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My Story, How I Became a Home Inspector

My Home Inspection Story

I believe my home inspector training began as a youth. My father was an industrial repair and maintenance man, who around the house did just about everything himself. I have to credit him for my strong work ethic, he really expected a lot out of me, even at a young age and I was glad to help him on all kinds of jobs throughout my childhood. I cut a lot of boards and plywood with a hand saw, learned to use hand and power tools while developing construction skills and mechanical aptitude.

Automotive and Heavy Truck Mechanic

By age 17 I was state certified to work on heavy truck and automotive brakes and front end alignments. Right out of high school I was manager of a large tire and repairs store, North Hill Tire and Auto in Rochester, Michigan for about 2 years. I worked like a dog averaging about 60 to 70 hours a week and got pretty burned out, ready for a change, I joined the Army Engineers, mostly to travel and take advantage of their college tuition program.

Army Engineers, Heavy Construction

I was a non-commissioned officer (fancy talk for a sergeant) in the US Army Engineers, served 2 years in the U.S. and 2 years in Germany. My army engineer work included building vehicle bridges, large housing units and roads and more. I was also an instructor at a few Army engineer schools. After the army I worked my way through Bible college for 4 years, during which which time I worked for a year as the college campus Energy Conservation Officer, and another two years in the transportation department. I also worked as an electrician’s apprentice for a year on a large job renovating a historic library on campus.

Sub Contracting, New Home Construction

After collegeĀ  I moved to Ithaca, New York where I worked with “Four Seasons” a patio franchise company installing high-end custom sun room additions with insulated glass ceilings and glass walls over cedar and redwood framing. Over some time I began to do home improvement sub-contracting on the side that became full time building new homes.

General Contractor, Home Remodeling and Repairs

Not too long later, I decided to go on my own and started a general contracting company which I ran on and off for about 20 years. I specialized in kitchen and bath remodeling which requires a little bit of everything including plumbing, electrical, ceramic tile, etc. I also did roofing, siding, windows, doors, flooring, additions, renovations, and some historical restoration.
I was a small company, usually doing most of the small jobs myself and often teemed up with other contractors for bigger jobs. I did custom design and build cabinet work. I was a dealer authorized installer for Peach Tree windows and doors. I also had maintenance agreements with investment property owners performing all the needed repairs for rental properties.

Plumbing Tech. – Kitchen and Bathroom Remodeling

At one point after relocating to Syracuse and loosing my client base, I took a job with one of the larger plumbing companies who needed a remodeling specialist. I worked with them for a couple of years and became very proficient in all types of pluming jobs and emergency plumbing service. Along the way I worked for a year with a HVAC company and another year as lead carpenter and plumber for a local builder. which I re-started my own contracting business. With a lot more plumbing experience under my belt, I developed a niche, specializing in major kitchen and bath remodeling.

My Transition From Contractor To Home Inspector

I had not heard much about home inspectors during most of my contracting years. Through the 1990’s however, home inspections became more and more popular. In 1996 in Syracuse, as I recall there was one home inspection company listed in the yellow pages. I believe it was a builder or contractor who owned the company and had a few guys he hired to do the inspections. They are no longer in business today.

It was an interaction with one of that companies clients, that motivated me to look into becoming a Home Inspector. A young single mom had bought a home based on a home inspection she had paid for. She moved in and was having a lot of problems with the house and had called me for help.

As I explained the extent of the plumbing repairs she needed she began to cry. I felt bad but the house needed a lot of plumbing work, it had several blatant code violations, including safety issues, most of the drains were backed up and the pipes were old with many in need of replacement. This is not to mention the other things I saw wrong with the house in a quick walk through.

She explained that she had very little money and the only reason she bought the house was that her home inspector had said the house was in great shape, including the plumbing. I asked if I could see her home inspection report. She showed me the report and said that when she first saw the inspector she was a little surprised at how young he was. He was in his early 20’s and she had wondered how much experience he could have. She was also surprised at how soon he finished the inspection, in about an hour.

In 1996 she paid $350 for that home inspection. She got a five page printed form with check boxes that he checked and there were only two or three partial sentences of hand written comments. No defects were listed at all in the plumbing section of the report. He had simply checked the plumbing was “satisfactory” with no additional comment.

An Obvious Need For A Better Home Inspection Service

I realized there was a need for a better home inspection service. I had no idea of what was required to be a home inspector, it seemed that this guy certainly should not have been one. I knew right then that I could provide a much better service, without any specific home inspection training.

There were no home inspection schools around at that time. I did a little research and decided to take a Home Inspection School correspondence course.

Today, for that same $350 (for houses under 1500 sq. ft.) I provide a very thorough inspection and report, that takes an average of about 6 to 8 hours including 2 to 4 hours at the house plus time typing up the report plus . My clients get a great inspection with time to answer all their questions and very good home inspection report. Be sure to take a look at my sample reports, you won’t find a better report. I inspect well over 500 separate items on nearly every inspection and sometimes well over a 1000 items, and that’s through the eyes of a pro with more than 30 years in the home industry.

There is a reason why my inspections and reports are much better than most of my competition. Think about it, most inspectors deliver an inspection report on site after one – two or occasionally 3 hours in the house, considering much if not most of that time was writing or typing the report to have it ready before they leave the house. Compared that to my 3 to 4 hours and often more at the house inspection, taking about 100 to 200 photos and a few notes and answering all your questions. Add to that another 3 to 4 hours to finish up the report and deliver it that night or the next morning. I email you an awesome report usually about 35 to 55 pages, including digital photos and explanation of defects, maintenance recommendations, safety improvements or concerns and also point out some of the good features of the house also.

Good work takes time. My inspection fees are very close if not exact to what many inspectors charge but the value you get from my inspection and report far exceeds that of many of my competitors. Compare our work and our references for your self. If you want an excellent inspection, someone to answer all your questions and an awesome report. Give me a call, Tom Francis 315-439-1103. Thanks for reading my little story.