Making a New House a Safe Home

Photo courtesy of Ben Hendricks

Photo courtesy of Ben Hendricks

Buying and selling a home used to be easy. Sure, you had to make sure it was clean and presentable, but in the period prior to the late ’80s and early ’90s, there was not the seemingly constant deluge of interior design and home improvement media that covers the Internet and television today. As a result, the home-selling process was simpler because knowledge wasn’t readily available. Now, people know better. More accurately, they know what they don’t know.

Enter the home inspection. A home inspection is a thorough examination of the condition of a home, usually made before selling or buying. If you think you’ve found the home of your dreams, it’s probably best to get an inspection, or that dream may end up costing you a fortune down the road due to unforeseen major repairs.

“I was a contractor both as a hobby and as a profession for 20 years,” says Ben Hendricks of ABI Home Inspection Services, a highly rated example of several home inspection businesses in Louisville. “Back in 2008, I needed a change of scenery, and the home inspection industry seemed like a good fit for a guy who’s been tearing apart and fixing houses for two-thirds of his life.”

 Ben Hendricks. Photo courtesy of Ben Hendricks

Ben Hendricks. Photo courtesy of Ben Hendricks

Finding a reliable home inspector is tricky, but Hendricks urges prospective buyers to do their homework. “Most people have no real life experience to form an opinion on. You may buy two or three houses in a lifetime, with years in between, so it’s impossible to know a good inspector from a bad one,” attests Hendricks, claiming that the difference can cost you thousands in missed repairs.

The state of Kentucky requires that home inspectors pass a test and obtain a license in order to operate. All inspectors are also required to have liability insurance “in case your ladder falls through a window or something,” laughs Hendricks. However, Kentucky does not require inspectors to carry errors and omissions insurance (E&O), which is supposed to cover the inspector if they miss something. “Unfortunately, what this means is that we get a lot of inspectors who I’m sure mean well, but really have no clue what they are doing,” explains Hendricks. “Most inspectors do not have E&O coverage, one reason being that it’s quite expensive. The extent of the inspector’s error determines what might occur in a situation. Lawsuits happen.”

And that experience is exactly what you need. Each and every home is unique, and so are its problems. According to Hendricks, homes with crawlspaces tend to have issues under them. A small drip leak that goes unchecked for 20 years turns into a big problem. Old houses usually have old rotting plumbing and antiquated wiring. Newer homes have poor flashing jobs, lots of water damage and poor craftsmanship. Nothing is routine.

“That’s the beauty of this gig,” Hendricks enthuses. “Sure, I get tired of opening and closing windows and I can only plug my outlet tester in so many times before I want to scream, but then I see it: that slight waviness to the drywall near the fireplace. It’s at that moment that I start to process what I’m looking at and try to figure out what could cause such a deviation in the wall. I end up doing that a hundred times in every house. By the time my four-plus-hour inspection is over, I’m wiped out mentally. I geek-out about this stuff, so I’m really passionate about it. At least once a week, I’ll get the question, ‘You really love your job, don’t you?’ Yes, I do.”

And that’s exactly what a prospective homebuyer needs – someone with passion. Strong social skills are also, unexpectedly, important for a home inspector to have. “I’m really good at being able to read my client to know how much I need to explain things. I can keep it technical for my engineer-type folks, or I can break it down into layman’s terms for the first-time buyers who haven’t got a clue what they are getting into.”

With all that being said, the purpose of a quality home inspection is to provide clients with as much information as possible so that they can make a well-informed decision, and Ben Hendricks knows that his clients are his bread and butter. “It’s against the law in Kentucky for any home inspector to repair anything for compensation within 12 months of the inspection date. This safeguard is to keep dishonest inspectors from inventing problems and creating work for themselves as contractors. I think it’s a good rule. As for suggesting a contractor, if I know of a top-notch person in a particular industry, I don’t have a problem giving out a name. I’d rather share my knowledge than throw my client to the wolves.” With ABI Home Inspection Services, that’s exactly what you’ll get: a quality inspection that puts the clients first. VT