Make Sure Your Dream Home Isn’t a Nightmare

even in a hot market, getting a home inspection can give homebuyers peace of mind

Barbara Arnold

THINGS ARE LOOKING UP. Home inspector Matthew Hell
THINGS ARE LOOKING UP. Home inspector Matthew Hell examines a roof and chimney. (Submitted photo)

With the recent sellers’ market in real estate, some home buyers have waived a home inspection to cut the timeline to get the dream home they want. And while some may have lucked out with this strategy, others may not. They end up with a "dream home” that gives them financial headaches for the unexpected costly repairs they would not have experienced if they had gotten a home inspection before buying. In addition, current homeowners may want to schedule a home inspection every 10 years as a form of preventive maintenance to find out things they can take care of easily before they become emergency repairs. Volume One posed three questions to two area home inspectors.


Matthew “Matt” Hell, owner of A-Z Home Inspections, grew up in Chetek in a family of carpenters. He worked in every aspect of the real estate industry, and home inspections seemed like the next logical step in his career. So he studied, took the national and state exam, and became licensed in Wisconsin. Because he also inspects wells and septic systems, he also became a licensed pump installer. In addition, he is a member of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, which provides a standard of practice. His wife Jondrea came up with the business’s name “because Matt offers everything that agents and clients could ask.”

Ryan Stewart, owner of Straight Answer Home Inspections, hails from Roberts, where he lives with his wife and three kids. He has been in the construction industry for the past 24 years, starting out in his dad’s water conditioning business. He earned a bachelor’s degree in construction management from Minnesota State University-Mankato. He has been a laborer, an estimator, sales person, job site supervisor, foreman, and project manager. With his experience, he felt home inspection would be a good fit for something he has always wanted to do. He took formal training, passed the national exam, and also passed exams to get his license in Wisconsin. He also tests for radon and installs radon mitigation systems. He came up with the name of his business based on feedback from friends in real estate “by giving people a straight answer and taking the time to make sure they understood.”


WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DOING A HOME INSPECTION VERSUS THE RISKS OF NOT DOING A HOME INSPECTION?

RYAN: A home inspection is informative. You may not have had a lot of time at the property to explore everything during your showings. You may not be familiar with construction or certain materials. A home inspection offers peace of mind as well as information. In the current market, a lot of people are waiving inspections. And while some people may get lucky, others can end up with costly situations that they would have wished they knew about ahead of time to prepare or plan for.   

MATT: Home inspections are imperative on homes nowadays whether the home is new or used. We as home inspectors are trained to look for defects. Defects are something in a house that can cause a safety issue or affect the value of the house in some way. We have a standard of practice that we go by every time in every house. This includes looking over the exterior, interior, foundation, roof, and everything in between. We can’t see through walls, but only can report on what we can see visually on the date of the inspection. We use a thermal camera on every inspection to see what our eyes can’t see as well. My advice: Get the home inspection. The money is well worth it in years ahead.

Home inspector Ryan Stewart examines an electrical box. (Submitted photo)
POWER MOVE. Home inspector Ryan Stewart examines an electrical box. (Submitted photo)

HOW MUCH DOES A HOME INSPECTION COST? AND WHAT IS ITS VALUE?

MATT: Home inspections can vary in price. It all depends on where the house is and how big it is. We will ask several questions about the home, what you need done, and then work on a price. We offer so many services that prices can have a large range. The value for what the customer is paying for is well worth it, though. Usually in a home inspection, we will see a defect that will cost way more than the price of the inspection.

We are hearing about many clients waiving the home inspection, and we get it. Market conditions create a bidding war, making the price of the home very steep. I can tell you though, if you don’t know what you are looking for, and something happens pertaining to the safety of the home or its value, it can create a nasty headache.

RYAN: Inspection fees can vary depending on the inspector, the size of the home, different components and other services added, with many factors contributing to the cost. Discuss with your inspector what’s desired and needed to obtain your home inspection price.

WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT FROM A PROFESSIONAL HOME INSPECTION? WHAT DO THEY LOOK AT? WHAT DO THEY LEAVE YOU WITH?

RYAN: A professional home inspector will establish clear communication with you. He or she will explain what is included and what isn’t as well as communicate with your real estate agent, and you for scheduling, fees, and report delivery. Our services include light commercial, prelisting and purchase home inspections, thermal imaging, residential and commercial radon testing, and radon mitigation. Wisconsin has a clear set of standards that a professional home inspector will follow during the inspection. Minnesota is an unregulated state regarding home inspections. It is important to use an inspector that has certifications and licenses and will hold themselves to a higher standard. Most of the time you will be invited to discuss the report about the property at the end of the inspection. You also will receive a written condition report with color photos about the property.

MATT: Home inspectors are professionals, and you should expect them to be a trusted resource in your house buying and ownership process. Our services include home and prelisting inspection, water, mold, lead testing, sewer scope, well and septic inspection, and thermal imaging. We are here for our clients and to answer any questions that come during the inspection or afterwards. We want you to feel comfortable with your new home or investment. We also follow the standard of practice provided by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors based in Boulder, Colorado. This standard of practice ensures we are consistent about what we inspected for every house, every client, and every inspection. Our clients are provided with a color report with photos and explanations in plain English.

Learn more about these home inspectors at atozinspectionsec.com and straightanswerhomeinspections.com.

Happy Spring Home Maintenance Checklist 

1) Review your fire escape plan with your family.
2) Check for damage to your roof, and check the fascia and trim for any deterioration.
3) Have a professional air conditioning contractor inspect and maintain your system as recommended by the manufacturer. Some businesses will check both your furnace and air conditioner at the same time for a discount. Outside temp needs to be at least 70 degrees to test your air conditioner.
4) Check your water heater. 
5) Replace all extension cords that have become brittle, worn, or damaged. 
6) Inspect your fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure in good working condition. Clean dust from covers of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms.
7) Clean the kitchen exhaust hood and air filter. 
8) Repair all cracked, broken, or uneven driveways and walks to help provide a level walking surface. 
9) Check the shutoff valve at each plumbing fixture to make sure they function. 
10) Clean clothes dryer exhaust duct, damper, and space under the dryer. 

Source: Matthew Hell, A to Z Home Inspections LLC

Chippewa Valley Home & Garden is sponsored by:

Down to Earth Garden Center & Shops
6025 Arndt Lane,
Eau Claire

Down to Earth Garden Center
Down to Earth Garden Center

Chippewa Valley Home & Garden is sponsored by:

Down to Earth Garden Center & Shops
6025 Arndt Lane,
Eau Claire

Down to Earth Garden Center
Down to Earth Garden Center