Picture/Thermal Challenge for Salem Oregon home Inspections

I have been having so much fun with Perfection Inspection’s fan page and my picture challenge I decided to branch out and have it help me get some Google juice.

The idea is:  I post a picture, thermal/infrared or interesting visual picture that I capture on a recent home inspection.

Then you guess what the picture is.

  • I am toying with the timelines but for now I will post for 1 week and at the end of that week I will post the answer and the first closest guess gets a $5.00 Starbucks card.
  • Only one guess per person and the moderator will be the sole decider of the closest guess.
  • People that I think know the answer (because they were at the inspection where the image was taken) will be excluded

Now enough with the legal disclosures and on the the challenge:

What is it?

New hands free device

Thank you Salem, Oregon for helping to keep me safe.
With the new rules, since 1/1/2010, we are no longer allowed to talk on cell phones while driving without a hands free device.

Now instead of the distraction of holding a phone up to our heads we are all forced to be distracted with blue tooth thingys that don’t work right, speakers that are unintelligible and the whole process of setting up and getting used to a new piece of technology while driving.

The fine folks @ Ticor had a nifty educational get together last fall in preparation for the new law.  I was doing home inspections and was not able to attend the event however I did see some of the “hands free” devices that they were showing off.

One in particular caught my eye. I liked the simplicity and the durability and I knew that I just had to have it:

It is sooo trendy and new you probably won’t see anyone but me wearing them.  Maybe the movie stars will get theirs for the summer!

Jim Allhiser


“Always on the cutting edge”

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Work that Network to find Great professional Real Estate Agents and Inspectors

The state of Oregon has a regulation system for home inspectors and home inspections (check out the Oregon State Standards of Practice for Home Inspections). These regulations have created minimum levels of competency and insurance and this has been a very good thing for consumers.

In some states it is still possible to hire a home inspector that has no more training than to buy a flash light and a screw driver. There will be good home inspectors in most areas but weeding through the new screwdriver/flashlight business owners can be more challenging.

A good agent can still open doors

My number one source of business is referrals. I dearly appreciate the agents that are willing to put their good names and the safety of their clients in my hands. This level of trust is not taken lightly. Local Real estate can be a very small community and inspectors that make a habit of providing less than the absolute best can get known for that.

If you are shopping for a home inspector start with the real estate agents. State licensing is a good start but the reality of day in and day out performance will only be realized on the ground an in the community.

It just makes sense for a person that does not work in the field of real estate to trust a good advisor. A good agent is much more than a creature that can open a door for you.

Probably the number one thing a home buyer/seller can do to ensure a  trouble-free transaction is to- find a great agent. Through education, training, and plain old feet on the ground experience a good agent can help advise a home buyer/seller on every phase of a transaction.

Finding a good agent is not always easy. It will take time so start early. I spent about two years doing home inspections before I found a referral base that I felt really good about. Agents that cared about their clients more than the deal. Agents that realized that their job was that of an advisor and not a warm body to open a door. Two years of total immersion it took for me to find those agents. Most people don’t have two years to spend on the task of meeting an agent but a little more reasearch than calling the phone number on the sign should be considered.

First place to start is your circle of influence. Most adults have had experiences with agents. Ask local people like your doctor, repair contractor, and friends and neighbors. Get a few names of some good agents and then hit the web. Many good agents have blogs and a Google search for local agent blogs can turn up a lot of useful information.

The beautiful thing about an agent’s blog is that you can get to know that person before you actually meet! Face to face interaction is great but some times it can be difficult to get to know someone by having a few minutes if conversation in their office.

Appriaser thinks he is an inspector and burns down the home!

This week I had the misfortune of inspecting a home while a piece of appraiser did his “work.”
This excuse for a person spoke to the buyer’s agent about me right in front of me while never bothering to even look in my direction.  He told the poor agent that he would need access to the crawl space, that had a piece of wood screwed in place. (like she could do anything about the screws?)  She asked me if I would be so gracious as to remove the lid for her/him.  I told her that I would be glad to rent my screw driver to the highest bidder.

I save the crawl space till very last so this appraiser was all done with his work way before I was ready to go in the crawl space and again, although I was standing right there, he looked right past me and asked the poor agent, “…can we could get this panel off of the crawl space.”   She looked pleadingly at me and I looked at the dude and pretended like I didn’t know what was going on.  Finally he asked me if I could open the panel for him.  I told him that it is a real bummer when you don’t bring the right tools to work with you and that I knew where he could rent a screw driver…….

After the appraiser left the inspection continued and at one point the agent mentioned that he had said that although the attic had insulation there was very little and that the owner could add insulation.  That is typical on a 1920 house until I opened the attic access panel…..

The picture shows knob-and-tube wiring that is in contact and covered with cellulose insulation.  Knob-and-tube (KT) is the original type wiring that was run in this 1920s home and it can be prone to heating up while it is under load.  Covering this wiring with insulation can cause heat to build and is a very really fire safety concern.  So the moral of the story is: Appraisers please don’t comment on things you do not know about.  If I hadn’t been there to tell my client why insulating the attic was a bad idea who knows what would have happened.

I don’t mean to gripe, but I get a bad taste in my mouth when a total stranger feels it is necessary to be rude to me.  Get to know me first.  Then if you must be rude to me, at least you have a good reason!

Jim Allhiser President/Inspector

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Brand New Clothes Dryer Technology for Salem, Oregon Homes

As part of my business model I try to constantly stay on top of and educate myself on the very latest in information that is out there in regards to home inspections, building science, home maintenance, appliances and so on.  A large part of this education recently has been a “green” movement that hopes to do more with less and improve efficiencies in general.

One of these brand new technologies has to do with clothes drying.  This technology, unlike most “green” innovations actually is cost effective.  It is relatively inexpensive and it can even pay for itself in a few short months. (unlike most other “green” products)

I am happy to share this wonderful advancement I spotted in Salem, Oregon with you and I hope that you will keep me up-to-date if you see a wonderful industry disruptive technology.

Jim Allhiser President/Inspector

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Appraise this

I have noticed that recently appraisers are starting to
look at the condition of homes.  Although
I have no real issue with this practice I am curious about the training that
these appraisers have obtained that allows them to comment on rot, deterioration, electrical, plumbing
and various other issues.

While doing a
home inspection here in Keizer, Oregon the other day, the client and agent mentioned that the
appraiser had commented on the rot in the siding at the front and side of the
home.  This was good and I did not disagree but what about
the large section of garage door trim that you could stick your finger

through?  The appraiser apparently missed
that section.

I am not
concerned for my job as an independent home inspector/ consultant.  I am just curious about the direction of the appraisal industry.  I have no training and very
little knowledge about home values, so I try to not comment on, or even pay
attention to home prices.  I thought the inverse might be true for appraisers.  There is no
doubt that an untrained person could recognize significant deterioration in the
siding but what about the termite infestation at the very back of the stairs
that was not recognized because the person has no training on wood destroying
organisms?  Does that not become a condition of the loan?

I guess I am just venting/wondering out loud.  Where do you think this issue/appraisal industry is headed?

Jim Allhiser President/Inspector

“Always on the cutting edge”

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On-line Billboards for this Salem, Oregon Home Inspector

I was telling my father about my on-line marketing and how it was effective at driving business and contacts to me for very little money.  I was telling him that my blog and FaceBook are serious tools that allow me to be found when I am doing other things (like home inspections!)  He mentioned that he really had no idea what I was taking about.  So I started to think about my understanding of this on-line world that I have so-far been able to leverage.

I watched the movie, “I love you man,” the other day and I got to thinking about billboards.  In the movie, the real estate agent’s friend puts up all kinds of silly billboards for his friend.  The advertising was very visible and really got the agent noticed.

I told my dad that blogging and networking on-line was kind of like that.  I put up a billboard in cyberspace every time I write a blog or post a comment.  The freeway on and off ramps are controlled by search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN).  If you are looking for, say a Home inspection in Salem Oregon, for instance, you would drive your car into cyberspace and ask one of those engines to show you where to go and the applicable billboards.

Now to back track a little;  the way a search engines work is by continually cruising around on those freeways.  They all have little robots or spiders that are driving around looking at billboards that are being erected in cyberspace.  They take note of these billboards and catalog them according to what is on the billboards and where the billboards point.  The more entries the spider robots get in their catalogs that point at one place, the higher they rank that location for those terms.

Of course that is a very down and dirty explanation of things and there can be a significant amount of refinement and development.  That is a basic idea of how Search Engine Optimization works.  The point of this; is that blogging and on-line social networking is very inexpensive compared to real world (as opposed to cyber-world) advertising.  For much less than $1000 dollars a year I have easily doubled my business and done my fair share of puttin’ my name out there where it is going to be seen.


Jim Allhiser  President/Inspector

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Google Docs people!!

Google Docs people!!

My little garden of irritation for Windows products has been growing and thriving lately.  I guess anything that you rely on day-in and day-out will let you down now and then.  I don’t really have any experience with anything else, but I have heard some wonderful things……

One of the fantastic little products that I have started using is Google Docs.  …Um, can you say, “suck-it ms Word?”  Not only does G.Docs work every time, it is on-line so that there are no formatting issues when I cut and paste a blog that I have written and to which pictures have been added.  Did you read that last part?  Yeah, things just cut-and-paste like you think they should, weird huh?

It is important that you take warning from this post.  As of today there are about 10 previously written blog posts on my computer that are locked in a bizarre ms Word purgatory.  I can only partially open them and I cannot highlight to cut-and-paste.  For me, there is little hope.  But for all of you that read this, please do something today.  Put down that widows pacifier and try the solutions that were created for the people!!

Break-away crotch

I do love disposable coveralls.  The crawlspaces that I frequent in Salem, Oregon seem to be places where critters relieve themselves and where they decide to die.  All of that feces, urine and dead carcasses add up to some pretty disgusting crawling and it can be challenging to bring my coveralls in the house after crawling through a litter box.

Overall the disposables are totally sufficient, especially after I belly crawl through one of those litter boxes that people call their crawlspace. All of the disposables however, have one fatal flaw:

The crotch.

I don’t know if they mean to build them with a “break away crotch” but being a home Inspector, that is not one of my requirements.