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As seen in The Oklahoman

Richard Mize: Deal killer? An inspector weighs in

by Richard Mize

As seen in The City-Sentinel

Three factors for every purchase.

By Jack Werner, Ph.D.

 

The three factors in every purchase are:

•    The Price/Cost

•    The Timing/Getting the Product/Service when You Want It

•    The Value/Quality

 

My life has gone very well because I accept general principles, common business precepts, as applicable to me.  The standard rule on the three factors involved in every purchase is that you can, at best, secure only two out of the three.

 

Price/Cost:     If you provide clear, detailed information about what you require, reputable companies will provide you an initial price quote.  This will probably be accurate two-thirds to ninety per cent of the time.  The variance occurs when all the facts are not known, either you do not have all the facts or the process reveals more complex requirements. For example, when I call the plumber because the drain in our basement is backing up, his scoping the line may reveal a collapsed sewer line. Price/cost is usually straightforward.

 

Timing:    Can you get the product or service when you want it?  This absolutely impacts your convenience and your price. An interesting business phenomenon is occurring in many large inspection companies.  The concept is called “airline pricing.” For instance, you call for an inspection that you want next Tuesday at 1:30. The company responds that we can do that and the price will be $405; however, we have a cancellation this afternoon.  If you could let us do the inspection then, the price would be $325.

 

Call for emergency plumbing service right now, and you will immediately see how timing affects your price.  A to Z Inspections has said we can do your inspection the day you want for over 15,000 inspections.  That availability is reflected in our price.

 

Value/Quality:    Service providers are diagnosticians.  If what you need is a detailed list of everything that is wrong with you, your car, or your property, the amount of time spent in your case is an important indicator IF tied to the next factor:  training/knowledge/experience.

 

•    Years in business?

•    Number of this kind of surgery, repair, inspection, etc., provider has done?

•    Certifications, degrees held?

•    What and when was the last professional course taken?

 

You want your surgeon, CPA, and auto mechanic to be up, and stay up, on the newest rules and information.  You need that level of commitment/professionalism from every service provider you use

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Here’s the fourth and final (?) installment of a series that started with my musing over the ups and downs of “deal breaker” and “deal killer” home inspectors, and misunderstandings and disagreements between inspectors and Realtors.

 

Jack L. Werner of A to Z Inspections, 3625 N McKinley Ave., was the only inspector to weigh in. Knowing him to be meticulous in these kinds of detailed matters, I yield the floor. This is an edited version of his lengthy email:

 

“Inspectors are REQUIRED by the CIB (Construction Industries Board), our governing agency, to comment on the life expectancy of all appliances. Several inspectors were at the CIB meeting several years ago when this was addressed. Inspectors did NOT want this task, but the attorney representing the CIB explained that we have the responsibility. The language you cited, ‘system is near the end of its expected life span and you may want to budget for replacement …’ is appropriate.

“As a two-time past president of our state association and an attendee at the specific CIB board meeting addressing ‘Appliances: hot water tanks, dishwashers, heat and air units, etc.,’ I believe it is required.

“Sometimes we try to make things so precise and technically/legally correct instead of simply asking, ‘What is right?’ The buyer is probably making the largest single investment of their life. If the buyer is your son or daughter (remember buying a home and it seemed like you had to scrape together every penny you could find and there were always a few more expenses than you initially thought?), do you really want them buying a house without being told that a $10,000 component works now but, based on its age, you may have to come up with that much money in a year or two?

“Richard, there are two other things I would like to mention here:

“1. I frequently hear inspectors meet with the criticism from real estate agents that ‘that is not part of the contract’ or ‘he does not inspect according to the contract,’ meaning the real estate contract. YES, that is true. We are not part of the real estate contract. We have our own regulations, standards of practice and ethical obligations we should follow.

“The appliance at the end of its useful life is an example; another would be CSST (corrugated stainless steel tubing). Both of these things are mandated/required for inspectors to write up — even if they appear to be working properly and then, guess what: ‘He is not inspecting according to the contract.’ That’s right. We do not. If we did, we would be in violation of the law, regulations and standards of practice set out for home inspectors.

“2. The most professional real estate agents want, welcome, and encourage the most thorough inspection available. Who would not want as detailed, comprehensive analysis as possible on a property that is perhaps the largest single investment they have ever made? A good inspector absolutely and only works for the buyer, not the real estate agent. The bottom end of the bell curve, the least professional real estate agent, wants no inspection or a ‘quickie’ light inspection.

“Is there a simple, fair, functional answer for everyone? You bet there is.

Every SELLER should secure the toughest, most thorough inspection possible before putting the house on the market. It amazes me that the real estate GIANTS all preach this, but Realtors do not embrace it. …

“Here’s why: Selling your house is a business — your business. What does a serious business approach require? Knowing your product — in this case, your house, its curb appeal, its roof, its heat and air system, its landscaping, its drainage, its windows and doors, everything about it. Before the deal is through, you can bet the buyer will.

“After a contract is in place is a poor time for you, the seller, to renegotiate. You’ve already agreed to the lowest price you are willing to take, anywhere

 from 5 to 20 percent less than your list price. Then you get the surprises that a thorough, competent inspector will turn up. Often the needed repairs exceed the allowance you negotiated in the contract, usually $500 to $1,000. The buyer frequently, and under-standably, demands all the repairs or a full allowance for them or cancels the contract.

“Where are you now? Your home has been off the market for at least a month. You have already come down to the lowest acceptable price. Now you have to renegotiate or put your house back on the market. One simple prelisting step could have prevented this state of events.

“Picture having a comprehensive, detailed home inspection in your hand before you start. Aren’t you feeling stronger? You have the option of choosing which items to fix before a buyer ever sees it. You negotiate from an informed, confident position over the remaining items before agreeing to a sale price and repair allowances. The buyer’s inspection report will not surprise you, delay your closing, or bust your contract. In short, a thorough, detailed prelisting inspection will decrease market time and increase your net dollars.

“A pre-inspection or ‘seller’s inspection’ creates an advantage for the buyer as well. The buyer is often as pressured to find a home as the seller is to sell it and is often financially and emotionally stressed by the transaction. Of course, the buyer should get an independent inspection, but imagine, as a buyer, having more information from the seller and not being surprised by serious negative findings on a house you want. If the house is not what you thought it was and the deal is not tenable, you the buyer are back to square one in your search.

“In short, a thorough, detailed prelisting inspection makes the whole process more efficient. It will decrease stress for both seller and buyer (and the real estate agent) and lessen the chances of a busted contract.

“Thanks for the opportunity to respond.”

— Jack L. Werner, Ph.D.

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As seen in The City-Sentinel

Water the Grand Canyon: how water damages your home or building.

By Jack Werner, Ph.D.

 

The Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It was made by water!

 

We hope you have taken your family to the Grand Canyon, but the point is—if water can carve out the Grand Canyon, think what it can do to your house or other building. The best thing you can do for your structure, commercial or residential, is to keep water away from it.

 

There are only four ways that water gets to or damages your home or building: (1) Roof leaks, (2) plumbing leaks, (3) improper drainage (water drains toward, against, or into your house), or (4) hydrostatic pressure (the water table is so high that water comes up from below).

 

Don’t wait until your roof leaks to call a professional roofer. Have your roof checked, maintained every couple of years. Black neoprene plumbing collars around vent pipes crack and break after a time, flashing pops loose, and shingles get torn, allowing water to get to walls and rafters. Roof maintenance is critical.

 

Almost every house we see has plumbing leaks, big or small. Get a plumbing checkup every year. Besides the damage it can do to your house, a small leak can waste 3,600 gallons in 24 hours! A continual leak under a toilet can destabilize the slab. By having Dad’s Plumbing perform an annual checkup for us last week, we found a plumbing problem that we didn’t know we had. Dad’s Plumbing can be reached at 601-2615.

 

If water is draining against your house, eventually it will cause you serious problems. Check the drainage around your house, including runoff from your neighbor’s yard. Often sidewalks, driveways, patios, or landscaping slope toward the house. Many folks put a flower bed against the house or building and make no provision for water drainage away from the structure. Vic Vickers, Handymen R’ Us , can help correct this problem. You can reach Handymen R’ Us at 670-1733.

 

Nonexistent or poorly functioning gutters allow water to drain toward your house. Install a full gutter system with good gutter extensions. Call Nate Dempster, Home Contracting, at 819-3542 for roof or gutter needs.

 

Hydrostatic pressure is very rare, but we saw it years ago around Lake Hefner. Keep water away from your house and other buildings by performing regular maintenance using professionals. Your house will give you more pleasure, cost less, and last longer.

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As seen in The City-Sentinel

Allergy Control steps can make a major difference for homeowners

By Jack Werner, Ph.D.

 

Let me tell you four stories about your home, your family, your health, your money, and Allergy Control, an A to Z Group member.

A condo with 14-foot ceilings and no attic with failed, rusted-out slab duct work received a $15,000 quote in order to install three minisplit systems. Allergy Control was able to scope, clean, and reline (coat) the old system for about one-third of the price.

 

Not only was the total cost substantially less; slab duct work is generally within 15 degrees of our desired home temperature while the attic may have an 80-degree variance. It’s a lot cheaper to work with a 15-degree variance.

 

Separated/failing joints in transite slab duct work resulted in constant daily dust. Allergy Control removed three wheelbarrows of sand from the duct work, then cleaned, coated, and sealed the duct work. No more dust!

 

Dust and moisture are food sources for mold/mildew. That is why physicians working with chemotherapy patients, organ transplant patients, or anyone with autoimmune deficiency advise duct cleaning, duct repair/sealing/coating, if needed, and treatment with an antimicrobial that will kill bacteria, mold, and mildew. A heart transplant patient was Allergy Control’s most recent client.

 

We hope you do not need us because of a heart transplant, but whatever your reason, rusted-out ducts, failed joints, dust, mold or mildew, Allergy Control is an established pro at scoping, cleaning, and recoating your duct work to make it dust free, bacteria free, and mold free.

 

I’ve known Mike Charles and his company for some time. His company was recently selected to reline the Oklahoma State Homebuilders Association slab duct work. Mike Charles and his team are real pros.

 

Allergy Control, indoor air quality experts, can be reached by calling Mike Charles at 641-4296. Visit them on the web at www.AllergyConrolOK.com.

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As seen in The City-Sentinel

Hire a Reputable Contractor

By Jack Werner, Ph.D.

 

The recent devastating storms spawned a need for thousands of workers to repair and rebuild. Every tradesman will be in high demand, and there is a great need to get things done as quickly as possible—-STOP. Do not get taken to the cleaners by shyster contractors. Unscrupulous contractors know ways to fool us. The Oklahoma State and Moore Home Builders have been inundated by calls from out-of-state contractors wanting to know how they could “buy in” to the Oklahoma “Certified Builder” designation. An out-of-state roofer called a long-established local roofing company, DJ Roofing, wanting to pay to use DJ’s name and number.

 

The best method is to hire someone you know and trust or to hire someone who was referred by someone you know and trust. Even then, do not accept the referral without asking, “Did you personally use this contractor?” We cannot get a personal referral every time, so here are the questions that I like to ask:

 

•      What is your home address? I’m happy to give you my home address. Out-of-state contractors rush in after a disaster and rent office space or a PO Box with a street address attached to it so that it sounds as though they are a stable, local fixture. The contractor is going to know where you live. Why would the contractor be hesitant for you to know where he or she lives?

 

•      What professional and/or civic organizations are you a member of and how long have you been a member? A client asked me last week why I wasn’t a member of the Better Business Bureau. I answered by saying, one, I am a member and state president for the second time of the Oklahoma Residential and Commercial Inspection Association (ORCIA), an affiliate of both ASHI and INTERNACHI; two, I am a member of the Moore Home Builders Association and teach classes for the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association; three, I am a 30-year member and past president of both the South OKC Chamber of Commerce and the SOKC Rotary; four, I am a member of the OKC Metropolitan Association of Realtors. I further explained that with dues generally at $300 or more yearly I have to decide what is most important. I choose local organizations where I can be active and involved. He seemed satisfied with my answer. See how much information that question can give you?

 

•      Tell me about any degrees, awards, licenses, or certifications that you have.

 

•      Please provide the “Dec” sheet from your general liability insurance. This is the least amount/type of insurance a contractor should have. But what I’m really after is the contractor’s address as it appears on the insurance policy.

 

There are many questions you should ask before engaging anyone to work on your home. These should help you determine that you are hiring a reputable, experienced contractor. Any member of the A to Z Group would be happy to answer any questions.

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