We were pleased to speak recently with Calvin Altland of Appaloosa Home Inspection, LLC. Appaloosa Home Inspection is based in Topsham, Vermont and provides quality home inspection services to both home buyers and sellers including radon and water tests. Calvin can be reached by phone at (802) 439-6071 or by email at email@example.com.
How did you become interested in the Home Inspection business?
I am also a real estate agent and have spent a lot of time working with and watching home inspectors. I always found it so interesting and my wife said “You should be doing that!” So, I started the training in February of 2016 and got my license at the end of 2016. It took a while but I got both my Vermont and New Hampshire licenses. There are quite a few hoops to jump through and New Hampshire and Vermont do not recognize the same testing facility so I had to take two separate tests. I still work as a real estate agent also and also work during the day for a heating company. I currently am operating the home inspection business on a part-time basis but eventually, it will be a full-time venture.
Does being a real estate agent give you an advantage in the home inspection business?
Yes. One of the advantages is that I have access to the MLS and all the listing information for the property. I can use that as my pre-check list to see what’s there, what I’ll be walking into and can give the customer a good idea of what the price for a home inspection is going to cost. If it is a For Sale By Owner (FSBO), I don’t necessarily know what I am dealing with in advance but for many properties the MLS gives me a distinct advantage. In addition, being a real estate agent as well as a home inspector, I have well established relationships with real estate agents from various agencies. I have not yet come across any other home inspectors who are also real estate agents. My experience in the heating industry also helps because I not only have expertise with furnaces, water heaters, etc., but I can also get the make, model and serial number of those items and look up when it was manufactured so we know the exact age.
What do you like most about being a Home Inspector?
I just really enjoy doing the inspections. You get to see a lot of interesting houses. The oldest house I inspected thus far was 212 years old. The foundation was old fieldstone and granite blocks which was really neat. It was all lathe and plaster but although the walls were over 200 years old, you would think they were just done recently. It was just smooth, straight and with no flaws. You see a lot of great old houses but you also, of course, see those that have been neglected. Another thing I like about the service is that I am taking care of people. I want to do the best I can, treat people equally and provide the best service to the best of my ability. People will often ask if they can tag along during my inspection and ask questions. I say, “Of course!” I am not sure if other home inspectors do that but I welcome it. Sometimes it makes the inspection take a little longer, but that is fine with me! The average home inspection is 3 hours for 2000 square feet or less. Smaller houses can take less time. However, compiling the report can take another 4 to 8 hours.
Why do you think home inspections are so important? Are they really needed?
Some people think they are a waste of money but a good inspection can save you money. It could save you from making a big mistake when purchasing a home and can provide you with valuable information to assist you in making your decision. A year down the road you could find something that could be very expensive to fix that could have been identified during an inspection. For the buyer, the inspection is not a pass or fail but is a chance for me to point out things that could be fixed or need to be fixed. An inspection covers everything from the chimney to the basement. Some issues could also be important safety concerns. Normally, I will point these out to the listing and/or selling agent before the report is completed so they can get the issue resolved before someone gets hurt. For the buyer, an inspection can highlight things that can be used in negotiating the price. For a seller, an inspection can identify things that the buyer’s inspector will find. If those things are not addressed, they will most likely show up in the report and the buyer will more than likely ask you to fix them anyway.
What are some of the most memorable things you have found in an inspection and/or what are some of the most common issue you discover?
Some of the unusual things I have encountered involve wells. In one house, the well was accessed from the basement. There was a doorway and if you opened it and walked in, you could have fallen right in. It was an open well with no lip. In another house, the well was accessed by pulling a panel open in a cupboard near the sink. That part of the house, which included the kitchen, was added on and they built it right over the top of the well. Some of the more common issues involve electrical outlets and the electrical system. Some houses still have nob and tube wiring. I advise those folks that there is no grounding of the electricity and they should not leave electronics plugged in or they could be damaged. Incorrectly wired electrical outlets are also a common issue such as outlets wired “backwards” with reverse polarity issues. I have a tester that I use to test the outlets and assure they are functioning properly and provide that information to the customer. I have also seen houses that have hot water baseboard heat with pipes that run right over the circuit breaker box. If there is a leak or if the pipe freezes, the water could come right out on the box.