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The Most Common Home Inspection Issues: An Interview with George D. Baral of RELIANCE Home Inspections

By George Baral

Tell us a little bit about your experience, company history and the services you offer.

I started RELIANCE Home Inspections in 1986, hiring three inspectors and spending a lot of money on marketing. I did not personally know how to do home inspections. I purchased a computer-based inspection reporting system and started working on improving it to cover all of the possible findings during an inspection. The market turned down in 1990, and I let two of the inspectors go; the third could only work part time. So I started doing inspections myself, having become somewhat familiar with the process. I stopped using the computerized system, and although I have evaluated other, more advanced systems, I now use a custom-dictated report for houses and a simple checklist for condos. It probably took me 15 years to become really good at property inspections. During the early years, I tried hiring inspectors but the guys that made really good inspectors didn't want to be employees, and they took my training and left to go on their own. Also, I had to deal with us some problems that employees who were not-so-great inspectors caused. So I gave up on having employees. At this time, I am willing to inspect any building that's not too big for me to finish within two days. I've inspected all kinds of buildings, and for all kinds of reasons. I had become certified in a variety of environmental areas, but due to low demand, I let the certifications lapse. Now I consult in all environmental areas, specializing in mold evaluations. My graduate training in chemistry not only gives me a better understanding of environmental issues than most in the field, but also a good understanding of how a house and its systems work, and work together.

What areas should a standard home inspection cover?

In my opinion, a home inspection should cover all of the components of the property, starting at the perimeter, excluding only low-voltage systems. Other, specialized inspections might be necessary; I always recommend a sewer line inspection and a chimney inspection.

What are a few of your biggest concerns when you're inspecting a house for sale?

My biggest concern is making sure that the client understands what is important and what isn't in my findings. And of course, I also want to make sure that I don't miss anything.

What are the most common significant defects you've seen during home inspections in Southern California?

Drainage defects are common, although they frequently are not causing problems. I usually find a slew of minor electrical problems. In houses that have been significantly remodeled and flipped, the flippers often don't get the plumbing right, especially when they're moving things around in bathrooms or creating new bathrooms.

How should a potential buyer follow-up on the information in the inspection report?

When possible, have your agent negotiate a price adjustment based on the costs of repairs. It may be necessary to have a contractor or several contractors prepare estimates, or have the inspector give a ballpark estimate. Any further evaluations called for should be done immediately as expensive problems may be revealed. However, many inspectors routinely call for further evaluation by specialists of almost everything they find that isn't correct; that's a cover-your-butt approach recommended by professional societies.

Is there anything that most people don't about home inspections that they should know before working with an inspector?

Many people don't know that the home inspection is an opportunity for them to learn about the house, an opportunity to go along with the inspector and ask as many questions as they can come up with.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

Call me at 310-572-4500.

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