Oregon

How can I Buy Agent Referrals? Or Why I don’t give out Chocolates and Pens.

A few years ago the Construction Contractor’s Board did some revising to one section of their “Standards of Practice for Home Inspections.”  The section referred to gifts or rewards for the purposes of referrals.  It was always a little ambiguous and in order to clear up some confusion they posted 4 pages worth of, “what the rule really means.”

If you would like to read the post in its entirety it is here: http://ccbed.ccb.state.or.us/WebPDF/CCB/Publications/HI_FAQs.pdf

Here are the highlights as I see it:

2. May a home inspector advertise on a website

containing listings for homes for sale? In general, the

answer is yes. However, if the website is maintained by a

real estate agent and the home inspector buys the

advertisement to induce the real estate agent to refer

business to the home inspector, the practice is prohibited.

3. May a home inspector advertise on a real estate agent’s

website if the home inspector did not pay for the

advertisement? Yes, so long as the home inspector did not

pay the real estate agent nor give the real estate agent

anything of value.

10. May a home inspector share the cost of joint

advertising with a real estate agent? No. The real estate

agent would receive the benefit of the reduced cost of

advertising. Joint advertising likely implies a recommendation

of the home inspector by the real estate agent.

11. May a home inspector hand out to the general public

pens, notepads, magnets, coffee mugs, calendars,

candies or similar items with the home inspector’s

name? Yes. The rules do not prohibit home inspectors from

providing items of nominal or actual value to the general

public or to potential or actual customers.

12. May a home inspector deliver to a realty agent pens,

notepads, magnets, coffee mugs, calendars, candies or

similar items with the home inspector’s name? No.

Since the items are likely to be used or consumed by the

realty agent, the implicit purpose is to encourage a referral.

The conduct is prohibited. It does not matter that the items

may have only a nominal or small value. The rule does not

distinguish on the basis of the value of the items.

20. May a home inspector with a booth at a realty agent

trade show offer a (relatively modest) door prize torealty agents?

No. Since the door prize is intended for

realty agents, to obtain business referrals, the conduct is

prohibited.

21. May a home inspector with a booth at a realty agent

trade show offer chocolate candies to the realty

agents? No. Since the chocolate candies are intended for

realty agents, to obtain business referrals, the conduct is

prohibited. The new rule does not distinguish on the basis of

the value of the item provided.

22. May a home inspection company that operates on a

national or regional basis hold a contest or drawing,

open both to the general public and to realty agents,

and give out randomly won prizes? Yes. Presumably,

there is no distinction between entrants, be they realty agents

or other members of the general public. (There may be other

government regulations that restrict contests or drawings.

Our answer does not address those laws.)

These rules and definitions come from a good place.  There is no good that comes from buying referrals.  Inspectors that do not precisly understand that they are contracted to protect the client’s interest may have feelings that they are there to help the referring agent.  This only creates bad feelings and distrust throughout the entire realestate process.

My main referral source is the great agents that recommend me to their clients.  The only reason these wonderful agents recommend me is because I protect their clients and, indirectly, their good name and real estate license.  These agents realize that even though deals may fall apart by the time I am done it is because of the home’s condition and the inability of the buyer and seller to come together.  For better or for worse their clients should know as much as possible about their home before the deal closes.

Aluminum Wiring

Written by:  Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
When I trained to become a home inspector I went to a national school and learned about all sorts of things that good home inspectors should be aware of when inspecting homes.  Over the years of doing inspections in Salem, Oregon I have noticed real patterns in building materials that were not reflected by the home inspector schooling.
Bricks for one thing are very popular in other parts of the country.  My schooling spent hours on the issues that can be noted with brick siding.  We have brick siding here, but at a very small percentage compared to the east and the south.  Most of this difference has to do with the shale that composes bricks.  We do not have shale mines on the Pacific coast and so if you want brick it has to be shipped in from the south or east.

Recently Chinese Drywall has received quite a bit of media attention.  That stuff is bad news but for all of the newly built homes that I am inspecting, none of the associated issues have manifested.  I have been looking for it and well educated home buyers have been asking about it but it seems that  our area did not receive the supply of drywall from those particular problem vendors.
Aluminum wiring was also a large topic of education at the home inspector training.  It is also another material that, for whatever the reason, we North-westerners largely managed to escape.  From the mid 60s to the early 70s aluminum was widely used for the smaller (15 and 20 amp) branch circuits in homes.  Problems occurred when the small aluminum wires were used with devices that had connections specifically designed for copper.  Aluminum also tends to expand and contract more than copper (which can cause loose connections) and it can corrode (which is an insulator), all bad things when consistent conduction is desired.  These issues lead to house fires and if your wiring is a fire hazard it is a very big deal!  I have seen and heard of small aluminum branch circuits in manufactured homes in this area but I have only seen one stick built home that had aluminum wires in 5 years!
The more experience I gain the more specific my inspections become, relating to the issues with Salem, Oregon homes.  Still, I can’t forget about those nationally recognized issues.  A great home inspector not only needs to know about homes in this area but also about building products that are not generally used in this area.



Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
http://SalemOregonHomeInspections.com
503.508.4321         jallhiser@perfectioninspectioninc.com

“Always on the cutting edge”

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
Bookmark and Share

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

President/Inspector
http://SalemOregonHomeInspections.com
503.508.4321         jallhiser@perfectioninspectioninc.com

“Always on the cutting edge”

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
Bookmark and Share

My home inspection is better than yours!

Thermal imaging has been an absolute game changer for the home inspection industry. About eight years ago my wife and I bought our first home in Salem, Oregon. At that time I worked in construction and I was a pretty hand dude but I knew very little about furnaces, electrical systems, plumbing and many other integral parts of a typical home.

The home inspector that we hired requested that we not show up till the end of the inspection. I didn’t really like that advice so I showed up went he began his inspection. That excuse for an inspector spent about 45 minutes in our 1950’s fixer and didn’t say more than a dozen words to me, even though I was asking him questions constantly. He didn’t even introduce himself!!

Upon moving in we realized that the furnace didn’t work, the bathtub had a leak and the shower head barely had enough spray to get you wet!

A year pasted before I learned of thermal imaging and how their were a few inspectors across the country that were using this wonderful technology to offer more and better knowledge for their clients. I took the leap and be and became home inspector.

Yup. Thats a leak in this new house

Yesterday I inspected a new home and with out my fancy little camera my clients would not of known about a plumbing leak. The leak was in the upstairs master tub and it had not caused any finish damage yet……

Equiped with the knowledge that I provided my clients were able to save the ceiling in their kitchen/dining room, the flooring in this area and all of the head aches that go along when you have to do major repairs to your home.

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.

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!!

Multi-wired circuits

A material and man-hour (read MONEY) conservation technique I have noticed more and more recently is called multi-circuit wiring. The purpose of this technique is to save money on wires and man-hours by pulling only one wire for two circuits.

Seems like a good idea and there are definitely a fair amount of contractors that agree. During normal operation of most circuits no significant problems will be noted. However if too many watts are added, the circuits could be prone to overheating.

The issues come from the neutral wire. With a single circuit wire there is a black wire for the hot, and a white wire for the neutral. For simplicity sake let’s look at these as the supply=hot(black) and the return=neutral(white) for the current respectively.

A 15amp circuit should use a 14 gauge wire for supply and return. That means that if the maximum amount of power (allowed by the breaker) is called for, the wire on the supply and on the return are both thick enough to hold all of 15 amps or 1800watts at 120 volts. [(15amps)x(120volts)=1800watts]

Now let’s save some time and materials during installation by running a multi-circuit wire. This wire has two supplies and only one return. Remember each one of the 14 gauge wires are designed to hold 15 amps but now you have two wires that could be called on to hold all of 15 amps and only one 14 gauge return/neutral wire for 30amps! (15+15=30amps) Normal alternating current modulation will prevent the neutral from having to carry both loads at the same time but if something goes wrong and the neutral does experience over current in this manner the breaker will not trip, because breakers only protect the hot/supply wires.

The deal is the authorities that say this is ok are betting that there will never be a situation that causes both wires to call for the entire load at the same time. As a home inspector here in Salem, Oregon I am paid to be a “worst case scenario,” guy. It is my job to alert my clients to not only issues but also potential issues and educate them as best I can.

Problems Under the Surface

 

The wonderful world of residential construction can be very complex. A new home is a series of systems and components that rely on one another to perform properly. If the previous component is installed improperly all of the other systems that are built upon that component will not live up to their potential. I recently had the opportunity to inspect a beautiful new home here in West Salem, Oregon that was like a display home for just why you need a home inspection on a new home.

Cosmetically this home was very attractive. Vaulted ceilings, custom built-ins, crown molding and of course the ever present Brazilian cherry floors and granite counters. Under the fancy façade were a few very important details that the builder screwed up. One of those little things was a vapor retarder, big name for a very simple and relatively inexpensive component. It is basically a sheet of plastic stretched over the bare earth of the crawl space that prevents excess water vapor from leaving the soil (a normal and natural process) and being absorbed by the home’s wood structure (also a natural process but very harmful to the structure of the home).

With the vapor retarder missing, the moist soil provides all the moisture and humidity necessary for an extremely conducive environment for wood destroying organisms. Wood destroying organisms like molds, termites, and powder post beetles and other critters that can call your home food.

When I popped the lid to that crawlspace a wave of mustiness (mold spores) slapped me in the face. Upon closer inspection of the very wet, very muddy crawlspace it could be noted that although the air was full of spores from actively producing molds, no visible growing mold could be noted on the structure. However the scraps of wood, construction debris, that had been left scattered about were covered with very healthy fungal colonies.

All of that excess wood was another little screw-up. All of these little mistakes, although ultimately the builder’s responsibility, were also made by the contractors that were in charge of the vapor retarder, the contractors that left cellulose debris (plumbers, framers, and electricians), and the government official (building inspector) that is paid to ensure that these things don’t happen.

This poor home had other serious issues. Homes like these sometimes makes me wonder about some people’s integrity, however I guess it will always be job security for honest, independent building consultants.

 

Radon and the Crowd it Rolls with.

Radon can make you very sick and has been linked to more cases of lung cancer than tobacco. Radon is a radioactive gas that is produced when uranium degrades. Uranium has a tendency to geologically ‘hang,’ with granite. This is significant due to the fact that the geology of granite and other minerals can be mapped.

The EPA has a fantastic resource for general knowledge on all kinds of different environmental issues. They have a radon exposure map that is based on a geologic map of the United States. Basically it categorizes areas of the US depending on what type of rock is found in that area.

Unfortunately this map is only a good guess. It cannot tell your home or any other home has a radon issue. The only way to determine if your home has a radon issue is to (shameless plug) get it tested. If you live in Salem, Oregon I just happen to know of a fantastic home inspector that can help….