces and other tight spots that other inspectors won’t fit into. Do all home inspectors go into crawl spaces, attics? Not if they can’t fit. It would become a problem if home inspectors became lodged in small places.

In Real Living’s advice on finding a good inspector….they say:

And if the inspection unearths catastrophic problems that can’t be resolved to your satisfaction, Real Living’s purchase agreement protects your interests.

As Zeitsman said: “The best inspector is not necessarily the one that never finds a problem so all of the deals close.” Lots of good advice about the home inspection process from Real Living but no mention of small shoulders….

I have a list of home inspection companies on my website

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{ 13 comments }

1 Michelle DeRepentigny April 23, 2007 at 07:32 pm

I’m giggling and tying to remember how big my preferred inspector’s shoulders are! Come to think of it, he is pretty wiry.

2 moinoh April 24, 2007 at 09:59 am

Michelle I have only had the one inspector with the small shoulders do one inspection and that was a few years ago. He crawled into an unbelievable crawl space, I would never ask anyone to do it, but he crawled right in. The deal died but not over anything in that crawl space. I will blog about that one someday. The inspector who I ran into Sunday morning has done a lot more inspections for my clients over the years. I have asked buyers who chose the company that has “the inspector with the small shoulders” to ask for him when they have specific concerns… tight spots. He has always been booked….all of their inspectors seem to do a great job.

I have a friend who does not like the “inspector with small shoulders” because of something that happened on some inspection at some point. I can’t remember the story… I believe the deal went down.

I loved the house that my buyers had a contract on with the crawl space, but I am glad they bought a different house based on the inspection. Thanks for the comment.

3 Felicity White April 24, 2007 at 11:28 am

My preferred inspector has huge shoulders, but now I think I understand why his apprentice (who crawls into the darkest, dirtiest spaces) is such a skinny little thing.

Thanks for the laugh.

4 John Goad April 24, 2007 at 01:33 pm

You want a home inspector with small shoulders for tight crawlspaces & a long ladder for the hard to reach roof areas. Make sure your home inspector will walk the roof if at all possible, not because his ladder is too short.

5 moinoh April 25, 2007 at 05:37 am

Thanks for the comments Felicty and John. A long ladder is a good thing. Not all roofs can be walked in all weather though can they?

6 Laurie Manny April 26, 2007 at 02:43 am

OK, this one just cracked me up. My inspector is a really BIG guy, no fat on him he is probably just under 7′ tall. I don’t know how he gets in and out of those crawl spaces, but he does it and all with a great attitude.

7 moinoh April 26, 2007 at 03:29 am

That’s a good thing Laurie. Does he sweat? My next inspection blog entry is going to be…I don’t like inspectors who sweat. Or maybe not.

Thanks for the comment.

8 Maggie Dokic April 26, 2007 at 05:43 am

Great post Maureen. You have a point. Everything else being equal, if it boils down to size I guess I’ll take the one who can fit in the crawl space! I think it’ll be just a matter of time before the bigger inspectors start using scopes for places they can’t fit into. Don’t they do that already for the plumbing? Thanks for the laughs.

9 moinoh April 26, 2007 at 07:03 am

Mostly I am being silly about the small shoulders Maggie. I think a willingness to try to inspect thoroughly is the real criteria …thats what’s important. Disclosure to the client (buyer ) about what can not be observed (can’t get into that crawl space….) too!

One of the owners of the company both the inspector I saw Sunday and “the inspector with the small shoulders” did a series of free meetings for the public a couple of years ago. He talked about getting in crawl spaces, getting on roofs being important. He recognized me as a REALTOR® when I walked in but he did not recognize a competitor of his in the audience. I like the competitor a lot, he is a sweet man. I think he is thorough in what he does. I have had clients use him because his pricing is so low. You get what you pay for, he does not get into crawl spaces, doesn’t get on the roof.

10 John Goad May 17, 2007 at 10:08 pm

Some roofs can’t be walked due to steep pitch, some metal & clay tiles should not be walked but lighter guys can pull it off (there you go, bodt type coming into play gain)
When a roof can’t be walked a ladder should be used to get up to the eave for a close look & binoculars should also be used.
The only things that should keep an inspector out of a crawlspace would be, absolutely not enough room to crawl & standing water, pitbulls& skunks.

11 MaureenMcCabe May 18, 2007 at 06:58 am

No wonder I was thinking of you when I was in a class about home inspection yesterday and the talk turned to walking on roofs. I will have to ask someone else what was said because I was in my head on my blog at the time.

I think it was something about that lots of home inspectors are not walking on roofs anymore.

OK we had a “skunk clause” in the contract on the house that the inspector who has small shoulder shimmied into. My one and only ever contract with a “skunk clause” in it. He went in. No skunks at the time.

12 David Harkness May 21, 2007 at 01:33 pm

Greetings from Texas! I know your comments about “small shouldered” home inspectors were made lightly, but there is certainly an element of truth to it. I’m a building inspection engineer, and a fairly big guy. I’m willing to go just about anywhere if it’s safe to do so, but there are limits, and a smaller, wiry inspector may be willing to go places I won’t.

I never have a problem entering a crawl space with dimensions that meet the IRC code, but I’ve encountered more than a few that are no where close. I once came across a crawlspace with a 13″ X 18″ opening. I managed to get in, but found that I was completely surrounded by ductwork that filled the space between grade and the bottoms of the floor joists. The only way to access the other crawl space areas would be to crawl over the duct between the floor joists (a space less than 10″ deep). Getting back out of that hole was more of a challenge than getting in, and was a little bit embarrasing (pulled off my pants in the process).

I spent years working as an engineer for a Fortune 500 company where I would have been crucified for sending someone into such a confined space without elaborate safety equipment and a well documented emergency extraction plan. It’s only a matter of time before insurance companies and government agencies come up with similar requirements for building inspectors. In the mean time, I will be safe even if it costs me business.

I will still go into places others fear to tread, and I will “walk” on 45 degree roofs if I have the right safety equipment, but I won’t do it on a moment’s notice, the inspection will take a lot longer than 2 hours, and it will cost a lot more than $250.

My suggestion: If you want an inspector willing to go into unsafe places without the added expense of special equipment and preparation, then be upfront about it. Don’t surprise the inspector with unsafe conditions and expect them to “do whatever it takes.” There are probably many willing to risk their career and health for a few hundred bucks. Not me.

13 Maureen M. May 23, 2007 at 08:09 pm

I personally don’t really ask inspectors to do anything as far as getting in anywhere or on anything. That’s between them and THEIR client. I do like the buyer to understand the limitiations prior to the inspection so they have realistic expectations.

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